Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Breaking: Harper Candor

A rare moment of off the cuff candor from the Prime Minister, which reveals his ideological contempt. Almost strange, listening to Harper take shots at the arts community, after all, the Conservative campaign is predicated on tight scripts, manufactured imagery and pretty pictures.

What we heard last night was Stephen Harper at his core, the philosophy behind the policies, the angry guy with the harsh view, the anti-intellectual ideologue. A brief moment, but a telling one and hopefully one that doesn't get lost in the relentless propaganda:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sparked a culture war in the federal election campaign with a claim that "ordinary people" don't care about arts funding.

Under fire for his government's $45 million in cuts to arts and culture funding, the Conservative leader yesterday said average Canadians have no sympathy for "rich" artists who gather at galas to whine about their grants.

"I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people at, you know, a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren't high enough, when they know those subsidies have actually gone up – I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people," Harper said in Saskatoon, where he was campaigning for the Oct. 14 election.

Dion was even more pointed.

"We need to stop this man. He wants to pit everyone against everyone, Canadians against their artists," the Liberal leader said at a North Vancouver film studio.

Rejecting Harper's suggestion artists are privileged, Dion said their average wage is $23,000 a year.

"Most of them need to rent their suit and beautiful dresses at these galas," he said. "We have a great arts and culture industry. We need to protect its freedom. This man wants to censor our movies."

A direct shot, at the promised land:
The Prime Minister's comments appeared to be aimed at Quebec TV stars who railed at the government's arts and funding cuts at the annual Gemeaux awards over the weekend in Montreal. The Gemeaux are the French version of the Gemini Awards.

People tend to get dressed up for big "elitist" events, whether it be the arts, receptions or even posing with millionaire hockey players:

For Harper to characterize the arts community as a bunch of elitist "wine and cheesers" demonstrates a breathtaking ignorance, not to mention a decided us and them mentality, attempting to create a artificial wedge. This is what happens when you dare to challenge Harper, he belittles and creates division.

Harper has muzzled the Heritage Department, not allowed to comment until the election is over, but he slipped up yesterday, his self censor routine failed for a brief moment. Harper hates artists, and he demonstrated this fact in stark terms by attacking a celebration of their medium. The fact he directed his attacks at Quebec artists will be all the talk today on the election trail, because it cuts through the vote buying fog, Harper doesn't give a lick about culture.

Back to the sweaters, back to shutting down every vehicle which has the potential to derail, back to the complete bullshit being presented to Canadians. If there is one thing that strikes fear into Conservative strategists, it's ad lib commentary, the last thing they want, people to get a sense of the real character and motivations. T


Anonymous said...

this morning I notices how really crooked this government is...I went to check the Old age security numbers and GIS for poor seniors and lo and behold for the first time since they came to power a 15 dollar I am talking about poor seniors who have no taxable income...the other seniors who have taxable income have had lots of perks...but not us...not a I guess he is looking for our votes...well, I have news for him.

skdadl said...

That little tirade was revealing and irrational and disgusting all at the same time, wasn't it?

The arts industry that I know is publishing. Just about everyone who works in publishing is poor -- the joke is that we subsidize the industry by working for so little. Sometimes we get invited to the galas, but in my limited experience, the majority of people at any literary gala are not actually literary people; they're fat cats who are hoping to have a little glamour and cultural cred rub off on them (although they try to avoid the DFH writers as much as possible).

I hear that Laureen Harper is the patron of an upcoming gala at the National Arts Centre. Won't that be fun?

Anonymous said...

I'm a non partisan (full disclosure, I'm strongly leaning Green for the Oct 14 vote) and an artist.

I don't believe in government-subsidized art; I think it promotes laziness and a disregard for the importance of an artist's communication with the audience.

I do think there can be a role for government assistance to arts in a nation, but Canada has done a (very well-meaning and purely intentioned but) very flawed job of it. On this one, I think Harper is right, and that artists themselves and Canadian art would be ultimately better off without subsidies.

(Certainly Harper was wrong in his censorious ideas about Canadian film production)

That's just my two cents.

Saskboy said...

