CETA and Culture

The Canada-E.U. Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement negotiations are based on commitments to place corporate rights before social and economic justice, democratic control, and ecological sustainability. Negotiations are progressing quickly and with little public scrutiny until now.

Culture goods and services in a category of their own

Cultural goods and services are not products like any other as they play a defining role for Canada as a nation. Until now, this fact has been recognized by the Canadian government in its efforts to obtain a cultural exemption clause in trade agreements.

CETA may threaten our cultural sovereignty

Canada’s ability to adopt and implement cultural policies and regulations could be jeopardized if cultural industries like cable and broadcasting, or telecommunications, are opened up to foreign ownership and control. Foreign control of film distribution is the best example of how Canadian cultural products can be shut out: 98% of screen time in English Canada is occupied by foreign (i.e. U.S.) movies. The situation is only marginally better in Québec.

Canada’s official position: the cultural exemption… but…

Canadian negotiators are unlikely to put cultural issues on the table at first; the official position is that cultural industries should be exempt. E.U. negotiators are seeking major changes to copyright rules. We are concerned that Canada might agree to open up its cultural industries to increased levels of foreign investment and control as the final trade-offs are made.

Moreover, we are concerned that the CETA would, like NAFTA, provide foreign investors with a right to sue the Canadian government and seek compensation for government actions (including decisions by regulatory agencies like the CRTC) which they believe contrary to their rights according to the Agreement.

We risk losing control of our cultural industries…

Foreign ownership of cultural industries could reduce the amount of Canadian material produced and seriously restrict Canada’s ability to implement policies that require the production and distribution in the digital environment of Canadian music, stories and other forms of art.

…to the benefit of multinationals

Large multinationals companies would benefit from these changes since they would control the Canadian market. Shareholders of Canadian telecommunications, cable, broadcasting and other cultural industries firms could also benefit from higher share values. Canadians would lose.

Keep current ownership restrictions for cultural industries, including telecoms

Maintain the cultural exemption in all trade and investment negotiations, and maintain strict limits on foreign ownership and control of our cultural industries firms, including telecommunications.

What should we do?

Call your municipal councillors, provincial politicians and your Member of Parliament. Find out if they are in favour of this deal. If so, ask them how it would affect your community. Ask how it would strengthen Canada’s social, economic and environmental policies.

Tell us about your conversations. Link to the website. Share the materials. Learn more at www.tradejustice.ca.

Get your organization to sign the Civil Society Declaration on the Canada-E.U. trade agreement and become a member of the Trade Justice Network. info@tradejustice.ca