OTTAWA – CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, welcomes the federal government’s promise to stand firm on protecting Canada’s cultural industries, including media, in the current NAFTA negotiations.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday that he would not sign a deal that undermines Canada’s cultural exemption, such as allowing American media conglomerates to buy Canadian news companies.
The NAFTA cultural exemption recognizes Canada’s right to protect its culture.
“We’re glad to hear the prime minister taking a firm stance on this,” CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said. “Protecting our media and cultural industries from big profit-driven American companies is critical to our society and our democracy.”
“We only need look at what has happened to Postmedia to see how destructive control by foreign investors can be. Even with current laws, an American hedge fund was able to take effective control of our country’s biggest newspaper chain, resulting in the loss of more than 3,000 jobs, the closure of local papers, and leaving our major daily newspapers a shell of their former selves. It’s bad for journalism, bad for communities, and bad for democracy.”
While the cultural exemption is reportedly not a major issue in the NAFTA negotiations, it remains on the table. The U.S. would like to see American media companies, such as Fox News, able to buy majority stakes in Canadian newspapers and television and radio stations. They would also like to prevent Canadian broadcasters from replacing American ads with Canadian ads in programs rebroadcast in Canada.
In addition to standing firm on the cultural exemption, the government should be doing more domestically to protect our media industry. CWA Canada once again calls on Ottawa to introduce legislation to limit concentration of media ownership and prevent destructive leveraged purchases of important national companies.
CWA Canada represents more than 6,000 media workers at companies across the country, including the CBC, The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters, and newspapers such as the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen and Victoria Times Colonist.
For more information, contact:
President, CWA Canada