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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Official Languages

Issue 10 - Evidence, December 4, 2006


OTTAWA, Monday, December 4, 2006

The Senate Standing Committee on Official Languages met this day at 4:00 p.m. to study, and to report from time to time, on the application of the Official Languages Act and the regulations and directives made under it, within those institutions subjected to the act, and to consider a draft report.

Senator Maria Chaput (Chairman) in the Chair.

[Translation]

The Chairman: Honourable senators, good afternoon and welcome to the eighteenth meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages. My name is Maria Chaput, I am the chairman of this committee, and I come from Manitoba.

Before giving the floor over to our witnesses, allow me to introduce you to the other members of this committee. I will start at my far left, with our Vice-Chairman, Senator Andrée Champagne from Quebec, Senator Gerald Comeau from Nova Scotia, and Senator Lowell Murray from Ontario.

To my far right sits Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool from New Brunswick, Senator Claudette Tardif from Alberta, Senator Fernand Robichaud from New Brunswick, and Senator Mobina Jaffer from British Columbia.

Today we continue our study on the application of the Official Languages Act. To begin, we will hear from representatives of CBC/Radio-Canada whom we have asked to come and speak to us about the broadcasting of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

With us today is the President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada, Mr. Robert Rabinovitch; Mr. Sylvain Lafrance, who is Executive Vice-President, French services; and the Vice-President of Strategy and Business Development, Mr. Michel Tremblay.

Welcome, gentlemen, the floor is yours.

Robert Rabinovitch, President and CEO, CBC/Radio-Canada: Madam Chair, thank you for inviting us to come here today to share with you our experience in bringing the Olympics to Canadians.

Before we take your questions, I thought it might be useful to explain a little bit about CBC/Radio-Canada's involvement with the Olympics, as well as the process leading to the awarding of broadcast rights for the Games.

We are very proud of our record as broadcaster of choice for the Olympics. In Beijing in 2008, as we have for the past six Olympics, CBC/Radio-Canada will ensure that all Canadians will be able to experience the performances of their athletes in French and English, on radio and television, in HD and on the Internet, live and in prime time, all without additional cost. We believe this is an important part of our public service mandate. It also helps ensure we have the resources to continue our amateur sports coverage.

[English]

For us, the Olympics are not an end in themselves. They are the culmination of a continuing commitment to showcase Canadian athletes at hundreds of events all year, every year. CBC/Radio-Canada is the only place where Canadians can follow their local athletes as they rise through international competitions, including the Pan Am Games, the Arctic Winter Games and the Commonwealth Games years before their Olympic debut. When the athletes get to the Olympics, Canadians already know who they are.

Our expertise in covering Olympic Games is also recognized by the International Olympic Committee, which has repeatedly chosen CBC/Radio-Canada to provide the pool feed to the world for key Olympic events like hockey, curling and boxing, amongst others.

In Vancouver 2010, the games come home. It will be one of the most popular Olympics for Canadians in decades. Naturally, CBC/Radio-Canada wanted to bring these games to Canadians, but we were outbid by the consortium led by Bell Globemedia, from whom you will hear shortly. Under the Olympic bidding process, broadcasters submit bids detailing their coverage plans for the games in advance. This includes hours as well as types of programming and broadcasting platforms.

I can tell you that in addition to French and English radio and the Internet and other platforms, our bid proposed a total of 1,168 television broadcast hours for the Vancouver games. This included equal amounts of programming on our main French and English networks.

Our bid package highlighted our record in covering the Olympics and our commitment to providing comprehensive over-the-air coverage in English and French on multiple platforms across the country and our ongoing commitment to amateur sports 52 weeks a year. It had the support of a large group of international sporting federations.

It is not all about the package. At the end of the process, at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, broadcasters made their final presentations and put a dollar figure to what they were willing to pay for the broadcast rights. We put together what I believe was a fiscally responsible bid. It reflected, among other things, the costs of ensuring high- quality Olympic programming to all Canadians, with two different broadcasts, one in English and one in French.

As you know, Bell Globemedia offered much more money for the Olympic broadcast rights — U.S.$153 million versus $93 million offered by CBC and its partners. We offered what we thought was fiscally responsible. CBC/Radio- Canada simply could not seek the Olympics at any price. For a national public broadcaster, such a strategy would have been an inappropriate use of public resources and could have put other important programming at risk.

We were disappointed, of course, not to win the bid. This is the reality of bidding for broadcast rights. Since then, we have been planning our schedule accordingly. We are getting ready for the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, and in the absence of the 2010 Olympics, we are making our own programming plans, including the coverage of the FIFA world championships in that year.

We have heard the concerns expressed by members of the committee and the Commissioner of Official Languages about the Olympic programming that will be available to francophones in particular from Vancouver in 2010. I think it is appropriate that the committee is looking at this issue now, while there is sufficient time for your concerns to be addressed.

Ensuring that Canadians across the country have access to our programming has always been our priority, but Olympic coverage means more than just the availability of a broadcasting signal. For us, it is also about the quality and distinctiveness of the programming we offer to two vastly different markets.

[Translation]

The interests of francophone audiences are not always the same as for anglophones. Some athletes, some sports have a higher profile in Quebec and among French-speaking Canadians. This is why two separate programs — one in English, one in French — have always been an essential part of CBC/Radio-Canada's Olympics coverage.

Take the last winter Olympics in Turin for example. During the games we had 32 different broadcast feeds coming in separately into Montreal and into Toronto. Our television staff at Radio-Canada and CBC chose the feeds — the events to broadcast — based on the interests of their different audiences. Our people in Turin interviewed and profiled our Canadian athletes based on the requirements of these different markets. While both audiences were interested in watching Canada's athletes compete, sometimes francophones were watching Alexandre Bilodeau in freestyle skiing while anglophones were watching biathlete Sandra Keith. It is a challenge to provide essentially two different Olympic programs to Canadians but we believe it has to be that way.

As you can tell, we are very proud of our hard-earned reputation for quality Olympic coverage to both anglophones and francophones. Thus is why we were surprised when, after winning the broadcast rights in Lausanne, BGM issued a news release saying it would solve the problem by providing service to francophones by having Radio-Canada carry its signal.

I can assure you that no one ever discussed that with me. Nor is that something that we can accept. As I said earlier, the quality and distinctiveness of our programming are as important as transmission. Radio-Canada is simply not a free transmission service to be used by private broadcasters whenever they wish.

[English]

As a public broadcaster, we have specific obligations to francophones and minority language communities under the Broadcasting Act. We are also responsible to the CRTC for the quality and quantity of the programming we provide on our airwaves. We simply cannot allow a private broadcaster to substitute its programming for ours in order to fix the deficiencies in its coverage.

We understand that Bell Globemedia has said it will offer its RDS and RIS signals free to cable and satellite subscribers during the Vancouver Olympics. We think this is commendable. We think it is good that this offer comes now so that BGM has time to work with cable operators and persuade those who do not currently offer RDS to do so. I leave it to others to decide if that is sufficient.

Let me be clear: Radio-Canada's reputation for producing high-quality Olympic programming to francophones on television, radio and the Internet is undisputed and hard-won, but we are not the broadcast right holder for 2010. As I said at the beginning, we are here today as a resource, based on our past experience with the Olympics. We will be ready to assist if necessary, but any arrangement must be the result of a fair negotiation based on sound management of public funds and quality, distinctive broadcasts targeted specifically to French- and English-speaking audiences.

The Olympics remain an important cultural event for CBC/Radio-Canada and an important part of our commitment to Canadian amateur athletes. We are looking forward to showcasing those athletes at the upcoming games in Beijing in 2008. CBC/Radio-Canada will once again provide the award-winning Olympic coverage Canadians enjoy. We are also looking forward to the opportunity to bring the Olympics to Canadians in the future.

Thank you for your time. We will be pleased to take your questions.

Senator Jaffer: Thank you for your presentation. Is it correct that the offer was made that Bell Globemedia and Rogers had approached you for an opportunity to distribute their signal free?

Mr. Rabinovitch: No. We have never had any discussions whatsoever about distributing their signal.

Senator Jaffer: You may not want to answer this, but if an offer were made would you be open to working with them, and under what conditions?

Mr. Rabinovitch: I would not want to leave you with a misunderstanding. We would be very open to discussing with them a business deal that would have to meet conditions of fairness, quality, equity and distinctiveness. There would have to be a business deal worked out between two business partners.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: Would such an agreement now be possible? You seem to be setting strict conditions. In your presentation, you said that your programming meets the needs of official language minority communities. Do you believe that it will be possible to reach an agreement? I believe that it will not only be an agreement on distribution, but also an agreement on revenue-sharing, is that right?

Mr. Rabinovitch: I continue to be optimistic about reaching an agreement. I believe that both partners must be on equal footing so that they both can live with whatever arrangement is decided upon. I will let Mr. Lafrance speak so that he can further elaborate.

Mr. Sylvain Lafrance, Executive Vice-President, French Services, CBC/Radio-Canada: Madam Chairman, one must understand that the integrity of Radio-Canada is very important. We work hard to preserve our brand. We offer all francophones across the country a given portion of content, that is sometimes cultural, and other times informative. We must always do this. During a period of two weeks, we cannot simply stop doing this for one group of Canada's francophones. All the more so when we think of where this might take us.

The first criteria we established is equity for all francophones in Canada. It is currently believed that there are francophones living outside Quebec who could not receive the signal. If we reach an agreement for areas outside Quebec, certain francophones living in Quebec who do not receive over-the-air TQS service will not receive the signal. Can we just hand over our entire network to the entire country over two weeks, something that would have a major impact on Radio-Canada's revenues?

Second, to our mind, services must be of high quality and they must be fair to all francophones and anglophones. We have statutory obligations to provide equitable service. Therefore, we must make sure that as a broadcaster, we are indeed providing equitable service. The services must meet quality standards. For decades, Radio-Canada has refined the quality of its extraordinary Olympic coverage broadcasting. We cannot simply hand over our airways without maintaining a certain level of control over the quality of what is been broadcast on our airways. We also believe that there must be distinct programming for francophones.

