In conversation with Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez
Last summer, Pablo Rodriguez, MP for the Montreal-area riding of Honoré-Mercier, was appointed as Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, taking the reins of the department that oversees Canada’s media and production industry. We recently caught up with the busy Minister for a brief chat about his views on the importance of culture and the government’s commitment to modernize legislation for the digital era.
What was your initial reaction when you first learned of your promotion to this new role?
Pure happiness. I was very excited. However, on the day I learned I was going to be Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, I also felt a keen sense of responsibility toward our creators, because it is the government’s job—my job—to help our creators succeed. I sincerely think I have the best job in the world.
What role do you believe arts and culture plays in the development or reinforcement of Canada’s national identity?
Culture is who we are; it is our history; it shapes our past, our present and our future. Just imagine a day without culture, without books, TV shows, movies, music and art: life would be so boring. We absolutely need a thriving cultural sector if we want to continue to express our identity, to communicate and to forge bonds with each other.
Culture, of course, also drives important economic activity for the country. The sector in Canada represents $53.8 billion and 650,000 jobs, and is one of the fastest-growing segments of our economy. To keep these impressive numbers growing, we need to take advantage of our talent and become even more competitive on the world stage.
That’s why we have launched Canada’s Creative Export Strategy, which is supported by a $125-million fund. This strategy will help Canadian creators around the world and provide specific projects with additional support to thrive internationally.
What are the biggest challenges that you see facing the production sector today?
As we all know, the digital economy has revolutionized the way Canadians access content. The laws that pertain to this reality have not been updated since the Internet entered our homes. It is essential that we modernize them so that our creators can seize the many opportunities offered by the digital economy and be compensated fairly for their work.
Can you talk a bit more about the process and objectives of the current Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review?
The government has asked an expert panel to provide advice on the review of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts. Panellists include Canadians like Peter S. Grant and Monique Simard, who have a deep understanding of the industry. Our goal is to establish a robust framework in which our creators can benefit from the digital economy and receive the assistance needed to compete internationally. Most importantly, we will ensure that Canadians can access the impressive Canadian content that is produced by our talented creators. The key principle at the core of this review is crystal clear: if you profit from the system, you must contribute to the system. There is no free ride.