Friday, August 15, 2008

An Update on the Harper Government’s Attack on the Arts

I was reading in the paper the other day about a study that shows how the reading of novels increases one’s ‘social intelligence,’ the ability to understand both ourselves and others and to act wisely in human relations. Given its continuing assault on the arts, it is probably not a gross overgeneralization to deduce that there are very few novel readers amongst the Harper Conservatives.

In addition to the cancellation of PromArt and Trade Routes, which I wrote about the other day, today’s Globe and Mail reports that Ottawa is in the process of terminating five more arts and culture programs over the next two years. Posting the cancellations, not in the media but rather on the affected programs’ web pages (almost as cowardly as is their penchant for announcing unpopular actions on Friday afternoons, where little media coverage will be given), this government once again shows its hostility toward things that are beyond its ken.

In classic Orwellian fashion, Canadian Heritage Minister Josée Vernier defended the cuts, saying that the government only wanted to help arts and culture organizations in “a more efficient manner and those being axed failed to demonstrate that they were providing sufficient returns for the dollars invested.” Nowhere does she explain what arcane evaluation criteria are being used in making these determinations. She went on to say, “Culture is an essential element of a nation and in that sense, will always have its (the government’s) unfailing support.” Huh?

My prediction is that should these ‘barbarians at the gate’ be re-elected, we will see a much wider dismantling of programs well beyond those involved in the arts and culture, and the pretext will be the decline in government revenues, thanks in small part to the economic slowdown and in large part to the government’s cut in taxes, the only policy that seems to have any currency with this regime.

But then, won’t it be like the child who murdered his/her parents pleading for mercy because he/she is an orphan?

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