The Conservatives' Amateur Mistake on the Arts

By Melanee Thomas on Sep 23, 2008

If I were the other parties, I'd be making announcments about how it's patriotic to fund the arts and how we'd restore the funding the Conservatives recently cut too.

On the heels of a bill much reviled by the arts community seeking to make it more difficult to get the film tax credit all Canadian productions rely on as collateral to secure bank loans, the Conservatives cut a number of arts programs. So what makes this such an amateur mistake? Colleagues of mine with friends in the Privy Council Office (top bureaucrats, not partisan staff) indicate that these programs were good ones to cut (underutilised, etc), and that Harper and the Conservatives were told to make sure the did NOT spin this as a typical right-wing cut to the silly arts folks/the arts are useless, why would a good Conservative continue to fund them, etc, etc. 

And yet, what did the Harper team do? They spun the cut in precisely the manner they were cautioned not to! How a right-wing government manages to NOT get the "these programs didn't work and were genuinely a waste" spin right amazes me, doubly so with this crew given that they've demonstrated they know how to work the media (or at least demonstrated the media doesn't lambaste them when they make mistakes). 

An ideal situation for Harper would have been getting the spin right AND reallocating the funds spent on those arts programs to more effective programs designed to support the arts in Canada. The other parties would not have been able to make much political hay out of that one. 

As it stands, Jack Layton made pretty good hay this morning in Quebec City, Gilles Duceppe is making good hay on this on as well, and even Dion might get some good bits off this as well. 

My apologies for the farm analogy. :)

In other Quebec news, Jack Layton and the NDP are logging a record number of campaign hours in Quebec. I would not be surprised if Thomas Mulcair holds Outremont and Anne Dowson picks up Westmount-Ville Marie. 

Sign vandalism continues. Someone burned part of an NDP sign, drew devil horns on my local Conservative candidate, and wrote a message of affirmative support on a Duceppe sign. More unfortunate than the run-of-the-mill vandalism (Captain Morgan style) is the preponderance of Nazi symbols a few feel compelled to draw on the signs of parties they don't like. It always shocks, and is never acceptable. Never. 

My house has yet to receive any campaign material, requested or no. I'm not sure if this is a product of the riding being so safe as it's Duceppe's own, or if local campaigns here are woefully poorly organised. We shall see. 

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