Saturday, September 20, 2008

Election Promises - What about the Arts?

For my friends south of the border, you might be unaware that Canada is in the throws of a federal election.  The difference is, we just found out about it in early September, and the entire campaign, election, and induction of the new government will all happen before mid-October.

Here, we don't vote for a leader of the country - instead, we vote for individual members of the party, and the party who wins the most seats, becomes the government, and their leader becomes the Prime Minister of the House of Commons, and in turn, the leader of the Country.

The latest polls show that our current party, the Progressive Conservative party of Canada, under the leadership of Steven Harper, will likely be re-elected in some capacity.  It remains to be seen if they will increase their presence in the House with a majority, or continue to operate with a minority (i.e. fewer seats than the combined three, possibly four, opposition parties - all of whom are liberal to some extent - some more than others).

One of the things that the Conservative party has done in the last few months before Parliament was dissolved is to make unprecedented cuts to the arts in Canada, including the Canada Council for the Arts and other major granting agencies which basically fund all the major arts programs in Canada, and in turn, provide me with work.

Although at this point, I am not going to publicly endorse a political party, you might guess that I lean a bit to the left.  This latest announcement by the Liberal Party of Canada provides some reassurance that there is hope for the future of the arts.  However, my greatest fear is that we are headed in the direction of a long period of Conservative rule, where funding for oil, gambling and war will continue to supersede any new funding to the arts, and will instead be subjected to continued cuts.  Whereas it is unlikely that a Liberal, New Democratic, Green or even the one-province separatist party would support this sort of action.

I do hope that Canadians will take a good look at the political landscape that our current government is molding, and ask yourself if it creates the identity you want for our country.

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