40 posts categorized "pop culture"

September 24, 2008

The Annotated Guide to Harper's Arts Gala Quote; Dean Del Mastro on the Arts Funding Cuts Issue

Img_6320 Someone should ask Dean Del Mastro if he's going to be echoing what the boss had to say last night in Toronto about those fancy-schmancy arts galas.

"I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala and all sorts of people at a rich gala all subsidized by the taxpayer [ you mean traveling Bev Oda style? ] , claiming their subsidies aren't high enough when they know they have actually gone up, I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people. Ordinary people [ like people working as, say artists or writers - ed ] understand we have to live within a budget."

After all, he's certainly been doing a good job with the political arts spin as of late.

Unfortunately, some of the messages he's been coming out with aren't totally compatible with the truth, as this Liberal Reality Check item points out (see text below) -- but that's never stopped Peterborough's man in Ottawa from getting the job done, Tory style.

Note: The Dean quotes are my own additions. The Liberal campaign team somehow neglected to include him in their roundup of quoteworthy Tory MPs. 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative cabinet ministers have been travelling the country falsely claiming that they have substantially increased funding for arts and culture.
[ And so has our man Dean. ]:

For example:

  • Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Kory Teneycke: "The opposition seems to be accusing us of having an agenda to see the arts is funded to a lesser extent on an ideological basis, and I can say that's not the case (because) we are spending more on the arts than the Liberal government." (Kory Teneycke, Toronto Star, August 16, 2008)
  • Heritage Minster Josée Verner claims the Harper government has put "more money" into arts and culture and has even gone so far to claim Quebec artist were "exaggerating" when protesting the $44.5 million in recently announced cuts. (CBC Radio, Sunday Morning, September 14, 2008)
  • [ "Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro argued the Conservative government increased arts and cultural funding to $200 million in the 2008 budget — 20 per cent more than the last Liberal government allotted to the sector. (- CBC.ca, Tuesday, August 26, 2008 ]
  • [ Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro said: "We (the Conservatives) have actually allocated 8 per cent more to the Department of Canadian Heritage -- some $200 million in new funding -- since we were elected. The Opposition hasn't been too interested in getting the truth out on this but the truth is we've looked hard at programs and asked questions that need to be asked." (MyKawartha.com and Peterborough This Week, September 23, 2008) ]


The Globe and Mail (September 20, 2008) contradicts this claim, noting:

  • The “nearly $45 million in recent federal funding cuts are symptomatic of a larger trend under the Conservatives that has seen dollars gradually shifted away from arts and culture, and funneled instead into other branches of the Department of Canadian Heritage that focus on the department's social mandate.”
  • Heritage Canada confirmed “that every program cut under strategic review has come from the department's arts-and-culture arm.”
  • Conservative commitments to Canada Council “paled in comparison to a Liberal promise, made in late 2005, to double its budget to $300-million – a promise the Conservatives initially pledged to honour, and later abandoned.”
  • “Federal budget documents show the Conservatives spent $3.2-billion in 2006-07, and suggest that Liberal spending had dipped to slightly more than $2.9-billion the previous year. But the Conservative figure includes money spent by the Liberals in 2005-06.”


  • Over the summer, the Conservative government slashed $44.5 million and over a dozen programs geared to directly funding and supporting the arts.


  • Following John Baird and Jim Flaherty’s so-called expenditure review in 2006, Harper scrapped the $11 million from the public diplomacy budget and cut $4.6 million from the Museum Assistance Program. At the time, then Treasury Board President John Baird described these cuts as “trimming the fat.” (Globe And Mail, September 27, 2006)


  • In addition, Mr. Harper government also axed the Canadian New Media Fund—a $14.5-million program administered by Telefilm — which fosters the creation of internet content and its distribution. (Globe and Mail, August 30, 2008)


  • The Harper government has said it has no plans to restore any of these cuts or increase funding on the arts until after the election: "As soon as we finish to design the program, and as soon as the election will be finished we will work on that." (Heritage Minister Josée Verner, CBC Radio, Sunday Morning, September 14, 2008)

Shown in photo:
Recent fancy-schmancy arts gala in Peterborough. Audience sits transfixed in ballgowns and tuxedos while viewing satirical cartoon, PeterboroughTime. See PeterboroughTime clip to find out more about this comedy about an unnamed political villan who plotted to destry the arts community in a small town. Better yet, buy your own copy and have a viewing with a houseful of your most politically-minded friends -- and so on -- and so on -- and so on.

