Since the first trade deal with the US in 1987, Canada has insisted on a "cultural exemption" to ensure that governments were free to protect Canadian culture and to restrict foreign ownership and limit foreign content in the media. Negotiators and government ministers considered the cultural exemption key to reassuring Canadians that the deal did not undermine our cultural sovereignty.
In every trade deal since, culture has been a contentious issue. Media giants and foreign governments have pushed for unlimited access to Canada. Ottawa has worked with cultural industries to maintain the cultural exemption.
Garry Neil has been close to every one of these negotiations, and has been a key advisor to cultural groups on trade deals. He has been part of the international initiative to assert the importance of cultural diversity in the world, and to create effective measures to guarantee it. This book reflects his experience trying to ensure that the reality matches the rhetoric when it comes to culture.
As he sees it, in spite of the claims, Canadian cultural policies and programs have been steadily restricted by successive trade deals. He explains how this has happened, and what needs to be done for Canada to maintain our cultural sovereignty and creative life in the face of multinational corporations and their government supporters who are promoting a world monoculture.