Historically, we have adequately protected our cultural policy-making space, but in the last five or six years, we have not. We have begun to move in a direction away from a general cultural exemption, and this, in my observation, is going to cause us serious concerns. The backslide began with the comprehensive and economic trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, where, instead of a general cultural exemption, we sought to exempt culture on a chapter-by-chapter basis. We have continued that model in the TPP, and it's a very weak model because a chapter-by-chapter exemption in the TPP is a unilateral exemption by Canada. It's not a mutually agreed exemption between the partner countries. It's a unilateral exemption by Canada. It's not underpinned by any strong provision in the preamble or by anything in the right to regulate section. We're very concerned about that.
The changes that were made to enable us to sign the CPTPP are simply not adequate to overcome those problems. The side letters are positive, and they do recognize that we have certain additional rights, but basically all they do is eliminate the restrictions we put on our own cultural exemption. We restricted our cultural exemption, and the side letters seek to eliminate those restrictions.
The new preamble provision is fine. It recognizes the importance of cultural diversity and of promoting it, but unfortunately, preambular language, as this committee knows, is not binding. It does not overturn a clear provision of an agreement. It's simply used as an interpretative tool. So, in fact, we are very concerned.