Canadian cultural protectionism

Cultural protectionism in Canada has, since the mid-20th century, taken the form of conscious, interventionist attempts on the part of various Governments of Canada to promote Canadian cultural production and limit the effect of foreign culture on the domestic audience. Sharing a large border and a common language with the United States, Canadian politicians have perceived the need to preserve and support a culture separate from US-based North American culture in the globalized media arena. Canada's efforts to maintain its cultural differences from the US and Mexico have been balanced by countermeasures in trade arrangements, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)[1] and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).[2]


Government sponsorship

One of the first such responses to perceived American cultural invasion in the later half of the 20th century was through the National Film Act of 1950, which increased the authority of the government's National Film Board to finance and promote Canadian culture.

The Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences, also known as the Massey Commission, was released in 1951. It advocated the creation of a government sponsored organization that would exclusively finance Canadian artists. This organization, the Canada Council for the Arts, is responsible for the distribution of large sums of money to individuals or groups that promote what it defines as Canadian culture. The Council had a greater impact than its parent, and continues to support emerging Canadian cultural talent that it approves of.[3] The Commission also works to foster a general sense that Canada risks being swamped by an invasion of foreign culture. This led to an increased fear that Canada might very well lose a distinct, national culture.

Quota system

In 1955, with this fear in mind, the government appointed Robert Fowler to chair a Royal Commission that is known as the Fowler Commission. The Fowler Commission reported that the majority of Canadian stations, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, used not Canadian material, but American. It was the Commission's belief that a quota system should be enacted to protect Canadian content on the airwaves.

This recommendation, passed in 1956, affirmed the CBC as Canada's official broadcasting station and initiated the quota system. In its inception, the quota system said that 45% of all content broadcast on the airwaves must be Canadian in origin.[4] While this number has fluctuated over the years, it has generally required that approximately half of all programming on Canadian airwaves be Canadian in origin. However, Canadian content includes not only arts and drama, but news and sports, and most private broadcast networks skew towards the latter rather than the former, to allow for large quantities of foreign dramas. To the dismay of many Canadians, this leaves more "culturally" oriented Canadian programming off the major-network airwaves.

Tax incentives

Cultural protectionism by the Canadian government gave preference through tax rebates and lower postal rates to magazines published and printed in Canada.[5] This limited the options of American publishing companies to sell magazines in Canada. Some, specifically Reader's Digest and Time magazines, got around the restrictions by publishing "split runs", that is, printing "Canadian editions" of American magazines, rather than publishing uniquely Canadian magazines.[6] In 1998, after the Canadian government attempted to outlaw these types of magazines, the publishers of American magazines, including Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine successfully pressured the Canadian government to back down, citing World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and threatening a NAFTA lawsuit.[7][8][9]


The effectiveness of the cultural protectionism measures have been somewhat uneven. T. B. Symons, shortly after the Fowler report's installation in Canadian law, released a report entitled "To Know Ourselves". The report looked at Canadian high-school history books and found that while the Winnipeg General Strike went without mention, the books contained two chapters on Abraham Lincoln. The report also looked at Canadian children's general knowledge of their government and most could not identify the Canadian head of state (Queen Elizabeth II) and the basis for Canada's law and founding (the British North America Act 1867).

In 1969 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said he felt that: "Living next to you [the United States] is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly or temperate the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt."[10]

By the 1990s, the great majority of television, films, music, books and magazines consumed by Canadians continued to be produced outside the country.[11]

Creators of Canadian rap music in 2000 complained that many radio stations did not include rap in their Canadian music content, and television stations aired few rap music videos and news stories, and yet the CRTC was slow to grant broadcast licenses for urban music radio stations.[12]

In recent years the advent of online music and video has allowed international content providers to bypass CRTC regulations in many cases,[4] although existing private contracts keep certain international content providers, such as Hulu, out of Canada entirely.

