Magazine article International Musician

Trouble with NAFTA?

Magazine article International Musician

Trouble with NAFTA?

Article excerpt

As was discussed in a recent article by Liana White, the Canadian Government recently took a step forward, in my opinion, by transferring the Labour Market Opinion fees from the taxpayer to the usermeaning the club owner and/or promoter. While increasing the cost of hiring musicians from abroad, AFM members are exempt from this fee. This Cultural Exchange of musicians coming from the US is handled through the Canadian Office. That gives us an opportunity to ensure that prevailing scales are honoured and that contracts/itineraries are properly filed.

But there are complications brewing, and it has to do with the content of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Signed in 1994 by President George Bush, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and President Carlos Salinas, NAFTA has generated economic growth and raised standards of living for the people of all three member countries. The agreement also contains specific language governing labour, designed to:

* create an expanded and secure market for the goods and services produced in their territories;

* enhance the competitiveness of their firms in global markets;

* create new employment opportunities and improve working conditions and living standards in their respective territories; and

* protect, enhance and enforce basic workers' rights.

So what's the concern? Recently our AFM Legislative-Political Director Alfonso Pollard, was contacted by the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC. They are looking at an initiative to make it easier for cultural workers-i.e., artists and musicians-to cross the borders more freely and be exempt from the Labour Market Opinion. Pollard was kind enough to get in touch with our office, and we had a conference call with the representative at the embassy. I attempted to make it as clear as possible that such a move would all but destroy the music industry in Canada. …

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