Madam Speaker, I had the opportunity to raise the question some time ago with the Minister of Canadian Heritage about what measures the government is taking to protect culture in the country, in particular against the influence of its erosion in connection with what we loosely call globalization.
This is a matter which was raised by our committee and by the heritage committee and is of great concern to all Canadians. People in my own riding are very concerned about what measures we are taking in Ottawa to ensure that the cultural diversity and strength of the country remains in the face of what is going on outside our borders and throughout the world.
We know very well that in the province of Quebec people have succeeded in preserving a vibrant cultural life that is unique in North America, that enriches our country and that encourages us to also preserve and promote the use of French in the other provinces.
Cultural diversity when seen in the context of the integrated world in which we live is a very complex issue. When we look at the Internet, when we look at new means of telecommunications, we see on the one hand tremendous opportunities. We see opportunities for Canadians to participate in exporting our cultural products and with them our values and our sense of what we are about ourselves. On the other hand they serve also as a vehicle by which other cultural products and other visions of how the world is seen come into our society and come into our homes and influence.
Our neighbour to the south is the most important producer and largest exporter of cultural products in the world. It is naturally to the Americanization of the world of culture that we look with some concern and ask ourselves what our government is doing and what we as legislators can do.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage is to be particularly congratulated on having held last year a very interesting meeting of cultural ministers. It brought ministers from countries as diverse as France and Mexico, as well as others, to discuss how to work together to preserve the nature of cultural diversity in this world. This was in the interests of all citizens of the world, not just some. The minister followed the meeting with an interesting meeting with the UNESCO culture ministers. I know she has been pursuing this with some aggressive action.
We also know that the ability to protect culture today is linked to trade rules. There was the famous magazine case. We have had to look at the effectiveness of the articles in NAFTA and the free trade agreement which raise a form of cultural exemption which some people today are telling us does not work in the new environment in which we operate.
As I said before, we must recognize that the Americans are the most aggressive at pursuing the export of their cultural products and at resisting any suggestion that trade rules would reflect an opportunity for those of us who feel vulnerable in this area to protect ourselves.
We have allies in France and other countries but we still wonder what is taking place. That is why I am rising again today and taking this opportunity to ask the government what took place after the Seattle meeting.
We called for new measures in our committee report on the WTO. We called for the government to look at creating a new international cultural instrument. We recognize that this issue raises complex matters, differences between goods and services, but we believe that this must be accomplished in the WTO context and we look forward to knowing that the government continues to pursue this agenda aggressively and in the interests of all Canadians.