Liberals Offer Income-Averaging for Artists, Total Reinvestment in the Arts

September 18, 2008

Lights, Camera, Mounties, Munchkins! Stephen Harper Enlists Mounties to Keep Oz Safe for the Conservative Munchkins

"I have a seven-month-old baby and I'm out of work as of Friday when my job goes to Mexico. We're here to let Harper know there's more going on in this country than tax cuts, and no one is going to tell me I can't."
- 40-year-old Dave Leitch, who was asked by the Mounties to steer clear of the media cameras so he wouldn't interfere with the Prime Minister's carefully choreographed sound byte of the day.

Journalist Greg Weston of the Canadian Press describes this unprecedented use of the Mounties as the Prime Minister's PR flunkies:

"All of the federal leaders have RCMP bodyguards for the election, but none we have ever seen has been forced to do political dirty work like the squad assigned to Harper.

The best bodyguards in the business - and always nice to me -- they are now being forced to use their authority to protect Conservative photo ops.

(Don't blame the officers -they're just following orders, and my bet is most are embarrassed all to hell at having to dirty their hands in political swill.)

By the time the PM was at the microphone for yesterday's announcement, he was surrounded by a cheering crowd of party faithful, every one there by invitation only and required to pass an ID check by a Conservative organizer under the watchful eye of yet another RCMP.

The man getting his Mounties can't be good."

Okokok Of course, this kind of media manipulation (and out-and-out fakery) is business as usual for Stephen Harper. What's unusual is his willingness to be so blatant about his desire to control the media and the message. That begs the question: Is it arrogance or a sense of political imperviousness that has led him to pull back the curtain that once hid the team controlling his so-called wizardly ways.

Now the wizard is out front, barking out orders to the team of Mounties, not caring that the pretense of a magical spell has been broken, that everyone can see that it's all a carefully staged charade: The public has been vanquished from Oz and repopulated with Happy Conservative Munchkins who are ready to applaud whatever their wizard is offering up today. It's a surreal, technicolour dream.

Never mind the black-and-white realities: that the wizard is a control freak who is drunk on the elixir of power. He manipulates the media, recruits the Mounties to run interference between message and members of the public, and keeps the critics out of range. You don't have to travel far from Oz before you arrive in Stepford, don't you know?

* One of the perks of being the guy who happen to know that an election is looming -- and one of the reasons the Conservatives introduced legislation dealing Fixed Date Elections.

September 09, 2008

Shouldn't Family Be Above Party Politics?

"With the historic lack of decisive action in Canada, many of us felt compelled to do something and unite. For me, it comes down to a very real motivator - how can I look my grandsons in the eye and tell them I not only helped let it happen, but that I didn't do anything about it?"
- John Roy, Co-Founder, Canadians for Climate Leadership, a new national non-partisan initiative formed to stimulate policy action coast to coast through public mobilization, climate education, online organizing and policy analysis

KidstvbwRoy's comment hammers home another key point that we don't want to lose sight of during the campaign: just as the environment should be above party politics, acting in the best interest of families should be above party politics. People from all parties are concerned about what the future holds for their children and their grandchildren.

In this campaign, Stephen Harper is including the phrase "as a father" in almost every sentence he utters. Not only does this sound highly unnatural (the man has never spoken this way in his life): it doesn't ring true to a parent's ear (no other parent I know feels the need to say "as a mother" or "as a father" each time they open their mouths.

Harper's overemphasis on being a parent makes me feel like he's trying to turn this campaign into a contest about which candidate is the best parent -- a tactic that may not play as well with parents as he thinks. Competitive parenting went out of fashion a long time ago.

And making the emphasis on parents isn't exactly inclusive to all Canadian families, is it? Hmmm. Maybe that's the point.

Besides, isn't this election supposed to be about which party has the best (and most realistic) ideas to offer us for running the country -- or am I being a hopeless political dreamer again?

