Subcommittee on Communications
of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications

Final Report

 The Honourable Marie-P. (Charette) Poulin, Chair

The Honourable Mira Spivak, Deputy Chair

May 1999


 Wired to Win !

Canada’s Positioning Within The World’s Technological Revolution


TABLE OF CONTENTS

STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS

SUBCOMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS

ORDERS OF REFERENCE

FOREWORD

INTRODUCTION

I. TECHNOLOGY AND THE DELIVERY SYSTEM

Conventional Broadcasting
Cable TV
Satellite TV
Telephony
Local Wireless
Utilities

II. THE INTERNET AS A NEW PARADIGM

World Wide Web
Internet Regulation

Hate Sites

III. TECHNOLOGY AND CONTENT

Content Criteria
Social Gains vs. Costs
Trend Toward Liberalization
Trade and Culture
Competition and Consolidation
Implications of Convergence
New Media Culture
Literacy skills
Promotional Role of Government

IV. ELEMENTS OF POLICY FOR THE NEW MEDIA ENVIRONMENT

The Web as Delivery System for Cultural Products
Intellectual Property & Privacy Rights

Promoting Canadian Content
Supporting Canadian Productions

Shelf Space for Canadian Content
French-Language Cultural Products
Developing Young Talent
The Self-Employed
International Strategic Alliances

V- CONCLUSION

LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS

APPENDIX A

WITNESSES

Fact-finding mission to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and San Jose (February 1998)
Fact-finding mission to Brussels, Belgium; Paris France and London, England (November 1998)

APPENDIX B

WITNESSES WHO APPEARED FOR THE INTERIM REPORT (second session, Thirty-fifth Parliament)

Fact-finding mission to Boston (February 1997)


STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS

The Honourable Marie-P. (Charette) Poulin, Chair**
The Honourable J. Michael Forrestall, Deputy Chair 

And the Honourable Senators:

Willie Adams
John M. Buchanan, P.C.
Pierre De Bané, P.C.
D. Ross Fitzpatrick
*B. Alasdair Graham (or Sharon Carstairs)
Janis G. Johnson
* John Lynch-Staunton (or Noël A. Kinsella)
Shirley Maheu
Raymond J. Perrault, P.C.
Fernand Roberge
William Rompkey, P.C.
Mira Spivak

* Ex Officio Members

** The Honourable Lise Bacon was Chair of the Committee from March 26, 1996until April 20, 1999.


SUBCOMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS

 

The Honourable Marie-P. (Charette)
Poulin Chair

The Honourable Mira Spivak
Deputy Chair

The Honourable
Lise Bacon

The Honourable
Janis G. Johnson

The Honourable
Shirley Maheu

 

 Other Senators who participated in the work of the Subcommittee:

Raymond J. Perrault, William Rompkey, *B. Alasdair Graham (or Sharon Carstairs) and *John Lynch-Staunton (or Noël A. Kinsella)

* Ex Officio Members


ORDERS OF REFERENCE

Extract from the Journals of the Senate, Wednesday, October 29, 1997:

The Honourable Senator Bacon moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Maheu:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications be authorized to examine and report upon Canada’s international competitive position in communications generally, including a review of the economic, social and cultural importance of communications for Canada;

That the papers and evidence received on the subject and the work accomplished by this Committee during the Thirty-fifth Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the Committee be authorized to permit coverage by electronic media of its public proceedings with the least possible disruption of its hearings; and

That the Committee present its final report no later than December 31, 1998.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

Extract of the Journals of the Senate of Tuesday, December 1, 1998:

The Honourable Senator Bacon moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Maheu:

That notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on October 29, 1997, the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, which was authorized to examine and report upon Canada’s international competitive position in communications generally, including a review of the economic, social and cultural importance of communications for Canada, be empowered to present its final report no later than March 31, 1999; and

That the Committee retain all powers necessary to publicize the findings of the Committee contained in the final report until April 9, 1999.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

Extract of the Journals of the Senate of Tuesday, March 23, 1999:

The Honourable Senator Bacon for the Honourable Senator Forrestall moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator Maheu:

That notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on December 1, 1998, the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, which was authorized to examine and report upon Canada’s international competitive position in communications generally, including a review of the economic, social and cultural importance of communications for Canada; be empowered to table its final report no later than May 31, 1999; and

That the Committee be permitted, notwithstanding usual practises, to deposit its report with the Clerk of the Senate, if the Senate is not then sitting; and that the report be deemed to have been tabled in the Chamber.

