Friend of the Blog Vince draws my attention to his letter to the editor of the Montreal Gazette
objecting to the bean counters running the Canadian TV and film industry.
I don't think bean counters are the problem. The problem is the Conservative government. They are not incompetent. They are actively hostile to the idea that government should support and pay for the arts. Basically, the arts are either popular or not popular. If they're popular, they should be able to support themselves. If they're not popular (opera, ballet), let people who like them donate to them. Why should the taxpayer have to support them.?
Which is a perfectly legitimate, Republican point of view.
I disagree with it. I don't want Canada to become a cultural backwater. Every civilized country supports its own arts, with the exception of the US, which has a 300 million member audience and is the location of the international
film industry (which is what the US film industry really is). I think culture is a public good akin to roads, defense, police, environmental regulation, safety inspectors and fire departments: it gives more value to society than individuals are willing to pay for. We tax everyone to create roads that some people drive on and other people don't, so what's wrong with the government taxing everyone to support a vibrant arts culture?
But the Conservatives disagree. And complaining to
them is not going to be very fruitful, because their political philosophy is that government should not protect or support the arts.
The way you protect Canadian culture is you get a government of the left. In my province, Québec, for example, elections are run between the left-wing Liberals and the even-more-left-wing PQ. Culture (even English culture) is very
well supported in Québec.
The way you get a government of the left is you convince the egomaniacs in charge of the parties of the left to form an electoral coalition. An electoral coalition is an agreement that if, say, the New Liberal Party candidate is ahead in one riding, the Democratical candidate will bow out and throw his support to his brother; and if the Democratical candidate is ahead, the New Liberal candidate will drop out and support him. An electoral coalition increases the representation of
both parties after the election
. You don't even have to agree to form a coalition afterwards; you just increase the number of MPs that both parties have.
The only reason the NDP and Liberals won't do it is because their leaders, want to destroy each other more than they want to govern Canada.
The egos of a dozen people are preventing the 67% of Canadians who vote left from having a majority left government.
Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now.
Labels: Canadian politics, Cancon
2And I'll step up on it for a sec if you'll allow me.
First, thanks for the link.
Agree with your views almost completely. I have an issue with the PQ, though, and their single-minded agenda. We won't go there. That could be a loooong and involved conversation we might have one day -- maybe at one of the soirées.
Yes, absolutely, the arts are supported in Quebec, but I take issue with support for the English voice here. Don't mean to disrespect US history, but it smacks of taxation without representation -- and not just on the culture front.
That's my little nugget.
I don't see government funding as an answer to the perceived dearth of Canadian arts unless the goal is to have propaganda and cronyism become the criteria for what is created.
If politically active government employees pick what is to be made then they will be unable to pick anything that doesn't mesh with their political belief system - be it right, left or off spectrum. Propaganda is propaganda even if you believe in it and it is morally repugnant to force people to pay for your message. And you cannot pretend there would be any balance if you also believe that the right won't spend big on arts and the left will.
Soviet era propaganda posters are dramatic and all but I don't want a repeat of that... and as influential as it was on film making, I don't think the world needs the next "Battleship Potemkin".
Now if the bureaucrats masquerading as art experts are picking what is to be funded without political oversight then it is just their personal tastes (coloured by their personal politics) and social connections that are being elevated over, and imposed on, the uncouth masses who are forced to pay for it.
Do Canadians really need more art like the Cloaca No5... and how many more films does Paul Gross get to make? Really, there is no thematic connection there... honest.
On top of the that, I wouldn't be so fast to sacrifice everyone in Canada's physical well-being on the alter of your personal aesthetic predilections. The problem with consolidating the vote for left is that the left has no working understanding of economics - where are the transfers coming from if every province is a "have not" province?
Sure conservatives corrupt the market system to their advantage- that is the primary function of the political machine and the left does it with just as much abandon. (This won't change unless we stop them from buying votes and selling regulations in a race to power... good luck with that.) The difference is that the left has less understand of what they are screwing up than the right does and tend to damage it more.
Clint, you look like you're fairly young. Trust me, dude. The last few decades of the 90s here in Quebec were exactly as you describe: propaganda and cronyism sanctioned by a repressive regime. I'm just trying to balance the playing field with my little allusion to demagoguery in my film. And just to be clear, Quebec nationalism is just a backdrop in my story, not the main focus of it.
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