Monday, January 14, 2008

Canadian content policy - Yes, I like it

I moved to Canada almost 12 years ago. In doing so, I decided to learn more about the country, its history and culture, demographics, etc. Thanks to the Canadian Content policy (Cancon, as it's often referred), I have been exposed to made-in-Canada TV, Canadian actors, musicians, writers, etc. That's how I discovered Shania Twain, Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, etc.

Some people seem to find it annoying that Cancon is in place. Even the Wikipedia entry indicates that there is controversy surrounding the restriction of freedom that Cancon puts on choices of entertainment sources. Since this is my blog, I thought it would be appropriate for me to say that I am quite happy with the existence and enforcement of Cancon. I am happy that we are forced to be exposed to Canadian productions, shows and artists.

Admittedly, there is already Canadian content in US television shows. Smallville, for example, employs a large number of Canadians (some of which are incredibly talented such as the Ashmore twins - Shawn and Aaron - Kristin Kreuk, Emanuelle Vaughier, Eric Johnson, Laura Vandervoort to name just a few in the main cast). The show is filmed in Vancouver (although of course, it's set in Kansas). But I think it's also good that Cancon is in place and enforced.

You can call me nationalistic, or weird, but I also enjoy Vancouver-centric or Canada-centric shows. Robson Arms, for example, is a show that focuses on the tenants of a building in Vancouver's West End. From their website:
Welcome back to Robson Arms, the once-grand low-rise apartment building in Vancouver’s West End. Season 2 of Robson Arms picks up 6 months after Season 1 left off. The previous owners of the building are dead, earthquake repairs are still underway, and a “For Sale” sign sits front and center outside. As with any apartment building, some tenants have moved on… and others have moved in.[Robson Arms' website]
Other great shows, such as Intelligence, DaVinci's Inquest, Cold Squad, have done a great job in portraying Vancouver and its problems. I am proud to live in this city and also proud of the great job that Canadians are doing in the entertainment industry. Why not support them? Why not encourage their development?

I like the shows where Canadian life is examined, where Canadian cities are shown as their real selves (not like in the case of Queer as Folk, where Toronto passed for Pittsburgh). And yes, I do support the US writers in their strike and am waiting with baited breath for some shows to continue (such as Smallville, Brothers and Sisters, Supernatural).

But if the circumstances of the writers' strike lead to an increased focus on Canadian shows, I say this is good. Note: I am not saying that it's good that the US writers aren't getting what they deserve, on the contrary, I really support their cause. But what I am saying is that I am happy that, with all the worry surrounding the lack of content in Canadian television because US shows will be doing re-runs, there is more attention being paid to Canadian-produced shows. Too bad it's due to circumstances, rather than based on a strong development plan for the Canadian entertainment industry!


Miss 604 said...

We did a segment on our podcast about Cancon for radio and played all Canadian tunes hehe. I gotta say, we love Corner Gas and actually got John's family watching it south of the border (on DVD although it's now on WGN, Chicago as well)

Erika Rathje said...

Your perspective as a new Canadian is interesting; I like it. I think the reason some people hate Cancon, at least from a music perspective, is because it's not in place to deliver good content, it's just to deliver Canadian content. There are, according to my friend, Canadian bands that would never have made it if it weren't for Cancon because they're awful! This is of course a matter of taste but one can only expect that if x% of content has to be Canadian, some of it isn't going to be any good. Mind you, American bands who suck get on the radio/tv, too ;)