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Where in the world is Josée Verner?


 

I think it’s safe to presume the Tories’ sweeping cuts to arts funding in Canada haven’t gone over quite as well as the Harper government had hoped. Sure, the National Post gave the cuts its predictable thumbs-up, but the government’s explanations have such gaping holes in them, it’s been hard to take any of them seriously.

Now, you’d think a government minister—perhaps even the one responsible for the erstwhile programs—would step up to clear the air. Fat chance. Heritage Minister Josée Verner’s been nowhere to be found, and her communications staff has been told not to answer questions from journalists.

Which brings us back to a fundemental question about the way ministers are selected in this government (and, perhaps, this country): Is Josée Verner’s job to be a decision-making, program-shaping, full-fledged cabinet minister? Or is it to be a Quebecer where there are too few?

So long as the Conservatives aren’t 100% sure they’ve got Mario Dumont’s base sewn up, it appears they’ll keep trotting out Quebecers at meaningless photo-ops to somehow prove they’re not like those other conservatives—you know, the ones that wouldn’t run candidates in the province—all while simultaneously barring them from doing anything that might resemble governing. At this rate, you’ll know an election is looming when Harper names a cardboard cut-out of Camille Laurin to take over inter-governmental affairs from Rona Ambrose. (Of course, he’ll have to name the cut-out to the Senate first.)

UPDATE: I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Verner did indeed grant CP‘s French-language service an interview yesterday. According to the heritage minister, the true beneficiaries of the cuts are—wait for it—the artists! “What we’re hoping to do,” Verner said, “is to look at how we could create a new program or new avenues that will be even more effective and have a stronger imapct for our culture outside the country.”

The doublespeak, in all its glory, is here.

Meantime, the cuts deepen.


 

Where in the world is Josée Verner?

  1. Well it’s not surprising the artist groups are angry but the links you provide give scant evidence that the cancellation hasn’t gone over well. If anything I would wager most people haven’t even noticed.

    Whoever wrote that memo should lose his job, but all in all I’d call $4.7m a pretty meagre start. There is still a lot of room to cut in Ottawa.

    Now that tax revenues are falling governments at all levels are going to need to take a hard look at their wasteful policies of the past 30 years.

  2. I think the announcement was received pretty well, all things considered. There have been no fraught columns or tv segments about how every artist in Canada was now going to starve to death which is what I was expecting.

    David Emerson’s spokeswoman has spoken on the issue so I am not sure why Verner needs to jump in here as well.

    I agree with Steve W. People haven’t noticed and/or don’t care.

  3. Gone over well? Well, you found your way to Maclean’s, so I suppose you read than just the Post. This is the most dirt I have seen kicked up over such a light-spending program.

    Conservatives assumed cutting arts funding would go over well if they painted it as a ‘left’ versus ‘right’ issue. When the ‘lefties’ mentioned spoke out, it revealed the Conservatives had no idea what the program did and how it worked.

    I am still amazed at how many people are concered by our government actively promoting our culture abroad.

  4. This hasn’t really anything to do with $.

    Harper doesn’t want anyone other than his own PR team to represent Canada abroad. God forbid – those artists could subvert the Tories’ message.

    This is a lessons in controlling communications, not finance.

    Remember – spending went up 13.9% under Harper last year – making it the biggest spending government in Canadian history.

    I don’t think they’re too concerned about a couple of million $.

    I know Jim Flaherty isn’t anyway! His pet railway line that he promised to run through his riding in the last budget cost 15 x more than these two arts program together. And Via Rail research says that a grand total of 80 people would use it everyday.

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