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Changes to fees for international touring musicians in Canada sparks petition, backlash (2013-08-29)

Changes to fees for international touring musicians in Canada sparks petition, backlash  

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PHOTO: Colleen De Neve
Spencer Brown books the bands for The Palomino in Calgary, one of the venues that will be affected by the new fees brought in for international musicians touring Canada.

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Response to news of changes to the fees regarding international artists entering Canada has sparked a backlash from clubs, promoters, musicians and music lovers around the world.

A petition and at least one Facebook petition have sprung up, with the subject also being a hot topic on Twitter on Wednesday after a story appeared in the Calgary Herald.

The new rules, which came into effect July 31, 2013 as part of the Federal Government’s Temporary Foreign Worker guidelines, require each non-exempt venue bringing in an act from outside of the country to pay $275 per musician and crew member when applying for a Labour Market Opinion, or LMO. There is an additional $150 for each approved musician and crew member’s work permit

Non-exempt venues include bars, restaurants, coffee shops or any other business that doesn’t open specifically for performances or special events.

Small club owners and others in the industry argue that they’re being unfairly targeted by the changes, which Minister of Employment, Social Development & Multiculturalism Jason Kenney announced on Aug. 7. They assert that the added costs will hinder their ability to bring in international musicians or compete with exempt venues, and that local music scenes will be adversely affected.

As of 2:15 p.m. MST the petition seeking a repeal of the application fee had already garnered just over 2,000 signatures.

Reaction on Twitter included angry messages from venues and artists — including prominent Canadian performers — as well as fans who voiced their disapproval and support. Here are some of the more passionate from around the world.

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