Culture groups share concerns with Quebec envoy ahead of NAFTA talks

Aug 1, 2017

Negotiations start Aug. 16 in Washington

Source: CBC News

Groups representing Quebec's cultural industries have told the province's top negotiator in talks to make changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement that Canada needs to maintain its power over cultural policies.

About a dozen groups representing a wide spectrum of cultural industries, including cinema, book publishing and music, met Tuesday with Quebec's NAFTA envoy Raymond Bachand, Culture Minister Luc Fortin and Economy Minister Dominique Anglade.

Solange Drouin from the Coalition for Cultural Diversity said it's important for Canada to preserve control over national cultural policy.

For example, she said, if Canada decides it wants to force online music streaming services to play a certain amount of Canadian content, it should retain the power to do that.

"We want Canada to be very clear on this issue," said Drouin, who is also executive director of ADISQ, the Quebec association for the recording, concert and video industries. "We want to maintain our power to establish those national policies, so leave us alone when we talk about the cultural milieu."

Need for vigilance

Anglade said the message from Drouin and her colleagues has come through loud and clear.

"They're very mobilized. They want to work with us to make sure we have the best information to come to the table with at negotiations," she said.

Culture is not on the agenda tabled by U.S. President Donald Trump. However, Drouin said, it could became an issue when other matters are raised, such as intellectual property and electronic commerce.

"We have to be vigilant," Drouin said.

© CBC News