May 9, 1985

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

BUSINESS OF SUPPLY


ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-CANADIAN ARTS COMMUNITY Ms. Lynn McDonald (Broadview-Greenwood) moved: That this House condemns the Government for its failure to support the Canadian arts community, specifically by, (1) cutting funding to independent cultural agencies, leaving artists in poverty; (2) compromising the arm's length principle in relations between Government and funded agencies; and (3) increasingly bringing arts funding under direct ministerial control, and making partisan appointments to cultural agencies. She said: Mr. Speaker, this debate we are holding today on the failure of the Government to support the arts community reflects a growing recognition of the importance of the arts community to Canada. It reflects a growing strength in the arts organizations which came en masse to Parliament Hill to lobby for the arts, and it reflects a growing disgust on the part of the Canadian public at Government policies, at broken election promises and at the unmitigated gall of this Government in its appointments to arts agencies.



Today we are launching a historic debate on the situation of the arts and the plight of artists in Canada. For the first time, Government policy with regard to the arts is the subject of a full day's debate in the House. The New Democratic Party moves that the House condemn the Government for its failure to support the arts community. Specifically, we condemn the Government for its budgetary cut-backs; we condemn the Government for failing to live up to its election promises; we condemn the Government for interfering with agencies which are supposed to be independent; we condemn the Government for its policy under which reductions are imposed to independent agencies with a view to giving the Minister greater control over the purse strings; and we condemn the Government for outright patronage in appointments to agencies. On the contrary, we advocate the appointment of artists and public representatives of every political stripe who are knowledgeable in the arts, not only those of the Progressive Conservative Party.



We have in Canada an arts community of which we can be proud. In all parts of the country music, dance, visual arts, theatre, writing, film, cartoons, crafts, are flourishing in the sense that good work is being done. It is increasingly being appreciated by Canadians who buy the works and attend concerts and performances. The paradox is that while the arts are thriving, very few artists are. They are still living in poverty. Why? [DOT] (i no) When the Canada Council began in 1957 it had enough money that roughly an eighth of the applicants could obtain grants. It was not a large number, but it was very competitive. A large number of artists could expect, fairly often, to obtain grants from the Canada Council. Now the odds are one in 40 or one in 50 that artists will obtain support. The Canada Council is just not supporting the vast majority of our artists due to lack of funds. The money available to the Canada Council has decreased in real terms over the last number of years. This decrease began with the Liberals, but the point here today is that the Conservatives have continued this trend, indeed entirely contrary to specific promises to keep up funding at least with the cost of living during the election campaign. Instead, money is going into funds under the Minister's control. If we look at the proportions, they are very large; over $30 million in arts funding. This is not much for national defence but a great deal of money for the arts under the Minister's direct control without specific criteria, without guidelines, without accountability to the arts community, with a jury system. The Canada Council itself has roughly $70 million. The amount of money available for patronage expenditures is increasing and is sizeable, compared with what is available to regular cultural agencies. This Government in opposition promised support for traditional agencies and the arm's length relationship. Let me quote what its Members said at the time of the election: We are committed without question to the arms length principle ... The cultural agencies and councils are more able than politicians and bureaucrats to assess the needs identified by the cultural sector, and must be assured adequate resources to respond effectively- We say "Amen". They continued: We are convinced that the agencies and councils must be independent from shifts in political perspective ... We are prepared now to translate our efforts in opposition into action, through implementation of five-year financial plans, formal structures for advice from agencies and councils, and legislation which embodies the arms length principle without question. However, what has happened? The arm's length principle has been eroded. The lottery money which goes into cultural initiatives is at the discretion of the Minister. It does not come



