Mélanie Joly confident French-language content won't be overlooked with Netflix deal

The heritage minister is defending the deal with the entertainment giant, touting it as biggest foreign investment in Canadian content in 30 years.

Heritage minister touts the deal as biggest foreign investment in Canadian content in 30 years

Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly announced the Netflix deal Sept. 27. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly is defending the $500-million Netflix deal after coming under fire in Quebec for its apparent lack of specific funding for original French-language productions.

Quebec's culture minister, Luc Fortin, said Thursday he was left "speechless" by the deal, which he criticized for not earmarking any dedicated funding for French content.

"I think the federal government needs to do its homework and insist on a proportion of original francophone content in the $500 million," he said.

Joly defended the deal Friday morning, saying: "We are pioneers in the domain. ... We are the first country in the world to get $500 million in funding."

She admitted that while some people, including Québecor head Pierre Karl Péladeau and Quebec spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, aren't happy with the arrangement — she's confident Quebec-produced content won't be overlooked.

"There's anxiety about whether Quebec will be able to get a piece of the $500 million," she said. "I know Netflix will have good news to announce on that subject."

Joly reiterated her plan to "transform our sector" and said that while other countries have put the taxation burden on consumers, Trudeau's Liberals made a campaign promise not to do the same.

"You have to take risks," she told Radio-Canada."The idea is to get good Quebecois television on the platform — that's the first thing."

Some people within the industry as well as the political sphere would have preferred to see Canada impose a "Netflix tax," as France and Australia are doing, to inject development funds into the Canadian industry.

The idea was proposed by a parliamentary committee in June but nixed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau soon after.

Joly touted the Netflix deal as the biggest foreign investment in Canadian content in the last 30 years.

With files from Radio-Canada