Madam Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity to follow up on the question raised on October 10 by the member for Toronto Centre—Rosedale.
I would like to quote from a speech the Prime Minister gave a couple of months ago on the current government's commitment to preserve Canadian culture. He said, and I quote “We must work together to protect this diversity. We must recognize that cultural goods and services are much more than mere goods. They deal with a fundamental and indefinable thing, our identity”.
Nobody can doubt the commitment of the current government to preserve and promote cultural diversity both in Canada and abroad. Since the government stresses the importance of this issue, as witnessed in the last throne speech, we will work to develop, at the international level, a new approach to support the diversity of cultural expression throughout the world.
As indicated in the government's answer to two standing committees, the heritage committee and the foreign affairs and international trade committee, the federal government is considering a new international instrument to promote cultural diversity. The purpose of such an instrument would be to set clear rules that would allow Canada and other countries to retain policies promoting culture, while respecting the rule governing the international trade system, and give cultural products access to export markets.
During the initial stage of the discussions, both here and abroad, on this new international instrument, Canada will keep on insisting, in every relevant international agreement, on maximum flexibility in order to reach its objectives with regard to cultural policy.
For several years now this government has been defending the importance of cultural diversity as an international policy issue, and we have tried to strike the right balance between participating in the “global culture” and leaving enough room for Canadian culture.