May 9, 1985 Supply from general tax revenues; it is from lotteries. How could it best be spent? I proposed that it go to the Canada Council directly so that it would come under the jury system and there would be some accountability. Let us look at the proposal which the Conservatives made while in opposition. They said: We will consult with the agencies, councils and cultural community to determine whether there is a better way to allocate these funds. Yet when I raised this matter in committee only last week, the Minister said that it would be undemocratic to have more funding go to the Canada Council because it was not under his control. He got elected, he is the Minister responsible, and therefore somehow that makes it democratic. In other words, respecting Conservative election promises would be undemocratic. That is how ridiculous that is. Surely the essence of democracy is that voters know for what they are voting and that there is respect for promises after the election campaign. The Minister tells us that he has a different plan. It is not that he is against the arts or artists; he has another idea on how to make it work, that is, the private sector. Unfortunately we have no evidence to believe that the private sector will ever give away enough money. There is not that philanthropic tradition in Canada which other countries have. Unfortunately, if we give it more tax incentives, it means the public would be paying indirectly but the private sector would be getting veto power over what is actually produced. I suggested that the Minister ought to be advancing the promises and finding more funding as was recommended in the Applebaum-Hebert report. These were discussed subsequently in committee. The Minister's response to these positive recommendations was: "Well, they are not in the Bible. Election promises are not the Bible". One would hope they would have more respect for their own election promises. To continue with his notion that the alternative is a better one, that the election brought in a Government devoted to the private sector, and that that is really what counts, I will quote what the Minister said in committee last week: [ Translation] Under the new course we are recommending, there would be more measures designed to promote and spur private sector investment in arts and culture. It is quite clear what they want. Let me point out that this investment in the private sector has been tried. It has been the response over the decades. A lot of money has gone into capital expenditures. We have had tax incentives for films. People have certainly made money. We have had lousy films. Canadian performers have received very little of that money which comes out of general tax revenues. The quality of the product has been bad. They have not been Canadian films. They have been money-making schemes. In broadcasting, we have an average of 33 per cent returns, according to the CRTC, in the private sector. They are making money. The plant is there. The artists are still starving. The majority are still living under or at the poverty line. We have had an enormous expansion in the capital plant for culture in Canada. Let me quote George Woodcock from his book on the arts and Government called Strange Bedfellows: Often the arts, as distinct from the artists, seem to be flourishing financially. The last 20 years have seen the building of fine theatres and resplendent art galleries in many Canadian cities, so that the performing and the visual arts often have palatial house-room. That is true. We have palaces. A lot of that has come out of public funds. We have palaces for the arts and the artists have been reduced to beggars. Those who make a living in the arts are the investors, administrators and art consultants, not the artists. The corporate investor buys a piece of art when it is cheap and the artist is starving. It accumulates in value. The investor gets the money, not the artist. Technicians make more than the writers and playwrights whose works are being performed. All of the people in these industries depend upon the creative work of artists. They live off of it, but where do the profits go? Not to the artists. We have not had concrete measures from this Government to address the problem of the poverty of artists, their desire to work and make a contribution. Artists in Canada are poor while the arts are thriving. Canada Council appointments, as other Conservative appointments, have reflected an even greater concern and devotion to the patronage principle than the Liberals had, and that was a tough act to follow. We have seen some scandalous appointments. There have been very few appointments of artists. Recommendations from the Canada Council have not been respected and have not gone through. 1 might point out that I put in my own recommendations from the arts community, non-political people with a lot of experience. They did not go through. Instead, political supporters of the Minister and the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney), Tory bagmen, people with political connections, have been appointed. The Canada Council chairperson was not even consulted on the appointments. To add insult to injury, in the case of some appointments, she found out second-hand who they were. The result is that we have members who are not sufficiently knowledgeable about the arts. In some cases they are hostile to the agencies. They are not advocates for the arts but are defending Government policy and not speaking up for the artists, something they should be doing. I do not say that the Canada Council is perfect. I would like to see its theatre programs changed. I would like to see Canadian theatre promoted and more money going to individual artists. Roughly 12 per cent of the budget has been allocated for individual artists. All kinds of changes could be made. These are not the questions being addressed. New groups are not being funded. 1 suspect if they had more funding, they could be addressing and solving the real problems of artists instead of having to figure out where to make cuts that will cause the least hurt.



In a sense, the arts are an industry which provides employment for an ever increasing number of people. An investment in cultural endeavours will create six times as many jobs as the May 9, 1985



same amount invested in manufacturing. Even at that, the arts cannot be considered only as an instrument of economic recovery, for one needs the arts to gain insight into oneself and enjoy living. Chances are some arts will never be financially self-sustaining, just as financial success will never be known in certain arts fields and by certain artists. Even those artists who are now in the limelight had a hard time in their lives when their works did not sell. Mozart was destitute when he died, but today's musicians and record stores are making money because of him. Financial success therefore does not reflect the merit of an artist. We must face the fact that certain things will never be profitable, yet humanity as a whole cannot do without them. The arts need our support, but not for commercial purposes. Unfortunately the Government has shown an almost total lack of understanding in that respect. We do not live by GNP alone. [DOT] (U20)



My call today is for an end to crass political patronage appointments, an end to ministerial empire building and an end to ministerial control over important arts funds that should go through the traditional agencies with their systems of accountability. My call today is for vigorous new policies of support for our artists and arts agencies. We do not live by GNP alone. Justice for artists and support for the arts must continue to be a concern for the Government and the House.


PC

Gerry St. Germain (Progressive Conservative Party Caucus Chair)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. St. Germain:

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to clarify matters by saying that I am absolutely certain that our Government is not hostile to the arts. The Hon. Member for Broadview-Greenwood (Ms. McDonald) made reference to the private sector. She said that she did not feel that the private sector could provide what is required in the way of assistance to the arts. The private sector has traditionally played a role in supporting the arts and I am thoroughly convinced that the private sector, which gains so much from this country and is prepared to recognize the benefits it receives from our resources, just to mention one particular sector, is prepared to put something back into this country by way of supporting the arts, the sciences and the varied cultures of this country.

Several artists have appeared at my constituency office. They have said that the form of assistance they want is for the Government to create tax incentives in order that people will buy art so artists do not necessarily have to live on what they call government hand-outs. I think this is the way we should involve the private sector. I believe that the Hon. Member should not exclude the private sector from supporting the arts. I honestly believe that as we evolve as a nation and as we deal with the economic plight of meeting the needs of the poor, we are going to have to look to the private sector for more participation in supporting the arts.

