Editorial

The late magazine tax and the ideas behind it

July 19 1958
Editorial

The late magazine tax and the ideas behind it

July 19 1958

The late magazine tax and the ideas behind it

Editorial

THIS IS THE FIRST editorial mention Maclean’s Magazine has made of the now defunct tax on the advertising content of special “Canadian” editions of United States magazines. We never quite knew what to say about the tax because we never felt it was an ideal solution to the problem — however real the problem is — that it sought to correct. But now that it is dead we have no hesitation in saying a few words in favor of the idea behind it.

It was a twenty-percent federal tax on the advertising revenues of those American magazines which, edited, written and produced almost wholly by Americans and for Americans, are slightly amended for Canadian consumption and sold to Canadian ádvertisers and Canadian readers in the guise of Canadian magazines. The last government took cognizance of a type of inequity in this that is commonly described as “dumping.” These American magazines, whose main costs were already absorbed in the home market, came into Canada at little added cost except the cost of press overruns, and subjected Canadian magazines to frequently suffocating competition. The last government took the stand that, just as Canada has had to support and defend all its other great agencies of communication — railways, radio, television, films, the newspapers — against unequal competition from abroad, it also had an important national interest to serve by giving Canadian magazines at least some support against the same sort of thing.

It may be that the present government holds the same general view, and certainly such a view would be in harmony with its many statements about our national identity and independence. The fact is that it withdrew the magazine tax without introducing any alternative method of easing the problem behind it.

We wish to make our own position in the matter as clear as possible. Come hell or high water, we intend to go on putting out a Canadian magazine and we intend to go on attempting to make it a good one. We shall endeavor to print the work of the best Canadian writers and the best Canadian artists and photographers, to search out the interesting and meaningful things that are happening to Canada and to Canadians and to help Canadians see and assess the world outside.

We shall, incidentally, continue to read a large number of American magazines with pleasure and admiration. We think, and have always thought, that it would be a national catastrophe if Canada were to exclude magazines, books, newspapers, movies, television shows or any other form of communication from the United States or any other place.

We do believe, however, that when an American magazine elects to utter a few magic words and thus become a Canadian magazine, it should be prepared to incur at least some of the real responsibilities, challenges — and costs — of putting out a Canadian magazine. Things like building buildings in Canada; employing some reasonable percentage of Canadians in the preparation of their editorial content; talking to Canadians not as a market of sixteen million people to be wooed and won but as a nation with their own identity and aspirations; trying to discern how the rest of the world looks not merely from Washington but from Ottawa too. If they want to put the Maple Leaf on their covers, let them take on some of the hazards and burdens of growing and nourishing it. And if they can put us out of business on those terms—or, as they have often done already, put other Canadian magazines out of business — we will cheerfully join in the applause.

It is our earnest and of course not altogether disinterested hope that the magazine industry — American as well as Canadian — will grow and prosper and increase in usefulness. It is also our hope that those American magazines that are not reluctant to be honestly American will continue to come into Canada and continue to receive the hospitable welcome that their country of origin and their usual standards of excellence so well deserve. It is also our hope that some divine genius, in government or elsewhere, will soon find a way of making it a little less simple for a part of our national voice to be shouted down — and in some fields almost drowned out — by the voices of strangers in disguise.