Federal Election 2021: Question 1

Is supporting the arts & culture sector a priority for your party? If so, what actions has your party taken to demonstrate that support? 

Bloc Québécois:

Ensuring the passage of C-10: An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act

Quebecers are attached to their culture and want to promote and protect it. Canadians, a little less so. This difference played a fundamental role in the scuttling by the Conservative and Liberal parties of Bill C-10, which was designed to provide a better framework for culture in the digital age and to force the Web giants to contribute financially to the creation and discovery of Francophone and Canadian cultural content.

The bill had its flaws, but the Bloc corrected many of them by adding amendments aimed at protecting French, requiring the production of original content, enhancing and promoting French-language content, and requiring Canadian ownership for businesses, to name a few.

Through the work of our Communications Critic, we were the party that worked hardest to get Bill C-10 passed before the end of the parliamentary session. We even proposed and supported exceptional measures (time allocation measures in the House and in committee) to ensure that it passed despite Conservative obstruction and Liberal inaction. It is disappointing and distressing that these different actors have put obstacles in our way by delaying the adoption process.

The cultural community in Quebec, which was unanimously in favour of this legislation, will be the big loser if this law is never updated. The election of a Conservative government could prove catastrophic for the future of this reform. Regardless of who the next government is, one thing is certain: the Bloc Québécois is committed to making C-10 one of its parliamentary priorities and to picking up the legislative work where it left off.

Investments in culture

Also, while production costs have been increasing year after year for the past 20 years, the federal government’s contribution to Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund remains insufficient, which diminishes their capacity to adequately support the development of homegrown films and television series. The end of international cultural promotion programs has also affected the development of Quebec cultural production. Finally, as the Quebec artistic community has been asking for years, the Arts Council should have the means to better support Quebec creators.

The Bloc Québécois is therefore asking for an increase in the budget of Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund. It also asks that the government maintain, and then index, the budget of the Canada Council for the Arts at a minimum of $300 million, including assistance for international promotion. In the same spirit, the Bloc Québécois is asking for a review of the Canada Media Fund, which is responsible for nearly 85% of the funding of variety and drama series that Quebecers enjoy.

Since this fund is fed by a certain percentage of the cable companies’ revenues (these revenues have been declining since the arrival of the web giants), the amounts available are no longer sufficient to meet the demand. While waiting for the digital companies to contribute fairly to the broadcasting system from which they profit handsomely, the government must ensure that the funding agencies are able to meet the needs of our content producers.

Also, the Bloc Québécois endorses the request of several cultural industry players to adjust the sharing of funding between Canadian and Quebec productions by the Canada Media Fund (CMF) and Telefilm Canada. The current 66%/33% funding split does not correspond to reality. A ratio of 60% for Canadian productions and 40% for Quebec productions would be more equitable and realistic.

Taxing the Web giants

The GAFAMs (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft), to which we could add Spotify, Netflix and many others, profit from the work of Quebec’s cultural creators and news media, without paying the appropriate royalties. Moreover, most of these companies pay little or no taxes in Canada.

The Bloc Québécois proposes that Canada follow France’s lead and tax all web giants at 3% of their revenues generated in Canada. The Liberal spring 2021 budget does propose a 3% digital services tax (DST) to take effect in 2022, but it does not apply to online companies with subscription-based business models. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and others are therefore exempt. The Bloc demands that the DST also apply to these online businesses.

The Bloc also proposes the creation of a Francophonie think tank on the promotion and protection of Francophone cultures on online platforms.

Media crisis

In the past few years, we have seen dozens of local newspapers close, the end of La Presse in print, Le Devoir in crisis and the regional dailies of Capitale Médias narrowly avoiding bankruptcy. Faced with this unprecedented crisis in our print media, the federal government has sat on its hands and has been content with measures that are either late or do not apply to everyone.

The Bloc Québécois proposes that the federal government impose the GST on Internet advertising on all platforms in order to put an end to the unfair competition of the Web giants.

We also support the demands of the print media, notably the consensus represented by Info Media Canada, demanding that the government implement a system inspired by the one in place in Australia. This legislation requires GAFAM to negotiate commercial agreements with the news media whose content they monetize, and to arbitrate in the event of an impasse in negotiations.

To help both local businesses and regional media, the Bloc Québécois proposes that advertising purchased by local businesses from independent media in their region be subject to a tax credit and exempt from GST.

Finally, the Bloc Québécois is calling for the establishment of an Estates General on the future of the media with all the players affected by the current crisis in the print media, the governments of Quebec and the provinces, and experts in order to find long-term solutions to ensure the survival of our press and of all broadcasters (general and specialized television and radio).

Support for online culture

The Bloc Québécois wants to review, with the cultural community, the Copyright Board’s royalty rules for access to online music in order to find ways to ensure fair compensation for artists. Currently, creators receive 10.4 cents per 1000 clicks. This situation cannot continue.

We will demand a study by the Heritage Committee to come up with solutions to adequately support our aggrieved creators. We will also demand that the recommendations of the Yale Report to address the inequities caused by online businesses be implemented. C-10 goes a long way to addressing these demands, so it is even more important to ensure its passage.

The Bloc will also introduce a bill to ensure that the Canadian government recognizes the existence of Quebec culture and promotes it to platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify or Netflix in order to give our creators a greater place in their programming. This bill could include a provision asking for the transfer to Quebec of certain powers, notably that of determining the ratios (quotas) of francophone content on audiovisual broadcasting platforms and the visibility required for this content in Quebec. In other words, certain powers that a Quebec CRTC would have.