See also


  1. ^ Farah, Paolo Davide; Gattinara, Giacomo (2010). Dordi, Claudio (ed.). WTO Law in the Canadian Legal Order. The Absence of Direct Effect of WTO in the EC and in Other Countries. Turin: The Interuniversity Centre on the Law of International Economic Organizations. pp. 323–330. ISBN 978-88-348-9623-5. SSRN 2337687.
  2. ^ Raymond B. Blake (20 August 2007). Transforming the Nation: Canada and Brian Mulroney. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. p. 357. ISBN 978-0-7735-3214-4.
  3. ^ Paul Litt, "The Massey Commission, Americanization, and Canadian Cultural Nationalism," Queen's Quarterly (1991) 98#2 pp 375-387.
  4. ^ a b "It’s over, CRTC. Netflix and globalization have won". Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson, September 25, 2014
  5. ^ John Stewart (2017). Strangers with Memories: The United States and Canada from Free Trade to Baghdad. McGill-Queen's University Press. pp. 177–. ISBN 978-0-7735-5140-4.
  6. ^ Guntram H. Herb; David H. Kaplan (22 May 2008). Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview [4 volumes]: A Global Historical Overview. ABC-CLIO. p. 1839. ISBN 978-1-85109-908-5.
  7. ^ Time Magazine’s Threatened Lawsuit Under NAFTA Blackmail, says Council of Canadians Archived 2007-09-15 at the Wayback Machine. Council of Canadians. November 18, 1998.
  8. ^ New Advertising Services Measure to Promote Canadian Culture (includes timeline of events). Heritage Canada. July 29, 1998.
  9. ^ WTO Rules Against Canada's Magazine Policy. Maclean's. January 27, 1997.
  10. ^ "Pierre Trudeau's Washington Press Club speech". CBC Digital Archives, March 25, 1969
  11. ^ "The Country Music Television Dispute: An Illustration of the Tensions between Canadian Cultural Protectionism and American Entertainment Exports ". Journal of Global Trade, 1997, page 585
  12. ^ Adam Krims (24 April 2000). Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity. Cambridge University Press. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-521-63447-2.
Canadian Multiculturalism Act

The Canadian Multiculturalism Act (the Act) is a law of Canada, passed in 1988, that aims to preserve and enhance multiculturalism in Canada.

Canadian Race Relations Foundation

Canadian Race Relations Foundation is a charitable organization and Crown corporation responsible to foster racial harmony and cross-cultural understanding and help to eliminate racism in Canada. The foundation was opened in November 1997, after the bill establishing it received royal assent on February 1, 1991. The Foundation operates at "arms length" from the government and is a registered charity. The Foundation is led by a board of directors appointed by the federal government as selected by the Prime Minister's Office by recommendations from the Minister of Canadian Heritage, currently Mélanie Joly. Previously, such advice came from the Minister for Multiculturalism, last held by Jason Kenney.

Canadian nationalism

Canadian nationalism seeks to promote the unity, independence, and well-being of Canada and Canadians. Canadian nationalism has been a significant political force since the 19th century and has typically manifested itself as seeking to advance Canada's independence from influence of the United Kingdom and especially the United States of America. Since the 1960s, most proponents of Canadian nationalism have advocated a civic nationalism due to Canada's cultural diversity that specifically has sought to equalize citizenship, especially for Québécois and French-speaking Canadians, who historically faced cultural and economic discrimination and assimilationist pressure from English Canadian-dominated governments. Canadian nationalism became an important issue during the 1988 Canadian general election that focused on the then-proposed Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement, with Canadian nationalists opposing the agreement - saying that the agreement would lead to inevitable complete assimilation and domination of Canada by the United States. During the 1995 Quebec referendum on sovereignty that sought to determine whether Quebec would become a sovereign state or whether it would remain in Canada, Canadian nationalists and federalists supported the "no" side while Quebec nationalists supported the "yes" side, resulting in a razor-thin majority in favour of the "no" side that supported Quebec remaining in Canada.

The aforementioned version opts for a certain level of sovereignty, while remaining within the Commonwealth of Nations. The Canadian Tories are such example. Canadian Tories were also strongly opposed to free trade with the U.S, fearing economic and cultural assimilation. On the other hand, French Canadian nationalism has its roots as early as pre-confederation. Although a more accurate portrait of French Canadian nationalism is illustrated by such figures as Henri Bourassa during the first half of the twentieth century. Bourassa advocated for a nation less reliant on Great Britain whether politically, economically or militarily, although he was not, at the same time, opting for a republic which was the case for the radical French-speaking reformers in the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837. Nor were Bourassa or others necessarily advocating for a provincial nationalism, i.e. for the separation of Quebec from Canada which became a strong component in Quebec politics during the Quiet Revolution and especially through the rise of the Parti Québécois in 1968.

Commission of Inquiry on the Situation of the French Language and Linguistic Rights in Quebec

The Commission of Inquiry on the Situation of the French Language and Linguistic Rights in Quebec was established under the Union Nationale government of Jean-Jacques Bertrand on December 9, 1968.

