As negotiators from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. meet in Ottawa to continue their renegotiations of the North American Free Trade agreement, or NAFTA, 100 leading members of Canada’s artistic community have sent a letter to the government, urging it to hold the line on Canadian culture.
The letter from the artists, who include author Margaret Atwood, director Dominic Champagne and filmmaker Philippe Falardeau, calls on the government to protect–among other things–Canadian content rules on radio stations and to adapt those rules to digital platforms.
“Our recent international successes, particularly in the areas of music and literature, are due to Canadian content rules that allow our performers and musicians to be heard on Canadian radio stations and to give subsidies to our authors and publishers,” the letter states
Under current policy, English-language and French-language stations must ensure that at least 35 per cent of the Popular Music they broadcast each week is Canadian content.
Commercial radio stations must also ensure that at least 35 per cent of the Popular Music broadcast between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday is Canadian content.
CBC / Radio Canada stations must ensure that at least 50 per cent of their Popular Music selections broadcast each week are Canadian content.
In August, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government “will uphold and preserve the elements in NAFTA that Canadians deem key to our national interest.”
Freeland added those elements are the “exception in the agreement to preserve Canadian culture.”
Sources in Ottawa say Freeland reiterated that position this week in meetings with U.S. and Mexican NAFTA negotiators.
NAFTA has a cultural exception clause under which cultural goods are not treated like other commercial products.
With files from Canadian Press, Montreal Gazette, CBC