September 06, 2008

Young Voters influenced by Negative Political Ads

Noway Negative attack ads have a powerful impact on younger voters, a recent study published by the Journal of Consumer Research has found.

Researchers from Notre Dame and the University of Texas at Dallas used real advertisements from the 2004 US presidential election to show that, although negative political ads are explicitly disliked, they have a powerful impact on voters’ mindsets that positive ads do not – and the potential to change preference and behavior in ways that benefit the party running the attack ads.

After viewing an ad that attacked their favored candidate, about 14 percent of the voters “dug in their heels” and indicated stronger support for their favored candidate. At the same time, another 14 percent of the young voters viewing that same attack ad were influenced by the ad’s content to weaken their support for their preferred candidate and to switch their support to the party conducting the attack ads. Viewing positive ads did not lead to significant voter movement.

September 04, 2008

Arts Ammunition

Book Peterborough and area artists, musicians, writers, and other creative types:

Don't forget that Artspace Peterborough is seeking input from artists on the impact of the arts funding cuts. *

I sent Iga an email this morning talking about how the Canada Council's $1700 investment in me early on in my writing career was a wise investment on the government's part (in terms of ROI on the taxpayer's dollar). They've recouped those tax dollars in spades.

* If you're interested in hearing Dean Del Mastro's take on the arts funding cuts, this Letter to the Editor of the Peterborough Examiner provides a brilliant (and funny) blow-by-blow analysis of Del Mastro's Olympic-calibre spin-doctoring performance.

Steven Harper must be so proud!

April 24, 2008

Dion Charms the Crowd in Peterborough

GlobalwarmingStéphane Dion thoroughly charmed the crowd in Peterborough this morning. He was warm, personable, and funny in his wonderfully low-key way. He talked about the link between environmental change and human health and did a fabulous job of fielding questions from the crowd on a wide variety of issues: social justice, economic sustainability, the environment, and more specifically the link between poverty and health (both in Canada and abroad), immigration, NAFTA and environmental rights, bio-fuel and other alternative energy sources), job creation in an environmentally sound economy, nuclear energy, rehabilitation of the tar stands, water as a basic human right, and much more.

His passion for making a difference for Canadians came through in everything he said.

I had the last question of the day. I thanked him for standing fast in the face of personal attacks that were unprecedented outside an election period and told him that I thought he was a real class act. (Clearly the majority of the people in the room agreed with what I had to say because there was thunderous applause in response to this statement.) I then asked him what ordinary citizens could do to help spread the word about what he has to offer Canadians, given that his message is all-too-often obscured by the mainstream media.

He didn't say anything negative about the mainstream media (what did I just finish saying about what a class act this gentleman is?), but he commented briefly about what keeps him going. He said (and I'm paraphrasing): "When you're driven by your convictions, you keep going." He then talked about how committed he was to making a difference for Canadians: how he wanted to become Canada's next Prime Minister so he could work for a world in which Canada was a leader in the area of environmental change, social justice, and economic sustainability.

This is a man who is speaking from the heart and who has the intelligence and the determination to be a brilliant Prime Minister. It's no wonder Stephen Harper (also not a stupid man) has been running scared and resorting to bully-style attacks since practically the day Dion became leader of the Liberal Party. After all, you don't invest massive energy and resources trying to take down an unworthy opponent. You save your energy for someone who has the potential to take you down.

Dion was introduced by Federal Liberal candidate Betsy McGregor (Peterborough Riding) and thanked by former MP Peter Adams (also Peterborough Riding).

November 30, 2007

Win Big With the CPC's Dunk Dion Contest

Today is the final day to score points with Stephen Harper and possibly win some cool prizes over at his site. All you have to do is enter his fall video contest.

And here's your SPECIAL INSIDER'S GUIDE to scoring major CPC bling.

SUPER SECRET TIP! Read the blogs of the featured activists to get a sense of the CPC style before you submit your own video entry.

Contestentries_2The first blog entry slams Dion in the first sentence and compares Harper to God in the headline ("In Harper We Trust").

The second blog entry mentions Dion in the headline and in the first sentence.

The third blog entry doesn't slam Dion until almost the end of the post.

Our advice? Slam dunk Dion right at the outset because the competition will be fierce for these fabulous prizes: a Nintendo Wii with 2 Games; an iPod video; and an iPod Nano.

