August 03, 2006

Aug. 3, 2006: Culture's Tentacles #2

Original UN mandate

"At the foundation of the UN in 1945, democracy dominated the character of the majority of member states, despite pockets of instability. Nevertheless, democracy was not made a pre-condition for membership in the UN. Sixty years later, the majority of UN members are not full-fledged democracies. The consequences for UN operations and outcomes are profound." Posted by mmaxx on 06:00:54 2005/12/31 -- link to Eye on the U.N.

This site is dedicated to making transparent the UN's record on its fundamental promise - to identify, condemn, and protect against human rights violations. The site will provide an information base for the re-evaluation of priorities and directions for modern-day democratic societies.

As mentioned above, the definition of culture is so elastic and so undefined by the UNESCO agreement that it may encompass much that had not been previously considered nor included, for instance, audio-visual, film, entertainment, media products, e-learning tools, e-commerce tools, the freedom to sell, buy and trade goods. You might have noted that there was an announcement within the last year to the effect that there would be protection of Quebec's milk, dairy and egg (?) products, protected through its marketing board. But not every farmer across Canada needs or wants this. Surely, membership in any union or marketing board should be voluntary.

US Response to the UNESCO Protocol on Cultural Diversity

[Former] US Ambassador to the UN, Jamie Oliver says it is a trade protection agreement "the discussion of this convention from Canada seems to be entirely in terms of its relationship to trade"

[. . . . ] The goal of the proposed convention, formally titled the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions, is to protect a nation's cultural diversity and its culture from any negative effects of globalization. It also seeks to promote a country's ethnic traditions and minority languages.

[. . . . US Ambassador to the UN ] Oliver even singled Canada out for criticism.
"This is supposed to be a convention to promote cultural diversity and I'm really, as I say, disappointed that the discussion of this convention from Canada seems to be entirely in terms of its relationship to trade," she said in Paris.

[. . . . ] representatives from France have commended the initiative because it corresponds with the country's long-held opinion that cultural products and activities should be considered separately in trade matters. France has a history of subsidizing its film industry and setting limits on foreign content for French TV and radio. [. . . . ]

One for instance, this Quebec-based website started with an exhortation to action on the UN protocol: "This must be ratified!" ... activism to follow.

Note: The following came from a website before the Jan. 23, 06 election so it may have been moved ... even deleted ... as seems to have happened with others before the Martin government left the scene.

The priorities:
here and the links.

Scroll down and note the various articles, including one on the summit's importance and the WTO -- which links to here 07/12/2005

Search: the 10-year strategic plan , empowerment of women

Will the UNESCO convention, if ratified, protect the rights of women throughout the world or will it cement control by men in Islamic countries under the guise of "protecting culture"? Will it contribute to what originally was the UN goal--freedom and understanding--or will it cement national control and suppression? Will it lead to an opening up or to a closing down?

Consider some of the implications for Canada. Control will be enhanced and maintained:

The CRTC authorizes Canada's first three subscription radio services June 16th, 2005

Upon reading, I noted that this is not freeing; it is limiting, protective of the status quo, controlling, and in effect, attempting to exclude US programming (conservative programming, I would guess), along with pandering to ethnic community voters.

Search: must , must be by emerging Canadian artists

Who decides? The Departmane of Heritage? Quebec?

The licensees must also contribute at least 5% of their gross annual revenues to initiatives for the development of Canadian talent, such as FACTOR or MusicAction funds which assist the development of new musical artists. These contributions will be contributed equally to the development of English and French-language talent.

Note, Francophones comprise less than 25%, maybe less than 20% of Canada. Does the above seem fair? No wonder Quebec and Francophones have been so anxious for this.

for the foreseeable future, satellite subscription radio services will not be available in Canada via satellite facilities that are owned and operated by Canadians.

Has this changed since? What satellite facilities were planned?

Subscription radio via terrestrial transmitters

The Commission also approved the application of CHUM and its associate, Astral Media Radio Inc., to offer a service comprising 50 channels produced entirely in Canada, of which at least 20% will be in the French language. This licensee also intends to offer five channels intended for the Aboriginal, Chinese, German, Italian and South Asian communities. The music broadcast by these channels must respect the minimums required by Commission regulations: notably, for popular music, 35% Canadian content, and, in the case of French-language channels, a minimum of 65% of musical selections in French. [whether they want it or not ... ]

In addition, CHUM/Astral must contribute 2% of its gross annual revenues to initiatives for the development of Canadian talent. [....]

CRTC approves four new Toronto radio stations April 17th, 2003 -- This amplifies the control and the pandering to linguistic minorities. It will also add to the scope of the Languages Commissioner's department and responsibilities.

