The fate of the CBC could be decided at a trade table far away from Canada even as this country is caught up in a tight election race. The government is sending Trade Minister Ed Fast to Atlanta on Wednesday for the latest round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks .
As the Canadian Media Guild (CMG) noted last month , WikiLeaks has revealed that the CBC could be on the table at those talks. The Conservative government has not released any detailed information, but the U.S. has been clear on its objectives: Anything it considers State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) – which many believe includes the CBC – is up for negotiation: “We are also pursuing pioneering rules to ensure that private sector businesses and workers are able to compete on fair terms with SOEs, especially when such SOEs receive significant government backing to engage in commercial activity.” (https://ustr.gov/tpp/Summary-of-US-objectives)
Canadian governments used to demand protections for cultural activities in trade pacts that sought to open up Canadian activities to foreign investors. There is such a provision to protect Canadian culture in NAFTA, negotiated in 1993. We have no information about whether this protection is being discussed as part TPP talks.
“The Conservative leader, and every other leader, must tell Canadians what they know and are planning in regard to the TPP and the future of CBC – Canada’s major cultural and news organization,” says Martin O’Hanlon, President of CWA-Canada, CMG’s parent union.
“CBC Board members meeting this Tuesday in Winnipeg are in charge of protecting this important public good, and we hope to hear from them about what steps they are taking to defend the national public broadcaster,” added Carmel Smyth, National President for CMG