Surprise, Surprise!

We had it all wrong!
Harper government the new Medici compared to past Liberals.

In an effort to push-back against a negative public reaction to recent cuts arts program cuts, it’s now revealed by the National Post that the “conservative” Harper government has in fact actually been a rather surprisingly generous patron of the arts.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, for example, will receive $1.1 billion from the Tories this year, an increase of $133 million or 13.5 per cent compared to the last year under the Liberals.

Other agencies include:

• The Department of Canadian Heritage will spend $1.4 billion this year, up $273 million or 24.4 per cent compared to 2006.

• The Canada Council for the Arts will spend $181 million this year, up $30.3 million or 20.2 per cent.

• The National Arts Centre Corporation will spend nearly $50 million this year, up $18.3 million or nearly 60 per cent compared to the Liberals.

• The National Gallery of Canada will spend $53.3 million, up $8.8 million or nearly 20 per cent.

Despite various indications from the PMO and Conservative party insiders that the program cuts were little more than politically-motivated pandering to the party’s grassroots, “Corny” Teneycke, the PM’s newish spokesthingee maintains that the program cuts were “not about less money for the arts” but about “having government programs that are meeting their objectives.”

Calling programs like the Arts Stabilization Program that was designed to encourage and reward fiscal management “boondoggles,” Teneycke rejected the notion that their cancellation means that Ottawa doesn’t support the arts and denied news reports that the Harper government is about to announce sweeping cuts to arts and cultural programs.

Well, that’s all very nice to hear, I must admit, although I don’t imagine it will exactly come as cheering news to the small government, extreme right-wing, free-market über alles crowd amongst “The Blogging Tories.” Once again, they’ll have bite down hard on the fact that, rather than fulfilling their long-coveted dreams of crushing the CBC and kicking the arts community to the curbside, the Harper government has disappointed them. Not only that, but they’ve actually done the impossible in making the “tax and spend” Liberals look positively stingy by comparison in terms of lavishing money on the arts.

h/t: Unambiguously Ambidextrous. Sobering thoughts indeed.

28 Replies to “Surprise, Surprise!”

  1. It is really hard to tell what Harper stands for. He’s no fiscal conservative. He evaporated $35 billion in Canadian savings on the income trust flip flop. He has renounced virtually all of the Reform/Alliance platform. His best cabinet performers are Liberal, David Emerson, and senate appointee Micheal Fortier.

    Most of the culture bucks are flowing into Quebec to win votes. Not a happy situation for his Alberta base.

    Harper’s conservative base is really getting screwed. Harper’s every move is calculated to win votes not the application of values or principle.

    As some bloggingtories like to brag we got a chess player whose every move is a political calculation. It is unfortunate. We need a principled PM and less of a panderer.

  2. We need a principled PM and less of a panderer.

    Look around at the rank-and-file “conservatives.” Very few of them have staunchly-held principles either. Except for a few pro-forma squeaks about the increase in CBC funding (which I thought would be Armageddon for the Harproids), you’re not going to see much criticism of these actions. As they’ve done in the past (like KKKate did just after Emerson’s ascension), they’ll all mostly assume it’s a clever move on the path to a majority, after which the hidden agenda (which doesn’t exist) will be implemented.

    Lack of real principle is *the* defining characteristic of “conservatives.”

  3. Sure, go ahead, spread it around.

    I’m not sure if he coined it, but Liberal blogger “Impolitical” was using the expression.

  4. Ok, so more spending… but one simple question.

    But on what exactly? Are there specific earmarks or designations for that increased funding? And are these more of the ‘repackaged previously announced Liberal programs?

    Ok, I lied. That’s three questions.

  5. I’m hoping that some of our intrepid journalists in the “liberal media” will look into those very questions. Don’t hold your breath though. I certainly won’t be.

  6. “newish spokesthingee”

    LOL, funny….seems Kady is having some influence on you.

    I’d like to see a indepth breakdown on this stuff. I wonder if the cuts are to accomodate Quebec’s 400th Anniversary, and other things Quebec-for-votes.

  7. A few thoughts. I would definitely like to see where the increases come from with respect to Canadian Heritage. As some have mentioned, the department houses many programs beyond arts and culture. Lots of spending has been diverted to sports with the Beijing and upcoming Vancouver Olympics. I’m sure that is not just limited to developing talent, and include culture and trade initiatives like setting up and recruiting participants for the Canada pavilion in Beijing. I imagine the price tag for helping promote and launch the 2010 winter games is pretty hefty.

    Also, when the federal government commits to investing in the building of new sports stadiums, as is the case with David Asper’s proposed new facility for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, what purse of funds do those multi-million dollars come from? And speaking of new facilities in Winnipeg, the federal government has also pledged money for the building of the Canadian Human Rights Museum and passed legislation to enable the creation of a new crown corporation. That includes funding all its operations. That expense certainly falls under the purview of Canadian Heritage.

    In addition to the 400th Anniversary celebrations, didn’t Harper also announce funding for an upcoming event in Newfoundland? I’m sure there are many similar and smaller events (like the Halifax UFO event) that are accessing funds, including the Calgary Stampede. Under Multiculturalism and Official Languages there are all sorts of projects receiving funding, including inter-faith outreach programs and minority language community outreach programs (the latter includes $60,000 to the English Speaking Catholic Council, http://www.pch.gc.ca/div-dis/Grant-Contribution/details_e.cfm?GrntID=2708). There are also “Celebrate Canada” Committees in every province that get funding for Canada Day activities etc. Add to that the Postal Assistance Program for magazines and other magazine and book publishing programs and you can see that many of these expenditures could be part of the “arts and culture” pot that the Harper “newish spokesthingee” (LOL) referred to.