Canadian Multicultural Radio (CMR) (101.3 FM) - CMR is an ethnic service with programming directed mainly at South Asian communities but it will also serve a broad range of other communities. In total, CMR will offer programming to 16 different cultural groups in 22 different languages including Tamil, Filipino, Hindi and Punjabi. ....

La Coopérative radiophonique de Toronto inc. (105.1 FM) - La Coopérative, a community radio station, will be the first French-language radio station in the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] to be added to those provided by Société Radio-Canada (SRC). This locally oriented service will offer programming to French speaking residents from a variety of cultural backgrounds. The quality of programming will be enhanced by a relationship created with Le Réseau Francophone de l'Amerique (RFA).

San Lorenzo Latin American Community Centre (1610 AM) ...directed to Toronto's Spanish-speaking cultural groups, but will also be provided in Italian, Portuguese and Tagalog. San Lorenzo will devote 60 per cent of the ethnic programming to Spanish-language cultural groups.

Sur Sagar Radio Inc. (Transitional Digital Radio, Channel 2) - Sur Sagar will be Canada's first stand alone transitional digital radio service. .... at least 80 per cent ethnic programming to at least 5 different cultural groups in 5 different languages per broadcast week, (Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati, as well as English which is targeted at the Indo-Caribbean community). 70 per cent of all weekly programming will be in Punjabi, Hindi or Urdu. ...

An example of where the above leads: Multicultural policy: Netherlands and language

Dutch race policy 'a 30-year failure' Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Hague. Jan. 20, 04, Telegraph

A [ Dutch 2,500-page all-party ] parliamentary report last month concluded that the country's 30-year experiment in tolerant multiculturalism had been a failure, ending in sink schools, violence, and ethnic ghettoes that shun inter-marriage with the Dutch.

[....] It found that 70-80 per cent of third-generation Dutch-born immigrants brought in their spouse from their "home" countries, mostly Turkey and Morocco.

[....] The worst mistake was to encourage children to speak Turkish, Arabic or Berber in primary schools rather than Dutch. The report concluded that Holland's 850,000 Muslims must become Dutch if the country was to hold together.

[. . . . ] Funding was provided for ethnic diversity projects, including 700 Islamic clubs that are often run by hard-line clerics. [....]

VOIP in Canada -- telco related

Canada's CRTC VoIP Decision May 13, 2005

The CRTC rejected arguments by the country's largest telephone companies Bell Canada [ including QuebecTel ] and Telus Corp who had argued that Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) should be left unregulated like other Internet applications. [That would allow them to increase services and to raise prices. There are few telcos in Canada so ... another virtual monopoly.]

[....] Currently, according to VoIP numbers I have read, there are only 25,000 Canadian broadband VoIP users and the large Canadian incumbents still control 97% of the market. [....]

Since the telcos want to make money developing their own VOIP and also, this is an advantage to cable companies over telcos, I assume, perhaps this is why the telcos suggested they might appeal and why QuebecTel was so interested in the UNESCO protocol/convention.

At Stake: The Net as We Know It -- Google et al fear broadband carriers will tie up traffic with new tolls and controls. Ultimately, it could mean a world of Internet haves and have-nots By Catherine Yang, Dec. 15, 05, Business Week Online

The Internet has always been a model of freedom. Today the Web is flourishing because anyone can click to any site or download any service they want on an open network. But now the phone and cable companies that operate the broadband networks have a different vision. If they get their way, today's Information Highway could be laden with tollgates, express lanes, and traffic tie-ups -- all designed to make money for the network companies.

That prospect is the worst nightmare of Internet stars such as Google (GOOG) , Amazon (AMZN), and eBay (EBAY). They're gearing up for a clash with the phone and cable giants early next year as Congress begins to redraft the telecom laws for the broadband era. The Internet gang fears that unless they get lawmakers to intervene, the network operators will soon be able to put a chokehold on the Web. [....]

Most phone and cable companies are no longer content just to sell Web access to consumers. After investing in high-speed pipes, they also want to peddle more lucrative products, such as Internet-delivered TV programs, movies, and phone calls. [....]

But selling those extras puts the phone and cable companies in competition with Web services big and small. The network operators could block consumers from popular sites such as Google, Amazon, or Yahoo! (YHOO) in favor of their own. [....]

But express lanes for certain bits could give network providers a chance to shunt other services into the slow lane, unless they pay up. A phone company could tell Google or another independent Web service that it must pay extra to ensure speedy, reliable service.

Apparently, the offer of Quality of Service (QoS) contracts for $$$ is an attempt to do just that but there seems to be no or little difference in the service. Reference: National Post, Dec. 31, 05 part a series, "Who owns the Net?"