As the chairman was saying during his introductory remarks, francophones sometimes have diverging interests, and there are cases where this is quite obvious. Last, we are subject to sound public management practices; we simply cannot yield our airways in one part of the country and continue to pay for rights over Canadian film and dramas that cannot be broadcast in another part of the country. The issue is not a simple one. For us, the network's integrity remains fundamental.

Senator Robichaud: You are giving me the impression that it will be quite difficult to reach an agreement.

Mr. Lafrance: It is entirely possible to reach an agreement if these criteria are met. But I believe that you will understand that as a public broadcaster, we have important obligations to francophones outside Quebec — and everywhere else — and we must discharge these obligations.

We must meet those obligations, and do so responsibly. We must understand the consequences of our future actions. We must ask ourselves just how far we will go if we decide that a given part of the country will receive a different signal. Would that mean sacrificing news updates, drama programming, or Canadian cinema? What will be cut back for francophones who are not being served by Radio-Canada during that week? That remains a significant issue.

Yes, we wish to be part of the solution, but we must do so with the responsibility that comes with being a public broadcaster.

Senator Robichaud: To what extent are you willing to water down your wine? Precisely because you also have a responsibility to serve all Canadians.

Michel Tremblay, Vice-President, Strategy and Business Development, CBC/Radio-Canada: Absolutely, but all of this should have been discussed before the bids were submitted to the Olympic Committee, which is not the stage we are at today.

Ultimately, we have statutory obligations to provide equivalent services to francophones and anglophones alike.

Unfortunately — and we are willing to discuss this — we cannot bail out broadcasters who find themselves in trouble when they cannot honour their commitments. Obviously, we have set very high standards, but we are not the ones who are asking for things in this regard.

Mr. Lafrance: You seem to be under the assumption that we do not want an agreement.

Senator Robichaud: No, absolutely not. In fact, I am speaking as devil's advocate.

Mr. Lafrance: Our simple premise is that we want all francophones to have access. But as a public broadcaster, we have significant responsibilities. Francophones living in other parts of the country will not be happy if we decide to cut out certain parts of the programming. We are unaware of the programming plans of these other networks.

The fact remains that we must nonetheless fulfil our responsibilities as regards providing news and cultural information to Canadians. We have to balance out our responsibilities. I believe that it must be understood that we have certain responsibilities, and some of them are even set out in legislation.

Senator Robichaud: You understand that I am most concerned about making sure that as many Canadians as possible have access to Olympic broadcasting. Perhaps it is for this reason that we may appear to be strict, but we believe that some shortcomings must be rectified. Up until now, we have been told that the situation would resolve itself, but we will continue to apply pressure, when needed, to make sure that services meet the expectations of all Canadian men and women.

Senator Tardif: Was the decision of the International Olympic Committee to give Bell Globemedia and Rogers Media rights over the 2010 Olympic Games broadcasting based on costs?

Mr. Rabinovitch: Yes.

Senator Tardif: Your bid was $93 million and the consortium's proposal was worth US$153 million.

Mr. Lafrance: That is correct.

Senator Tardif: Programming was not taken into consideration.

Mr. Rabinovitch: That is not exactly the case. Both applicants made bids on programming. Bell Globemedia's presentation on programming was acceptable to the Olympic Committee. From what I have heard, they made a very good bid. We also made a good bid. First and foremost, programming must be acceptable. After that, it comes down to a matter of price.

Senator Tardif: In your bid on French services, the number of hours of programming was equivalent. You proposed 1,100 hours, whereas the Bell Globemedia consortium was only offering 550 hours of programming in French. This is half of what is offered in English.

Mr. Rabinovitch: It is obvious that for the Olympic Committee, it was acceptable.

Senator Tardif: That is unfortunate. The Games will take place in Canada, an officially bilingual country, and we have a network, CBC/Radio-Canada, which can provide broadcasting in both official languages. In 1988, in Calgary, there were also problems.

Mr. Rabinovitch: Yes.

Senator Tardif: Especially for the francophone community living in Calgary. Many viewers did not have access to French-language broadcasting of the Games in their own city. What kind of recommendations can you make at this point?

Mr. Rabinovitch: If memory serves me correctly, Calgary was an entirely different era. The cost of broadcasting rights were much lower. At the end of the day, following discussions, it was decided that CTV and CBC/Radio-Canada would enter into a sort of partnership with a figure I can no longer recall. CBC/Radio-Canada was responsible for some programs in English, and for almost all of the programs in French.

Senator Tardif: Do you believe that the Government of Canada has a role to play in ensuring free rebroadcasting of the Games to the entire francophone and anglophone viewership?

Mr. Rabinovitch: Yes. It is very important to raise all of those issues now because we only have three and a half years to resolve the problem. But it must be said that we do not have the rights.

Senator Tardif: I understand. Thank you.

Senator Champagne: During the Calgary Games, despite all of that, 30 per cent of francophones in this country did not receive broadcasting in French.

Mr. Rabinovitch: TVA was responsible for broadcasting in French.

Mr. Lafrance: As I recall, Radio-Canada was not producing the broadcasting, it was TVA.

Senator Champagne: I understand very well. TQS has no problem broadcasting in Quebec, but even now, with satellite and digital technology, there is a problem of rebroadcasting for francophones living outside Quebec. Allow me to quote the original English version of the letter written by Paul Sparkes, Senior Vice-President, Corporate and Public Affairs of Bell Globemedia, who said:

[English]

In addition, we have sought to expand our reach even further and have formally offered the opportunity to la Société Radio-Canada to deliver the signal free of charge outside the province of Quebec. Unfortunately, SRC has declined the proposal.

Mr. Rabinovitch: SRC has never been informed. We have never received the letter.

Senator Murray: But you do not accept it.

Mr. Rabinovitch: We do not accept it. I apologize for jumping in.

Senator Murray: So do I.

Senator Champagne: That is all right.

[Translation]

You are telling us that you were never approached. You were never in a position to begin negotiations to discuss any sort of agreement on the number of hours, costs, or anything else. You say that very earnestly. I do not know what Bell Globemedia is going to tell us in a half hour when they testify. So you must understand that I am asking myself a certain number of questions.

Mr. Lafrance: We ask ourselves the same questions. There is an important principle at stake. During the Calgary Games, TVA was able to say: we are going to do it, we will make a bid, we are going to take CBC/Radio-Canada's airways, and for other sports, elsewhere, we are going to take CBC/Radio-Canada's airways. This is an important principle. Everybody agrees to hand over their signal to CBC/Radio-Canada and sell advertising on its air waves which will be broadcast by CBC/Radio-Canada. Everybody agrees that the public service can be used free of charge. However, an important issue emerges. We have many responsibilities towards Canadians, in addition to these. Indeed, we hope to offer access to all of our programming, but we have responsibilities as a public manager, responsibilities that are important. We cannot let everyone throw in a gamut of things and say that it will all resolve itself and the CBC will broadcast it, that it will be put on the network and offered free of charge. We pay for Canadian drama series, Canadian film, for Canadian news shows, and we have the responsibility to broadcast these to all Canadians. We cannot allow everyone to receive our signal and use it to sell advertising time, all the while widening their network by taking the CBC's airways. This is a huge problem. That is why we are saying certain criteria must be met.

I would like to add something. We are working a lot at the moment on the distinctive character of public television, public television's trademark, the responsibilities incumbent upon public television, regional news, Canadian dramas, and Canadian film. This is what we are focusing on. We cannot just change our trademark for two weeks, call ourselves TQS, have someone sell advertising on our channel while, for two weeks, Canadians no longer know what they are listening to, do not see their regular news programs, Canadian dramas and Canadian film and see advertising sold by TQS. There are major trademark issues associated with all this.

Senator Champagne: Yes, but there is also another very important point, which you keep referring to, and that is advertising. And what advertising would be shown?

Mr. Lafrance: TQS's in this particular case.

Senator Champagne: Unless an agreement is reached on the matter.

Mr. Lafrance: There you go!

Senator Champagne: They are talking about something else. But that may be a possibility.

Mr. Lafrance: It is not an issue when it comes to advertising alone, but also as far as programming is concerned. Some francophones will want to continue to get regional, and other, news broadcasts. We have to honour our program selection. We cannot simply say: take what you want, it is open house. We must maintain our programming's integrity. We cannot stop broadcasting a drama for two weeks for some francophones and not for others. If we were to award broadcasting rights outside Quebec, we would then have the problem of Quebeckers not getting a TQS signal. Then what would we do? Would we give the rights in Quebec as well? Where would this all stop? There are major ramifications associated with compromising the integrity of a network like this one. There is the whole issue of rights which must be taken into consideration.

Senator Champagne: That then brings me to the $60 million in the IOC bid which suddenly takes on a whole new level of importance. If we really intend to uphold francophone Canadians rights in a country as vast as ours, do you not think it would have been worthwhile digging a little deeper? You really could not find $60 million more?

Mr. Lafrance: For our bid?

Senator Champagne: I am referring to the difference, in dollar terms, between your bid and Globemedia's.

Mr. Rabinovitch: The amount we were prepared to pay, with the assistance of a few partners such as CanWest Global, including our government's grant and the sale of advertising, was the highest bid we were able to make at the time. It was impossible to put more on the table and, frankly, as manager of a public service, it would have been irresponsible had we increased this amount. Do not forget, the $93 million we put on the table was $25 million more than what we paid for Beijing.

[English]

Senator Murray: You do not accept the principle of simply carrying their signal; that is pretty clear. It is good to know it is not the money; it is the principle of the thing we are talking about here. You are open to a business arrangement, however, to a negotiation. I would not want to have anything we say here result in handicapping you in any such negotiation, but we are glad to hear that.

Mr. Tremblay, you say you would not be the demandeur in any such negotiation. I do not think there is a demandeur, except those of us who are purporting to speak on behalf of some Canadians who, unless there is some agreement, will be deprived of the coverage. I do not think that Bell Globemedia is a demandeur either. If you have one thing in common, you probably wish we would go away, but that is not open to us either.

