For several years, inclusion has been at the heart of Radio-Canada’s mission and we must salute the progress that has been made in this area. But there is a sector in which the public broadcaster needs more openness.
I am talking here about the news sector which this little column specifically focuses on. For good reason, how is it that Radio-Canada posts correspondents almost everywhere on the planet except in Africa? It is not logical.
If the broadcaster claims to be at the service of the Quebec and Canadian Francophonie, how can we explain this insensitivity when Quebec is home to a very large population of African origin? Before this incomprehensible marginalization, Sophie Langlois was in Dakar and reported to us what was happening in the African Francophonie. Since she was repatriated by the broadcaster, it seems that the security issue is partly one of the reasons which explain the absence of a correspondent in Africa.
If this is the case, we are completely incomprehensible, because Quebec has a delegation in Dakar, an office in Abidjan and another in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. I have already visited the Dakar delegation. I must even admit that entering this house in my home gives me great emotion. The general delegate Iya Touré, my friend Pape Goumalo Dione who is attached to Educational and Cultural Affairs and all the others are doing fantastic work there.
If, in addition to the Canadian embassies, these three representations of Quebec are capable of reaching out to the Maghreb and West Africa, why can’t a correspondent from Radio-Canada be there?
Why do French television channels, including France 24 and TV5, have correspondents in Africa and cover news across the continent and not us? I know that we don’t have the same means and the same reach as these French channels, but we can still live up to our abilities.
Quebec is a nation whose French-speaking immigration comes largely from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. A large French-speaking population from these regions lives here, but also in the rest of the Canadian Francophonie. These immigrants are even very important actors in the resistance against assimilation in many French-speaking communities across Canada. Why can’t these people hear a little more seriously and deeply about what’s happening in Africa by turning on national television?
This coverage is also important to inform people here of the tragedies playing out in Congo or Sudan, a bit like we do on the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The war taking place in Sudan is leaving thousands dead, millions displaced and tens of thousands of children suffering from malnutrition. If it goes under the radar of the vast majority, it is also because television finds it less interesting to cover than the equally dramatic Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Because of this media hierarchy of suffering, many young Quebecers and Canadians who campaign for world peace are not even aware of the drama playing out in Sudan.
Building a bridge to Africa would be a good thing for Radio-Canada, because that is where the future of the French-speaking world lies, which we seek to preserve in Quebec and Canada. As the broadcaster does not seriously cover this part of the world, the vast majority of Quebecers of African origin go elsewhere to get their information. They tune into TV5, France 24 or the BBC which present news programs and debates devoted to Africa. These channels also cover the African Cup of Nations which is in full swing in Ivory Coast. This major meeting, which is followed by hundreds of millions of people, goes almost unnoticed by Radio-Canada.
A lack of interest which has consequences, because not only do French-speaking immigrants who do not recognize themselves in its coverage abandon the broadcaster, but their children also run a strong risk of not listening to it. In general, we adhere to the values of our host society when we feel that the latter finds a certain value in us. However, in this process, television plays a significant role.
I believe that the television news sector of Radio-Canada needs to be a little more interested in what is happening in Africa. Otherwise, she is missing a great opportunity to build bridges and expand her audience. In my opinion, not having a correspondent for 1.3 billion people is a very difficult choice to justify.