Canada's Cultural Policies Antiquated

By Globerman, Steven | Winnipeg Free Press, March 17, 2014 | Go to article overview

Canada's Cultural Policies Antiquated


Globerman, Steven, Winnipeg Free Press


BELLINGHAM, WA -- While the CRTC's recent reprimand of three Toronto X-rated channels for failing to meet the required 35 per cent threshold for Canadian content became fodder for Internet humour, Canadian content regulations are no laughing matter for cultural nationalists.

Indeed, one of the oldest shibboleths of Canadian public policy is that domestic cultural industries need regulatory protections and taxpayer financial support to promote and sustain the Canadian identity. Without protections and taxpayer support, Canadian producers of entertainment programming will allegedly be driven out-of-business by lower-priced programming imported from the United States. This development would, in the words of one cultural nationalist, endanger the survival of Canada as an independent nation.

Most direct and indirect government subsidies (including regulations) go to the popular entertainment industries of feature film, made-for-TV programs, recorded music and publishing. The arguments made to support these subsidies hinge on two prominent assertions:

First, the output of domestic producers of entertainment programming makes a vital contribution to the political and social cohesion of Canada.

Second, the survival of Canada's entertainment industries requires government support.

In fact, both assertions are much too simplistic, if not false.

Regarding the first assertion, public opinion polls taken over the years identify numerous other institutions and symbols that more strongly reinforce Canadians' pride in and commitment to their country than do entertainment products and entertainers.

These include Canada's health-care system, its successful experience with multiculturalism, its achievements in science, technology and the economy, its magnificent landscapes and, of course, hockey.

Therefore, direct and indirect subsidies to producers of entertainment programming divert productive resources away from other activities that promise more "national identity bang-for-the buck. …

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