Gov't rep defends trade policies at AFM

Canada’s ex-Prime Minister and former defense chief Kim Campbell, now consul general in L.A., fired a volley at U.S. critics of Canuck trade policies Wednesday while seeming to boost the indie film sector, telling an AFM luncheon crowd, “The challenges faced by Canada and other countries in preserving their own authentic cultural voices are the same problems faced by independent American filmmakers.”

Campbell’s statements came within the context of recent remarks by Canada’s deputy prime minister Sheila Copps, who all but declared a cultural war on America’s northern border. Campbell supported Copps’ arguments for restrictions on U.S. imports.

“The question is not whether we ought to support Canadian culture, but how best to support it,” said Campbell, echoing a previous statement by Canadian minister of international trade Art Eggleton.

Campbell denied that rules requiring 50% Canadian content in national broadcast programming were a barrier to America entertainment product, calling accusations of protectionism “a myth.”

Canada has “the most open cultural market in the world,” she said, adding that “Americans fail to appreciate that (the 50% policy) virtually guarantees 50% of Canadian broadcast time to Americans.” Pointing to the fact that Hollywood product virtually dominates Canada’s theatrical market, she said, “Can 95% of our movie screens not be enough for a country which controls an estimated 85% of the world’s trade in audiovisual products?”

Campbell’s remarks, aimed mainly at Hollywood’s major studios, came at a time when most top studio execs were gathered at ShoWest in Las Vegas. Companies selling product at the AFM, on the other hand, include several Canadian companies such as Toronto-based Alliance Communications, Malofilm and Vancouver-based TSC Film Distribution, as well as many U.S.-based companies that have long engaged in Canadian co-productions.

Campbell was introduced to the luncheon crowd by Canadian-born film director Arthur Hiller.

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