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  • Betting on Bitumen: Alberta's energy policies from Lougheed to Klein June 8, 2017
    The role of government in Alberta, both involvement and funding, has been critical in ensuring that more than narrow corporate interests were served in the development of the province’s bitumen resources.  A new report contrasts the approaches taken by two former premiers during the industry’s early development and rapid expansion periods.  The Lougheed government invested […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Canada-China FTA will leave workers worse off June 2, 2017
    Global Affairs Canada is currently consulting Canadians on a possible Canada-China free trade agreement. In CCPA’s submission to this process, CCPA senior researcher Scott Sinclair argues that an FTA based on Canada’s standard template would almost certainly reinforce rather than improve upon Canada’s imbalanced and deleterious trade with China. It can also be expected to […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Faulty assumptions about pipelines and tidewater access May 30, 2017
    The federal and Alberta governments and the oil industry argue that pipelines to tidewater will unlock new markets where Canadian oil can command a better price than in the US, where the majority of Canadian oil is currently exported. Both governments have approved Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project, but a new report finds that […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Weathering the storm: is this the end of CRA’s political activities audits? May 5, 2017
    Yesterday, following a panel’s recommendation to allow charities more freedom to speak out, the federal government decided to suspend the Canada Revenue Agency’s controversial political activities audit program. Indeed this is good news for Canadian charities. Everyone at the CCPA is proud of the role our organization has played in challenging these audits and in […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Unauthorized dams built in BC's northeast for energy companies' fracking May 3, 2017
    A subsidiary of Malaysian state-owned Petronas, the company behind a massive Liquefied Natural Gas plant proposal near Prince Rupert, has built at least 16 large unauthorized dams in northeast BC to trap water used for fracking operations, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has learned. Read the report.
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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Canada’s trade deficit in cultural services

With the Conservatives’ “Born in the USA” Copyright Act now tabled, the fur is flying. A year after leaping to the defence of the oil and gas industry, Terrance Corcoran has got Big US Media’s back (does Terry ever stand up for anyone but the wealthy and powerful?). As always, Michael Giest, who knows way more about copyright than yours truly, has assembled an excellent legal and policy analysis of the Canadian DMCA (here and here).

So I went over to Statscan to find out what our trade balance with the US looks like in this area. It is not surprising that Canada runs a rather hefty trade deficit with the US in cultural services (table 2). Overall, it is a deficit of $300 million, although in one category, film production, we enjoy a surplus due to all of the movies and TV shows shot in Canada. But in the category of interest to the DMCA, “copyrights and related services (royalties)”, we had imports of $879 million in 2005 compared to exports of only $146 million, for a trade deficit of $733 million (ie. this amount leaves Canada and goes into the coffers of Big Media).

Back in 1996, imports for this copyrights category were only $180 million and exports $54 million, for a deficit of $126 million. So the royalties flowing south have grown rapidly, as has our deficit in this sector. Which makes one wonder what all the fuss is all about. The US industry has thrived in Canada over the past decade, with profits up almost five-fold. As capitalists we should expect them to want even more, but that does not mean we should hand it over on a silver platter without anything in return.

The implication of the Canadian DMCA is that it will likely increase that trade deficit by strengthening the rights of copyright owners at the expense of users, shifting a delicate balance that has been struck over the years between private profit and public interest. And with some considerable irony, too, since the Tories are ostensibly about free trade and small government, whereas this legislation is about protecting monopoly rights of foreigners while expanding the powers of the state to invade privacy on behalf of those interests.

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