I am puzzled by the references to your obligations to the anglophone audience. The anglophones are looked after, are they not?

[Translation]

Mr. Lafrance: I am saying that the law says we must provide equivalent services to francophones and anglophones. If we agreed to broadcast the signal and it turned out not to be equivalent, there would certainly be implications to this. When you provide a product, it must be equivalent.

Senator Murray: Bell Globemedia will cater to anglophones, will it not?

[English]

Mr. Rabinovitch: I think the anglophone community will be extremely well served. The CTV group will do a first- class job. They have in the past and they will again. However, we would not want to participate in a signal on the French side that was not equivalent, in terms of quality, to the signal on the English side.

Senator Murray: Is there a danger of that happening? What would be the danger of that happening?

Mr. Rabinovitch: We do not know, because we have not had any communication or discussion. No one is asking to turn over our English network and transmission facilities. In any discussion about using our facilities and our abilities, we would want to be part of ensuring that the product was something we could all be proud of.

Senator Murray: Perhaps I should not pursue it, as I do not want to get the negotiations off to a sour start, but the implication is that perhaps what they are providing for the francophone audiences may not be up to the same high quality to which you refer that they are providing for anglophone audiences.

Mr. Rabinovitch: I have no basis on which to say whether it will be good, bad or indifferent. I do know that TQS does no sports, has no background in sports and has no real interest in sports. RDS, on the other hand, does superb sports.

Mr. Lafrance: We have to be sure it will be a good service. It is normal for us; we are the broadcaster.

Senator Murray: Mr. Rabinovitch, you alluded to the principles that you would want to see respected in any business arrangements. I did not write them all down. I got as far as quality and distinctiveness. What are the others?

Mr. Lafrance: I mentioned that there must be equity in the francophone coverage across the country. If we fix the problem for the francophones who do not live in Quebec, there will be some francophones in Quebec who do not have access to the TQS signal and are not under broadcasting distribution undertaking, BDU, operation. They do not receive satellite or cable, so they will probably request the same service as the francophones outside of Quebec.

Will we have to give our signal for the whole country during two weeks? It is a good question. That is the first point. The second point is what you just mentioned, the equity between the anglophone and francophone services. There has to be equality of service. We have to be objective. We are the broadcaster and we are responsible for everything that is broadcast on the air and we must ensure it is good.

[Translation]

And if we do not ensure quality assurance, you will call us back and ask us why we are allowing this type of thing on our channel. That is an issue.

[English]

Francophones need some distinctive programs because they do not always have the same interests as anglophones, so we want to be sure that it will be done in a way that serves francophones.

The last point, which is very important, is that we must have good public service management. We cannot just offer the public service as an open buffet. We are managing public money, so we must ensure that it is management-wise, if I can use that expression.

Senator Murray: Perhaps I should not go this far, but there was a lot of talk about the advertising. You do not want to carry their ads, obviously. Are you suggesting that a way could be found, such as has often been found with the importation of American signals from the United States, to run your own ads?

Mr. Rabinovitch: It is not so much a question of carrying their ads or our ads; it is a question of conducting a quality, correct business deal between all the parties, and not just picking up a signal and acting as a re-transmitter, including their ads.

Senator Murray: In a business arrangement that you might make — someone had better ask this question now rather than later — are there possible implications in terms of government funding? Are you going to be back at the Minister of Finance looking for more money?

Mr. Rabinovitch: I always go back to the Minister of Finance for more money, but I have had no success for 32 years now; however, there is no relationship between this discussion and our funding needs. That is exactly why we went as far as we did, and no further, when we bid for the Olympics in the first instance, and even to get the bid up, because we knew there would be a significant bid on the other side for the first time we brought in other partners.

Senator Murray: When you think in terms of a business arrangement and the various business arrangements that might be arrived at in the course of a negotiation, there are no implications for the federal fisc particularly?

Mr. Rabinovitch: No.

[Translation]

Senator Losier-Cool: You talked about equality. We all know that CBC/Radio-Canada's primary mission is to provide service to Canadians from coast.

How many Canadian households currently receive CBC's signal?

Mr. Rabinovitch: Ninety-nine per cent.

Senator Losier-Cool: Do they need to subscribe to the service?

Mr. Tremblay: Actually, currently, 90 per cent of Canadians watch television via cable, in other words by satellite. That is their choice. Ten per cent of Canadians still get their signal via radio-relay channel, but even if you discount cable and satellite, 99 per cent of Canadians get our signal.

Mr. Rabinovitch: We need to remember that during the 1970s and 1980s, right up until 1986, 1987, the government awarded CBC/Radio-Canada grants to ensure that every community of 500 residents or more would be able to get our signal over the air waves. It is up to individuals to decide whether they want to get the signal over the air, by satellite or via cable.

Senator Losier-Cool: That brings me to my next question. Can francophones living in a minority setting get this signal?

Mr. Rabinovitch: Yes, they can.

Senator Losier-Cool: The committee was in Vancouver recently — and, in fact, a lot of people have this experience — when you are staying at a hotel, you are told ``yes, such services are offered.'' But what if a hotel does not provide the services? There was RDS, TV5 on the list but, in reality, none of these channels were available. We made a comment to the Mayor of Vancouver about this and he has made it his mission, I think, to contact hotel managers, especially in the lead-up to 2010. The problem is that sometimes services do exist, but access to them is not made available.

Mr. Rabinovitch: It is the hotel operator or the cable service provider who may decide not to receive French- language signals. That decision is left up to them; however, they must get Radio-Canada's signal.

Senator Losier-Cool: Does the 99 per cent of Canadians referred to earlier include minority francophones?

Mr. Lafrance: I would not be able to make a distinction between francophones in a minority setting and francophones in a majority setting; however, a distinction may be made with those people living in remote regions. Whether you are in the Gaspé or Northern Ontario, you will probably have the same problem. It is more about remote regions than whether or not you are in a minority setting.

Senator Champagne: Ninety per cent seems high to me but I would like you to tell me again about what you said to the CRTC concerning your intention to drop over-the-air broadcasting except in the major urban areas. In other words, for people in remote regions with no access to cable if no signal is available over the air waves, their only option is to buy a satellite dish. Otherwise they will be without television, even CBC. Is that the case?

Mr. Rabinovitch: That is what we suggested to the CRTC last week and it is a way of introducing HD services in Canada. HD is very expensive and we put forward a plan comprising 44 transmitters to cover 80 per cent of the population, be it francophone or anglophone. The remaining 20 per cent will have to subscribe to a satellite or cable service. I should say that this is merely a proposal. TQS has put forward a proposal for a single HD transmitter. We have made representations along the same lines and, once again, there just is not enough money to set up such a system right across Canada.

Currently, we have 650 transmitters. There are many for small communities of 500 to 700 residents. In some communities, we set up a CBC transmitter and realized that nobody was using the transmitter signal because they all had satellite or cable. Funnily enough, things have changed, many of those people who do not have satellite or cable are in major urban areas such as Montreal and Toronto. These people have decided not to pay for cable or satellite because they are happy with the regular over-the-air broadcasts.

Senator Robichaud: On the topic of the 2010 Games, you must currently be negotiating with other people working in your field. In your opinion, when will an agreement be reached to make sure that all Canadians will receive the services they are entitled to?

Mr. Lafrance: I am almost tempted to reply by saying that it depends on the agreement. There are thousands of possibilities. Olympic coverage, as we have always done it, requires advance planning. Therefore, it depends on the type of agreement we reach. However, for the benefit of all, we all agree that it must be done as soon as possible.

Senator Robichaud: In the multi-party agreement that was just signed, clause 13 stipulates that all parties must do their utmost. I find this to be vague, and that leads to my next question: at what point do we need to cry wolf and require that an agreement be concluded?

Mr. Lafrance: We also want to provide services to all Canadians. The closer we get to the date, the fewer possibilities remain in terms of the type of agreement that can be reached. For example, we know that production planning is already underway as well as broadcasting. Television slots are drawn up well ahead of the summer season. We invest considerably in Canadian drama and other similar programs. If this is being done for the summer of 2010, they must be broadcast. The closer the deadline, the fewer the possibilities for these agreements. This is a problem.

Senator Robichaud: Did I hear you correctly, Mr. Rabinovitch, when you said that it takes two to three years of preparation?

Mr. Rabinovitch: Yes, to make a good presentation of an event as important as the Olympic Games, for instance, we began preparing for Beijing the day we wrapped up in Turin. We even started ahead of time. We sent groups out to China to begin work immediately. That is exactly what we are doing with Vancouver. I am certain that CTV has already begun developing its presentation. All of this takes time.

Mr. Lafrance: You would be surprised to know the number we already have pinned down with regard to Beijing. We broadcast on television, radio, the Internet, and podcast. We have to think about many details when we arrive in a city, which during two weeks, will be inundated with broadcasters, visitors and athletes. We really have to plan well ahead of time.

Senator Tardif: A clarification, please: Will you be able to arrive on site in 2010 to carry out interviews with athletes, organizers and participants, either for television or radio? Even if you do not hold the broadcasting rights as such, will you have this possibility open to you, or is this exclusive to the Bell consortium?

Mr. Rabinovitch: Certain things are limited, for example the broadcasting of an event like a hockey match. If I recall correctly, the first round of interviews immediately following an event will be done by another broadcaster. But I can assure you that we will be there.

Mr. Lafrance: We cannot be absent from an event like the one in Vancouver. We will be there, within our limits. However, it will be complicated when it comes to Olympic sites. There are sites on which we do not have the right to carry out interviews with athletes. In one way or another, we will transmit what is going on in Vancouver, what is happening overall and the results of the competitions. We will mostly cover events live or carry interviews with athletes on Game sites where we are quite limited as we do not have the rights.

Senator Tardif: But there are constraints, nonetheless.

Mr. Lafrance: Yes, enormous constraints.

Mr. Rabinovith: You do not pay out $150 million not to control the event.

Senator Champagne: Last week, I was listening to the Ski in the Lake Louise program, on CBC.

[English]

The silver medal went to a young man by the name of Osborne-Purdy. The next morning I opened my newspaper and found out that this young man's name is Osborne-Paradis.