Arts, events and festivals

The Bloc also pledges to stand behind Quebec’s artists and the entire cultural sector and promises to work hard to ensure the sustainability and predictability of cultural and tourism programs and grants. Particularly for small and medium-sized events, these demands are excessively important so that they can have a minimum of financial predictability. The Bloc will work to consolidate and make permanent the financial support for culture that is so crucial to tourism development, and more specifically the support for the raw material of the creative industry, its content creators and artists.

In doing so, we want to make permanent the investments made in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, extended by the Fall 2020 Economic Statement for 2021-2022 and again renewed for 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 in the last budget. Specifically, we intend to make permanent the emergency amounts added to the Canada Arts Presentation Fund and the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Fund.

We also want to provide a mechanism for indexing programs for the next five years to take into account inflation and the growing number of festivals and events to be supported.

Then, in order to encourage demand in the field of entertainment and events, we want to offer a refundable tax credit to entertainment consumers representing 20% of the tickets and fees for arts and culture activities up to a maximum of $200.

Other laws that need to be updated

In addition to the Broadcasting Act, the Bloc wishes to examine certain legislation which, in our opinion, following several discussions with actors and groups in the cultural sector, must be updated in order to be more effective in the digital age.

Status of the Artist Act

The Bloc wishes to work towards establishing a special status for artists, combined with measures offering them greater financial security. If there is one thing that the pandemic precariousness has shown us, it is that it is important to maintain the talent and expertise of our artists and artisans despite the natural fluctuation of their work.

Copyright Law

Exceptions and exemption laws should be reviewed as soon as possible to ensure that Internet service providers are accountable for their role in content delivery while increasing efforts to combat piracy and enforce copyright to ensure that raw material is adequately compensated for its content. Increased support for creators and creative industries to help them adapt to new digital markets is also desirable.

Private copying

Finally, following a request from the Canadian Private Copying Collective, we want to modify the private copying levy so that the law is technology neutral. For example, we propose that a levy of only $3 (the European average) be collected on the sale of tablets and phones. This would generate some $40 million a year – to help Canadian creators continue to produce music.

COVID assistance

Finally, the Bloc wishes to sit down in the coming year with the various groups in the cultural sector to review the various emergency measures and programs offered to organizations, particularly through the Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport Stimulus Fund, which has received an increase in funding announced at the end of June 2021. There seems to be some confusion in the field about all these different programs and measures, the regular and emergency funds, where to get the funding and how long it will take to get the money.

The Bloc will want to look at yes, the size of the amounts offered, but more specifically, how these amounts are spent, and how effective they are in helping cultural organizations get through this precarious time.

Conservative Party of Canada:

Did not respond by deadline or in the “Q&A” format provided. Please click here for full response.

Green Party of Canada: 

Did not respond by deadline, however, the response has been added below:

The creative sector is a priority for the Green Party. We recognize the critical role of our artists and producers in creating a cohesive society with shared values and a recognition of our own place in the world. You will see within our platform that we are putting forward measures relating to financial and structural support for Canada’s artists and producers including regulation of web giants, increasing funding for our cultural agencies, copyright reform and recognition for the key role of our arts service organizations, guilds and unions.

Liberal Party of Canada:
  • Arts and culture has always been, and will always be, a priority for the Liberal Party. During the last year we stepped up and were there to support our workers across the sector.
  • Support is evidenced through the following:
    • Committed $1.9 billion to support the arts, culture, heritage, and sport sectors through the pandemic and help them recover.
    • Created a $200-million two-year Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative that will help keep flagship Canadian festivals and events alive and ready when all visitors can come back.
    • Economy wide support: the CERB, CRB, CEWS, CERS and the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP).
    • Platform commitments for election 2021:
      • Helping Artists and Cultural Industries Recover
        • Launch a new Arts and Culture Recovery Program that will match ticket sales for performing arts, live theatres, and other cultural venues to compensate for reduced capacity.
        • Extend COVID-related insurance coverage for media production stoppages to support 150,000 Canadian jobs.
        • Implement a COVID-19 transitional support program to provide emergency relief to out-of-work artists, craftspeople, creators, and authors who are primarily self-employed or independent contractors.
        • Ensure the realities of artists and cultural workers are considered in upcoming reforms to the Employment Insurance (EI) system.
        • Protect Canadian artists, creators, and copyright holders by making changes to the Copyright Act, including amending the Act to allow resale rights for artists.
        • Hold a summit, within the first 100 days, on plans to restart the industry.
      • Supporting Canadian Music, Film and Television
        • Within the first 100 days, reintroduce legislation to reform the Broadcasting Act to ensure foreign web giants contribute to the creation and promotion of Canadian stories and music.
        • Modernize the institutions (Telefilm, National Film Board, Canada Media Fund) and funding tools that support Canada’s audio-visual sector, including videogames, in order to make funding platform agnostic and open to more traditionally underrepresented storytellers, while favouring Canadian productions over foreign ones and ensuring that Canadians are better equipped to own and benefit from the content that they produce.
        • Support Canadian feature films by permanently increasing funding to Telefilm Canada by $50 million.
        • Support Canadian television productions by doubling the government contribution, over three years, to the Canada Media Fund.
        • Increase the proportion of funding for French audiovisual content at Telefilm and the Canada Media Fund from 33% to 40% to support a better presence of French-language productions.
        • Ensure better and stable funding for the music sector by increasing the annual contribution to the Canada Music Fund to $50 million by 2024-2025.
        • Provide the Indigenous Screen Office with $13 million per year, permanently, so more Indigenous stories can be told and seen.

New Democratic Party of Canada:

Arts and culture are at the heart of who we are as Canadians. But the arts and culture sectors have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes on the heels of decades of cuts, a rapidly digitizing media landscape and government inaction are putting Canadian arts, culture, and jobs at risk. Through the pandemic we have fought for better supports for this sector to benefit Canadians and workers in the sector. 

English (Canada)