May 9, 1985
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:
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.