[Translation]

It appears that his mother is English-speaking and his father is called Mr. Paradis. But Osborne-Purdy?

Mr. Rabinovith: If I remember correctly, he is from Vancouver.

[English]

Senator Champagne: I do not care. His name is Paradis, not Purdy.

[Translation]

Mr. Rabinovith: I do not know his name.

[English]

I do not know how he pronounces his name.

[Translation]

Senator Champagne: I hope that whoever handles of coverage for the 2010 Olympic Games will ensure that commentators take language courses. When you hear names like Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon being mispronounced, it may not be in your area, but they will hear.

Mr. Rabinovith: That is also one of our responsibilities. We have the same problem in hockey, with some of the commentators.

Senator Champagne: I thought that since we are here at the Official Languages Committee, I would take the opportunity to say it with a smile.

Mr. Lafrance: We do not cover Canadian amateur athletes only during the Olympic Games. We cover them all the time. Generally, people at the CBC are familiar with the way names are pronounced.

Senator Champagne: That is why I was really surprised to hear ``Purdy.''

[English]

Senator Jaffer: Thank you for allowing me to ask a question outside the subject matter. I understand that you have not received this letter dated November 20. Is that right?

Mr. Rabinovitch: No, I have not received any letter or any discussion as I said in my text, whatsoever, with respect to these undertakings.

Senator Jaffer: I am happy to have the opportunity to ask this question. In a few words, what is your mandate? Is it to serve all Canadians?

Mr. Rabinovitch: Our mandate is stated in the Broadcasting Act.

Mr. Tremblay: Section 3 of the act specifies that the CBC has a wide range of responsibilities, including providing service of equivalent quality reaching as many Canadians as possible with its programming. We have a long list of obligations under the act, obligations that we are working hard at discharging. That is why we are reluctant to let anyone use our airway as they see fit because we have to live by those expectations. We have heavier responsibilities than those in the private sector of the system.

Senator Jaffer: I feel proud that you take that responsibility seriously. When you spoke about the distinct character and the programming, it is not just a case of putting up subtitles, right? How do you handle the distinct character of French-speaking Canadians who are of ethnic origin? How do you take their issues into account?

Mr. Lafrance: French-speaking and of ethnic origin?

Senator Jaffer: Yes.

Mr. Lafrance: For French-speaking Canadians all across Canada, many programs are produced. A new drama, entitled Belle-Baie, will be aired in September 2007, and it is produced near Moncton. We are producing all across Canada and we are proud of that. In terms of ethnic origin, we try to reflect the culture of the various ethnic communities in Montreal and across Canada. For example, we launched recently a new service called RCI viva — on the Internet — which comes from RCI, Montreal. We realized a few months ago that we have journalists who speak Arab, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish, among others, at RCI in Montreal. We decided to use those journalists not only to speak about Canada abroad but also to speak to all those new communities, especially new arrivals, in Canada. If you go to the web, you will be able to listen to shows in nine different languages. The focus is democracy and culture in Canada and what it is all about to arrive in Canada. It is designed for new arrivals, not for Canadians who have been here for a long time. It is for all across Canada.

However, we always try to reflect those communities in all our programs, both radio and television. We are obsessed about doing that, because the main challenge in this country in the next 20 years will be the cultural coexistence of people. We have to be there as a public service to ensure that we prepare people to live together. It is a responsibility that we have.

Senator Jaffer: I am pleased that you are doing that. That is a progressive step. That is on the Web, is it not?

Mr. Lafrance: Yes.

Senator Jaffer: We are talking about people not having cable. How many ethnic people —

Mr. Lafrance: We have realized something. When you look at new arrivals in Canada, it is surprising because they are younger than we would expect and they are highly connected to the web because it is their link to their homeland. The numbers connected to the web are higher than among other Canadians. It is a very interesting tool.

Senator Jaffer: I have to tell you, and my colleagues will support me, that we worry about cable for Canadians and yet you are providing a service to ethnic people via computers. That is the best you have done so far. The Senate does not have a committee that has as its focus the immigrant or multicultural community, so I cannot ask you to appear there.

I want to speak to you, Mr. Rabinovitch. I have been in Canada for 35 years and I do not feel that CBC reflects my realities. I think it is time it did reflect my realities. I do not see my community on CBC. I have to go to the Rogers channel or OMNI Television to see my reality. We are a growing community, sir. When is CBC going to reflect our realities?

Mr. Rabinovitch: It is a difficult question because there are so many communities to reflect in Canada as Canada expands and has new arrivals. However, we do try to recruit our level of participation in our offices and our on-air is the highest of any broadcaster in terms of bringing in people from different communities. You will find that our programming, whether on radio or TV, but especially on radio, is much more reflective of the local communities that it is expected to serve.

[Translation]

Senator Comeau: Earlier, Senator Jaffer raised a different aspect of the issue, which might be useful in future and in areas other than sports. We could invite these witnesses back for that study.

The Chairman: We will now hear from representatives of the Bell Globemedia/Rogers Media partnership, which as you know has acquired broadcasting rights for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

This afternoon, we will be hearing from Doug Beeforth, President of Rogers Sportsnet Inc., René Guimond, President of TQS, Rick Brace, President of CTV, Gerry Frappier, President and General Manager of RDS, and Paul Sparkes, Senior Vice-President at Bell Globemedia. Welcome to the Standing Senate Committe on Official Languages.

You have about ten minutes for your comments, after which senators will put their questions. Please go ahead.

[English]

Rick Brace, President, CTV, Bell Globemedia/Rogers Media Partnership: Madame Chairman, you have already introduced the panel so I will not read that into the record. I will go right into the text.

As the official broadcaster of the Vancouver Olympics, we are very proud and excited about our plans for the coverage of the 2010 Games. At CTV, we have an impressive history as an official Olympic broadcaster that goes back to the 1964 Olympics, and includes our role as host broadcaster for the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, the last time the Olympics were held in Canada.

Combined with this experience is the thrill of being able to harness all of the new technologies that are bringing Canadians together. This is much more than broadcasting. It is the Internet, high-definition television and wireless to make the 2010 Games an even more exciting experience for people in every corner of Canada. We know that these once-in-a-generation Olympics on Canadian soil are unequalled, and they are an opportunity to help bind the country together in a truly national experience.

From the very early stages of our bid to the IOC, one of the key goals has been the highest possible quality Olympic broadcast in both of Canada's official languages from coast to coast. Today, we would like to share with you our plans for French-language coverage of the 2010 Winter Games and what we are doing to ensure that it is carried coast to coast in Canada through our combined platforms of the TQS network, RDS and RIS.

I will now ask two of my colleagues, René Guimond of TQS and Gerry Frappier of RDS, to explain to you in greater detail what our plans are for 2010.

[Translation]

René Guimond, President, TQS, Bell Globemedia/Rogers Media Partnership: Madam Chair, the first word I will use in describing our French-language coverage is ``more''. We will offer more French-language coverage of the Winter Games than there has ever been on Canadian television. In all, there will be 550 hours of French-language broadcasting on RDS, RIS and TQS combined. This is 30 per cent more than the number of hours of French-language coverage of the Winter Games in Turin, and more than twice the number of hours of French-language coverage of the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, the last time the Olympic Games were held in Canada.

It is important to note that all coverage on TQS, RDS and RIS will be original French-language broadcasting, designed and carried out by French-speaking teams including over 100 journalists, technicians, producers and directors on location in Vancouver. This will make it possible not only to cover Olympic events but also to ensure that francophones across Canada can take advantage of the French fact and the French flavour of these Olympic Games.

We will see French-language interviews and in-depth documentaries with French-speaking athletes and bilingual English-speaking athletes. These are the kinds of interviews and documentaries that Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser spoke about so warmly when he appeared before your committee last month.

This is very doable with our organization. TQS alone, which is a traditional network, can be viewed by over 95 per cent of francophones in Canada, according to Nielsen Media Research. TQS is not only accessible live on basic cable in Quebec, it is also accessible over satellite and digital cable across Canada.

TQS is a major French-language television network based in Montreal. We are very proud to tell you that we are the second-largest French-language broadcaster in Canada, ahead of SRC, the CBC's French-language network. We will mobilize all TQS network resources in this unprecedented Olympian effort.

I will now ask my colleague Gerry Frappier, president of RDS, to give you some idea of the extent of French- language television platforms and the way in which those platforms will reach francophones across Canada.

Gerry Frappier, President and General Manager, RDS, Bell Globemedia/Rogers Media Partnership: Madam Chair, our French-language coverage will be complete on many fronts, not only when it comes to the content but also when it comes to the selection of channels available to viewers. RDS, the Réseau des sports, and RIS, the Réseau Info Sports, are Canada's two French-language sports specialty channels. Both will be an integral part of the overall platform.

Let me provide some background on these two networks. RDS has been on the air for 17 years now, and has over 2.1 million subscribers in Quebec alone, as well as 410,000 subscribers elsewhere in Canada. Its reach outside Quebec is increasing steadily.

RDS already delivers over 85 per cent of French-language sports viewing hours on Canadian TV, an excellent example of our commitment to providing services for French-speaking audiences in this important area.

In fact, last year, we reached audiences of mainstream channel size for 200 events. We are used to presenting important Canadian events to Canada-wide French-speaking audiences.

For 10 years, RDS has been the official French-language broadcaster for the Grey Cup. We have also been an official broadcaster for the Canada Games and the Défi sportif des athlètes handicapés. We are also the host broadcaster for the Montreal Canadians, a tradition and responsibility we take very seriously in view of the hockey franchise's unique significance for hockey in Canada.

The growth of the RIS network has been more explosive. Still after only two years on air, RIS already has over 800,000 subscribers, making it one of the most popular digital networks in Quebec and one of the top digital networks in Canada in any language.

These two networks are the national leaders in televised sports, and together constitute a natural platform to carry the Vancouver Games in French.

Honourable senators, we are very excited at being in the vanguard of this technical revolution. We know that, at present, some viewers — a minority of less than 4 to 5 per cent, and the percentage is decreasing — will not be able to experience the Games through any of these media. We are working very hard to include them.

