Screw You, Hippies!

Arts funding cuts nothing but pre-election “political” pandering to “our kind of people.”

From some of the reporting, the crass political motivation of the Harper government in last week’s axing of the TradeRoutes and PromArt programs was fairly transparent. If there was any doubt about this however, Harper courtier Stephen Taylor seems happy to remove it:

When Guy Giorno took over the chief of staff’s office to the Prime Minister, he rounded up the Ministerial chiefs, the directors of communications and senior PMO staff and told them the same thing: this is essentially an election year and everything that we do from now on will be proactive, direct and obviously political. Giorno’s “be political” theme will set the tone of this government as it moves into the fall…

According to Taylor, not only has killing these two programs resulted in “political staffers” finding some extra cash (makes the federal coffers sound like the rec room sofa), but an added “side benefit” is the opportunity it affords to:

…show ordinary hard-working 9-5 Canadians that their tax dollars are sending others overseas while they put together their savings (after filing their income tax) over the months to put the kids in a minivan and drive down to Disneyworld for a week.

In Taylor’s mundane fantasy world, you see, people in the arts community aren’t “ordinary” or “hard-working” and presumably don’t pay taxes; they may even hate families and proper lawn care. This, of course, reinforces the petit bourgeois theme clumsily hammered away at last year by Ryan Sparrow and other spokestools when they said “The people who follow NASCAR are our kind of people. They’re hard-working families, they’re taxpayers who play by the rules. And those are the people that we’re targeting,”

Yes, we were insulted by the implications then, and we’re insulted again. But hey, guess what? That’s all part of the Conservative party’s cunning plan.

Canadian artists are not on PMO director of strategic planning Patrick Muttart’s radar as these folks have never likely voted Conservative and never will. This move to cut taxpayer money from these groups for foreign travel will cause outrage among that community and will in turn, the Conservatives are predicting, will show other Canadians that the government is defending their interests instead.

So there you go all you “folks” in the arts community — this government has no interest whatsoever in defending your interests. Presumably, the same principle would apply across the board: if you’re not in the Conservative party’s target demographic, as far as the PMO is concerned, you can just go pound salt.

Update: Well, isn’t this cute?

33 Replies to “Screw You, Hippies!”

  1. Oh, how nauseating. Defending the interests of average people? Really? And how does excessive spending that has resulted in a first quarter deficit do that?

    I detest these Conservatives thoroughly. They have the gall to introduce a silly culture/class war into a polity that is overwhelmingly middle class and for whom such a thing is largely foreign in this cynical bid to pander to petty prejudices, while their substantive actions have been diametrically opposed to the interests of middle-class Canadians.

    Anyway, someone’s lying again. Gwynne Dyer asserts he never applied for the PromArts grant the Conservatives are claiming as an example of abuse.

  2. More lying.

    I’m starting to wonder if might just be a manifestation of The National Post’s lousy journalism? Between that and CON talking points, it’s really hard to tell.

  3. Whooee! Well, at least they haven’t cut the $1.4 billion a year they been givin’ to the Alberty tar sands developers. $40 billion over 30 years doled out to the most profitable sector in Canada. Average, hardworkin’ 9 to 5ers should think about that when they’re pumpin’ a hunnert buck’s worth into the family chugmobile.

    Arts and culture generate $40 billion annually in economic activity and create 600,000 jobs. (


  4. Gwynne Dyer muddied the waters. The fact is that PromArt subsidizes cultural exchanges, in the larger sense. Says so in its mandate. Quite a few folks have been funded for academic exchanges of various kinds, culture brokering and the like.

    The Globe’s take on this also muddied the waters. More at my place.

  5. From the Globe:

    “It suggests to me this is the gang who can’t shoot straight. My surmise … is that they didn’t have a pot of money that they could easily fit this into, so a little creative bookkeeping was done … and you take it out of the PromArt budget,” he said.

    How long until Mr Dyer in on the no-fly list?

  6. Coffee Trolling….

    Guns and bullets “yes”; art and community “no” – the Harper way. Hateraide anyone?



  7. Trust me, this Party that forms the current Minority Government has a hidden agenda.

    I know these people well, and I know how they think …
    It is too bad that many Canadians are buying into them.

  8. Whew. I’m glad you swooped in with that earth-shattering revelation, Aeneas! I was beginning to get rather comfortable with our new and superior government! Thanks for that!

  9. Interesting that the proactive disclosure (Grants and Contributions) for foreign affairs and international trade programs cannot be accessed. Here is the message:

    HTTP 404. The resource you are looking for (or one of its dependencies) could have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.

    So much for accountability and transparency.

