Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Vote for Cultural Identity

Imagine a crime drama in which putting the bad guys in jail is secondary to the theme of human dignity. Imagine television and radio programs that do not extol unbridled individualism as the highest expression of human identity. Imagine a culture that reveres diversity, dignity, and community as core constituents of the common good. Now imagine the expression of such a culture forever removed from the human consciousness.

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) today delivered its report on the five major political parties’ response to their eight-question query. The New Democratic Party provided detailed answers to each question and pledged its support of Canadian Arts. The Liberal Party of Canada and the Green Party of Canada likewise provided answers, but were not quite as bullish in their support of Canadian Arts. One of the major parties did not bother to respond at all: The Conservative Party of Canada.

It is rare in political campaigns for a party organisation to forego any opportunity to get the message out. Regardless of the obscurity of the group or their cause, political candidates and their staff make time to address the group’s concerns. A decision might be made to remain silent if the group were politically extreme, or if the cause were too controversial. The only other reason to remain silent was a matter of triage: the least important groups would be addressed last, or not at all.

Canadian Artists are neither politically extreme nor do they support controversial causes. The value of Canadian culture is not an unthinkably strange position. The most obvious reason for the Conservative Party’s silence regarding the ACTRA query is easily understood. The Conservative Party can’t be bothered with anything as unimportant as Canadian culture. The Conservative Party made quite clear its vision of the future. There is no room in Stephen Harper’s dreams for a Canada that includes dramatic presentations of unique Canadian culture and art. If the people of Canada want to watch television or radio, why, there’s a premium supplier of high quality art just south of the border. Canadians can tune into Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. They can watch the unbiased reporting on Fox News. They can read Ann Coulter. Who wants to watch Canadian actors, anyway?

A civilisation is known by its fruits. One of the most obvious of those fruits is the way in which it wishes to represent itself to the world in its artistic creations. Canadian ideology and its expression in the arts, in its emphasis on maintenance of the common good, is unique to the world. I cannot imagine a politician taking a position that Canadian Arts carry such little importance that they are not worthy of substantial government support. I remain undecided regarding support for the NDP or the Liberal Party. But I can urge everyone reading this, if you believe Canadian culture is worthy of expression, to consider voting for any candidate in your riding other than the Conservative Party candidate. I support Canadian culture, and I cannot imagine ever doing otherwise.

April 21, 2011

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