Remember to read the contest criteria carefully when you're preparing your contest entry. We've given you some subtle hints about what the judges will be looking for.

If you need more help, read the contest rules carefully. They also contain lots of SUPER SECRET CLUES!

"We are looking for student activist [sic] to create an original video to be featured on the CPC Energy website and to compete for awesome prizes. Your short video can be about anything - a policy, your favorite or not-so-favorite politician or even a rant about the tired old left. Funny or serious, anything goes! Be creative! Be original!"

SPECIAL INSIDER CAUTION! Think negative energy, like the kind of energy that's defined the CPC ever since Dion became Liberal Party leader.

If you want to walk away with the Wii, don't focus on what Harper has to offer, focus on what Dion doesn't have to offer.

GET IT? We hope so because any entries featuring positive energy may be spotlighted on a forthcoming website -- Not an entry.ca, modelled after Not a Leader.ca, where they will be mocked along with the person who submitted them.

Now good luck and have fun (or else).

August 01, 2007

Unpaid Teen Workers at Mexican Wal-Mart: NEWSWEEK


This Newsweek story about teenagers in Mexico working for nothing but the possibility of tips (reprinted at CommonDreams.org) made me question, once again, why these things are allowed to go on.

Joseph Contreras writes, in part:

"Wal-Mart is Mexico’s largest private-sector employer in the nation today, with nearly 150,000 local residents on its payroll. An additional 19,000 youngsters between the ages of 14 and 16 work after school in hundreds of Wal-Mart stores, mostly as grocery baggers, throughout Mexico-and none of them receives a red cent in wages or fringe benefits. The company doesn’t try to conceal this practice: its 62 Superama supermarkets display blue signs with white letters that tell shoppers: OUR VOLUNTEER PACKERS COLLECT NO SALARY, ONLY THE GRATUITY THAT YOU GIVE THEM. SUPERAMA THANKS YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING."

While some would argue that without that gratuity, these teens and their families would be even worse off, couldn't the case be made that without the volunteer packers, Wal-Mart would be forced to pay its 19,000 "volunteer" laborers? And as Mexico's largest private-sector employer -- an employer that made $280 million in net profits in the second quarter of 2007 -- shouldn't Wal-Mart show some leadership or be mandated to do the right thing?

Why are Canada and the U.S. doing business with Mexico, if this is how it treats its labor force. Why aren't the Canadian and American branches of this multinational company being called to task in a major way.

Maybe we should all march to our local Wal-Mart stores during back-to-school season and ask if they pay teenagers, or if they expect our sons and daughters to volunteer for the privilege of working for Wal-Mart. And if Wal-Mart Canada and Wal-Mart US wouldn't consider asking our kids to work for free, why should they pay other people's children that way -- children whose families are desperately poor?

It is unbelievable that these questions even have to be asked.

How did our ideas about what will be tolerated -- let alone what is right or wrong in our society -- get so far off track?

Will any political party ever stand up to the mega-corporations? Or has the power shifted so much in favour of those mega-corporations that talk is futile?

Sources: CommonDreams.org, Newsweek

June 29, 2007

A Concert in Support of Willie P. Bennett

PiggybankMy friend Jeannine Taylor over @ QuidNovis.com is one of the sponsors for this concert, so I wanted to do my bit by spreading the word about this special event. Besides, as a self-employed author, I'm all-too-aware of how financially perilous it can be to pursue a career as a self-employed anything, let alone a self-employed creative type. Sometimes you have to rely on the kindness of friends and relatives to weather the lean times in your business, whether that is at startup or during the financial hiccups that can occur during times of illness or family strife. (This is why organizations like The Writers' Union of Canada have been lobbying the Federal Government for years to allow income tax year back-averaging for creators. But I'll leave that subject for another day.) For now, find out about the concert for Willie and enjoy some great music while supporting a great cause.

April 27, 2007

Presenting....The Ironic Collection

20070103wallpaperquestion800x600"Question authority.
Campus life circa 2006."

Designer wallpaper for the free-thinking Conservative Party of Canada member.

Or something like that.

Note the hip fonts and the timeless youth rebel yell.