I was surprised to read in the Montreal Gazette that the Federal Government, in the person of Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis, is giving almost $13 million dollars in targeted arts funding to groups in Montreal. I searched the Government web site but I couldn’t find any mention of this funding.
Why is the government giving direct arts funding to a geographical area rather than adding those funds to the Canada Council? Why is that money coming from the Federal Industry Minister and not our Culture Minister? Is something going on here that suggests a new trend? Will the Government be looking for other ways to deploy arts funding? What does this mean for the Government’s confidence in, and support of, the Canada Council?
As a side note, Minister Paradis was questioned at his press conference announcing this arts funding because his office will be lending $58 million to the Jeffrey Mine in the town of Asbestos.
You can read both articles below…
I would like to hear your thoughts on both of these stories.
Federal government pledges $12.8M in arts funding
Cultural, heritage programs to benefit
The Gazette, July 24, 2012
The federal government will invest a total of $12.8 million in various arts, cultural and heritage programs in the Montreal area this year and next.
Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis made the announcement Tuesday under a tent set up as part of the Just for Laughs festival in downtown Montreal. He said the money, being funnelled into 87 organizations, will help fund a variety of worthwhile programs and initiatives, while providing a welcome boost to the local economy.
The majority of the funding is being parcelled out over the next two fiscal years through 13 existing federal programs, including the Aboriginal Peoples’ Program, the Canada Music Fund, the Museums Assistance Program and the Canada Book Fund. Some of the beneficiaries in Montreal will include the city’s International Tango Festival, the Pointe à Callière Archaeology and History Museum, the Town of Mount Royal Centennial Celebration Society and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Foundation.
The latter will receive $1.6 million as part of the government’s Endowment Incentives program which contributes to various foundations based on the donations they receive from the private sector. For every dollar given by a private donor, Paradis explained, the government contributes 81 cents. The Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal are to receive $1.4 million and $1.6 million, respectively, through the same initiative.
The federal government has been widely criticized over the last several years for cuts to Canada’s arts, cultural and heritage sectors. Culture cuts totalling $45 million became a major issue in the 2008 federal election, with federal opposition parties claiming that Stephen Harper’s party would continue to slash funding if re-elected.
More recently, in April, the National Film Board of Canada was forced to eliminate 73 positions after seeing its budget slashed by 10 per cent. The 2012 federal budget, meanwhile, outlined cuts of $1.9 million over three years for the National Arts Centre, but maintained the existing funding for the Canada Council for the Arts.
Despite past controversies, Just for Laughs festival founder Gilbert Rozon credited the Conservatives on Tuesday with promoting a “very healthy” artistic and cultural scene in Montreal.
Lynda Clouette-Mackay, co-founder of the Hudson Music Festival, was similarly impressed with the newly announced funds. She said the $15,700 her organization will receive will help it promote and expand the festival.
“I think it’s a positive move,” Clouette-Mackay said. “We’re really impressed that they listened to us.”
International and Canadian organizations calling for global asbestos ban
By: Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL – More than 150 international and Canadian public health organizations and individual scientists are demanding a worldwide ban on the mining, export and use of asbestos.
The demand on Tuesday comes after last month’s announcement by the Quebec government it would lend $58 million to help reopen the Jeffrey Mine in the town of Asbestos.
“The science is clear that all forms of asbestos cause ill health and premature death,” said Colin Soskolne, a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta and one of those demanding the ban.
“According to the World Health Organization, over 107,000 people die each year from working with asbestos of any type,” added Soskolne, a former president of the Canadian Society of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
But Serge Boislard, president of the Mouvement pro chrysotile, said that’s not the whole picture.
“Everyone knows that chrysotile, like all other forms of asbestos, is carcinogenic,” he said. “What is not addressed is the levels of danger. These are half-truths.”
Industry proponents have insisted asbestos can be used safely if it is handled properly.
The industry in Quebec appeared on the verge of collapse but the government loan and private investment could keep production and exports going for another 20 years.
“This immoral practice of exporting it, particularly to developing countries when we refuse to use it at home, is immoral and unacceptable to people in the field of public health,” Soskolne said in a telephone interview.
“The decision of the Quebec government to provide a $58-million loan guarantee to revive the mine is a shameful display of disregard for science.”
Asbestos opponents are urging major producers — Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan and Russia — to put an end to mining and exports and help communities make the transition to a different industry.
The groups calling for the ban come from 20 different countries. They said in a joint statement that countries should tell citizens about the health hazards of dealing with asbestos. Activists argue that asbestos is linked to cancer.
The last two remaining asbestos facilities in Canada — including Jeffrey Mine — are in Quebec. The other mine is also shuttered but proponents hope it will be reopened.
Federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis, in Montreal to announce a series of cultural grants, defended the Canadian approach to asbestos.
“Our government has always advocated the safe approach toward chrysotile fibre, not only in its mining but also its use,” he said. “This is a policy that was fashioned during the last 30 years. There are ways to use it safely. However, I understand the numerous challenges facing the industry at this time.”
Paradis acknowledged one of the challenges is ensuring asbestos is safely used in developing countries. He said clients who sign contracts with the Jeffrey Mine contain clauses on safe use.
“There has to be control,” he said. “I can’t say what will happen in the future but the safe-use policy does exist. It can be done correctly, not only at the level of extraction but also at the level of handling and use. We do it here in Canada and it must be done elsewhere in the world.”