[ Result: haves vs have-nots ] Trouble is, those have-nots may include the Next Big Thing -- whether it be mom-and-pop podcasting or video blogging. The fewer innovative services on the Net, the less reason Web users have to want broadband.

Everyone could lose out. The Internet has flourished with the freedom that has been there since the early days. It is co-operative and it isn't broken nor regulated. The US through ICAAN only administers the number blocks, though countries like China likely would be paranoid about spying.

Example in the US: SBC

At SBC, It's All About "Scale and Scope" -- CEO Edward Whitacre talks about the AT&T Wireless acquisition and how he's moving to keep abreast of cable competitors*IUQu7KtOwgA/magazine

SBC Telecommunications' financial performance of late hasn't been much to write home about. For the third quarter, it just reported flat earnings of $1.2 billion on revenue of $10.3 billion, up a scant 0.3% over the same period last year. But given the onslaught of competitors eating away like pigeons at SBC's (SBC ) bread-and-butter landline business, scant growth is better than the alternative. "Is [our] revenue growth great? No -- it's terrible," says CEO Edward Whitacre, who adds, "but it's a lot better than losing." [....]

One of the problems during a period of momentous change in any industry is that you don't want to get rid of the old technology before the new is perfected, as happened with rail lines; now, for example, in the Maritimes, citizens have airplane or bus and the cost of fuel has risen considerably. Landlines and cable in Canada are more secure than wireless which, according to an article in the National Post Jan. 2, 05 is subject to hacking into the wireless connection somehow so that an expert can take over a person's wireless computer / laptop.

There have been recent examples of curbing freedom--countries like China curbing internet access and the vocabulary allowed to pass (Microsoft, Cisco)

An example from 2004--Internet Freedom

Chinese reporters walk out over sacking of editor December 30, 04

BEIJING (Reuters) - About 100 reporters of the Beijing News walked out after this week's sacking of the daily's top editor, the latest victim of China's strict press controls, industry sources said on Friday.

But while Communist Party officials were reasserting their hold on the feisty tabloid, nearly instantaneous Internet reporting of the dismissal and a flurry of online discussions suggested some of the limits of its control. [....]

China and other countries want the UNESCO agreement; then they may control and censor under the guise of protecting their heritage. This would apply throughout the Islamic world, especially.

Liberal Nation of Minorities

Salim Mansur: Song in a minority key Jan. 7, 06,

I have never understood how, if Canada is a nation of minorities, can there then be some malevolent “majority” within this nation that needs to be kept at bay? Who is this scheming majority against whom the rest of us minorities must remain ever vigilant in protecting our rights?

[....] defining Canada as a nation of minorities is insulting to both founding nations

[....] Liberal-speak and multiculturalism have actually widened the distance between the two founding nations, and, by indulging whims of hyphenated ethnic minorities, increased divisiveness at home. [....]

One website had this comment on "Canada is a nation of minorities":

This blatantly offensive statement deliberately divides Canadians into groups along racial, linguistic, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation and any other criteria one cares to utilize. Having thus used these various forms of division, the Liberals are then poised to pander to selected minorities, offering them protection within the Charter, financial support to preserve their special status as minorities and all but put those groups on a pedestal (talk about 'cherry-picking'!!). The rest of us, the amorphous, shapeless, undefined "leftovers" who do not fit into any of the "protected" groups are left defenceless and voiceless; yet we are the ones that provide the bulk of the taxes that are so generously handed out to these "special interest" groups.

What defines us - the majority? What characterizes us that we can use to draw us together so that we can start to unite and form a defineable group? What about the English language? What ... if we ask all English-speakers to unite to form a group to fight for our rights - rights to jobs based on academic or professional merit without being marginalized for our lack of proficiency in a minority language [....]

Dave Rogers had an article in the Ottawa Citizen saying that the French in Quebec are complaining about Bill 101 being violated too often [.... ]

Another quotation from that website:

Most disturbing, though, is the commitment of this department to waste precious tax payer money to promote the use of French outside of Canada:

[Below is a quotation from the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages in the Liberal era -- via Articles and Opinions: Article Re Ministry of Canadian Heritage and its Slant on Bilingualism website]

"3. Open a window on Canada's linguistic duality to the rest of the world and to this end strengthen the trend of co-operation with the institutions, states and member governments of the Francophonie for the sharing of knowledge and the complementarity of projects so that French may to an even greater extent be an international language of access to culture and technology."

Incidentally, this along with much other evidence--in that it documented the plans of the former Liberal government(s) on the Languages Commissioner's website, has been removed ... must have been some problem with the websites ... I jest.

