Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and provide some comments on what is a very important bill. I look forward to hearing more members express their thoughts on it.
I have had many experiences over the years with journalists. I think it is safe to say that when we think of Canada as the great nation that it is, there are some very important components to the foundation of who we are. We can talk about our elections and democracy. We can talk about how important it is that there is that interplay between our Parliament and our media, this sense of accountability and transparency, and how that is best had through interactions between politicians and the media, but it goes far beyond the issue of politics.
We only need to ask Canadians what is important to them today. One of the things I often make reference to inside this chamber is that in the early 1980s, Pierre Elliott Trudeau brought in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That has become a part of our Canadian values. We genuinely appreciate the role the media play in our society. I believe our Charter of Rights ensures that we continue to have a free media that feels comfortable reporting on the facts of matters. There are certain tools that the people in the media require in order to do the job that they do.
I want to use as examples some of the things that I have had to go through. They have not always been good reports that I have had with the media, but good or bad, I have always accepted the importance to recognize the independence of the media and what we can do to support that independence. That is why I was glad when we had the mandate letter from the Prime Minister to the minister responsible. In that mandate letter to the Minister of Justice, the Prime Minister tasked her with ensuring that the rights of Canadians are protected and that the guarantees that are set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are respected.
The minister herself has recognized that freedom of the press is a fundamental Canadian value stated in the charter. Moreover, on May 3 during question period, our Prime Minister made it very clear that protection of journalistic sources is something our government strongly believes in. Let there be no doubt that this government recognizes and respects the independence of our media.
When I posed the question, I talked about how the media have really changed. Before, the industry tended to be a bit more focused on TV, newspapers, and radio. Those would have been the big three, if I can put it that way. Today, I am not convinced that those are the big three anymore. Because of social media and the Internet, different pressures are being applied to other media outlets. Today, quite honestly, there are some media networks where, if people get that 10-second clip, it will do them well. It can reach many thousands and hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Today, I recognize to what degree social media is playing a much larger role. Facebook is a great example of that. It is truly amazing. I believe that Canadians, on a per capita basis in the world, are more connected to that social network than the people of any other country in the world.
We are seeing a great deal more advertising on Facebook. If every member in the House is not on Facebook, all of us ought to be in order to communicate our messages, not only to constituents but also to the broader community. YouTube has been utilized in this way. I am not the most computer literate individual, but I recognize that there have been significant changes.
One change I recognized relatively early in the game was blogging. It is important that we factor in many aspects of journalism. It does not take much for individuals to say they are journalists and to start writing stories or blogging on the Internet. There are very real and tangible credentials. There is obviously a great difference between, let us say, CKY or the Winnipeg Free Press and John Doe's blog on the Internet. There is a significant difference. We need to recognize that, at least in good part. That is not to take anything away from John Doe. John Doe could have a super fantastic blog and could have literally hundreds or thousands of dedicated followers. It is a way we often reach out to our communities.
We often underestimate some of those community efforts. There are ethnic and community media outlets in Winnipeg. Pilipino Express, Ang Peryodiko, Filipino Journal, and Artista are four ethnic community newspapers that have done so well, even with the competition from mainstream media. When I was the immigration critic, I visited Toronto. I met with some Indo-Canadian newspapers and media outlets. I was amazed at how many there are in print and radio, in particular.
We need to look at the bigger media picture and ensure that media remains a very important and protected industry. With respect to this bill, it is the individuals who take the time to become investigative journalists, who will do the background work that is quite often required to uncover things, some of which may be uncomfortable. My colleagues across the way cited a couple of examples. I too could cite a couple of examples, such as the Senategate issue that occurred just a couple of years ago.
No doubt many examples could be used, whether it is at the national level or provincial level or in other jurisdictions, where there have been outstanding reports and investigative journalism. With the efforts of journalists, we have a better, more educated society. Whether it is government, non-profits, or even private industry, there is a higher sense of accountability because of the independence of journalism. The legislation from the Senate which my friend has sponsored is something on which we need to have a healthy discussion in the chamber, and I look forward to hearing what others have to say.
From my perspective, when we think of that journalist, we have to go beyond stating the obvious, the main stream media. We need to factor in the Internet, the different community newspapers, and radio stations. I felt that was a good thing to contribute to the debate and I look forward to further comments by others.