In addition to targeting almost all French-speaking households in Canada through the combined platforms of our three networks, we have taken further measures to ensure the widest possible outreach for our French-language Olympic Games coverage.

As you know, we have officially offered SRC, the CBC's French-language network, a chance to distribute TQS Olympic coverage cost-free outside Quebec. Unfortunately, for their own reasons, SRC declined our offer.

Our offer of course still holds. We cannot wait, however. That is why we have decided to make our French-language television a coverage on TQS, RDS and RIS available cost-free to all cable and satellite service providers outside Quebec for the two-week period of the Winter Games.

These measures, combined with our current coverage, will enable us to reach over 99 per cent of francophone television viewers across Canada, according to BBM (Bureau of Broadcast Measurement).

Once again, this will set a new standard for the coverage of the Winter Olympic Games in Canada. This has been made possible by the revolution in digital specialized services that have existed for less than a decade.

Honourable senators, while taking all these steps to reach the greatest possible number of francophone television viewers, we are also counting on new platforms that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

RDS and Info Sports are the main sources of information on sports in French online line. In October, for example, the RDS website had one million hits. Of this total, almost one quarter, or 250,000 hits, came from outside Quebec.

We will use this leadership in new media to reach francophones in Canada in a way as yet unheard of during the 2010 Winter Games. These are the media of the future. This is the choice young people are turning to, and they are turning in increasing numbers to the RDS web platforms.

The rights of Bell Globemedia/Rogers Media for the 2010 Games — and the 2012 Games as well — include these new media. This offers new potential to the francophone television viewers throughout the country. They will be able to have access to additional Olympics coverage on platforms including broadband, the Internet and even wireless technologies.

This type of innovative technology will allow us to ensure that the spirit, excitement and very experience of the Olympic Games will be shared by more Canadians, in both languages, in a more significant and interactive way than ever before.

Honourable senators, from the outset, our commitment to the ICO was to have unprecedented plans for coverage in French. We are very proud and extremely excited by this vision, and we are totally committed to achieving it over the next three years.

My colleagues and I will now be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

Senator Tardif: Welcome and thank you for your presentation. You said that you would be doing more French- language coverage — 30 per cent more than in Turin and much more than there has been in the past for sports events in Canada.

However, if I understand correctly, the number of hours offered in French will not be the same as the number of hours of coverage offered in English. Do you intend to try to equalize the number of hours of coverage of the Games between the English and French networks?

[English]

Mr. Brace: When we did the deal with TQS, we came up with a commercial arrangement whereby TQS will do 12 hours a day. If we do the math, that virtually covers all of the events, along with RDS, of the Olympic Games.

On the English side, the biggest difference is that we have more outlets. We, in effect, have four stations. On the specialty side of the equation, along with TSN, there are four feeds of Sportsnet. That is where many of the hours are allocated.

In terms of CTV coverage, we determined, because of the event we purchased and the way we want to exploit it, that we want to fully do 22 hours. To be clear, the hours we will be doing to exceed what is happening on TQS are repeats of programming and not the events themselves.

If we look at the number of hours that were talked about in the previous presentation, we will be doing more than they have done in the French language by 30 per cent over Turin. We believe it is a great increment. I do not want to confuse the repeat hours with the original hours.

Senator Tardif: I would agree that 30 per cent is an improvement. However, can you tell us that the services provided will be equivalent in English and in French and that the minority-language communities, both in French and English — and it may be a question of regions — will have equal access?

Mr. Brace: In terms of the quality of coverage, I will pass to Mr. Guimond. On TQS, we will be doing unilateral coverage.

[Translation]

Mr. Guimond: The coverage we will be offering to TQS, that is 12 hours a day, will really offer full, comprehensive coverage of the events. If I understood correctly, your question was about market coverage?

Senator Tardif: It was really about what will be offered.

Mr. Guimond: We will offer coverage that will be a 30 per cent improvement on the number of hours we offered for the Turin Games. Compared to the last Olympic Games, held in Calgary, the number of broadcast hours will easily be doubled. We will also offer very good broadcasting.

As far as market coverage goes, this is something we are extremely concerned about and this is why the consortium decided to offer our signals free of charge to all cable and satellite operators throughout Canada outside Quebec, so as to ensure that the greatest possible number of francophones will have access to Olympic Games coverage.

Senator Tardif: But we do need a cable service. Without cable, there is no service.

Mr. Guimond: At the moment, the penetration of cable and satellites, of BDUs, in Canada is roughly 88 to 90 per cent. And the penetration of BDUs is increasing every year. In 2010, it is expected that the penetration will be approximately 92 or 93 per cent. According to our calculations, that would give us very significant coverage throughout the country as a result of our offer to provide our signal free of charge to cable companies and satellite broadcasters. So the only people without coverage would be those who get signals outside Quebec over the air only.

I would like to remind you that TQS has almost perfect coverage in Quebec, despite what I heard earlier. We are not far from 100 per cent coverage. We have excellent coverage in Quebec, compared to the coverage we could have over the air of some very significant francophone markets — northern New Brunswick, eastern Ontario and others — where there is a very large francophone population. We are doing a good job at reaching these people, over the air as well. Later on, I could give you more details about the coverage we offer.

[English]

Mr. Brace: In addition to the solution that we are finding for cable and for satellite viewers, there will be certainly close to 100 per cent in terms of ability to access. What we are left with is the over-the-air concern. We look at that in terms of how to deal with that.

If we think about the over-the-air situation, what in fact is happening in this country is fewer and fewer people over time are accessing their signals over the air. In fact, Mr. Rabinovitch talked about the plan the CBC put forward to, in effect, turn off transmitters. He is not alone in that proposal to the CRTC. The hearing is still going on. We met with them last Monday. Over time, over-the-air transmitters are becoming less and less the way people receive their signals. By 2010, we estimate it will be a very small portion. We do not deny those people are important. We need to address that. I just want to put a fine point on where it is headed.

Senator Jaffer: The challenge I have is that we have had reports that the programming provided in Turin in French was not very satisfactory. Your saying that you will do 30 per cent better than Turin causes issues for us. We know in Turin there were great challenges in providing francophone programming. That is one of the concerns we have. How are you basing your standard on 30 per cent? Where do you get the 30 per cent from?

Mr. Brace: We are talking 30 per cent more hours. In terms of the quality of coverage, which I think is your real issue, first, we have a long history in producing Olympic Games, including in French when we were partners with TVA. Doug Beeforth, now with Rogers, ran the host broadcast for Calgary and oversaw the entire production for both TVA around CTV at that time.

We want to emphasize here that this is of incredible importance to us. For us to attain the rights to the Olympic Games was a mammoth commitment and one we are determined to deliver on. Mr. Rabinovitch said he has no doubt we will deliver a fine product in the English language. Based on the fact that we work with professionals in the industry, and the person to my left, Mr. Frappier, makes a living of producing sports 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we believe the quality level will be attained. It is of absolute paramount importance for us.

Senator Jaffer: Vancouver is my city, so I want you to provide the best programming, because my city benefits. I do have a concern when you say that you will provide 30 per cent more hours — because we are a bilingual country. I do not think French is a second language in Turin, Italy. I do not think that is the standard we should be looking at, and I express that to you with the greatest of respect, that a 30 per cent increase in the number of is better, but we should be doing even better.

[Translation]

Senator Losier-Cool: Thank you for your presentation. I hope you will continue to be more motivated and committed to making known, in 2010, the spirit of Pierre de Coubertin, who organized the first modern Olympic Games. We should not forget the first Olympic Games took place in French. So here is a unique opportunity to publicize Canada's francophonie, since the Olympic Games are being held in Canada.

I would like to refer to the second page of Mr. Guimond's presentation which concludes with this: We will mobilize all the resources of the TQS network —

I come back to the commitment I am asking of you. In addition to sports competitions, there are some other events that you should or could be looking at. Do you think you have all these resources, or will you have to turn to the private sector to fill certain gaps?

Mr. Guimond: I will answer your question and then turn the floor over to Gerry to add some more information.

I was a little displeased earlier when a reference was made to the quality of TQS. First of all, I would like to repeat that for a number of months now, we have been the second largest francophone network in Canada, in terms of market share. That must be because we are offering some good things.

As regards our experience in sports, we broadcast hockey games for years. We know sports. Last year, I directed the FINA championships myself. I worked very closely with host broadcaster. I think it is a team effort. The Bell Globemedia/Rogers Media Partnership will offer a team effort involving, among others, CTV and Rogers, which have incredible experience broadcasting the Olympic Games. We are part of a team, we will not be working in a vacuum, trying to do things on our own. We will take advantage of the experience and resources these people have. We are a team. As well, there will be a great team built, I am sure, with Gerry Frappier and his people, with RIS and RDS. They have a group of experienced people in sports, and together we will establish a team of professionals that will ensure that francophones in Canada, from coast to coast, will have access to very high quality coverage of Olympic Games. That is my commitment. That is the commitment we made when we agreed to join the partnership. We work very well with the people at RDS and RIS. They are friends and associates. I repeat our interest and our firm intention to deliver first-rate Olympic Games coverage. That is the greatest commitment I can make to you.

Senator Losier-Cool: Perhaps my question was not clear enough. I do not, in any way, question your expertise, I simply want to make sure that during coverage of the sports events of the Olympic Games, we will also be covering all other events that will help reflect the francophonie.

I was also wondering if you made any bids to other private groups in order to complete your team.

Mr. Frappier: Are you talking about covering the socio-cultural aspect of the event?

Senator Losier-Cool: Exactly.

Mr. Frappier: That is already part of our plans. Based on a quick calculation, there are 336 hours in two weeks. We will produce 550 hours of coverage. We must produce content to complement the competitions, which will not be taking place 24 hours per day.

We realize that a global gathering is taking place in our own backyard. Even though we broadcast from Montreal, we feel that Vancouver is in our backyard and is a part of our country. We fully intend to showcase these socio-cultural aspects. In fact, our experience in this field is rather significant.