Fortunately, some people copied information or obtained screen captures before, one may assume, the internet "shredders" and deleters went to work after the election and before the change of government. These copies of what was there--and I have some screencaptures, myself--are important in documenting the direction that the Liberal government(s) with their preponderence of attention to the needs of Francophone Canadians was taking us ... and will again, given the opportunity.

For more on language and how the immigration system and the court system's judicial activism on language and much else are changing Canada, see:

Judicial Activism vs. Restraint: The Role of the Highest Courts in Official Language Policy in Canada and the United States Journal article by C. Michael Macmillan, Raymond Tatalovich; American Review of Canadian Studies, Vol. 33, 2003

In the past twenty years, both Canada and the United States have witnessed a significant degree of conflict over language issues. Since the passage of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there has been growing debate about the consequent politicization of the courts and their role in democratic politics. This issue is joined in Canada because English and French are the only two "official" languages, although others are spoken by linguistic minorities and native peoples.

The UNESCO Protocol will change this, adding even more control, protection, and particularly promotion, for French language and French culture, which, given the protocol's antecedents, I believe was the object. The UNESCO Protocol will give added impetus to protect--Canada's global promotion won't be far behind--for it and eventually for other minority languages, as well. That will entail expansion of the languages department and industries.

Immigration has been used to similar effect, I would argue.

Canada: Policy Changes and Integration Challenges in an Increasingly Diverse Society, By Brian Ray, University of Ottawa,, November 2005

Canada is one of only a handful of nations where social and cultural change fueled by immigration is perhaps the only enduring societal constant. A steady stream of research since the 2001 census has highlighted the ways in which Canada is changing socially and demographically. [....]

Another article on the above website: Picot, G. 2004. "The Deteriorating Economic Welfare of Canadian Immigrants." Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 13(1), 25-46.

The type of immigration encouraged by Liberal governments over the last few years has had other, perhaps unexpected / unintended effects ... or maybe not. The latest immigrants and rising numbers of ill-educated refugees are not achieving economically as had previous immigrants. This has both social and economic implications. The immigrants are being drawn from Third World, South / Southeast Asia and increasingly non-English speaking areas. This will change the demographic make-up and the linguistic profile of Canada ... which may have been the point.

The increased immigration from what might be termed atypical source countries will only increase the agitation for "rights" butressed by calls to "protect culture", perhaps from increasing numbers of minority groups buttressed in their demands by the UNESCO protocol ... and so the department of language protection and promotion will grow, as will the tax burden for the rest. It will also destabilize Canada as time goes by and newcomers continue to settle in linguistic and cultural ghettos. There are other implications ...

Now, re-consider the demands from ACTRA and elsewhere--from CARFAC / RAAV, from Heritage and more--in the context of all the above. The concerns are related to jobs, locking in rules to protect their turf and also to gain control over so much more than the words "cultural diversity" suggest. It is not diversity in the Canadian news that is the animus for media and culture activists. Much has to do with language enforcement and trade, both preference and exclusion. Note the Islamic/Muslim world's influence via the UN / UNESCO in that. The UNESCO cultural diversity protocol has wide-ranging implications not at first evident ... until people read the fine print.

According to the 2001 census, only 17.7% of Canadians are self-assessed as bilingual.

Most of these are French-speakers residing within the province of Quebec.
June 7, 9, 16, 2006 [several items]

A recent study by Jack Jedwab , Director of the Association for Canadian Studies concluded that only 12% of Canadians are truly bilingual: *

(* quotes statistics from Environics and Canadian Heritage March 29-April18, 2004)

Therefore, under Official Bilingualism, only 12% of Canadians are allowed exclusive access to public service jobs that should be open to all Canadians.

Official Bilingualism is an affirmative action job program for French-speakers and bilingualism is becoming increasingly the main criteria for jobs in the Public Service. It is also increasingly the criteria for hiring in the private sector. Why would a country allow a minority language, French, to be used to shut out the majority language group that functions primarily in English. The English-speaking majority is finding, increasingly, that the diminishing opportunity for jobs is forcing the young, well-educated professionals who are unilingual to leave the city and even the country. Which enterprising young person would take on a job which has a glass ceiling for which opportunities for advancement are limited?

Fluency in the minority French language is limited to people who grow up in a French environment or who are willing and able to spend time immersed in the French language - why would we force the majority of Canadians to spend so much time and money developing skills in a language that is rarely used outside Quebec, Eastern Ontario and parts of New Brunswick?

I suggest that the above may have been the point and the impetus ... enhancing Quebec francophone and France's global reach through language ... The UNESCO Protocol has been described as very positive for francophones, that they gained much and that is why ratification is so imperative. That was on one of the former Liberal and/or Quebec government websites.


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