Date: Sat, 7 Mar 1998 15:27:45 -0400 (AST)
Canadian Position on Culture in MAI Clear - Chief Negotiator Tells CCA
Canadian Conference of the Arts, 26 February 1998
Hey mainots. Further confirmation that the MAI has been winged but not downed is given in the following membership advisory from the Canadian Conference of the Arts. CCA, Canada's premier cultural advocacy group, reports that Canada's International Trade Ministry has informed them that a round of negotiations will take place in May.
This advisory further undermines the claim that France is pulling out of MAI talks. Canadian delegation chief Dymond is quoted as saying that Canada will continue to collaborate with France in this matter. While I place no great stock in the trustworthiness of such a bureaucrat, I also see no reason why Dymond - who will be meeting with the CCA again soon - would expose himself to criticism by being deceptive about the matter. If France had truly dropped the MAI this fact could scarcely fail to emerge prior to the next CCA parley.---Antoni
February 26, 1998
Canada's Chief Negotiator for the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, Mr. Bill Dymond, met with twenty representatives of the cultural sector yesterday to tell them that the Canadian position on the treatment of culture in the MAI has not changed as a result of recent negotiations in Paris.
Mr. Dymond was joined by trade negotiator John Gero, a specialist in copyright and intellectual property elements of the MAI and other trade agreements. In his comments, Mr. Dymond informed us that the recent round of high level negotiations in Paris saw no progress to the resolution of the cultural question. However, he made it quite clear that the position he took to Paris was totally consistent with the undertakings of his Minister, the Hon. Sergio Marchi, Minister of International Trade, who has said that Canada will not sign the MAI unless Canadian cultural sovereignty is fully insulated from the disciplines of the agreement. The Minister has made it clear in recent comments that in addition to culture, the list of deal breaker issues includes health care, social programs, education and programs for Aboriginal peoples and minority groups.
While we can take some reassurance from this commitment, many participants in the meeting continued to express concerns about the ultimate disposition of the cultural question within the MAI. Mr. Dymond responded to these concerns by assuring the meeting that there was no doubt in his mind about where Canada has to be on the removal of culture as a condition of our participation in the agreement.
Mr. Dymond also spoke about the close relations between Canadian and French representatives during the Paris negotiations as both countries have taken a similar position on the treatment of culture within the MAI. For those of us concerned with a solid front on the cultural question, this news was welcome. While the prospects for a cultural carve-out are still uncertain, Mr. Dymond indicated that the negotiators are exploring other vehicles which will produce the same net effect as a cultural carve-out without being subject to the disciplines of "standstill" and "rollback" rules or being reviewed with the intention of bringing our policies into greater compliance with the spirit and letter of the MAI. He has promised to maintain consultations with the cultural sector as this issue develops in the months ahead.
Progress on the MAI is slow and the projected deadline of a deal by the end of April 1998 is not realistic. Mr. Dymond was reluctant to offer a firm new deadline for the completion of the agreement but suggested that the delay could add another year to the process unless fundamental differences among the various national negotiators were resolved. He was not optimistic about this happening quickly.
However, he did note that there is another round of discussions scheduled for May and he kindly offered to meet once again with representatives of the cultural sector during the week of April 21, 1998 to brief us on any developments that may accelerate or further postpone the completion of the negotiations. The CCA has accepted this offer and we will confirm the time and place of the meeting as the date draws closer.
Contact the CCA:
189 Laurier Avenue East
Their URL is: <http://www.culturenet.ucalgary.ca/cca/indexen.htm>
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