Perhaps we will begin with events that are less global in dimension. In February, RDS and Info Sport will travel to the Yukon, accompanied by their counterparts at TSN, to cover the Canada Winter Games. We intend to bring the Yukon and the Northwest Territories to our viewers in Quebec and elsewhere, so that they can benefit from this rare opportunity to discover those regions. This is an intrinsic factor in planning our content.

Senator Losier-Cool: Therefore, you have at your disposal of the human resources and expertise necessary to fulfil all of my expectations in that regard?

Mr. Frappier: I believe so.

Senator Losier-Cool: You will not be forced to ask for assistance from another private organization?

Mr. Frappier: Bear in mind we will be working closely with the International Olympic Committee and with COVAN to achieve this goal. We do not claim to know everything that will go on in Vancouver, since 350 of our employees are based in Montreal. However, some people with whom we work very closely are already working on this component for the 2010 Games.

Senator Champagne: Mr. Guimond, with all due respect, TQS is lesser known for its sports programs than RDS. TQS cannot be criticized for its different programming, however there is cause for concern when it comes to the Olympic Games.

Thanks to digital cable, TSQ and RDS can now be received outside Quebec.

I, for one, have digital cable at home. However, if I want to receive RIS, I have to pay an extra fee.

[English]

I do not have CTV Newsnet either as part of my package back home. I live in the province of Quebec, and I must tell you that last weekend, during the Liberal leadership campaign, I wish I could have changed the channel to CTV Newsnet, but it is not available where I live.

[Translation]

Therefore, I really wonder if everyone will truly have access to this coverage. I also wonder about the hours during which coverage will not be available on TQS nor RDS, while coverage may be available on an English network.

[English]

Could SAP, separate audio programming, be possible?

Mr. Brace: It is possible and is something we have actually thought about. The problem with SAP, although it may be a partial solution, is that it does not go far enough because that is just translation. It could be part of the road that we go down if we want broader carriage, and we do. That is always an option and can remain so; we can have simultaneous translation.

However, our preference is to watch the growth of digital, watch the migration. More and more people are doing what you do; they subscribe to the French packages outside of the French market, because they want the entire package, and that makes sense. What we are seeing is that francophones outside the province of Quebec are taking up the digital packages much more quickly than anglophones, for that reason. Our hope is that — we will measure along the way — that more people migrate so that that becomes the bulk of our coverage. It is the unique unilateral coverage that is the quality.

Having said that, if there are other alternatives like SAP or SRC, and you talked about that with Mr. Rabinovitch, that offer is still on the table. We are not walking away from any opportunity here. We are serious about getting the broadest possible carriage.

Senator Champagne: All right, I will bite. I did read Mr. Sparkes' letter to Mr. Rabinovitch who said they were never given the offer.

Mr. Brace: We have here two letters — and Mr. Rabinovitch is absolutely correct, to the point that we did not contact him. We contacted the head of SRC, at the time Daniel Gourd, by letter on February 5, 2005, by Mr. Frappier, basically the week after we got the rights, making the offer that we would provide our signal to them. On February 28, 2005, they responded by letter saying that they were not interested. The answer was ``no''; they did not offer to get together to find a middle ground or say that they had other ideas. They said ``no.'' We took ``no'' as being no and started down another path, that being to provide our signal free of charge to digital cable and satellite during the Olympics, to work with cable companies to ensure we optimize the opportunity in Vancouver, most certainly. That has been our path. We have a number of initiatives on the burner, understanding that CBC said no, and they said no in writing.

Senator Champagne: Copies of which will be provided to members of the committee, I hope.

Mr. Brace: We can provide them.

Senator Murray: I do not want to leave Mr. Beeforth out of this, if only to determine whether he is as much a master of invective as Ted Rogers proved to be when he was at the CRTC the other day. I am rather bemused to see you sharing a table with CTV, but business is business I guess.

This 4 per cent or 5 per cent of the population is what we seem to be talking about here. They will not be able to get the signal, and I do not know how many of those might be served by Rogers. I do not know where they are exactly. Do you? Do you see any commercial opportunities for you to sign some of these people up to Rogers?

Doug Beeforth, President, Rogers Sportsnet Inc., Bell Globemedia/Rogers Media Partnership: By far the most important thing to us, the partnership, is to do everything we can to ensure that Canadians are able to experience these games in both official languages. Is this undertaking a business proposition where we would like to make money as Olympic broadcasters? Absolutely. If I understand your question, it is not accurate for us to say that we would be looking at using the opportunity to make sure Canadians are able to see these games in both languages in the highest possible quality. We are not looking at that as a way to get ahead financially from a business perspective.

Senator Murray: I am talking to you as Rogers. With regard to the 4 per cent or 5 per cent who obviously do not have cable, do you know where they are? Could you identify that potential market?

Mr. Beeforth: It is widespread. It was actually interesting that Mr. Rabinovitch indicated in his presentation that his perspective was those who do not have cable are in the urban areas. That is something that I had never heard before. It is something that certainly we can look into. Rogers, as a partner in this consortium, will do everything we can to make sure Canadians can see these games in both official languages.

Senator Murray: There are a few years left to go. It occurred to me that perhaps this was a potential market of some kind for Rogers as a cable company.

Mr. Beeforth: Again, the utmost thing for us is that Canadians can see these games in both official languages, whichever one they choose, and the quality of coverage will be highest standard ever.

Senator Murray: Maybe you ought to offer some incentive for them to sign on.

Mr. Beeforth: If that get us to the finish line, absolutely.

Mr. Brace: To a question that Senator Jaffer put to the panel earlier, we also have OMNI.1 and OMNI.2, we have done a deal with APTN and we have done a deal with the Asian Television Network, ATN, to make sure we are delivering in both official languages, but also in numerous other languages; that has never been done before.

Senator Murray: Mr. Rabinovitch did say they are open to discussing a business arrangement. Are you?

Mr. Brace: We put an offer on the table to which we received a definitive ``no'' without a call back. The offer would provide the Olympics to the CBC, unilateral coverage produced by TQS and RDS, not just English translation, with production teams and hosts that are resident in the francophone community. By providing that at absolutely no cost, we thought that would offer an opportunity. It would be offered outside the province of Quebec, outside of the market that TQS has, including parts of New Brunswick as well, and other communities, Eastern Ontario. We thought that would be a tremendous opportunity. We are talking about a relatively small number of people, but we think they are vitally important and this was an elegant solution.

The discussion about eliminating programming to that group and the impact on advertising — that is for them to decide. I do not want to sound arrogant, but we think it is de minimis and would offer an opportunity for SRC to be involved in the Olympic Games, and they said no. We have to wait, I guess.

Senator Murray: They have declined in principle the arrangement that you proposed. The question is whether you are prepared to explore some other hypothetical options with them.

Mr. Brace: We are prepared to talk. However, as we say, the experience was not particularly fulfilling. As over-the- air becomes less and less the means of receiving your signal and given what Mr. Rabinovitch said to the CRTC, that he is going to turn off transmitters, it may not be a solution. It may not be the solution that, at the end of the day, gets us to where we need to be. If CBC and SRC are turning off transmitters — which is a position held by all broadcasters, I am not trying to put that at Mr. Rabinovitch's feet — because the investment in upgrading transmitters is an inefficient spend at this point in time, we need to migrate people to other forms of carriage. It may not be as elegant a solution as it is today, so it is something we need to deal with quickly.

Senator Murray: Then you are prepared to explore other still hypothetical possibilities?

Mr. Brace: We are prepared to talk.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: With or without CBC/Radio-Canada, will you be able to provide services in both official languages that will reach approximately 99 per cent of Canadians?

Mr. Guimond: Yes. With the Rich consortium, we will be accessible to almost every single French Canadian. The basic calculation is relatively simple. There are approximately 1 million francophones who do not live in Quebec. Earlier, we talked about the BDU penetration and the cable and satellites currently available in Canada. According to estimates, we believe that by 2010, EDR penetration will hover around 92 or 93 per cent. This is not an ambitious figure. Over-the-air waves will make up of 5 or 7 per cent, which will allow approximately 50,000 to 70,000 francophones to have access to the Games over the air. An average of 60,000 people of the 6 or 7 million francophones living in Quebec translates into 1 per cent of the population that will not receive broadcasting through cable or satellite distribution.

Senator Robichaud: For those 50,000 to 70,000 people, an agreement with Radio Canada would be beneficial.

Mr. Frappier: We are making forecasts but we are already seeing what the new media groups will be doing in the future. Already as it stands, 70 per cent of households in the province are connected to the Internet. Of this number, 55 per cent have high speed connections. Very soon, the Internet will serve as a very significant televisual form of communication. It is already the case today. Already, the RDS website receives one million hits — and we have only begun to streamline video — and of that number, 250,000 people are checking out the website from outside of Quebec, but from within Canada. We can presume that those 250,000 people are francophones; otherwise they would be going to the TSN website, and not RDS. They will be very few differences between a television set and a computer, as the two will increasingly combine, and media consumption on the Internet will be enormous.

Of the 50,000 francophones, broken down into two some twenty thousand households, these figures reveal that approximately 70 per cent of those francophones are already able to receive television signals. In three years, only a very small number of households will be unable to watch a competition live, regardless of place or time.

Senator Robichaud: If Radio Canada were part of the team of broadcasters, would these people not be able to receive a signal?

Mr. Frappier: We cannot give a one under per cent guarantee because Radio Canada does not hold one hundred per cent per cent of the market share in Canada, no more than CTV. Will we see an increase in numbers? Yes.

Senator Robichaud: How much of an increase?

Mr. Guimond: We estimate that 20,000 households cannot receive over-the-air signals. Do not forget about the application made to CRTC by transmitters opting out. We can perhaps assume that the number will be higher than 20,000; it all depends on the pace at which over-the-air transmission is phased out.

Senator Robichaud: During the Games, you will certainly be considering making special offers, ``packages'' as they are commonly known. Would they be made available to those who do not have RDS, because it is already part of a package? Would it be a grouping of programs?

