Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Compromising Our Culture:

During the Canada/US free trade talks more than two decades ago and other deals since, efforts have been made to keep our culture off the commercial negotiating table. But, since Harper came to power, harm has been done by other means.

1a) In 2009, Harper dined with Rupert Murdoch, the notorious, right-wing head of Fox Broadcasting in New York.  Since then, the CRTC has given the go-ahead for a Fox News clone here. It also considered loosening Canadian journalism standards, legitimizing the idea that there is no such thing as truth, just opinions, but backed down after a public outcry. This change would have benefitted those who need to distort the truth 
for their survival.

1b) The CRTC is supposed to protect Canadian citizens, but too often it seems more concerned with Big Media. It is run by up to 19 commissioners appointed by cabinet (i.e., the prime minister). The latest appointee is the new vice-chair, Tom Pentefountas, who has no experience in telecommunications, but is connected to the Conservative Party. That's enough to earn him a six-figure salary.

2) At the same time, Harper is on record saying only CBC services which don’t have “commercial alternatives” should be subsidized, and parts of the broadcaster should be run “on a commercial basis.”  Dean Del Mastro, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage stated: "Maybe it's time we get out of the broadcasting business.”

3) As American publishing firms consolidate their distribution and sales in the US, their Canadian partners are disappearing. “I am frankly appalled that the Canadian government has not lifted a finger to come to the aid of anyone in the Canadian publishing industry,” said publisher Kim McArthur. 

4) Local bookstores, too, are dying because the government, apparently in violation of existing rules, gave permission to to ship books from within Canada. 

5) To amend the Copyright Act, the government has introduced Bill C-32, which, among other things, removes writers’ royalties when their work is used for education. Does that mean Microsoft and Coke will stop charging schools for their products?

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