The latest figures are sobering. Canada’s culture goods trade deficit has ballooned to $2.2 billion, 63% of which is with the United States. That represents the largest culture goods deficit number since 1997 and is the fourth straight year the deficit has grown.
These numbers ought to re-emphasize the obvious — as a net importer of culture, our cultural policies, particularly our copyright policies, need not mirror those found in a major exporting country such as the United States. Our policy makers should be focusing on new ways to encourage the development of Canadian culture at home and its promotion abroad. The Internet and new technologies provide an exceptional opportunity to do just that, yet we seem to focus primarily how best to import both U.S. culture and U.S. copyright law. Not only is that bad public policy, but it is a guaranteed way to ensure that next year’s Statscan numbers show more of the same.
Federal Government policy is to blame for the sad figures emerging from Statscan report today.
One might expect, although it was not reported today, that the province of Ontario again leads in generating these stats; see Statscan Daily for 2005-05-19.
Could it be that in the period reported on, policy development focussed on addressing problems mostly in Ontario?
Reading the report on rural versus urban cultural product production (Statscan Daily for: 2006-06-12) would indicate that little is being done to
provide resources or energy to Canadian creators or exporters outside of major (Ontario?) centres. Problematically the cultural sector includes a large contingent of the self-employed, and here there looms another unfortunate statistic; in Canada the self-employed sector has a negative effect on our productivity, compared to the USA, where the self-employed sector is the engine of productivity(Statscan http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/030828/d030828d.htm).
I suppose one could surmise that for the last 7 years Ottawa policy makers have been politically focussed
rather than culturally.