June 24th, 2024

Harder’s contempt for artists unacceptable

By Letter to the Editor on June 12, 2021.


Last Friday, Conservative MP Rachael Harder made extremely derogatory comments about Canadian and Quebec artists in these pages. She made similar comments on May 31 during a working session of the Standing Committee on Heritage on Bill C-10.
According to Ms. Harder, the arts fund would only go to “a very niche group of artists that are stuck in the early 1990s because they haven’t managed to be competitive on new platforms”.
After a reference to Quebec interest groups as the real drivers behind Bill C-10, she adds:
“These artists are not able to make a living off of what they are producing, so they require grants that are given to them by the government.
And so these little, niche lobby groups composed of outdated artists are going to the Liberal government and asking them to charge these large streaming companies in order to bring about more money to put into these grant funds so these outdated artists can then apply for that money so they can continue to create material Canadians don’t want to watch.”
Ms. Harder’s comments have provoked the indignation of the entire cultural community, across the country.
They reflect a total contempt towards culture: the creators and the companies that produce it, as well as the Canadian institutions that support it. Ms. Harder also denigrates the work of our Coalition, which represents more than 200,000 creators and professionals and 2,000 businesses in the cultural sector, calling us “a little, niche lobby group” representing “outdated artists”.
Ms. Harder’s statements testify to her spectacular lack of knowledge and confusion on central issues on which Bill C-10 attempts to level the playing field between traditional and online broadcasters (program expenditure requirement with the contribution to funds for content development support for instance).
She is clearly unaware that one of the funds financed by broadcasters, the Canada Media Fund, supported the production of Letterkenny, a huge hit series that debuted on YouTube, aired on Crave, won the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards for Best Comedy Series, and was distributed by Hulu in the United States.
And what about the hit Quebec series M’entends-tu? which first aired online, before being purchased by Netflix for distribution in 190 countries. She could also have a look at the list of artists who have been supported by the Factor Fund (Martha Wainwright, Patrick Watson, Half Moon Run, etc.) or the Musicaction Fund (2Frères, Klô Pelgag, Les sÅ”urs Boulay, etc.).
On Monday, Ms. Harder offered a too-timid apology on Twitter for her remarks. We believe that this apology is insufficient, given the severity of her insult and the depth of the contempt she has shown for artists and the organizations that represent them. At the very least, Ms. Harder should publicly apologize in the House of Commons for her ignorant and outrageous comments.
But she should also abstain from intervening on complex questions that she doesn’t master. Clearly, her abrupt landing in discussions on Bill C-10 hasn’t bring any substance to the objective of the Bill, that is ensuring revision of our outdated legislation so wealthy global platforms that profit from online access to our cultural expressions contribute their fair share to our cultural ecosystems.
Solange Drouin and Bill Skolnik
Co-chairs of the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

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Southern Albertan

The arts and the economy with regard to economic growth are closely linked. There is plenty of info and the reasons why when researched.

Seth Anthony

Your statement that, “The arts and the economy with regard to economic growth are closely linked” is too vague to mean anything.

If you’re trying to imply that spending millions after millions on the arts is going to help Lethbridge’s economy, then you’re delusional.

Let me guess though, you’ll now post your typical “evidence” from some other city or country that doesn’t apply to Lethbridge, and/or written by someone associated with the arts, and/or lies by omission.

Last edited 3 years ago by Seth Anthony
Southern Albertan

Again, since money talks, it is a nobrainer that the financial contribution of the arts/entertainment/culture industry in Canada, to the Canadian, economy, is, significant. In the open letter also here to MP Harder, and the other reference to ‘artists’ in Canada, it is stated to the MP, “the entertainment industry in Canada is larger than mining, lumber, and tourism combined.” If open minds prevail, go to something like Google, and type in something like, “the financial contribution of the arts to (ahem) Canada’s, economy,” and read all about the also, significant info available.
Since the ‘Conservatives’ appear to be so concerned about money and the economy, perhaps the $billions/year in subsidies/grants to other sectors could also be revisited in a whinging manner, and, the $billions/year in lost revenue due to offshore tax evasion, unfair taxation…….

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