After debate,

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

 

Paul C. Bélisle
Clerk of the Senate

  

Extract from the Minutes of Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communication, October 30, 1997:

The Honourable Senator Poulin moved, – That the study on Canada’s International Competitive Position in Communications, referred to the Committee by the Senate on October 29, 1997, be referred to the Senate Subcommittee on Communications for consideration and report pursuant to the Rules of the Senate.

The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.

 

Michel Patrice
Clerk of the Committee


 FOREWORD

For more than a year, the Senate Subcommittee on Communications delved into the mind-bending complexity of telecommunications technology and grappled with often competing suggestions on how our cultural mosaic can adapt to a new global reality.

It became self-evident that no longer is communications constrained by distance, that no longer can we insulate our diverse culture from the barrage of competing forces, and no longer will some policies of yesterday, protected and nourished by monopolies, work.

We are in a world without frontiers – a world literally at our fingertips through the phenomenon of the Internet.

One thing is certain – Canada is in the vanguard of this movement in communications – and we can march boldly into the new millennium confidant in the knowledge that we are no longer simply hewers of wood, but players on the world stage.

Although 90 per cent of prime time television we watch is American, we also are the largest foreign exporters of prime-time dramatic television to the major U.S. networks.

Part of the answer to how we have remained culturally independent in a land that produces one movie for every 100 that can be rented on a weekend is the fact that our governments intervened at key moments during the 20th Century to give our culture growing room. Through grants, regulations and quid’s pro quo, Ottawa and the provinces enabled us to create a sense of ourselves that is something more than just being "un-American."

Canadians may not easily define who or what they are, but they can see themselves reflected in the lakes and mountains and forests with which we are blessed. We are a peaceable nation inhabited by peoples from around the world.

At first we were linked physically by the railways and telegraph wires; later by radio and television. Copper wires gave way to coaxial cable, then fiber optics. Satellites and digital compression have added new dimensions. And, of course, the Internet and the World Wide Web are revolutionizing the very foundation of society.

While modern communications permit us to share ideas around the world in an instant, the technology that allows us to do so brings with it foreboding.

Marking its 40th anniversary last year, the Canada Council issued the unsettling statement that "if the only thing that distinguishes Canadians from Americans is our culture, our indefinable combination of caring and civility that others call ‘niceness,’ and if access to the expression of that culture is being slowly strangled by global technologies, there will be very little we can call ‘Canadian’ to live by."

The point is that information technology knows no borders. Having that technology opens the floodgates to outside forces whose cultures could come to drown our own. That is why it is essential for us to re-think how we present ourselves to the world.

Monopoly practises that allowed us to safeguard our culture through levies and regulations no longer apply. Anyone with a personal computer linked to the Internet can travel the globe. Internet broadcasting is already here – unregulated in cyberspace, while traditional broadcasting stations are still tied to the vagaries of regulatory bodies.

Yet that same technology opens up the world to the diversity of Canadian culture. It offers opportunity, not threats. One of the purpose of this report – to provide a roadmap of sorts that points to ways Canadians can capitalize on information technologies rather than be humbled by them.

Our forefathers showed foresight and initiative in cultivating our own brands of culture through organizations such as the CBC, Telefilm Canada, the Canada Council and the CRTC. We must continue the process, but this time by putting on an entrepreneurial face.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the enormous effort that went into producing this document. The Subcommittee owes a great deal to the organizations and individuals who gave testimony. Without their input, much of this report would not have been possible.

Thanks are also extended to the research and communications staffs, who worked with a vast array of complex information and rendered it into digestible material, raising questions along the way that enriched the debate. Our gratitude goes out to Michel Patrice, Till Heyde, Matthew Fraser, Terrence Thomas, Tony Hodgkinson, Josée Thérien, André Savaria, Frèdelin Leroux and Daniel Chemla.

To the members of the Subcommittee, I offer my personal thanks for their support and encouragement. Despite strong demands on their time – in the Senate, in their respective regions and on other committees – they remained steadfast in their commitment to produce what I hope will be regarded as seminal documents on the technological revolution. They are: The Honourables: Mira Spivak, Lise Bacon, Janis Johnson and Shirley Maheu.

 

The Honourable Marie-P. (Charette) Poulin
Chair, Subcommittee on Communications 


Top of document