Trudeau Shifts NAFTA Demand To Cultural Sovereignty

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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With NAFTA talks set to start again Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is shifting his negotiating focus from supply management to cultural protection. He hasn’t been talking about promoting gender equality, climate change legislation or labor rights, either.

After weeks of insisting that he would protect Canadian farmers with a quota system that keeps the price of milk and cheese high, Trudeau is now talking about maintaining Canada’s cultural sovereignty as a key to any renewed NAFTA, which is not an objection for the United States.

As CBC News reports, Trudeau made the shift to culture when speaking not reporters in Vancouver on Tuesday.

“We’ve made it very clear that defending that cultural exemption is something fundamental to Canadians.” Yet the United States had not made any demands on Canada’s cultural industries that operate under strict Canadian content rules.

Media union president Jerry Dias told CBC that Trudeau must insist that the Canadian content rules continue and that Canadian media ownership stay out of American hands.

“One thing Canada is not going to do is turn over our cultural identity to the United States. Can you imagine Fox TV buying the CBC?” Dias asked. “Can you imagine how that would go over in Quebec? So that’s on the no-fly list.”

Trudeau also remains committed to retaining NAFTA’s dispute resolution board — something the United States wants to end.

“We’ve said from the very beginning that we need a dispute resolution mechanism, like Chapter 19, and we will hold firm on that,” Trudeau said Tuesday.

“We will not sign a deal that is bad for Canadians and, quite frankly, not having a Chapter 19 to ensure that the rules are followed would be bad for Canadians.”

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