Today, as we witness remarkable innovations to all forms of communications and information management, it is not surprising that the shape and methodologies of Canadian cultural policy are being challenged by some people. Yet, the essential cultural goals identified in the past remain unchanged: to develop practical methods that enable the creation, promotion, distribution and exchange of Canadian creative materials.
During the current period of intense innovation, there will inevitably be pressure from some who will argue that new forms of digital technology cannot be harnessed exclusively for Canadian content. Critics may argue that the country cannot afford to provide financial assistance for cultural production. Others may argue that the international rules governing global trade will nullify efforts by Canada – or any country – to protect ‘space’ for domestic cultural voices.
The history of past encounters with these types of arguments indicates to me that it is entirely possible for Canadian policy makers to respond creatively and effectively. Moreover, as long as there remains a collective interest in sustaining the Canadian experiment, an assertive cultural policy will be part of our solution for national continuity. The greatest threat to future success in Canadian cultural policy is not from technological innovation or foreign pressures. In my view, it is from our own pattern of domestic cyclical interest and our short-term attention span. We cannot afford to be passive, defeatist or ‘asleep at the wheel’ while innovations and commercial pressures accelerate along Canada’s cultural networks.