Canadian Cultural Exports in Decline: properly funding authors and adopting peer production in education necessary..

An Embassy Magazine article by Lee Berthiaume talks about a recent event offering special recognition for Canadian authors coincided with cuts to funding to those same authors. The article highlights recent Statistics Canada studies documenting the rise in our cultural trade deficit.

Statistics Canada reported on June 25 that Canada's trade deficit in cultural goods expanded in 2006 to $1.8 billion, the largest it has been since 1999.

While imports declined 3.2 per cent to $3.9 billion, exports dropped 12.7 per cent to 2.1 billion, the third consecutive decline.

Cultural goods are defined as books, compact discs, films and paintings. Nineteen per cent of Canada's exports were books, 18 per cent film and nearly 16 per cent was advertising material.

The Canadian government should be doing everything it can to decrease these deficits. This includes both financial support to Canadian creators, as well as legally supporting and encouraging alternative methods of production, distribution and funding.

My wife is a high-school teacher, and we were just discussing how the two major sources for high-school text books (Thomson-Nelson, McGraw Hill) are both US based publishers. Canada could decrease the book component of our trade deficit considerably by provincial governments adopting peer-production techniques for non-fiction textbooks that lend themselves towards collaboration among educators. Old-economy publisher-focused and royalty based methods for production, distribution and funding of educational materials is entirely inappropriate in the modern age.

Will we ever get the Council of Ministers of Education (CMEC) to think in modern ways, rather than their current harmful promotion of the old-economy publishers combined with calls for institutional exceptions to copyright?

See also: Anyone want to do an interesting study? What would the impact of Open Access for education be on our trade deficit?