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ExpatPundit

"Five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy, we hate Americans.

2. We really do.

3. Really.

4. I'm not kidding. We really hate them.

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?"

--Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997, p.105.





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Wednesday, February 06, 2002

"Now, now, the government of Canada has apologised for Bryan Adams on several occasions." In a letter to the Globe and Mail today in which he calls for protection for Canadian films, Elias Petras writes, "We have seen in the Canadian music model that Canadian-content regulations have led to a renaissance of Canadian music, popular at home and around the world. I have no doubt that Canadian cinema would find a Canadian audience, given the chance."

Let us leave aside for a moment the question of whether Canadians should be proud of, say, Celine Dion. What's all this about Canadian-content regulation?

A perennial debate in political economy centers on whether governments should step in to protect certain sectors of their economies. One prevailing line of argument suggests that although it is difficult and costly to fight against the forces of basic nation-specific "comparative advantage," there are some sectors of the economy that are so crucial, so strategic, that government should step in and protect them -- at least until they have time to grow strong enough to stand on their own. (This is sometimes called the "infant industry" argument.)

Canada has chosen to take a stand to protect one such crucial industry: pop music. Yes, from the passage of the Broadcasting Act in 1968 until 1986, Canadian pop music radio stations were required by law to devote at least 25% of their on-air time to music that met the government's criteria for "Canadian content." In 1986 this requirement was raised to 35% of on-air time.

What constitutes Canadian content? The CRTC -- the agency charged with regulating radio stations -- uses the sophisticated "MAPL System." The key criteria are:

To qualify as 'Canadian content' a musical selection must generally fulfill at least two of the following conditions:

M (music) -- the music is composed entirely by a Canadian.
A (artist) -- the music is, or the lyrics are, performed principally by a Canadian.
P (production) -- the musical selection consists of a live performance that is
(i) recorded wholly in Canada, or
(ii) performed wholly in Canada and broadcast live in Canada.
L (lyrics) -- the lyrics are written entirely by a Canadian.


The CRTC is happy to assure you that these four criteria were selected "following an extensive public hearing process."

Personally, I am a bit dismayed to think of "Our Lady Peace" lobbying the CRTC for greater protection from U.S. rock groups on the Canadian airwaves, or seeking additional legislation that will define other Canadian musicians such as Bryan Adams as not qualifying as Canadian-content. But most important, the next time I turn on an oldies station and hear what sounds like "Refugee" (by honest, competitive-market American Tom Petty), only to find that it's that awful copycat tune "Run to You" from Bryan Adams, I'll remember that the above joke from "South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut" is closer to the truth than most would believe.

Forget tips, I hereby request tithing. The Aga Khan recently passed through Ottawa to praise Canada as a "model for the world" of a successful, pluralist society. There is a lot of truth to that, although the praise was unfortunately dressed up as a contrast to the U.S.

I don't know much about the Aga Khan, the leader of 15 million Ismailis, although my sense is that he spends most of his time pursuing reasonably noble endeavors. What I didn't realize until yesterday is that Ismailis "tithe a portion of their income to His Highness, who is expected to invest their charitable donations in good works."

This seems like a job that I could do. So, unlike other bloggers who crassly ask for tips, I would like to propose that loyal readers tithe a portion of their income to me. Note that tithing officially means 10% of income (top line, not after taxes), but in the spirit of competition I am willing to accept 5% of net income. Such a deal!

[UPDATE: People have been slow to register as tithers to the BSilv charitable works fund, so I am providing this helpful registration sheet. Please feel free to copy and paste it into an email to me:

Name __________________________
Address __________________________
Occupation __________________________
2001 net income ______________________
Are you sure you're counting everything?
2001 net income ______________________
% to be tithed ______________________
Come on, you can do better than that!
% to be tithed _______________________
Form of payment (circle one): check money order credit card cash
Thanks!

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