Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Ms. Adam, could you tell us what stage you are at, practically speaking? We are hearing about a date, such as January 15, and about the $1.5 million you have left.
So what stage are you at from a practical perspective?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I understand. Now I'd like to go back to what my colleague Mr. Blaney raised and get into the details.
Mr. Pelletier, a great constitutional scholar whom I like, said, "I see the two governments are passing the buck back and forth on this issue. It's merely become a pretext for Ontario, and that attitude is somewhat suspect."
I don't think the federal government should play Mr. Ford's game. To quote Mr. Pelletier once again, "But the AFO's offer is quite unusual." The idea here is that the federal government would fund the university's first four years for a total of $39 million to ensure it doesn't disappear in a month or two.
To continue the quotation, "That's why, if the federal government is really interested, it would be a good idea for it to let everyone know because we would be looking at a unique proposal." Mr. Pelletier added, "If it wants to make a special funding offer in connection with the Université de l'Ontario français, then it's normally up to Ottawa to make that offer."
Even if Ms. Joly and the Prime Minister are right in saying it would normally be up to Ontario to make a request, I think that responding that way in the exceptional situation we find ourselves in is tantamount to playing Mr. Ford's game.
As commissioner, are you going to invite the federal government to take an unusual action and offer Ontario the $39 million for the first four years of the university's life?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, for letting us know. I very much appreciate it.
That said, I should've liked this committee to have the benefit of a briefing prior to the announcement and ahead of other members of Parliament. I am putting this on the record so that there is no secret as to my thoughts on the matter. I could've sworn that the minister told us that we would be the first to know the details of the official languages action plan, that is, before the general public. This would have given us the opportunity to provide input, which she may have wished to incorporate at a later stage.
I say this without malice. I am very disappointed in the way the minister has conducted herself in this instance.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, sir. Good afternoon to both of you. Thank you very much for being here with us today.
Mr. Guzmas, you said you wanted us to speak about the future of papers for small linguistic communities across the country. I just want to ask you two quick questions.
First, last week we had representatives from the Association de la presse francophone, l'Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada, and the Quebec Community Newspapers Association. They told us that the $50 million in the budget will not be coming out quickly enough. Although they said it's good, it's not coming out quickly enough to save your papers. Will your paper prospectively close down in two weeks, or very soon?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
I won't comment on that, but I understand what you mean.
If I understand the case correctly from last week, if there's no emergency action whatsoever, monetary action, you might go bankrupt or die—not you, but your papers—very soon.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Do you agree with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association that you would need a certain emergency fund?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Okay.
Sir, you talked about the fact that we on this committee have the power to influence—
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
That is why I'm going to put forward this motion again today, Madam Clerk.
It reads as follows:
That the Committee recommend that Canadian Heritage establish a $2 million emergency fund for official-language minority media to be administered by an ad hoc committee composed of the Association de la presse francophone, the Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada and the Quebec Community Newspaper Association.
Our dear colleagues on the Liberal bench said they needed time to prepare for the debate. I think we've had four or five days, so we're coming back with that today. I hope we can go all the way to the final vote this time.
Thank you, sir.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
How important are you to the survival of your communities, respectively? How important is your newspaper for the survival of your linguistic minority community?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Okay. Did you come to Ottawa today principally to speak about all the burdens that your papers go through—because your association did that—or did you come here to see action from this committee?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. Sonier, you referred to emergency measures. So here we are; we are facing an emergency. If nothing is done, and the worst case scenario avails, when will French-language newspapers in minority communities close their doors, since their death is imminent?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
The last way of coming up with $1.8 million might be to request an emergency fund, or to submit a request under the Action Plan for Official Languages, which is coming out next week.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
That answers my second question: for the time being, what is contained in the budget will not improve the situation.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
You spoke about your harmonized action plan. Has that plan been committed to paper?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
When you talk to the public servants or the elected representatives of these departments, are they able to understand and to acknowledge that the big pan-Canadian media groups and the minority official language community media are treated differently? In their analysis of the media crisis, do they distinguish between those two media groups?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Very well. Thank you very much.
Mr. Côté, what you said is bold, and it piqued my interest. I don't know if a justice of the Supreme Court, let's say, would agree with you. In your opinion, the decline in government publicity is unconstitutional, in light of the act and the obligations of those three departments. You say that by cutting that advertising, it is as though the departments had removed one of the positive rights of the minority communities. However, I would point out that in the Constitution, housing, for instance, is not a right.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
That's incredible; you are saying that advertising would be considered a positive right for official language minority communities.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Let me go on to another comment you made. It did not surprise me, but I'd like to talk about it with you.
About two years ago, in 2015-16, the federal government provided $140 million a year to all newspapers in Canada. Right now, the amount is about $40 million annually. You said that only $1.5 million would be needed for the advertising in all the newspapers in OLMCs.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Ms. Kenny.
Mr. Théberge, I have a question for you, but it can be for anyone.
You talked about a “consistent investment strategy”.
I'm looking at the the 2018-19 budget. How time flies! The election is in one year. The government's strategy is to invest in Canadian content first. The Canada media fund no longer receives as much funding as it used to. Canadians, through their individual choices, use x, y or z platforms, which does not necessarily bring money to those who make access to the services possible.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
To support local journalism, the government is proposing $50 million over five years, starting now, for independent agencies. What do you think? Is that a minimum? Do you welcome it? Is it enough?
How do you see it? What does this amount mean to you?
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