Cultural mosaic

"Cultural mosaic" (French: "la mosaïque culturelle") is the mix of ethnic groups, languages, and cultures that coexist within society. The idea of a cultural mosaic is intended to suggest a form of multiculturalism, different from other systems such as the melting pot, which is often used to describe nations like the United States' assimilation.

Cunningham v Homma

Cunningham v Homma, is a decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council that upheld a British Columbia law that prohibited Japanese Canadians and Chinese Canadians from voting.The case originated with an attempt by Tomekichi Homma, a Japanese immigrant and naturalized Canadian, to register to vote in 1900. The registrar of voters, Thomas Cunningham, rejected Homma's application. Homma took the British Columbia government to court over the issue.

Homma was successful at the County Court and the Supreme Court of British Columbia However, the case ultimately made its way to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which at that time was the highest court in the Canadian legal system. In Cunningham v Homma, the Privy Council ruled against Homma. The court determined that while the federal government had exclusive jurisdiction over the naturalization of citizens, the provinces had the right to legislate who could vote in provincial and municipal elections. There was no inherent right to vote for naturalized citizens. Provinces and their municipalities could determine who could vote, which meant they could bar any naturalized ethic group they chose. Parks Canada has designated this case as being of National Historical Significance.Asian Canadians would not garner the right to vote until 1949, four years after Homma died. In recognition of his contribution to the democratic system, in December 2017 the Government of Canada, through Parks Canada, dedicated a plaque in his honour at the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre in Burnaby.

Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government

Eeyou Istchee James Bay Regional Government (French: Gouvernement régional d’Eeyou Istchee Baie-James, Cree: ᐄᔨᔨᐤ ᐊᔅᒌ ᒉᐃᒥᔅ ᐯᐃ ᐊᔅᒌᐤ ᑎᐹᔨᐦᒋᒑᐎᓐ iiyiyiw aychii cheimiy pei aychiiw tipaayihchichaawin) is a local municipality in the Jamésie (TE) in administrative region of Nord-du-Québec.

English Canada

English Canada is a term referring to one of the following:

The Canadian provinces that have an anglophone majority. This excludes the francophone province of Quebec in total, and New Brunswick in part. Consequently, usage is usually in the context of geopolitical discussions involving Quebec. Among supporters of the two-nations theory, English-Canada is one of two founding nations, the other being French-Canada or Quebec. In avoidance of the two-nations theory, English-Canada is often referred to as the "ROC" (Rest of Canada).

When discussing English-speaking Canadians in contrast to opposed to French-speaking Canadians. It is employed when comparing English- and French-language literature, media, art, and institutions. The 20% of Canadians whose native language is neither English nor French are either lumped into one of the two groups according to their knowledge and usage of the official language or classified separately as allophones.

English Canadians, in some historical contexts, refers to Canadians who have origins in England (in contrast to: Canadiens French: Canadien(ne)s français(es)), French Canadians Scottish Canadians, Irish Canadians etc.)According to the 2006 Census of Canada, the population of English-speaking Canadians is between 17,882,775 and 24,423,375, finding the population outside of this designation to be 23,805,130 individuals.Estimates of Canadians with origins described as English is estimated to be about six million; a precise number is difficult to estimate for several reasons. Another 6.7 million people reported their ethnicity as simply "Canadian" without further specification, which would include those with an admixture of multiple ethnicities, particularly those long present in Canada (e.g. French, Irish, English, and Scottish), making it possible that the number is much higher than the nearly 6 million who reported as having English origins. On the other hand, historically, there have also been numerous Canadians who have hidden their true ancestry for different political reasons to join the dominant English group, such as to avoid discrimination, as seems to have been the case of the reported German-origin population, which dropped by nearly half after the First World War with a commensurate rise in reports of English origins.

Indigenous self-government in Canada

Indigenous or Aboriginal self-government refers to proposals to give governments representing the Indigenous peoples in Canada greater powers of government. These proposals range from giving Aboriginal governments powers similar to that of local governments in Canada to demands that Indigenous governments be recognized as sovereign, and capable of "nation-to-nation" negotiations as legal equals to the Crown (i.e. the Canadian state), as well as many other variations.

Montreal–Philippines cutlery controversy

The Montreal–Philippines cutlery controversy was an incident in 2006 in which a Filipino-born Canadian boy was punished by his school in Roxboro, Montreal, for using his cutlery according to traditional Filipino etiquette.