My blog's down right now with some server issue, but I too was writing just about this sparking culture war that Harper wants. He's dangerous, and a hypocrite, ivory tower legal expert that sucks up public money to live in a mansion with RCMP guards, and attends public galas along with his caucus.

Anonymous said...

In all seriousness though, I have never thought artist go into their field to make money. It has always been a hit or miss industry. You either make it or you don't.

It isn't the government's job to fund your dream if you really aren't that good. Let's be realistic.

Anonymous said...

In solidarity with "ordinary people" Harper should give up his stylist. Stylists are for the
gala-going, mansion-living, gourmet-dining elite.

Mark Richard Francis said...


The measure of good art, even influential art, often is not weighed by money.

Many influential artists only "got rich" after they died.

Arts being regularly subsidized by the state pre-dates modern society.

And its not as if we don't subsidize all kinds of industry. The oil industry, with graces from Harper, receives subsidies and grants all the time.

liberazzi said...

Harper knows exactly what he is doing. He is appealing to the "Tim Horton's" crowd. That's his market so to speak and he is getting quite cocky about it now. It's a bit distressing that we are regressing as a nation, but maybe down deep this is who we are? Maybe, Harper understands this? Take a look at his tough on crime, naming young offenders etc etc. Not a peep...Harper is who we think he is, but he is not afraid to show it now, because perhaps this is what Canadians want? Maybe, we are not a country of big dreamers and abstract thinkers? I don't know anymore, but just watch, he will get away with this one also. What Harper doesnt understand is that besides trying to get by everyday, is that we still do want culture to spruce up our daily lives. These people serve an important function and allow us to escape and experience different things. Double double please...sigh

Beijing York said...

It's a myth that the "Tim Horton" crowd dislikes arts and culture. It's a myth that is being promoted by Harper based on lies.

The cuts he has made so far to Canadian Heritage and DFAIT (ProgArt) are industry oriented programs that help develop and strengthen cultural industry sectors, which are primarily made up of SMEs.

He has not made cuts to the Canada Council for the Arts who are responsible for administering grants to non-profit arts organizations and to individual artists at various stages of their career. These are the types of artists that Harper's retrograde supporters keep attacking in their posts and letters, conflating to very different methods of public support for arts and culture.

But rest assured, should Harper win this election, he will go after the smaller independent artists as well. He has already telegraphed his intentions by replacing Karen Kain with an investment banker to head the Canada Council.

I'm no psychic but I also believe that if he gets a majority, he will privatize the CBC and dismantle the CRTC. There will be less, if any, controls over foreign investment in the cultural industries and large media mergers. And the Canadian content system that is very much responsible for the development of a very successful Canadian recording industry and television industry will be thrown out the window.

JimmE said...

Jason bo green,
" I don't believe in government-subsidized art"
Others have mentioned lots of industries who get government money, no to mention Yacht owners who get marinas built by the public purse, but this is about art.
So you're an artist? Perhaps you should have studied a tad more of your Art History. As one who runs a small business in the Applied Arts, I know - & you should too, Art requires patrons. Patrons have been the Catholic Church, the Kings of Europe, or Andrew Carnegie. Don't believe in subsidies eh? Who would have built (& restored) the monument at Vimy Ridge? Would we have a thriving Music scene in English Canada without subsidies? What about Can Lit? The NFB? CBC? Even the USA has a national endowment for the arts. Croatia spends almost as much on their arts as Canada does! Germany spends more on Artists coming to Canada than Canada spend in sending our artists around the whole EFFING WORLD!
My late father's pal the late great Canadian Artist Harold Town, who; like you, didn't believe in art subsidies - even Mr Town took his share of 20 pieces of government silver in one form or another.
You may be the next Robert Bateman selling Xeroxes of dead animals to Tim & Tina Horton & making a tidy income, more power to you, but the reason Mr Van G. cut his life short - was his life of grinding poverty & madness & lack of a patron (though not for want of trying).
Just so you know, the reason the world loves Paris, is because French Governments over hundreds of years have worked at making it a place of beauty .
The point of my BMW is Mr Harper keeps telling us that he knows better than all the experts, Climate Scientists, Nuclear Regulators, Criminologists, Food Safety Inspectors, Elections Canada, Judges, MP's, Ethic Commissioners, and now Artists. In each case their is someone like yourself who may, or may not be involved in a particular discipline who validates this very small man's very small opinion of Canada.

