During his 2008 campaign, Stephen Harper infamously remarked that “ordinary people don’t care about art” and that the general population felt alienated by the elitist galas that rich artists attend. While it hasn’t been a hot-ticket issue during this long campaign, arts funding is an issue that concerns many Canadian voters. As the election approaches on October 19th, we take a look at each parties’ platforms and their policies pertaining to the arts and funding.
No surprise here. Under the Harper government, art funding experienced a $45 million dollar cut. From the CBC to Canada Council, Canadian arts and culture have been (negatively) impacted by this party.
A staunch critic of Harper, author Margaret Atwood recently spearheaded an open letter signed by over 200 artists in opposition to Bill C-51 arguing that the legislature, “directly attacks the creative arts and free expression in this country”.
And though the Conservative Party has promised $14 million dollars to construct a scenic highway through the Northwest Territories, and an additional $20 million dollar investment in the lobster industry- mum’s the word on any arts funding (save for a promise of not regulating Netflix).
We’re going to assume this means that Harper’s support of the arts is limited to his personal renditions of Guns N’ Roses.
Under Justin Trudeau, the Liberal government promises an investment of $380 million dollars into arts funding, $115 million of which will be returned to the CBC after their funding was slashed under Harper.
The liberal leader has also promised to double the funding for the Canada Council of the Arts from $180 to $360 million dollars.
If elected, and these promises fulfilled, Canada would certainly become more colourful under a Liberal leadership.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair is pledging to provide over $60 million dollars into the arts through Canada Council and Telefilm Canada in addition to restoring the CBC’s funding.
Further, the NDP promises to make life a little easier for self-employed artists, offering a fairer and easier way of submitting taxes.
At a recent conference, surrounded by artists like musician Sarah Harmer, he adamantly proclaimed that he was, " resolutely determined to repair the damage done by Stephen Harper."
Under Elizabeth May, The Green Party has pledged to not only restore the funding for the CBC, they’ve also committed to an additional $ 168 million, totaling $315 million annually.
Though they haven’t provided specific numbers, the party has pledged to increase funding to all of Canada’s cultural organizations from the Canada Council of the Arts to theatres and publishers.
Further, they hope to create incentives to bring art to the rural areas of Manitoba, and establish legislature which requires cinemas to run 20% Canadian content with hopes of encouraging art production in Canada.