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Tuesday, September 16, 2008 

Harperites Just Don't Get 'The Arts'

I was glad to see Quebec Premier Jean Charest give Harper a slap for cuts to arts funding. You need to understand that Harper is, in reality, driven by Reform concepts on many issues. One of those issues is public funding of the Arts.

Every great civilization, from the ancient Romans and Greeks to more contemporary times, have understood that drama, music and art define a culture and provide both contemporary benefits and legacy. Patronage by the Crown allowed Shakespeare to pursue his work and the legacy he left to the English language is invaluable.

In Canada, the Arts employ thousands and thousands of people and allow a sparsely populated nation like Canada to remain culturally intact and unique from our larger American neighbor.

Right wing thinking argues that the Arts should be self funding. Lacking that, the corporate sector should provide patronage ... but they fight public funding as a matter of ideology. They are wrong.

In terms of world history, the Canadian experiment is only 141 years old. We have gathered people from almost every nation on the planet and unlike the American 'melting pot' we have a patchwork quilt of cultures that is truly different from the United States and unique in the world. Canada is truly the 'united nations' in one nation.

In terms of arts funding as a line item of the federal budget, we are only talking about crumbs. Cutting funding to the arts may be an ideological statement, but it is short sighted and clearly indicates a disregard for Canada ... what we are ... and who we are.

Harper and his Conservatives want Canada to play a part on the world's stage. Their thinking is that we make that statement with military might .. hence our ongoing war in Afghanistan. If Harper truly wanted to see Canada make a mark in the world, he should ensure that Canadian arts are well supported.

Good for Jean Charest - speaking out during a federal election.

Wasn't Charest a one-time Conservative? That's right, he was half the caucus in 1993. He and Elsie Wayne were the entire Conservative Party in the Commons.

Now he's Premier of Quebec but--gasp!--he's a Liberal!

He got IT. Harper doesn't get IT.

When the Lord said brains, some thought he said trains so they took the bus and missed the boat.

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