In response to the media coverage of the affair, a protest was held outside the Canadian embassy in Manila, and the Philippine Ambassador to Canada, José Brillantes, described it as an "affront to Filipino culture." Some commentators saw it as an example of prejudice, White nationalism and a culture clash, especially since the school board had previously expelled a Sikh student for carrying a kirpan (Sikh dagger).

National question (Quebec)

The National Question (in French: la Question nationale) is an expression referring to the discussion about the future status of Quebec within Canada, taking into consideration issues of autonomy, sovereignty, and independence.

Quong Wing v R

Quong Wing v R is a famous Supreme Court of Canada decision where the Court upheld a provincial law that discriminated against the Chinese.

Quong Wing was a naturalized Canadian citizen, originally from China, who ran a restaurant in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. In 1912, he attempted to hire two white women, Mabel Hopham and Nellie Lane, to work as waitresses. Consequently, he was charged and convicted under a provincial statute, An Act to prevent the Employment of Female Labour in certain capacities, which prohibited white women or girls from working in businesses owned by "Chinamen".

Wing appealed, arguing that the law was outside the power of the province as laws related to morality were considered criminal matters which is the exclusive authority of the federal government. As well, he argued that the law did not intend to include naturalized citizens.

The Supreme Court held in a four to one decision that the law was valid. The Court interpreted the word "Chinaman" as including all those born in China regardless of subsequent nationality.

Justice John Idington, alone in dissent, was the only one concerned with the justification of the law and held the law to be invalid on the basis that citizenship was a matter of federal jurisdiction and so ultra vires of provincial powers.

Regulation 17

Regulation 17 (French: Règlement 17) was a regulation of the Ontario Conservative government designed to shut down French-language schools at a time when Francophones from Quebec were moving into eastern Ontario. It was a regulation written by the Ministry of Education, issued in July 1912 by the Conservative government of premier Sir James P. Whitney. It restricted the use of French as a language of instruction to the first two years of schooling. It was amended in 1913, and it is that version that was applied throughout Ontario. French Canadians reacted vehemently, and lost, dooming its French-language Catholic schools. This was a reason why French Canadians distanced themselves from the subsequent World War I effort, as its young men refused to enlist.

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) was a Canadian Royal Commission established in 1991 to address many issues of Aboriginal status that had come to light with recent events such as the Oka Crisis and the Meech Lake Accord. The commission culminated in a final report of 4,000 pages, published in 1996. The original report "set out a 20-year agenda for implementing changes."

Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism

The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (French: Commission royale d’enquête sur le bilinguisme et le biculturalisme, also known as the Bi and Bi Commission and the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission.) was a Canadian royal commission established on 19 July 1963, by the government of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson to "inquire into and report upon the existing state of bilingualism and biculturalism in Canada and to recommend what steps should be taken to develop the Canadian Confederation on the basis of an equal partnership between the two founding races, taking into account the contribution made by the other ethnic groups to the cultural enrichment of Canada and the measures that should be taken to safeguard that contribution".

Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences

The Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences, otherwise known as the Massey Commission, chaired by Vincent Massey, was founded in 1949. The Massey Commission examined Canada's cultural needs. Massey had long believed that Canadians' rich cultural history was deeply embedded in European culture but was too little known to the world. An avid art collector himself, he sponsored exhibits in Europe and saw the need for a national commitment to promoting the arts.

Two Solitudes (Canadian society)

"Two Solitudes" refers to a perceived lack of communication, and moreover a lack of will to communicate, between Anglophone and Francophone people in Canada. The term was popularized by Hugh MacLennan's novel Two Solitudes. In her investiture speech as Governor-General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean specifically stated that "the time of 'two solitudes' had finished".

Unity Rally

The Unity Rally (French: Rassemblement de l'unité) was a rally held on October 27, 1995, in downtown Montreal, where an estimated 100,000 Canadians from in and outside Quebec came to celebrate a united Canada, and plead with Quebecers to vote "No" in the 1995 Quebec independence referendum (held three days after the rally).

Held at the Place du Canada, it was Canada's biggest political rally until 2012. The rally attracted considerable controversy because corporate sponsors, particularly from outside Quebec, made what, in the view of the Director General of Elections in Quebec, were illegal contributions to the No campaign (for example offering free or heavily discounted transportation to Montreal for demonstrators). In the end, it was determined that these provisions of Quebec's electoral laws did not apply to sponsors located outside Quebec.

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