The Canadian Arts Coalition Supports a Strong Cultural Exception in NAFTA

In July, the Canadian Arts Coalition highlighted artist mobility as the arts sector’s main priority in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Since then, we were extremely pleased to find cross-border movement of business professionals within Canada’s priority list for a modernized NAFTA. Most notably, the Canadian Arts Coalition’s specific recommendation for artist mobility is fully aligned with Canada’s intention of expanding the list in NAFTA’s Chapter 16 of professions eligible for temporary entry.

Roundtable in Toronto September 15, with the Minister of Canadian Heritage and representatives of the creative sectors.

Kate Cornell represented the Coalition at a roundtable with the Minister of Canadian Heritage, on Sept. 15.

As Canada is about to host the third round of NAFTA negotiations, and as the Minister of Canadian Heritage is holding roundtables on the renegotiation of NAFTA with the creative sectors, the Canadian Arts Coalition wishes to articulate its position with regards to the cultural exemption.

Thus, following consultation with members and with partner industry associations:

The Canadian Arts Coalition calls for maintaining a strong NAFTA cultural exception, in compliance with the UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions. In a modernized NAFTA, the cultural exception must enable Canada to implement any necessary measure to ensure accessibility and discoverability of quality Canadian cultural content in a digital world.

The Coalition also endorses the following demands from partner associations:

  • Removing the notwithstanding clause from NAFTA which authorizes the U.S. to retaliate against Canadian cultural policies that would have been inconsistent with the agreement but for the exemption;
  • Avoiding adoption within NAFTA of the cultural provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement;
  • Stronger protection for copyright; and,
  • Maintaining rules that ensure Canadian owned and controlled firms are protected.

Moreover, the Canadian Arts Coalition commends the government of Canada on its intention to include a chapter on Indigenous rights in NAFTA.

This position statement was shared with the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and with the ad hoc Cultural Sector Advisory Committee on International Trade.

We encourage Coalition members to share these position statements with their local MP. We need to make all politicians aware of the cultural sector’s NAFTA ambitions, and to create a sense that the cultural sector is as important as lumber, agriculture or any other industry when it comes to trade.

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