Very early in this debate, I would like to set the stage by saying that the private sector has an important role to play in supporting the arts. There are numerous ways of attacking this

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question. I am sure that the Hon. Minister who is responsible can speak for himself. However, I think the Government is saying that the private sector has a role to play.

From the Hon. Member's presentation this morning, 1 felt that she was excluding the private sector. 1 would hope that she would be prepared to recognize that it most likely has the largest role to play in the future development of the arts in Canada.

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NDP

Lynn McDonald

New Democratic Party

Ms. McDonald:

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the chance to clarify that point. In a 20-minute speech, one does not have the opportunity to deal with everything in detail. Certainly there is a role for the private sector to play. I am concerned, though, that it is used as a cop-out for public expenditure. When the Conservative Party was in opposition, it made it very clear that it would stimulate private donations for one thing but that it would not hold back public expenditures. It indicated that public expenditures on the arts would at least keep up with the cost of living. Now we have seen cut-backs and the excuse is that the private sector should do more.

Of course the private sector should do more, but it should not do so by way of grants which, in effect, mean a reduction in taxation which in turn means that the public is putting a great deal of money into this, thereby giving a veto power to the private sector. We should not have additional incentives for that to happen because that is already a factor. We should not be moving in that direction because it gives control to companies, and this control would mean that companies would not have to support something that they did not like. In effect, it would give them too much interference in the artistic decisions which would be made. I believe that would be wrong.

I would very much support tax measures which would not involve government interference, but would provide a means of obtaining public expenditure. One proposal suggested that there should be a tax credit for the purchase of Canadian concert tickets, books and periodicals. That would leave the decision as to which ones were worth buying with the public and not the agency. If there was a measure to provide a tax incentive for the purchase of Canadian products, I believe that would be good.

Another measure which I have proposed a number of times is that the Government should engage in a more vigorous purchasing program. Both federal and provincial Governments should purchase books, periodicals and films for school systems, public institutions, hospitals and other places in which they could be used. If that were done, there would not be a need for subsidies. If the sales were adequate, a book publishing company would not need a subsidy to pay for the run. It could count on those sales. I believe that that measure would be very welcome to the arts community.

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PC

Ted William Schellenberg

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Schellenberg:

Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment the Hon. Member for Broadview-Greenwood (Ms. McDonald) on her impassioned plea for Canadian culture. However, I do

May 9, 1985

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not agree that a cut of 2.9 per cent to 3 per cent across the board means the end of culture in Canada.

Her attitude seems to be that if we did not cut the funding, everything would be well. We could look at it on a per capita basis. In the United States, approximately $10 per person is spent on cultural funding. In Great Britain it is approximately $20 per person, and in Canada it is approximately $30 per person. Could the Hon. Member tell us what is the magical figure in Canada? How many dollars per person should we be spending on Canadian culture before we see a Canadian Dickens, Hemingway, Alexander Korda, Cecil B. de Mille or Mozart? How many dollars will it take to achieve the goals which she has outlined?

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NDP

Lynn McDonald

New Democratic Party

Ms. McDonald:

Mr. Speaker, I would not want to put a dollar value on how much it would cost. I would suggest that in some fields, particularly writing, we certainly have people of the calibre which has been mentioned and we do not have to wait for them to appear.

The cuts in percentage terms, depending upon what denominator we use, are not very large. But to a community which has been starved for a long time and has not received real increases in funding for a number of years, those cuts are very significant. That cut in a big budget would not mean the same thing. I believe that it is unfair for the arts community to be cut back in a time of restraint when that community never enjoyed the times of non-restraint. The people who profited from expansion are the people who should be cutting back. The arts have not profited. Those people are still at the same poverty level at which they were 20 years ago.

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PC

John Kenneth Gormley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gormley:

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Hon. Member a brief question. I would like to echo the thoughts of my colleague with respect to the comments on culture which the Hon. Member for Broadview-Greenwood (Ms. McDonald) raised.

I noted with some regret her comments about the nature of political partisanship and appointments. I think the House would agree that the Minister of Communications (Mr. Masse) has been renowned thus far for his appointments of competent and capable Canadians to positions within the arts community.

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?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

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PC

John Kenneth Gormley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gormley:

I believe the Minister should be lauded for that. I can think of his appointment which was made yesterday and the announcement of the broadcasting task force. He appointed one Gerry Caplan. In the Member's opinion, is Mr. Caplan another Conservative at the trough?

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NDP

Lynn McDonald

New Democratic Party

Ms. McDonald:

Mr. Speaker, I did not say that all the people who were appointed were incompetent and that all the appointments were political patronage appointments. I said too many are. I said that is a tendency which is increasing. Let me point out in the case of Mr. Caplan, who I think is a good

appointment, that to have one member out of seven members of a task force-

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PC

Marcel Masse (Minister of Communications)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Masse:

Give us one name.

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NDP

Lynn McDonald

New Democratic Party

Ms. McDonald:

-as a New Democrat-one out of five Canadians vote New Democrat-is not excessive. The record of the Conservative Party with respect to appointments is atrocious.

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PC

Marcel Masse (Minister of Communications)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Masse:

One name?

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May 9, 1985