Monday, August 22, 2005

Bully for us

In all the newspaper blather and commentary about the North American Free Trade Agreement and how awful those mean Americans are to us and how we ought to stand up for ourselves and punch that bully right back, magazine people with even a moderately long memory may wish to remind the nation what happens when you even think of sticking up for yourself.

The so-called Canada-U.S. Agreement on Magazines came about because Canada tried to keep U.S. publishers at bay with legislation that forbade "split runs" where U.S. ads were stripped out of otherwise unchanged U.S. magazines and Canadian ads substituted. When Canada got a little uppity this way, the U.S. gave us the back of its hand and told us that if we persisted they would target...our steel industry. Of course the Canadian government folded like a cheap chair. The Americans got huge privileges of access and we got, basically, bupkis.

So for anyone who senses some ennui among Canadian magazine publishers when it comes to the softwood lumber issue and the possibilities of a spine transplant, that's why. We tried to defend our own, struggling industry and were slapped down. The tree-cutters are just getting more of the same and the outcome is likely to be no different, even if Derek Burney, Pat Carney and the entire Conservative Party do have second thoughts.


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