“Digital Barbarians: Resisting the GAFAM Invasion”: GAFAM targeted and killed Canada

Cinema, music, information, shopping…digital giants are everywhere in 2022 and we are still struggling to understand their impact on the evolution of Canadian and Quebec cultures. Former professor and former Director of Information at Radio Canada Alain Solnier offers some clues in his recent harsh article on this question, but he has very few possible solutions to offer.

He said it wasn’t because he wasn’t looking for him. in a Digital Barbarians. Resist the invasion of JavaWe feel that the author has on several occasions found himself in a dead end before reaching the observation that appears across the 200 pages of his article: In the long run, all chances. and Francophonie.

The author talks about an invasion, but one could also talk about a flood, because GAFAM (for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, they are the leaders of this global digital movement that could include like Disney, Netflix, Spotify and TikTok, why not ?) You know how to skillfully intervene in the cracks of all the walls that governments try to oppose.

Alain Solnier does not fail to stress how certain federal ministers have held numerous meetings with lobbyists at GAFAM in recent years. Unsurprisingly, we learned that while she was the Secretary of Heritage, the current Secretary of State, Melanie Jolie, was a close advisor to the former Director of Global Communications and Public Affairs at Google Canada, Leslie Church. MI The Church is currently in the Cabinet, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“The wolf in the sheepfold, anxiously advancing Alain Saulnier in an interview with the a task. There is great affinity between GAFAM and elected Canadian officials. »

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This proximity is not limited to Canada: American tech giants maintain similar relationships with dozens of governments around the world, which is undoubtedly why the negotiation of a global digital tax by member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development gave birth to the mouse-beating Parable – a level of taxes considered too low by many of its critics and arriving too late, in 2024.

TV as a last bastion

Because it’s all in all, we can’t talk about ways to curb this barbaric and cultural invasion without affecting Radio Canada’s role in the Canadian cultural landscape. Alain Saulnier clearly knows the fund well, having worked there for many years. He is among those who believe that The Crown would do better at defending what distinguishes Canadian culture from American culture if it abandoned its addiction to advertising.

In front of Netflix and Disney in this world, the digital platform Tou.tv and, later, CBC Gem (its English counterpart) could have served as a national rampart. But Radio Canada and CBC are television and advertising competitors to TVA, Global (Shaw) and CTV (Bell), among others, preventing them from becoming the comprehensive media platform that Canadian broadcasters desperately need. “Radio Canada relies heavily on advertising. Why does Véronique Cloutier occupy such a large spot on Tou.tv? This is because there are so many people at Radio Canada who want to make money at any cost,” says the author.

Quebec can certainly count on its own state television, Télé-Québec. But this transformation wasn’t made by what used to be Radio Québec until 1996. A sign of the times and proof that digital breaks boundaries (and not always for the better), “Radio-Québec” is today the name of the conspiratorial internet channel hosted by enthusiast Alexis Cossette-Trudel QAnon.

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Mr. Saulnier believes that Télé-Québec could have played such a role in Quebec’s cultural offering even in the digital realm, but elected regional officials decided not to. “So we find ourselves in a strange situation, where the best tools to defend the sovereign status of our French-speaking culture are in Ottawa (which determines Radio Canada’s budget) rather than in Quebec. Today, Télé-Québec is no longer big enough.”

“In French please!” »

We don’t know what the current CEO of Quebecor and Groupe TVA, Pierre-Carl Pillado, thinks of accelerating the pace of the songs performed by the participants in the event. star AcademyTVA’s flagship programme. In the winter of 2015, Mr. Pillado said “En français, svp!” During a concert in Rouen-Noranda during which the French-speaking singer from a rock band called Grünland sang in the language of Elvis Presley.

What we do know is that defending Quebec and French-speaking culture is too heavy a task to be the exclusive responsibility of the media or the private sector, tempted by propaganda song and popular sirens, as Alain Saulnier explains in his book. Test.

However, this is nothing new. Hollywood accused dumping Culture in Canada long before the internet… Let’s not forget this, because it’s twentye In the last century, there were entire college programs aimed at fighting American cultural imperialism, both on the big and small screen. or in books. or anywhere else.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the advantage of GAFAMs is the mastery of key technologies that are ultimately only tools. What you do with them determines their importance. Alain Saulnier also reiterates that he is not opposed to these techniques, on the contrary. The problem is that, apparently, in Quebec and Canada, we let them do just about anything without resistance. And even when these technologies aren’t strictly American (think Swedish Spotify), the effect is the same.

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“Maybe we should work more with the rest of the Francophonie,” suggests the former professor at the University of Montreal. More inspirations have made Quebec cultural companies such as Cirque du Soleil, which go international while keeping a bit of a je-ne-sais-quoi from home, become a success.

Especially since with all the digital and AI development taking place in the province, the next Spotify could just as easily be created in Quebec. Probably the best way to get rid of gas is to become yourself a gaseous…

Digital barbarians resist the invasion of GAFAM

Alain Solnier, Ecosociety, Montreal, 2022, 200 pages

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