Among Canada’s multiple relations with European and other international actors, are the following:
- Council of Europe: The Department of Canadian Heritage, on the basis of Canada’s Observer status at the Council of Europe (COE), follows the activities of the COE Steering Committee for Culture (CDCULT), as well as the Council’s activities related to cultural co-operation, social cohesion, intercultural dialogue, and media diversity. Participation in the deliberations of the Council of Europe enables Canada to exchange with and learn from a range of important European partners. Canadian Heritage and its portfolio will continue to engage with the Council as a means of deepening cooperation on a variety of issues with partners from Western, Central and Eastern Europe. Canada also takes part in the COE / ERICarts Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe.
- European Union: Canada and the European Union (EU) co-operated on the drafting of the text for the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions prior to its adoption in October 2005. Canada continues its co-operation with the EU as the Convention begins the implementation phase in 2007. At the annual Canada-EU Summit held in Ottawa in October 2008, the Prime Minister of Canada stated, “Canada and the EU will prepare formal mandates with a view to launching negotiations on an economic partnership as soon as possible in 2009.” Canada and the EU published the results of a joint study by the European Commission and the government of Canada into the costs and benefits of a closer economic partnership between the EU and Canada, entitled “Assessing the Costs and Benefits to a Closer EU-Canada Economic Partnership”. The study examines how various forms of trade liberalisation would impact on both economies, although it makes no policy recommendations.
- Arctic Council: In 2006, Canada became more involved in the cultural policy activities of the Arctic Council, including participating in a conference on the Cultural Dimension of Cooperation among Arctic Council Members States, held in January 2006 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. At this meeting, Canada outlined its activities in the area of the revitalisation of indigenous languages. As a result of this meeting, Canadian Heritage, in conjunction with other government of Canada Departments, proposed the organising of an Arctic Languages Symposium to the Member States and the Permanent Indigenous Participants of the Arctic Council. This Symposium is planned to be held in 2008 and will bring together language revitalisation experts and practitioners to share best practices and foster co-operation between governments and indigenous groups.
- Organisation of American States (OAS): The third Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture or Highest Appropriate Authorities was held in Montreal in November 2006. Priorities discussed included: the preservation and presentation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage including good practices in digital preservation of cultural heritage; culture and the enhancement of the dignity and identity the populations in the Western Hemisphere including the development of partnerships between the educational and cultural sectors; culture and the creation of decent jobs and the overcoming of poverty including the development of standardised cultural indicators and satellite accounts as well as the development and promotion of cultural industries; common measurements to evaluate achievements and outcomes of cultural policies and social projects to overcome exclusion in the Americas; and culture and the role of indigenous peoples. Ministers reiterated the importance of policies and programmes that foster cultural development and the promotion of cultural diversity, as well as cultural identities, within the knowledge-based society. From 2005 to 2007, Canada chaired the Inter-American Committee on Culture (CIC) which is responsible for dialogue on cultural policy issues affecting the Americas. Canada was re-elected chair of the CIC for a further two year term in 2007. As a result of Canada’s leadership, a new Action Plan will guide the ensuing work of the Committee, and will focus on two main elements: (1) building institutional capacity in cultural industries; and, (2) promoting social inclusion, particularly as it relates to youth. Member States agreed with the links made between these two strategic elements and the building of democracies, promoting governance and the reduction of poverty. As CIC chair, Canada works closely with co-chairs Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica and the United States.
- La Francophonie: Canada plays an active part in the international Francophonie and the « Organisation internationale de la Francophonie » (OIF). The missions of the OIF include promoting the French language and cultural and linguistic diversity; promoting peace, democracy and human rights; supporting education, training, higher education and research; and developing cooperation to ensure sustainable development and solidarity. Canada hosted the XIIth Summit of La Francophonie in Quebec City in October 2008. Within the scope of this work, Canada also takes part in the direct operating agencies recognised in the OIF Charter, including the International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF), the Association of Francophone Universities (AUF), the Senghor University of Alexandria and the TV5 network. In addition, Canada participates in the International Council of French-Speaking Radio and Television (CIRTEF) launched under the leadership of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio-Canada and Télé-Québec, which is a professional association of public broadcasters in Quebec. The aim of this organisation is to establish open dialogue between broadcasting agencies and to promote the role of radio and television as an engine for development. The Department of Canadian Heritage plays a leading role in the institutions of La Francophonie including the bi-annual Summits of Heads of State and Governments of Countries Using French as a Common Language (operational since 1986), annual ministerial conferences, and different committees of the OIF in areas such as cultural and linguistic diversity, sport and youth, arts and audiovisual. The Department also manages the government of Canada’s involvement in TV5 and administers the funding awarded to TV5Monde and TV5 Québec-Canada. This multinational network airs programming from Canada, Europe and Africa, promotes cultural diversity and offers a window on La Francophonie. Through its involvement in TV5, Canada is supporting emerging productions from countries of the southern hemisphere.
- Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE): Canadian Heritage is active in the human dimension of the OSCE, or the set of norms and activities related to human rights and democracy. The OSCE, particularly through its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), is a venue for engaging key partners in Europe on several files such as combating racism and promoting diversity, which are key components of Canada’s commitment to promoting human security. The Department of Canadian Heritage provides input to and plays a consultative role regarding issues related to combating intolerance and promoting mutual respect, intercultural dialogue and understanding at the OSCE (see chapter 2.5.1).