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View Caroline Desbiens Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, woman to woman, allow me to congratulate you on being appointed Assistant Deputy Speaker of the 43rd Parliament. You are doing all women proud.
Since this is my first time speaking in the House, I want to take a moment for acknowledgements. I may not always be as articulate and eloquent as my colleague, because I would rather sing my speech than say it. I am a singer-songwriter, so I would probably be more at ease.
I would like to applaud the voters in my riding who honoured our treasured democracy by voting on October 21. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank my campaign volunteers, whose passion and energy are what got me here. I want to thank my loyal husband, Pascal, and my beautiful daughter, Marie-L'Eau, for their unfailing love and support. I love them. They are my guiding lights.
I also want to salute the entire arts community of Quebec, especially my fellow singer-songwriters and musicians, who share this passion with me. I think of them as good friends.
My thoughts are also with my late parents whose extraordinary guidance and devotion put me on the path that led me here. They would be so proud to see me represent the voice of Quebec in Parliament. To my large and wonderful family, my countless good friends and the 18,479 people who put their trust in me, I say thank you. I assure you that I am committed to all my constituents.
I was born on a very small bit of land, an island that became famous very early on. The French explorer Jacques Cartier, who had a harsh and trying crossing from Saint-Malo to the new world during his second trip in September 1535, found some land rich with hazelnuts and fish. That is why he named it l'Isle-aux-Coudres, or hazelnut island. Historians have said that this stopover was pivotal to the continuation of his trip to Stadacona, which later became the only francophone national capital of North America, Quebec City.
The islanders are very proud of this slice of history that belongs to them. I will take this opportunity to say hello to everyone, especially my friends, the people of Île-aux-Coudres, the Marsouins and Marsouines. That is what we call the people who live on this island. I will spare my colleagues the story of how this name came about. As a good Marsouine, I will tell you the story at an appropriate time.
Île-aux-Coudres has a lovely history full of symbolism, and its motto is that you must know where you come from to know where you are going. Culture is the principal driver.
Much later, this same small island continued to make its mark through time and space with the living memory of the islanders in the work of Quebec filmmaker and author, my friend Pierre Perrault. The National Film Board's documentary trilogy La Trilogie de l'Île-aux-Coudres was internationally recognized as a documentary masterpiece and its creator, Pierre Perrault, was recognized as one of the pioneers of direct cinema.
Quebec has something else to be very proud of today. I am proud to highlight some very good news for Quebec, which is again making its mark internationally, despite serious financial difficulties. Quebec does not lack talent. The Hollywood Critics Association just announced that Denis Villeneuve will receive the filmmaker of the decade award at the association's gala on January 9, 2020, for his body of work. We are pleased. This will go a long way to promoting Quebec's film industry abroad. On behalf of all members of this chamber, elected members and members of the Bloc Québécois, I extend our warmest congratulations.
I was asked to take on the role of culture critic in Parliament, and I want to question the government about a pressing, topical issue that is sadly missing from the throne speech: the cultural emergency. There is not only a climate emergency, but there is also a cultural emergency. We are in the midst of an unprecedented culture crisis.
Let us talk about this economic, social, historic, traditional and, as we have seen, international force that is culture. Culture sets us apart, defines us as a people and gives us a pointed and relevant view of ourselves.
Let us think of our writers, historians, novelists, biographers, poets, filmmakers, authors, actors, sculptors, directors, playwrights, circus performers and artisans who are crying out for help.
The culture that we love is in economic jeopardy. Our culture brings us freedom and immeasurable social benefits, but all of that is struggling for survival. Why is that? It is because culture relies on the economy, and the economy has experienced massive financial cuts.
Thus, culture and art do not have the resources needed to compete with the web giants around the world. However, some countries around the globe, such as France, Australia and New Zealand, have tackled the problem head-on and have taken action to fix it by taxing the various web platforms. Nothing of the sort is happening here. In Quebec, Netflix calls the shots.
Of course, project applications are increasing, and there is no shortage of labour in the industry, but government investments in culture have not kept up. Our wonderful and very popular television shows like Les filles de Caleb, some of which have been on the air for over 20 years and boast ratings of over three million viewers every week, have barely six or seven episodes left and smaller budgets. This is all because Netflix, like many other web giants, is still not paying its fair share of taxes. Our culture is being stifled and swallowed up by American giants.
During the election campaign, the government promised to quickly impose a tax of 3% of their total revenue on web giants like Netflix and redistribute those funds to culture. No such commitment was included in the throne speech, which worries us.
Large-scale productions can no longer be considered possible in Quebec. We have to stifle our bright ideas because of a lack of resources. What will happen to the joy and beauty that is spread thanks to our culture, not to mention the economic benefits?
In Quebec, the reality is that creators of French-language television content, with their limited financial resources, are being forced to compete with billion-dollar giants equipped with the latest technology and operating under extremely favourable conditions. This leads to the very real consequences we are seeing.
We keep going, yes, because we are fighters. In good times or bad, we keep going.
That is a very good reason for us to worry and to tell our friends that we will be there to collaborate with our neighbours and promote culture. This will help people like Pierre Perrault, Michel Brault, Gilles Vigneault and Gilles Pelletier, as well as friends closer by like Carol-Anne Pedneault, Daniel Gaudet, Simon Pedneault, Marilyn Castonguay, Claude Gauthier, Jacques Leblanc, Émile Nelligan and Octave Crémazie, succeed in standing out in today's culture.
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