Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise virtually today to speak to Bill C-10.
Like many of my colleagues, I appreciate this opportunity to speak to this bill. I am an Acadian, and this bill will have a profound effect on the survival of our wonderful Acadian culture and community, which is very important to me. It deserves being promoted and protected.
Digital media is bigger than ever, and the 28-year-old Broadcasting Act is in urgent need of modernization to address the evolution of the Internet and the overwhelming emergence of social networks and online services like Facebook, Google, Netflix, Crave and Spotify, among others.
Modernizing the act does not necessarily mean erasing the past, forgetting how it has shaped our history to this day or failing to take it into account in the future. We need to ensure the continuity of our past and our Acadian culture and preserve them for always.
In its brief to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission during the CBC/Radio-Canada licence renewal process, the Société nationale de l'Acadie, the SNA, noted that it has had to intervene repeatedly to get Radio-Canada to support Acadian culture and to remind the broadcaster about the obligations in its mandate.
As a proud Acadian, and on behalf of all Acadians, I want to point out that all Acadians, just like all Canadians, help fund CBC/Radio-Canada. That funding, together with the broadcaster's mandate, are all that guarantee these services, which must be not only preserved at all costs but also respected. To make that happen, we need effective enforcement measures to be very clearly indicated in Bill C-10, which is not the case.
The SNA is the official representative of all Acadian people. It promotes the rights and interests of Atlantic Acadians. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the SNA for its hard work and its efforts to preserve our magnificent Acadian culture.
The bill seeks to amend the Broadcasting Act in several ways, such as by adding websites that broadcast or rebroadcast programs as a separate category of broadcasting undertaking. It also seeks to update Canada's broadcasting policy set out in section 3 to, for example, provide indigenous-language programming for indigenous people that reflects their culture.
I believe that Bill C-10 needs to go even further to ensure the presence and preservation of certain cultures, such as Acadian culture. I absolutely agree that the act needs to be modernized, just as the Official Languages Act needs to be modernized. On this side of the House, we want to be able to vote on a bill that will be fair for Canadian producers and broadcasters.
For several years now, Canadians have been expressing concerns about how unfair it is that Netflix does not pay any taxes in Canada. The goal is to find a balance between conventional media and digital media, as well as with content.
I completely agree with that goal. The francophone population of Nova Scotia, which listens to the Radio-Canada station out of Halifax, is upset about the fact that they hear more updates on traffic jams in Montreal and on the Samuel de Champlain Bridge than they do content from Nova Scotia artists.
It is important to point out that the case of the Atlantic provinces is unique. There is only one television production centre, supported by three radio production centres, to serve the four provinces. We want more local content to reflect the unique nature of Acadia and to promote and protect Acadian culture.
Unfortunately, when the CBC does not keep its commitments, even when complaints are filed with the CRTC, it is generally not penalized because it is not subject to the same rules as other Canadian broadcasters.
In 2021, it is unacceptable that this exemption still exists. It needs to be removed through Bill C-10. It is vital that the percentage of Canadian content is respected to the letter and that each region of Canada can enforce its local cultural content quotas.
The Conservatives want an equitable regulatory framework for digital media and conventional broadcasters. My Conservative colleagues and I will only be able to support the modernization of the Broadcasting Act if it includes additional, clear, non-negotiable francophone content requirements.
During the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's licence renewal process, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse noted in its brief presented on January 13 to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that Acadians in Nova Scotia did not get access to a French-language elementary school education until 1981. It took a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada for them to finally, in 2003, get access to a French-language education in a system of homogenous secondary schools. Without that education in French, Acadians in Nova Scotia became assimilated at an alarming rate. Between 1981 and 1996, the number of French-speaking Acadians in Nova Scotia went from 80,000 to 42,000,
In the spring and fall of 2019, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse consulted extensively throughout the province on linguistic insecurity. Participants all reported experiencing language insecurity, discomfort or reluctance to express themselves in French, or even a feeling of inadequacy in French. I am quite saddened by these results. The lack of familiarity on the part of the broader Canadian public when it comes to Nova Scotia's Acadian community contributes to this linguistic insecurity.
Local content must be created so people can see themselves reflected in the media. The one and only measure to improve the place of French is to replace the reference in section 3 that weakens it further. This step backwards is completely unacceptable. It represents a much more vague and, more importantly, a much weaker approach than the act provides for indigenous content, for example.
This is another example of the Liberal government's contradictions. The government is further weakening an essential piece of legislation that is already weak, while making francophone communities across Canada believe that it will introduce a bill to modernize the Official Languages Act, which would focus on the promotion and protection of the French language for all minority francophone communities. That is nonsense.
In light of all these points, there is no way I can vote in favour of this bill without a firm commitment from the government to thoroughly review all the amendments needed to improve it in order to ensure that Acadian and francophone Canadian content has the kind of future it deserves.