Justin Trudeau vows no trade deal with US that 'doesn't continue exemptions for Canada's cultural industries'
The prime minister also said his government won't sign an updated free trade accord with the U.S. and Mexico if the deal doesn't continue exemptions for Canada's cultural industries, which aims to protect Canada's publishing and broadcast industries.
That too was entrenched in the original Canada-U.S. free trade deal that preceded NAFTA. Giving up the exemptions would be tantamount to giving up Canadian sovereignty and identity, Trudeau said.
"It is inconceivable to Canadians that an American network might buy Canadian media affiliates, whether it's newspapers or TV stations or TV networks," he said.
"So we've made it very clear that defending that cultural exemption is something that is fundamental to Canadians."
I actually understand why Trudeau wants this clearly protectionist measure to continue. Canadians fear absorption into American culture, and they fear that American-owned media would not understand their concerns, traditions, priorities, and interests. They want Canadians to get news and entertainment that is about Canadians. That is why Canada decades ago founded and funded the Canadian Film Board to produce moves about Canada.
After all, the United States is ten times the population of Canada, so any rational executive would favor the needs and preferences of the dominant portion of the North American market.
If that's what Canadians want, then so be it. But their desire for cultural protectionism opens the door for some form of reciprocal protectionism for American cultural industries. That's only fair.
A longstanding complaint, especially from Hollywood craft unions, is that Canada has "stolen" film and television production from the United States. Vancouver and Toronto both enjoy large film and television production industries that primarily produce material for the U.S. market.
Bridge Studios in Vancouver, one of several production facilities there.
U.S. producers receive favorable tax treatment and pay wages that are lower than union scale in Los Angeles. Productions go to Canada to save money.
The U.S. should propose tariffs on Canadian-produced films and consider restrictions on visas for Canadian performers who want to work in the United States. If Canada gets to protect its cultural industries, so do we.
Let Justin work it out with the Canadian producers and artists whose interests would suffer when confined to 10% of the North American market.