Mr. Frappier: All cable and satellite distributors outside Quebec would be offered TQS, RDS and RIS signals, free of charge, for the duration of the Games. If we add one condition, it would be the following: ``If this is free for you, it must be free for your subscribers as well.''

Senator Robichaud: Have you already made this offer?

Mr. Frappier: We announced it. We still have three years to do the work. This is a long-haul endeavour. We are at an advantage, because currently in Canada, many households are converting from analogue to digital. The more frequently this conversion occurs, the easier it will be for distributors to benefit from what we offer them. They still have a solid year or two before we would be sitting down with them to facilitate the offer.

[English]

Senator Comeau: Mr. Beeforth, my question is with respect to your exchange with Senator Murray regarding your surprise that there were still people in urban areas who do not have cable. Just to extend your surprise even more, I do not have cable. I still use rabbit ears in my apartment, even though I spend most of my week in Ottawa. I might be one of those people from whom you might want to get the reasons as to why.

Mr. Beeforth: I should like to explain why what I heard caused me pause to think about it.

In so many urban areas presently, there are many bylaws that prevent people from using their own antennas — I know you cannot do that where I live. However, you have educated me; I appreciate it.

Senator Comeau: I think we have the mistaken impression that sometimes cable cannot reach all rural areas. We tend to look at rural areas as possibly being the ones who do not receive cable, but I think it is worth looking at urban communities.

Mr. Beeforth: That has given us food for thought, and we will investigate it.

[Translation]

The Chairman: I am ready to begin a second round of questions. As we know, we are waiting for the President of Treasury Board, the Honourable John Baird, to arrive at 6 p.m. We may be unable to entertain all the questions if the answers are too long. Please be as brief as possible.

Senator Tardif: I would like to know how much the agreement between Bell Globemedia/Rogers Media and the International Olympic Committee is worth, and how much of your budget is earmarked for French-language broadcasting?

[English]

What is the amount of your agreement?

Mr. Brace: What is the cost of the agreement?

Senator Tardif: Yes, with the Canadian international committee, as well as the percentage allocated to diffusion in French.

Mr. Brace: We are still working on the production budgets. The allocation for French versus English, I do not have an accurate answer on that. Our coverage in totality is in the neighbourhood of over $100 million. Based on the programming we will do, that amount will be allocated to ensure we deliver the product we need to. We are still working on those budgets, and it is an ongoing project.

Senator Tardif: Is that something we can come back to and ask you about?

Mr. Brace: Yes. Absolutely.

Senator Champagne: When I was asking about SAP, you simply talked about translation. If you are in the United States and listen to baseball in Spanish, it is not just two people describing what is happening on the field, not just translation.

Mr. Brace: No, but they are talking over the English feed. The graphics are still in English. My point is that it is not very elegant. We would like to go further than that.

Senator Champagne: You heard me ask questions of the people from CBC. We need language lessons for our announcers, even English speakers pronouncing French words. I love Rod Black.

You have been covering figure skating since the Johnny Esaw days. I was watching Skate Canada two weeks ago on CTV. Who won the gold medal? Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, both of whom have been on the team for 10 years. Tell Rod Black and his friends to learn a little bit of French. It would sound better.

Mr. Brace: Duly noted.

The Chairman: Thank you, gentlemen, for your complete answers.

We will now hear from the Honourable John Baird, President of the Treasury Board. Welcome, minister, and thank you for being with us today.

Mr. Baird is accompanied by officials from the Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada. We have Mr. Kelly Collins and Ms. Monique Boudrias.

[Translation]

We will also be hearing from a representative from the Department of Justice, Treasury Board Portfolio Legal Services, Mr. François Nadeau.

Hon. John Baird, P.C., M.P., President of the Treasury Board: Thank you very much, Madam Chairman, I am happy to be with you today. Unfortunately, I must return to the House for a vote at 6:45, however I could come back after the vote, if you would like more time. I can make my presentation, but you can go directly to the question period, if you feel that it is in everyone's interest.

[English]

The Chairman: Please proceed with your presentation, following which we will have questions for you. We will try to keep it within 30 minutes.

Mr. Baird: I appreciate that. I am pleased to be here today to discuss proposed amendments to the regulations dealing with the communications with the services to the public and to the Official Languages Act. Obviously, we have a court ruling that is before the government. Our first responsibility is to move expeditiously to follow the court ruling. We obviously respect the decision of the court and want to move expeditiously to meet its conclusions and orders for the government.

It deals with a situation in Nova Scotia with the RCMP. Under the Official Languages Act, there are various requirements that require us to table before Parliament the government's response to that. We have a specific problem and we have tabled a specific solution to the problem raised. It obviously is before the House and the Senate and your committee.

We have a period of time before the spring when a final conclusion will be required. I will indicate, at the outset, that we are certainly prepared to receive input from the public, from official language minority groups.

[Translation]

Of course, this committee has a great deal of expertise and we are always happy to receive your views and to answer your questions.

Senator Tardif: Minister, in our discussions with witnesses at this committee, we have heard several people say that the draft regulations proposed by the government represent a minimalist approach that will see language obligations imposed on a single detachment of the RCMP.

It would have been preferable for these regulations to have broader application, as suggested by the Commissioner of Official Languages. Why did the government not take this opportunity to review other parts of the Official Languages Regulations and why was application limited to a single detachment of the RCMP?

Mr. Baird: Thank you for your question. When we created this amendment, our goal was to provide a specific response to a specific problem, to a specific court order at a specific point in time.

[English]

Our goal was to provide a simple solution to a specific problem in a short period of time in order to follow up what the court ordered. That is basically the response we came forward with.

[Translation]

Senator Tardif: Do you feel you have met your obligations, given what the court stated in its recommendations?

Mr. Baird: In my opinion, yes.

Senator Tardif: We have Part VII as amended by Bill S-3, and the whole issue of taking positive measures to foster the full recognition and use of English and French, as set out in section 41; did you take advantage of that in this regulation, in what you are suggesting?

Mr. Baird: Of course. We were ready for the opinion. And if we are advised to go farther, we are always prepared to consider other options. I know that the previous government does not agree with this direction, because there is a legal decision.

[English]

Obviously, I was not around the cabinet table when the government decided to take this issue to court. I do not know the degree to which they felt it was a huge issue to have had litigated.

I do not want to suggest for a moment that all language rights are not equal. Coming from my background in Ontario government, there were always two areas where we had a particular heightened requirement. In dealing with the law, that is certainly something that is important, as well as education — those two in Ontario. Hence, I certainly did not have any hesitation once the court ruling directed the government to move forward to immediately do so.

Senator Tardif: I can appreciate that you have done so, but it seems a very limited acceptance of that ruling.

Mr. Baird: I think we followed it to the letter, 100 per cent.

Senator Jaffer: The last time you appeared in front of us, we spoke about French-language training. The challenge, of course, is that there are not enough RCMP officers who speak the two languages. That is not just your challenge; our challenge is that our country is not yet completely bilingual.

One of our witnesses spoke about moving federal agencies to places that are bilingual and suggested not moving federal agencies to unilingual areas. I am talking of course about Vancouver, which is a unilingual area.

That issue has given me a lot of pain. I obviously want federal agencies in my area to be aware of this because we are one country and we need our federal flags in all parts of Canada.

I want to hear from you, Minister Baird. What are we doing to ensure that federal employees in B.C. are receiving adequate language training?

Mr. Baird: I checked into that issue specifically with respect to the Canadian Tourism Commission that has moved to Vancouver. I represent a constituency in Ottawa, so I have a concern as to whether these decisions are being taken for political reasons.

My colleague in the House of Commons, Bill Casey, pointed out that, when the public service downsized, a higher percentage came from the regions. When it was upsized again, it was not completed in that same order, which is not an unfair statement when you look at the numbers.

As I understand it, this initiative started with the previous government, and I do not mind acknowledging that. It has worked very hard with the Canadian Tourism Commission. Thus far, things have moved in a positive direction. It has not been easy. We have been able to meet our obligations under the Official Languages Act thus far. It is something we will keep a close eye on.

Linguistic requirements, not just in the public service but in the broader public sector, present huge challenges on labour, whether it is with respect to bilingual nurses or French-language physicians in large parts of Ontario and the Maritimes or Winnipeg. That is a significant challenge.

With the RCMP, we want to attract high-quality recruits. We are going through quite an increase in numbers. We are expanding the training facilities in Regina, and an important priority is to ensure that we have officers proficient in both official languages. It is a challenge we look at in some areas of the country, but one we must work on.

Senator Jaffer: Could you indicate — and if not you, please point me to the right person to ask — how much we are spending, for example, in B.C. for language training of federal employees? Federal employees in my province tell me they do not have easy access to language training. That concerns me.

Mr. Baird: If they do not have access, we can certainly provide it. I would like to see us take a practical approach to this. Far too often, I hear stories about lack of access or about people who after five years have lost the French we spent so much for them to learn.

We have not identified the most effective way to accomplish this, but I would like to see what we can do to identify young leaders who have committed to the public service early on in their careers and provide language training focused on them. It would be cheaper to provide, because they are on a lower pay scale than they would be than if they were in their tenth or twentieth year of employment. It may help them want to maintain a career in the public service, with a capacity to grow in their responsibilities. In addition, for every dollar we spend, we would benefit for a longer period of time.

One of my concerns is arbitrary deadlines, where someone attends a year or so of language training when they have said they will be retiring a year and a half after completing that training. I want to see what we can do to get the biggest bang for our buck.

With many young people, it can become frustrating if they do not have the necessary training and they make alternative career choices as a result. I would hate to see us lose the young scientist, the young RCMP officer, the nurse working in Aboriginal health, you name it. There are so many areas that could be affected.

Senator Jaffer: That was my suggestion. You must have read my mind.

I highly recommend the great work of foreign services in identifying young people and getting them through the ranks when they have challenges. This is along the lines of what you were saying. I commend you for thinking that way.

Mr. Baird: I will investigate that example.

Senator Jaffer: They have a very good program. It is helping the ethnic community become integrated into foreign service. The idea is the same, getting young people inside and working early on, rather than at 50 or older.

