Is Canada’s music REALLY protected under the new trade deal with the US and Mexico?

Living next door to the US means that we always have to protect ourselves from being swamped by American culture. This is why we have institutions like Cancon rules for radio and TV along with grants, subsidies, and other forms of financial help for our cultural industries. Without them, we risk becoming overrun by Kardashians.

When the NAFTA negotiations were underway, Canada refused to budge when it came to cultural protectionism. And when the USMCA was born, we emerged with everything intact. Or did we?

Generally, yes. But there are some things that we must watch.

The CBC reports:

Consider, for example, a hypothetical government program offering funding to support Canadian online journalism in the face of failing advertising and subscription revenue models.

The government might want to make sure it’s allowed to spend taxpayers’ money only on Canadian news written by Canadian journalists, as opposed to the work of foreign news outlets.

Similarly, it might want to preserve its ability to fund or otherwise set favourable rules for Canadian audio or video content, in a world where more and more music, games, movies and television shows are streamed, not broadcast or purchased for playback.

“(The exemption) applies to all cultural industries regardless of the mode of diffusion, whether it is online or under additional formats,” said Gilbert Gagné, who specializes in trade policy research at Bishop’s University.

The new USMCA text, however, could have a chilling effect on Canadian policy, Gagné cautioned.

The cultural exemption allows the U.S. or Mexico to retaliate if Canada goes too far in protecting its domestic industries. The text specifies that other parties “may take a measure of equivalent commercial effect” in response to something deemed too egregious a violation of fair trade.

It’s worth reading this entire article.

 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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