Friday, November 6, 2009

Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez is My 'Joe Canadian' for Today

I posted the other day about Michael Ignatieff and why we pay taxes, and included an old 'Joe Canadian' beer commercial. There was a little bit of 'Joe' in all of us back then, and I really miss those days.

The country that Joe speaks of, with two official languages, diversity not assimilation, peace not policing; is slowly evaporating. Our gun laws are being repealed and our diversity denounced by a government that does not believe in Canada. We could never imagine Stephen Harper making a speech like that, filled with so much passion and pride.

In a CBC interview, Harper was asked "Is there a Canadian culture?" To which he replied: "Yes, in a very loose sense. It consists of regional cultures within Canada, regional cultures that cross borders with the US. We’re part of a worldwide Anglo-American culture. And there is a continental culture." That is why it's so easy for him to make those "just visiting" ads, suggesting that we can't take pride in our own, no matter where their careers take them.

He just doesn't get it. When we shout out 'I AM CANADIAN', a real Canadian knows exactly what that means. And Mr. Rodriguez knows what it means.

In an Op-ed piece he discusses the Arts and Canadian culture, and how important the industry is to the Canadian economy. Of course it appeared on the National Post site, so some of the comments are a little brutal, which is typical; but it made me very proud.

So Pablo Rodriquez is my 'Joe Canadian' for today, and I challenge everyone to find their own 'Joe'. He's there. He's in ourselves, in our friends, in all the people who love this great country, with all of it's flaws.

Rodriguez pitches a society that values creativity
November 6, 2009

Liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez has been touring the country since January in an effort to find out how we can better support Canadian Arts and Culture. In yesterday’s National Post, he laid out our approach. Noting Michael Ignatieff's work as an author and screenwriter, he also took the Prime Minister to task for gutting Arts and Culture funding over the past four years. Read the full article below:--

Investing in culture to build a creative society

Michael Ignatieff was in Montreal on Tuesday to meet with theatre, television, film and video industry stakeholders as well as representatives of Quebec’s museums. These meetings were part of a cultural tour I started back in January, and were organised to take the pulse of the cultural community in order to identify our artists’ and their distributors’ political priorities.

On this day dedicated to culture, Michael Ignatieff took the opportunity to announce three firm commitments to the cultural industry. First, a Liberal government would double the Canada Council’s budget from $180 million to $360 million per year. This significant increase is a reflection of the requests and wishes of the many members of the artistic community I’ve met across the country since January.

It’s unanimous: the Canada Council for the Arts is an important and credible organisation, where projects are judged by peer committees, ensuring that decisions are legitimate and entirely independent of political interference.

Our leader also committed to ensuring stable funding to CBC/Radio-Canada, allowing long-term planning so the broadcaster can continue to offer unique, quality programming, as per its mandate as a crown corporation.

Lastly, Michael Ignatieff promised to re-establish and improve cultural programming cut by the Conservatives, especially programs which develop our role in international markets as well as initiatives in cultural diplomacy (like the scrapped PromArt and Trade Routes programs). Tuesday’s meetings were particularly useful in clarifying what was needed in this respect.

In an attempt to repair what they’ve broken, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have initiated a public relations exercise in culture, with last-minute, unplanned announcements. Let us not allow ourselves to fall under the spell of the siren’s song, or should we say, of Stephen Harper’s song.

Let us not forget that behind the Conservatives’ public relations strategy lurks a lacklustre vision where culture is subject to Conservative ideology.

Let’s not forget Bill C-10, which sought to censor movies deemed “contrary to public policy” by revoking their funding. Let’s not forget the outrageous and unjustified $45 million cuts to cultural programs which tarnished Canada’s reputation abroad by forcing our best companies and troupes to cancel or cut short their international tours, as was the case for Montreal’s ballet company Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, which had to find private sponsors in order to fulfil their commitments abroad.

Let’s not forget how the Conservatives showed absolutely no compassion in refusing to help Radio-Canada get through a difficult economic time which translated to 800 employees being dismissed.

We see right through Stephen Harper’s strategy, who less than a year ago, called artists spoiled rich children. We know that his present actions seek only to win back votes, and are hardly motivated by any interest in culture.

Michael Ignatieff is the exact opposite of Stephen Harper when it comes to culture. Remember that for 18 years, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada was an author himself, as well as a screenwriter and documentary filmmaker. He lived the life of an artist, with all the financial insecurity that comes with it. He watched with pride as our artists flourished on the world stage, and as they made Quebec and Canada models of creativity. Finally, contrary to Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff fundamentally believes that investing in culture is investing in the economy of tomorrow, where the most creative societies shine and win the economic race.

Pablo Rodriguez
Député d’Honoré-MercierPorte-parole du Patrimoine canadien
Parti libéral du Canada

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