Madam Speaker, Canada did not happen by accident. Canada is a conscious act of will to create a distinct political, economic and cultural space in the upper reaches of the North American continent. Today we are focusing on our cultural space.
Ensuring the continued vitality of Canadian cultural content is what this bill is all about. In so many ways, Quebec is the model and inspiration for Canada's broader cultural affirmation. It is proof that it is possible to preserve and fortify one's cultural voice against unrelenting pressure, and that it is possible, and indeed a duty to oneself and one's fellow citizens, to build and sustain a cultural realm that reflects, supports and strengthens our collective identity.
Culture is a reservoir of ideas, values, symbols, ways of doing things, and individual stories woven together into shared stories. We need to keep replenishing that reservoir if we want it to remain full and deep. If we do not, it will evaporate over time or be refilled by other sources that no longer reflect who we are or offer up nothing but faded outlines.
Quebec has taken care to sustain its cultural reservoir, and so has the rest of Canada, often inspired by Quebec.
This affirmation of the value of one's culture as an alternative lens through which to view the world accounts in part, I believe, for the long overdue attention now being given to supporting Canada's indigenous languages and cultures, including, incidentally, through the provisions of the bill we are debating today.
As Canadians, it is vitally important that we be able to see ourselves in books, plays, TV shows and films, and hear ourselves in music. When we see ourselves reflected through these media, we see ourselves in motion doing, accomplishing, overcoming challenges and sorting out contradictions and complexities moving forward. We are also witnessing our potential. What could be more invigorating and motivating than that, on both an individual and collective basis?
For well over a century, we in Canada have proved there is no such thing as cultural determinism. There are no foregone conclusions about a culture's ability to survive and thrive, even in the face of powerful outside cultural forces. The strength of a culture, its staying power, is a function of people's determination and ability to craft effective cultural strategies that are continuously adapted to a changing environment.
Whether our culture survives and thrives depends on us, on our desire to keep creating content and to ensure we have the means to share that content. Everything depends on us tuning in and paying attention to the sometimes rapid changes and technological and economic challenges that keep coming our way.
The creation of the CBC was an act of political will. It was a conscious collective response to the challenge of a new medium: radio. Cancon on radio was an act of political will that spawned a homegrown music industry that, 30 years later, conquered global markets in the genres of country, jazz and rock.
The list of studies, analyses and policy initiatives we have undertaken over decades with the aim of shoring up Canadian culture in the face of technological and economic challenges is too long to describe in the time I have, but here is a sample.
In 1929, the Royal Commission on Radio, called the Aird commission, recommended that Canada establish a single national, publicly owned broadcasting system. Not long after, in 1932, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act was passed.
In 1936, a parliamentary committee called for a corporation resembling the BBC. Thus the CBC was created and, in 1937, it opened a French-language radio station in Montreal that became the beacon Radio-Canada is today for francophone culture in Quebec, for francophones outside of Quebec and, it should be added, for francophiles across the country, whose numbers increased following the adoption of the Official Languages Act by the government of Pierre Trudeau.
When I think of our cultural infrastructure, which Canada cannot do without, one of the things I think of is CBC/Radio-Canada. We cannot underestimate the crucial importance of Radio-Canada in particular. It disappoints me to hear the Conservatives talk about privatizing CBC/Radio-Canada. In many ways, the Crown corporation is the spring that keeps Canada's francophone cultural reservoir full.
To continue, the Massey commission was created in 1949 and tasked with examining radio and television broadcasting in Canada. In 1958, the Broadcasting Act was passed. In 1959, quotas for Canadian content on TV were instituted.
In 1969, the CRTC noted that cable technology had become a major factor in the Canadian broadcasting system, and it set out rules for the services cable systems were required to carry, which we refer to today as “must-carry” rules.
In 1971, the Canadian content regulations came into force for AM radio music and the CRTC allowed simultaneous substitution, whereby a local TV channel was substituted for a U.S. one on cable if both stations were carrying the same program. This was designed to help local stations keep their local audiences and the advertising dollars that go with those audiences.
In 1983, the broadcast program development fund was created to ensure the production of high-quality Canadian television in the under-represented categories of drama, variety, children and documentary.
In 1984, the Federal-Provincial Committee on the Future of French-language Television was created to examine challenges facing French-language television.
In 1992, the CRTC issued its policy on gender portrayal.
In 1996, the minister of Canadian heritage, Sheila Copps, announced the creation of the Canada television and cable production fund, combining the cable production fund and telefilms broadcast fund.
In 2002, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, published “Our Cultural Sovereignty: The Second Century of Canadian Broadcasting.”
Jumping to 2018, our government created a six-member panel to review Canada's Broadcasting Act, Telecommunications Act and Radiocommunication Act. The Yale report, entitled “Canada's Communications Future: Time to Act”, is the basis of today's bill.
There was a time not long ago when conventional wisdom held that we could not interfere in any way with the Internet, and that resistance to the all-encompassing juggernaut of the worldwide web was, plainly, naive and futile. Partly in keeping with this view, in 1999 the CRTC exempted Internet retransmitters from the requirement to be licensed or regulated under the Broadcasting Act. The decision was reviewed and upheld in 2009.
In 2001, Bill C-48 attempted to bring Internet retransmitters under the umbrella of Canada's copyright regime. However, the bill was amended in favour of a continued prohibition on retransmitters using proprietary content.
In a sense, Bill C-10 is taking care of unfinished business. Bill C-10 will bring online streaming services within the scope of the Broadcasting Act. Internet-based platforms such as Crave, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify will be required to contribute a percentage of their gross revenues to the creation of Canadian programming, as is required of traditional broadcasters.
Furthermore, cabinet will have the power to order the CRTC to ensure that adequate funding is dedicated to French-language programming. In the modern world of mass communications, cultural transmission has become extremely high tech, whether we are talking about radio, television, film, recorded music or online content. This bill will strengthen our modern cultural infrastructure. In order for a culture to thrive, it takes a collective will, as well as resources, meaning money. This bill aims to ensure that the necessary resources are made available to ensure that our beautiful, magnificent culture survives and thrives.