& BTW, hope you never want to take your Artist stuff to the next level if you vote Green cause, you might just as well save your time & vote for Mr Harper, the result will be the same.

James Bow said...

As an artist myself, I am shocked to learn that I am rich and spend all my time in taxpayer subsidized galas. I guess I'm too busy working my nails off to make ends meet and raising my two daughters to pick up my invitation to these things.

Anonymous said...

How many here have read Klein's The Shock Doctrine? In the Conservative campaign and their two year tenure, are there not clear signs that the tactics employed push in this direction? Create a deficit where there was economic stability? Demonize and ridicule the creators of that economic stability as untrustworthy liars and thieves, full of corruption, so average voters won't elect them? Or worse, wimps with no leadership skills? Remember Mr. Dithers? Who here didn't help with that image of Paul Martin, the very man who cleaned up Mulroney's mess and took the heat? He would have more aptly been named Mr. Decisive, a man of backbone who stuck to his guns in spite of public disapproval. No one likes sticking to a budget and no one knows this better than the one who introduces a budget. They are always so restraining aren't they? Ask me, I would rather have Mr. Martin and Mr. Chretien's public squabbles than this Harperness we are getting more and more of? Go after all experts, scare them, pit them agaisnt each other so they feel isolated and that who is next syndrome sets in? Scare the public broadcaster, CBC, with threats of privatization and all those people wonder who is going to butter my bread tomorrow? Next is the artists, by pitting so-called ordinary people against them, he has the whole populace fighting while he wins his majority and then replaces Election Canada with electronic voting machines. Meanwhile, newer and better deficits "force" closure of more layers of gov't, citing bureaucrats as parasitic loafers and ne'r-do-wells, instead of the lifers, public servants they are, serving whoever is in office, no, they are sucking on the public...or is it the trough. Well, neither image is meant to compliment either our nursing Mothers or pigs, are they?

Do we want this? They are turning Canada into the bad guys? Is that what we are, will we become the world's bad guys? A low level guy was sent to the UN this month because Harper is too busy campaigning. Besides the UN has started calling us on this and some across the pond are even using the word 'pariah' to describe us.

Really. This election is more and more a referendum on how we feel about ourselves and how far into this we are willing to go before we say that this stops right now. Are we a nation of cowards, running away from the threat of finger pointing and name-calling being deployed against us? Or will we stand together and united, say no to this? That is the question that should be printed at the top of every ballot, while they are still printed on paper and hand-counted by non-partisans. When you are voting in two weeks, say hello to the 'scrutineers' sitting there taking notes. They are your friends and neighbours, volunteering in their spare time to watch and report any shenanigans. They may not be there next time you go vote.


JimmE said...

- Blackstar,

Sort of comes down to the questionwhat kind of Canada do you want?

Jacques Beau Vert said...

Sure, art requires patrons - I just don't think the government makes a very wise patron. The idea that "art needs patrons" doesn't really equal "and the government needs to be one". I mean, the French did an okay job on the Statue of Liberty and all, but looking at the big picture, I just don't really buy that government bureaucrats really get art well enough to spend other people's money on crap.

RuralSandi said...

Maybe it's a tactic....a lot of artsy types like the NDP. Maybe Harper is trying to get them angry enough to pull more support for the NDP.

Layton is promising Canada only programmes, content, etc.....hey, I'd like to make my own choice, thank you very much.

More Canadian production and content okay, but I really would like to have a choice.

Boy, Layton is promising coverage for about skyrocketing taxes.

