Cultural Industries

The party leaders will never turn arts or digital strategy policies into pressing election issues. However, they all will continue to position themselves as being sympathetic to the arts and culture sector while also appealing to the general public.IMG-CulturalLarge-20140605

Prime Minister Harper did raise the topic of a “Netflix tax” early in the campaign, stating that the concept of imposing a tax on video streaming services like Netflix, is something he distinctly imposes. While he noted that voters should choose the Conservatives to avoid such a levy, neither the NDP nor the Liberals have said they support the idea of a tax. On the other hand, the opposition parties have stated there should be disclosure requirements for online video providers that show revenues, Canadian content and subscriber numbers to Canadian regulators.

Bringing Netflix into the spotlight managed to overshadow another important issue: copyright. The government had hoped to come to a conclusion on the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) prior to launching the election, of which copyright issues play a significant role.  This did not happen, however, leaving a major issue requiring negotiation still on the table – that is a copyright extension for all works. Currently, Canada’s copyright terms are for the life of the author, plus 50 years. While Canada decided against extending it to 70 years in 2009, there is a possibility it would consider it now, in order to negotiate on other outstanding items in the TPP.

Since the government made $115 million in cuts to the CBC, both opposition parties came out prior to the election campaign with petitions and statements against these decisions. Recently, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair specifically committed to restoring the money that was cut from the CBC if the party formed government. He also stated that he would reform the selection process for the Board of Directors of the CBC to be more independent.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has yet to make specific election commitments related to the arts, however, in an interview in October 2014, he outlined his thoughts on Canadian arts and culture. He emphasized the need to significantly support the CBC and voiced support for Canadians’ creations and voices to be heard to compete with the US. Mr. Trudeau spoke about the important contribution the arts and cultural industries bring to the economy in Canada and the need to foster this domestically and on the world stage.

A final big-picture issue that the leaders may try to position themselves around is that of a national digital strategy, which would include elements such as copyright and trademark reform, more consistent accessibility in rural areas and general investment in the online arena.