    Increases to the Canada Council, NAC and CBC are interesting given Harper’s not-so-secret desire to privatize many of Canada’s crown corporations and agencies. Harper also gave VIA Rail a cash infusion not so long ago. Sometimes you have to tart things up before a successful sale can proceed — call it curb appeal if you will.

  8. Perhaps the grand “chessmaster” has done the worst possible thing here. On the one hand, pissing off some of the more right-wing elements of the party who feel they’ve been jilted yet again by Harper’s unprincipled drive to the middle, while at the same time, creating much suspicion amongst liberals that what’s claimed to be support for the arts is actually just money being doled out on a number of big-ticket undertakings in order curry favour with targeted voters in certain regions.

  9. RT

    What the Post failed to detail, was where this supposed cultural money went too. For instance the Heritage 24% increase included the vote buying 110 million for Quebec City’s bash, plus 50 million that went to the Olympics. Everyone knows the Cons are spending like crazy LIBERALS, but it’s disingenious to present that particular increase as anything other than good optics.

  10. That’s what’s been alluded to in several of the previous comments. Also, I understand that the NP’s feature in their print edition went into more detail that would have made these facts more obvious, but they chose (for some reason) to omit them from the online version of the story.

  11. Beijing York is right — look at which “arts” programs have been cut and which are being funded, and then work through the logic.

    The DFAIT programs, eg — PromArt and Trade Routes — are in fact the kind of hard-scrabble programs that function most efficiently, through relatively modest grants to individuals and small organizations who have had tremendous success in raising the profile of Canadian arts industries abroad, and thus the exports of those always-strapped industries.

    Some of the Cons like to smirk at the arts as elitist, but look at where this government is not making cuts. Either they’re elitists themselves, or, as BY observes so astutely, maybe they’re working up the curb appeal?

  12. I had been wondering what the real numbers were.

    I have been reading Liberal hearts and minds screaming bloody murder on how Harper has been ripping the soul out the arts in Canada.

    The better to turn us all into good yankees (…cue the flute and drum…) but it turns out not to be the case. Silly deluded Liberals actually believing the news readers.

    I blame the media…

    …I always (or mostly always) blame the media, and so should you.

    It is the pernicious fifth estate that is creeping, always creeping, …getting closer…

  13. Sorry about the happy face.

    Must have happened during a spastic moment. Or perhaps the media has taken over my keyboard…

  14. Scott — Oh, I had no idea and so have a habit of defaulting to male gender in such cases.

    Duly noted for future reference. Thanks.

  15. Tomm — The “happy face” is an accident that happens in WordPress with the close bracket plus certain characters. Quite annoying sometimes.

    Regarding the cuts, I’m still not happy about them. I think they were largely unjustified and unwarranted and done for the worst reasons. Is it “ripping the soul out of Canada”? No, of course not. Nor is it a nefarious plot to turn us into Yanks. It is however, I believe, reflective of a general disdain and contempt for hardworking artists looking for a little help from their government to help them along in their efforts. Just the same as tens of thousands of businesses do, I might add.

    In reading some of the comments on right-wing blogs, there’s a very real, palpable loathing for anyone in the arts that can’t sustain themselves solely on commercial work. Those involved in the fine arts especially are lumped together with panhandlers, drug-addicts and other “parasites”…

  16. Tweny years ago, I read a book by Stephen Jay Gould called “The Mismeasure of Man”.

    It primarily deals with racial mis-information related to different capabilities among himan groups.

    I was a bit of a statistician at one point in my career (who would have guessed?), and it is interesting to note that the birth of statistics was brought about by the need to quantify the human intelligencve differences between white males, and… everybody else.

    He quotes a French scientist from 1879, Gustave Le Bon, disciple of Broca, a founder of social psychology, as saying:

    “In the most intelligent races, as among the Parisians, there are a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to those of gorillas than to the most developed male brains. The inferiority is so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment; only its degree is worth discussion. All psychologists who have discussed the intelligence of women, as well as poets and novelists, recognize today that they represent the most inferior forms of human evolution and that they are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man. They excel in fickleness, inconstancy, absence of thought and logic, and incapacity to reason. Without doubt there exist some distinguished women, very superior to the average man, but there are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two heads; consequently, we may neglect them entirely.” (in Gould,104-05)

    RT,

    I think we can all agree that cutting government funding to poets and novelists is a good thing.

  17. Oh, and a PS about the thing[ee]-thingy:

    An anything-thingy is a very old Britishism. I have no idea where that odd -ee came from, but a lot of us have been flinging the thingies about for years. Congresscrittur, spokesthingy — I mean, what else are we going to call them?

  18. “Those involved in the fine arts especially are lumped together with panhandlers, drug-addicts and other “parasites”…”

    Of course, thats why Andrew Rya-I mean Stephen Harper fled Alberta to build Rapture-I mean the /new/ Canada…

  19. To the Art’s, Get a job and support yourself. Except for Orchestra’s…..I like those

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