La Scena Musicale

Thursday, 2 October 2008

French Debate: Harper on the Defense on the Arts

The most telling part of the arts portion of last night’s French debate was Stephen Harper’s two attempts to justify his comments on artists as spoiled children. Pressed by NDP Leader Jack Layton to repeat his September 24th remarks in French, Harper avoided the question, but said about artists, "They work hard like other Canadians, but at the same time we have to recognize it's a bit strange to see a gala that's generally subsidized by the government and they're complaining that we cut into the arts." Harper repeated the same line to Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion. The excuse came across as disingenuous. The fact that Harper repeated the statement demonstrates his patronizing attitude towards the arts and underscores the Dion’s charge that Harper advocates being big brother, silencing decent. Harper’s main defense, that his government increased arts and culture funding by 8%, was refuted by Green Party leader Elisabeth May, who spoke that the increase was for the Department of Canadian Heritage as a whole, whereas actual arts funding had gone down. Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe also took Harper to task on this fact. The best Harper could say was that his tax credit for children enrolled in arts courses would help create jobs for artists. Stéphane Dion however said that the Liberals would double funding to the Canada Council to $360 million.
- Wah Keung Chan

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