JimmE said...

jason, free country (for the time being) you're welcome to your uninformed opinion.
FYi Canada is near the bottom of the OECD list on spending on the arts, but hey you don't think government shouldn't be a patron, so how do we get cultural institutions built? Oh, you're like this rich artist dude, you & your other rich artist pals are going to - right, whatever. Oh, but your money's all gone in the stock market crash- Bummer DUDE! BTW in France they had some dudes like Da vinci, Rubens, Watteau, David, & Delacroix, some other dudes too, all make'n like, art for the GOVERNMENT & some stuff - wicked!
Ever been to like the Louvre? Musee de Rodin? Centre Pompidou? Musee d'Orsay? They TOTALLY ROCK eh? Wow! like me some of that GOVERNMENT ACTION! Guess that has a lot to do with why Paris is the #1 tourist destination. But hey you're such a David EFFIN Hockley you don't need no skeeekin Government hand out - great - way to go Picaso! Guess you're self educated too, didn't need no fancy pantcy ART School neither, no Canada Chairs in the arts for you, no siree! No Canada Council Grants for your teachers - cause you emerged from a sea shell - fully formed! Guess your "ART" was never influenced by a traveling ART show - and some stuff - you totally are one BADA$$ MFing art island!
So how 'bout them new museums & and art galleries & stuff eh? Me I don't like the ROM but I'm kinda diggin the new AGO, but I guess your more a Glenbow kinda guy. But careful, don't go in any of them case you step in some dirty government money! So in the mean time "bo", hope you're saving your millions 'cause as art funding dries-up, so does spending on the arts by the private sector, cause the pool to pick from gets smaller & your macramé might not be up to Lord Black's standards. Oh, & you may have noticed this "downturn" also means your millionaire buds won't have much cash so LOL!
But hey, stuff don't work out here you can always be a star in New York & a star in LA. Oh, Then don't have much money any more either. Um I see the Second Cup is looking for folks to hang junk on their walls, check it out!

Anonymous said...

Too bad this site is not up and running for this election. The archives are there from 2006 though. That is where I found this list of Liberal battleground ridings. Is this helpful?

JimmE - yes, that is exactly the question we are answering with this election. Thank you for canvassing. I very much appreciate it, this is something I can't do, so every door you knock on, you are also knocking for me.

- Blackstar

Anonymous said...

That's Harper all over. Home-schooling, little women staying home, menfolk out in the fields, and Boss Hog telling everyone what's what.

What a hillbilly.

He's dumped Canadian taxpayer-paid portraits of Canada's leaders before him in a closet in the basement of the Parliament. This PM Harper then replaced all those renditions of Canada's leaders with pictures of greater import: HIMSELF.

Sad, desperate, small men fear creativity just as small, desperate countries eschew creativity.

Canada has never been a small, sad or desperate country. Canada will never allow a plodding phart with phaith-based "niche"-church prognostications and end-time prophesies to make the dynamic, creative, innovative Canada as small, sad, unimaginative as the soul Stephen Harper embodies.

Q: Why doesn't Stephen Harper's wife attend Rockpoint or Eastgate with him?
A: She's too busy being a patron of the Arts.

cedar said...

"I just don't really buy that government bureaucrats really get art well enough to spend other people's money on crap."


That's why government hacks DON'T. Money gets distributed to arms-length organisations like CCA, who in turn set up grants, scholarships, and the like. Money goes to the ROM and NGC and other galleries and museums, who employ experts that make decisions about what to acquire for the national collection. These galleries and museums in turn set up touring shows, and programmes for school children and other community members.

If you think arts funding promotes laziness and a disregard for the importance of an artist's communication with the audience, then frankly, you're not thinking - and you have no idea how difficult it really is to secure funding. Do some research: look up the report from the Massey Commission. It's dated as all hell, but it sets out a number of reasons why state patronage of the arts is important in Canada, many of which are still relevant today.

There is no such thing as a free market, particularly when it comes to the arts. Particularly when Canadian culture is perpetually drowned out by our neighbour to the south.

cedar said...

oh, and: "Ordinary Canadians DO SUPPORT the Arts, Mr. Harper. You are dead wrong"

5000 strong and counting.

Anonymous said...

"5000 strong and counting."


A drop in the bucket, because these 5000 most likely were never going to vote Harper anyway.

Anonymous said...

what's your point? maybe some of them were likely never going to vote, period - it was what 64%? 65% of voters that turned out last time? if the other 35% had come out, we'd have had a majority for someone.

no, really. what's your point?

Real_PHV_Mentarch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.