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Canada’s Musical Inferiority Complex


We should stop peeking over our musical border


In the early 1970s, Canadian radio began using the Canadian Content (CanCon) system, meaning every radio station must broadcast a certain amount of music (usually 35 per cent) that was produced, written or performed by Canadians. Before this, Canadian radio was essentially the same as American radio, broadcasting the same music and artists you would hear in the United States.

The system was brought in to protect our culture from the massive influence that our American neighbours had upon Canada. And, for the most part, the system has worked with radio.

You can hear many homegrown artists on our airwaves and our country continues to produce excellent Canadian musicians.


Call it a leftover of colonial thinking.

Somehow, despite the vast cultural history and variety our country has, we still tend to think of culture coming from Canada as somehow inferior to the culture of the U.S., or even the United Kingdom.

In the early days of CanCon, commercial radio was reluctant to support our own culture. Even today, it takes a Canadian artist hitting down south before they’re truly adopted here.


Steve Marlow is program co-ordinator at CFBX, an independent radio station in Kamloops. Tune in at 92.5 FM on the dial or go online to


  1. I do not think Canadian music artists suffer an inferiority complex. Some of the world’s most notable music artists and bands are Canadian. But fact is the US market is 10 times the size of Canada’s, money from such will attract these Canadians to the US market, but it’s not like they piss on Canada. Some Canadian music artists stay close to home, others don’t. BUT! all music artists of notably the English speaking world tend to gravitate to the USA, aka, the first British invasion by the Beatles and then the Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin and many more. The British artists are never accused of having an inferiority complex, why do we suggest such from Canada?

  2. I am so sick of the 40% Canadian content rule. There is so much bad music that is played on the local radio dial. I google a bad song or artist just to verify its Canadian. This CRTC rule may have been a good idea to some in the early 70s, but its irrelevant today. Everybody knows when a bad Canadian song is being played. I know because my dog howls.

  3. The thing that has always bothered me is having Rush,Bryan Adams, and The Guess Who rammed down my throat. I came to acknowledge their success on my own terms not because they were overplayed by lazy PD’s.

  4. That is why I basically have my FM dial set to 92.9 KISM in Bellingham. CFMI 101 is good but KISM is our best classic rock station in the PNW/ GVRD/Fraser Valley. Besides I just luv Tesse McLeod’s D.J. voice when she is on air.

  5. If I hear “Big Yellow Taxi” once more, I will mow down my paradise-like treed property and put up a parking lot”. Enough already. She’s actually recorded several hundred songs over her career, why do PDs play the same songs over and over. No wonder we tune to US stations or music services.

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