My committee is very supportive of some of the issues I am most concerned about. When we were in Vancouver, we met with the French ethnic community who wanted to stay in B.C. and have close attachments there, but they have challenges obtaining jobs in the federal service or obtaining jobs in general.

As you investigate this issue, I urge you to look at ways we could include that community so we can encourage them to stay in B.C. We will only become a bilingual nation if we have French in all areas of the country.

The issue in B.C. involved highly qualified people who could not find jobs.

Mr. Baird: The record of government historically has not been good with respect to visible minorities, for example. There is a huge opportunity there for improvement.

In Ontario, we have huge needs for teachers and nurses. The francophone Ontario community is not any different, for example, than the anglophones in Ontario. We need immigration to succeed and to fill the labour market.

I know we need to look at the public sector as an opportunity. Too often there have been barriers there. Perhaps 25 or 30 years ago, there might have been that barrier for francophones or women. Those barriers have come down dramatically, although perhaps not enough. That has not been the case for many other visible minorities.

I visited a French-language school in downtown Toronto, and 31 different nations were represented in that primary school. This is the French public board, not the French Catholic board, as one may have expected. There are huge resources. We are looking for a labour pool.

You are very wise to suggest this. We will take it back. It is not just the case in Vancouver, but here in Ottawa, Moncton and other areas.

[Translation]

Senator Comeau: Welcome, Mr. Minister. It is always a pleasure to have you here. I would like to go back to a comment made by the new Commissioner of Official Languages, Mr. Graham Fraser. His comment was that the RCMP detachment targeted by the draft regulations would have these obligations only if demand for services from the public were at least 5 per cent for the year.

In your draft regulations, you say more or less this: where there is a place of entry into a province that is officially bilingual and at least 5 per cent of the demand for services made by the public over the year in that province.

I agree with the commissioner here. He seems to be saying that the federal court judge in the Doucet case, concluded, given the evidence provided in the case, that there was an important demand in the region. What the commissioner seems to be suggesting is that we are not even meeting the minimal demand that is part of the proposal in the Doucet case. Am I completely mistaken? Does it have to be a province that shares the border with a bilingual province and does demand for service have to be at least 5 per cent every year for that service?

Mr. Baird: I have not read the decision recently, but it says in the decision that even the RCMP provides the service. That is not the position of Nova Scotia. It is a service provided by the federal government.

[English]

We have our own responsibilities that are totally independent, whether Nova Scotia is or is not officially bilingual. That is the thrust.

In Ontario, they use the 5 per cent mark, which is a good one. That is a minimum for us to be able to obtain or to work towards obtaining. From there, we can make other decisions.

[Translation]

Senator Comeau: As they are currently written, the regulations target only the City of Amherst, in all of Canada. I wonder if that is what the Doucet decision wants to send as a message to Canadian parliamentarians; in other words that it only involves the City of Amherst, and only if the demand is at least 5 per cent every year.

Monique Boudrias, Executive Vice-President, Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada: With respect to significant demand, it is based on a proportion of 5 per cent over a one-year period, but once it has been established, it is for a 10-year period.

Senator Comeau: Yes. Is the federal court justice making a very narrow decision that, in all of Canada, will only involve the small city of Amherst? I do not know if you know the city, but it is not very big.

[English]

Mr. Baird: I think it is a fairly narrow judgment, but I would call on my colleague.

[Translation]

François Nadeau, Counsel, Treasury Board Portfolio Legal Services, Department of Justice Canada: I will take a moment to read an important except from the decision which, I believe, answers your question. In the Doucet case, and this is really the context we are in with the amended regulations, the Court made the following remarks.

Justice Blanchard stated:

The plaintiff asked the court to make a ruling on the government's obligations to ensure bilingual police services all along the Trans-Canada Highway, by analogy with the national parks where bilingualism is required by reason of the ``mandate of the office.'' I do not feel I am in a position to decide on a measure of such a scale, based on the evidence before me.

What Justice Blanchard is saying is that given the facts, we should consider on the issue of Amherst.

The evidence before this court dealt solely with the territory served by the RCMP, Amherst detachment, and with the regulations in general. I cannot rule on the situation of the Trans-Canada Highway which, as everyone knows, extends for thousands of kilometres across Canada.

Simply to add, and I will conclude with this:

Moreover, I am somewhat skeptical in face of the plaintiff's argument. It is true that the Trans-Canada Highway unites this great country and it is true that anglophones and francophones use it to visit other provinces, but I recognize that it is likely that in many regions much of the traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway remains quite local. Consequently, I will not rule on this point. The choice of offering services in both official languages in accordance with a ``significant demand'' or ``the mandate of the office'' is, in my opinion, an eminently political one. Parliament has mandated the governor in council to choose which institutions will be covered by the notion of ``mandate of the office'', and it is not for the judiciary to make that choice.

Essentially, what that means is that it is not just in the region of Amherst that services are available in both languages, but that we have a particular problem in Amherst, given the proximity of the detachment to a bilingual province. As you know, New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada.

Senator Comeau: I do not want to continue to flog at that horse, but I would like to go back to a second question. Have you, with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of Canada, considered the possibility of looking at how much it will cost to have more of these services a little farther away than just in Amherst, Nova Scotia?

Mr. Baird: I have not spoken with the RCMP, but it is not always simply a matter of cost. It is also a matter of human resources availability.

Kelly Collins, Executive Director, Office of the Vice-President, Official Languages, Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada: We did not look at the costs.

Senator Comeau: Could the government look into this to see what the limitations would be?

Mr. Baird: I am always prepared to take good advice from the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

Senator Comeau: That is a very good answer, Minister. Thank you very much.

Senator Tardif: We spoke about the 5 per cent figure with respect to demand for service in French. However, in the case of this judgment, I think that there is still the whole issue regarding the travelling public. It is not just about people who are returning directly entering Amherst, there are also people travelling on the Trans-Canada highway.

In your opinion, does the definition of the travelling public contained in section 23 of the Official Languages Act include people travelling on the Trans-Canada Highway?

Mr. Collins: In the proposed regulation, the idea is to measure demand on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Mr. Baird: It is both: people who live in the area, and also people who are travelling. I think it would be more important in the future for tourism — and this is something I have discussed with Graham Fraser. This may be something high on our list of priorities, because we need to promote tourism by Canadians within Canada. The greatest market for the Maritimes and for Ontario is of course Quebecers.

Senator Tardif: I am pleased to hear your answer. Would you be prepared to consider an amendment to the Official Languages Regulations to include a definition of this type?

Mr. Baird: If the committee recommends this, I would always be prepared to consider it.

Senator Tardif: Excellent. With respect to the RCMP, do you think they should be required to offer services in both official languages everywhere on the Trans-Canada Highway?

Mr. Baird: In light of the decision, I think it is important to follow the directives as soon as possible.

Senator Tardif: But there is the whole question of modernizing the Official Languages Regulations.

Mr. Baird: That is not something I have discussed with my colleague, the minister in charge of this matter. However, as always, I would be prepared to consider advice to this effect.

Ms. Boudrias: I think the minister is right when he says that at the moment, we are looking at a very specific regulation in response to the decision in the Doucet case. However, with your comments and those of others, such as the official languages commissioner, we will be able to take into account all recommendations made regarding modernizing the regulations. We will be able to decide at that time whether the regulations will be modernized in the future, as a result of the comments submitted to the minister.

Mr. Baird: Before we take action, it is of course important to have good governance and to think about the advice we receive.

Senator Tardif: That would be a first step. The second step would be to look at modernizing the regulations as a whole. We would have hoped that you could open the door further in the context of this regulation. However, if it is possible to consider modernizing the regulations in the future, I think that would be a very good thing.

Mr. Baird: We still have a long list of things to do and to consider. I must say that I cannot come to the Senate without mentioning that I will have a great deal more time to work on other matters once Bill C-2 is passed.

The Chairman: What is the deadline for a recommendation? If the committee were to decide to submit a recommendation to you, what would be the deadline for doing that?

[English]

Mr. Baird: I will be corrected if I am wrong. I think we have until the spring before definitive action takes place, so 36 months, which is more than enough time for advice.

The Chairman: Thirty-six months?

[Translation]

Mr. Nadeau: If I may add some clarification, to answer the first part of your question, the deadline for a reply in the Doucet case was initially 18 months; it was extended to a total of 36 months. We have now passed the 24-month mark, that is why we must act now. But I understand your question about a potential deadline for modernization: that is another phase.

[English]

Mr. Baird: There is no imminent deadline that would prevent us from considering your wise counsel.

[Translation]

The Chairman: May I then ask you to when, in 2007, the deadline would be moved? Another 12 months?

Mr. Nadeau: In the Doucet case, we have until October 19, 2007.

The Chairman: Thank you, sir.

Senator Champagne: Mr. Minister, I would simply like to take this opportunity, in 30 seconds, to tell you officially what I told you in private some time ago. People often tell us ``the French courses are not good; anglophones do not learn French. The government does not have good teachers.'' As I was telling you, a few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to deal with a young woman from customs in Vancouver. She was a young anglophone who, seeing that I had filled out the French side of the paper, automatically came over to me and spoke to me in perfect French — it would put many other Canadians to shame. I asked her where she had learned her French, and she said to me: ``In Chicoutimi.'' I was very proud as a Quebecer and as a member of the government majority, to see that we offer young people an opportunity to learn a second language and to use it.

Mr. Baird: I appreciate the comment. I think it is important. A great deal of money is spent, and public servants work very hard in many departments, not only in regions where there are large numbers of francophones or anglophones. In my opinion, we must promote the availability of services so that francophones know that they can use them in French. Unfortunately, there is still a large gap between what I am asking for and what is really provided. We must perhaps work harder to ensure that services are available, even in Vancouver or Amherst.

Senator Champagne: I just have one regret, Madam Chairman; I was returning from Asia, and I do not remember what time of day or night it was, and at the time I did not have the presence of mind to write the young woman's name down, but I will find her one day.

The Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister, for your availability.

Mr. Baird: Thank you very much. I will await your report or your comments.

The committee adjourned.