    The late Val Ross of the Globe and Mail was dogged in her scrutinizing Harper’s policies vis-a-vis arts and culture. We could benefit from her investigative depth because it seems like there lots of “in and out” stuff happening with Canadian Heritage programs. She also reported on a $12 million cut to a DFAIT cultural exchange program called Public Diplomacy back in September 2006.

  10. Despite its promises, this government’s record on “transparency” hasn’t been good — in some respects even worse than the Liberals. But of course, like everything else it doesn’t matter at all to the right-wing partisans who continue to shriek “AdScam!” in response to everything.

  11. Just a thought, but perhaps this grant to Mr. Gwynne Dyer was a “plant”, specifically dolled out so that the Harperites could point to it when axing the program later.

    Harper – and his idol George W. – have used such “tactics” in the past.

  12. Just a thought, but perhaps this grant to Mr. Gwynne Dyer was a “plant”, specifically dolled out so that the Harperites could point to it when axing the program later

    They’re not that clever. Besides, this looks like an action wholly within the ambit of DFAIT, which Harper hasn’t managed to re-educate (much to his chagrin), partly because the ministers he’s appointed have been…retarded, and partly because Foreign Affairs aren’t as easily manipulatable for political purposes as they are in the US. A Canadian ambassador doesn’t serve at the pleasure of the PM, for example.

  13. Omar:

    The point is, the point. Has the media done a good job uncovering CPC policy and past statements against their actions as a Minority?

    NO. They have played into the idea that Harper has found moderation as religion. Myth.

    Moderation is their strategy. They are NOT conservatives in any, way, shape, or form, They are radicals – looking to remake Canada into their wet-dream version of an ersatz Amerika.

  14. ATY — In fairness to the press, we haven’t witnessed too many instances of the ideological zealotry that many of us suspect lurks not far below the surface of Stephen Harper and his government. To the contrary, he’s gone out of his way to project a “moderate” façade and his policies have, for the most part, just been recycled mush from the Liberals.

  15. To the contrary, he’s gone out of his way to project a “moderate” façade and his policies have, for the most part, just been recycled mush from the Liberals.

    Huh? What? Do you really believe this?

  16. his policies have, for the most part, just been recycled mush from the Liberals

    If that is so, and I think it can be debated, is that not newsworthy in and of itself? The liberalizing of a once staunch reformer and outspoken critic of public expenditure, is I think, worthy of a piece on the Fifth Estate or W5.

    In my estimation, the Harper Party’s policies for the first 8-12 months were Liberal-like, and this was done to bolster obvious electoral hopes. Since then, however, the Harperites have begun to walk away from that.

  17. True enough. It’s something that should be analyzed and questioned, but the press can’t seem to see the forest for the trees sometimes. Lots of focus on the daily grind of polls and trivial stories of no consequence, but precious little on policy and vision. Look at all the ink spilled over the stupid Bernier affair compared to the incredibly thin coverage of the (relatively) massive spending proposals for military equipment over the coming decade.

  18. “(T)he crass political motivation of the Harper government in last week’s axing of the TradeRoutes and PromArt programs was fairly transparent.”


    Since when ISN’T conservative “actions” transparent. Or should be.

    Or liberal. Or whatever.

    I grow tired of anyone — conservative, socialist, whomever — of trying to convince the rest of us that their version is the right answer, on the basis of “enough of us say so.” Consensus — which seems to be an easy catch-all to assure policy — seems only assured by the loudest voice.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  19. What I resent about this is the presumption by these jokers that they can decide who’s a “real” Canadian and who isn’t. If you don’t fit into their whitebread Leave it to Beaver demographic of “hardworking, ordinary Canadians,” then you don’t count for beans. They seem to apply this criterion to a lot of things. If you oppose the war in Afghanistan, for example, then you don’t support the troops and must be a treasonous terrorist-sympathizer. If you think their approach to dealing with crime is fundamentally misguided, then you want to must want to “hug a thug” and are “soft on crime.” If you like the CBC and support public broadcasting, then you’re a commie-pinko radical… And so on. It’s really tedious.

  20. Red Tory,

    A Tory political staffer once told me that the CPC organized their (voter) target groups in categories from A to Z.

    He mentioned that young working urban women fell under the “Zoe” category – therefore, no policy/plan/funding would ever go to this group of people under this government. He told me that they knew they could not increase their followers/kool-aid drinkers from us “young urban working women”, therefore, they would not care about anything they had to say, or want.

    Now I wonder at what targeted group they are appealing with their arts funding cuts? Maybe they are up to the letter “I”, for ignorants?

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