Montreal

Culture groups share concerns with Quebec envoy ahead of NAFTA talks

Groups representing Quebec's cultural industries 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.

Negotiations start Aug. 16 in Washington

Dominique Anglade, Quebec minister for economy, science and innovation, listens as representatives of Quebec's cultural industries raise their concerns about the reopening of NAFTA. (CBC)

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.
Solange Drouin, the executive director of ADISQ, worries changes to NAFTA that impact matters such as electronic commerce could threaten Canada's control over its cultural policies. (CBC)

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.

About a dozen cultural agencies in Quebec were represented at this meeting with Quebec's NAFTA envoy, former finance minister Raymond Bachand, and cabinet ministers Dominique Anglade and Luc Fortin. (Ryan Hicks/CBC)

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.

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