Madam Speaker, this is one of my first times speaking over Zoom, so it is a new experience for me. I appreciate much more being able speaking physically from the House, but given the pandemic, that is not possible, so here I am speaking in the House in the Commons from northern Alberta. It is kind of a weird thing. Nonetheless, I have seen many of my friends on Zoom, who are all smiling, so I know they must be doing okay around the world.
Bill C-10, I must admit, is a tough bill to get through given that it amends a whole bunch of other pieces of legislation. It always drives me a little crazy when we are dealing with stuff like this, because there are all of these little chunks of law in the bill that amend this act and that act. It takes a long time to pull it all together and get a full picture of what we are all trying to achieve. What is clear is that it is giving the CRTC new powers and new responsibilities.
I do hear a lot of frustration about the CRTC, about its not doing what it is supposed to be doing and doing other things that people do not appreciate. This is going to be interesting one way or the other. I know that with Internet installation and whoever is bringing the Internet to certain communities, the CRTC gets involved and many times whenever that is happening, there is paperwork to be filled out, phone calls to be made and folks get frustrated with how the CRTC responds, like they do with many other government organizations, such as the CRA. Folks end up in my office saying that the government is not doing what it is supposed to be doing. I have to sort all of that out. Regardless of where this bill goes and how it ends up, there will be more folks showing up in my office complaining about the CRTC's doing something or not doing something when it is supposed to be doing something else. I know that will be a challenge going forward.
Bringing Canadian content to Canadians has been an ongoing challenge. We live next door to a media giant, the United States, which has the budget, the population and Hollywood. They are able to bring content to the world. I do not think this is a unique problem to Canada. Although we are very close to the United States and our culture is similar to theirs, I would imagine that the entire English-speaking world is dominated by American media. We often end up with American content on our local channels, because it is easy and we can get it for a relatively low price.
What is interesting about this is that we do have a national broadcaster dedicated to Canada, paid for by our taxpayer dollars. Over a billion dollars a year goes to the CBC. Canadian content sometimes is very minimal. I never watch the CBC, but I do listen to it on the radio in my pickup. Often, American politics and American stories take up the majority of the news cycle on our national broadcaster. I always find that fascinating. Nevertheless, I do listen to the CBC in my pickup. I have to admit that. I am Dutch. I know that I am paying lots of money to fund the CBC, so for as long as I can stomach it, I listen to the CBC because I think I should get something for all of that money we are paying for the CBC. The CBC comes up in this bill from time to time and I hope that it will be a part of it as well.
The bill talks about the CBC, our national broadcaster, playing a role in our Canadian content. I know that is an important piece of what the national broadcaster is there for and I hope that we start to see a culture change at the CBC so that Canadian content, Canadian topics and Canadian interests are covered and that 75% of the news cycle is not American stories. That drives me a little nuts, to be sure.
I am a unique member of Parliament in the fact that I live hundreds of kilometres from the American border. Many Canadians live within 100 kilometres of the American border and I live nearly 1,000 kilometres from the border, so I do not necessarily have as much to do with Americans every day life as maybe other Canadians do. I am not sure how much interaction the rest of Canada has with the United States, but I know that when I went to university in B.C., in the Fraser Valley, when I lived in Abbotsford, people could spit and hit the American border, as I would always says. We could see it. On the weekends, there would be a long line-up to buy milk and gas just up the road from where I lived, as it went across to the United States. For those living in the Lower Mainland of B.C., interacting with the United States was a common occurrence.
Where I live, the interactions with the United States probably come in the form of Amazon and the things we order having to come across the border. Every now and then we have to pay a little more money because something happened to the package at the border, such as agents opening the package, having a look at it and then charging $12 when we picked it up. That is more typical of the interactions we have due to our relationship with the United States.
I do see a need for local content. The billion dollars we spend on the CBC could definitely be put toward that. The CBC infrastructure where I live, in many cases, is the only radio station people can pick up. That is the repeater infrastructure across northern Alberta. I value that. People do not have cell service for stretches when driving, but they do have CBC radio. It could be that we would have more regional content.
We talk a lot about the Laurentian elite. The CBC is very good and very representative of eastern Canada. It tells the stories in the voice of a central Canadian. Even when they are telling the story of the perspective of northern Alberta or the territories, it is always in the voice of a central Canadian. I do not think it is necessarily intentional, but that is the way it is. There is a central Canadian feel about it. Ironically, I do not think central Canadians even understand what that is, in the same way I do not necessarily know what a western Canadian is or does and an eastern Canadian does not necessarily know what an eastern Canadian says or does from the other perspective. I would love to see the CBC definitely speak with a western voice.
It comes down to the way that we talk and think about things. We see that often. I do not know if it is because the journalism schools are located out east or what the deal is, but we get the general sense that even when our stories from northern Alberta, northern Canada or the territories are being told, it is told in an eastern voice, if that is even a thing. I am not sure an eastern voice is a thing, but it is a term I am going to use that I like.
I am excited to see that the government is going to try to encourage national content. I am always concerned, however, when the Liberals get involved in trying to encourage or discourage anything. That usually means taxing and subsidizing something, which is always a fascinating thing. I think there is something to the effect that if there is a successful company, it should be taxed, but when it is struggling, it should be subsidized. There is a story about that. We have watched that over and over again. The oil sector here in Alberta was doing great—