Arts and Culture
Until someone figures out how to fashion a barrel of oil into a musical instrument, it’s safe to say that Stephen Harper won’t care much about art. But there is one exception. He reportedly went full Chairman Mao and covered the government lobby of the House of Commons with portraits of himself. It might have been one of the topics of discussion during his unannounced meeting with China’s propaganda chief.
During the 2008 federal election campaign Stephen Harper claimed that “ordinary people” don’t care about arts funding and don’t have any sympathy for “rich” artists who go to fancy parties and complain about their grants.
Margaret Atwood responded with a withering smackdown, writing:
“Human beings are creative by nature. For millenniums we have been putting our creativity into our cultures – cultures with unique languages, architecture, religious ceremonies, dances, music, furnishings, textiles, clothing and special cuisines… “The arts” are not a “niche interest.” They are part of being human.”
The Harper government’s 2012 budget cut $115 million from the CBC and tens of millions more from Heritage Canada, Telefilm, and the National Film Board. But when it comes to celebrating Canadian militarism no expense is spared, as we saw during the 200th celebration of the War of 1812, when plenty of “art” like this was on display:
Fact: That music was actually playing in the background during all of those events
While waving the flag and saluting our soldiers definitely has it’s place, Canadian culture is bigger that that. Harper seems obsessed with celebrating our past (usually in a way that oversimplifies history into “good” vs. “evil”), but refuses to support the culture that moves Canada into the future. And if we starve that culture, all we’ll be left with are a handful of Heritage Minutes, and we’ve pretty much run out of ways to parody them.
The CBC (a.k.a. Communist Brain Control)
Apart from the annual Mansbridge/Harper fireside love-in, the Prime Minister doesn’t hide his dislike of the CBC, once saying its employees “hate” conservative values.
Canada’s a huge, diverse country so it’s easy for Canadians to feel disconnected from each other. The CBC helps us bridge that gap. It’s not a regular business like McDonalds, hawking broadcasting burgers. It’s a public service whose value can’t be completely captured in dollars.
Public media is essential for a healthy democracy, especially when it comes to news coverage. While no reporting can be completely unbiased, public media provides a crucial counterweight to private-sector news that tends to be, let’s say “sensational,” and even sometimes “insane.”
Imagine you never watched this video. It’s not easy if you try. It’s actually really hard.