TORONTO - Efforts to pry open the culturally sensitive Canadian media industry to more foreign ownership took a new turn Monday when Amazon.com sought federal approval to start a new business in Canada.
The application to Heritage Canada, if approved by the Ottawa, would see the U.S. online retailer establish its own fulfillment business here after using Canada Post for product delivery since 2002 to serve a Canadian version of its U.S. website, Amazon.ca.
Amazon is seeking its own physical base in Canada, including offices and warehouses, a move that must be weighed by the feds under the Investment Canada Act. Establishing a physical presence north of the border would come with strings attached, including measures to support the Canadian book trade to indicate net benefits to the local industry from Amazon.com operating in the country.
The Canadian Booksellers Association, representing local book retailers, in 2002 failed in a judicial bid to stop Amazon.com from operating in Canada.
Ottawa ruled that the Investment Canada Act did not apply to Amazon.com, despite existing laws aiming to protect the Canadian book industry from foreign competition, as long as it operated without a physical presence in the country.
Beyond book-selling, Canada also regulates foreign investment in the phone and broadcasting sectors, both of which face changing foreign ownership rules and landscapes as well. The conservative government last week signaled it would look to open the floodgates to more foreign investment in these areas.