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Is Cultural Exemption That Big a Deal for NAFTA?

  • By Amsa Yaro


Is Cultural Exemption That Big a Deal for NAFTA?

Dairy has been the major talks during the on-going NAFTA negotiations on Canada- U.S Free Trade Agreement. However, one part that doesn’t seem to get as much fanfare is the Canadian Cultural Protections. 

Since 1988, Canada took a stand ensuring that Canada’s cultural industries i.e. the publishing, broadcasting and film production have been protected. This to allow Canadian created content to dominate the air waves in every Canadian platform. But as it was drafted in the eighties, even the amendments did not forsee the rise of online streaming and services cracking through the agreement.

However, Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau calls the cultural exemption a red-line that would not be crossed. "It is inconceivable to Canadians that an American network might buy Canadian media affiliates whether it's newspapers or TV stations or TV networks,” says Trudeau, during a transit announcement in Vancouver. “It would be a giving up of our sovereignty and our identity and that is something that we will simply not accept..."

Canadian Radio Broadcaster, Alan Cross believes that all who have an interest in the music and arts industry should keep an eye on NAFTA. As airwaves are regulated by CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecoomunications Commission), at least 35% of popular music played by commercial, community, campus or native radio should fall under the Canadian MAPL (music, artist, performance, lyrics) requirement. But would this be same if a change is made pertaining the cultural protection Canada enjoys? Would the airwaves turn into a battlefield for cultural identity? Would Trudeau’s stand on the exemption be a deal breaker as negotiations seem turbulent enough for Canada?

It shall be interesting to watch as the 3oth of September looms ahead. That is the deadline for the agreement to be delievered to Congress if Canada, Mexico and United States want a signing ceremony before Mexico's government change of hands on Dec 1, 2018.

More articles: Alan Cross’s A Journal of All Things Music


                         Toronto Star





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