Sunday, May 22, 2022

Election 2021: Pledges on Arts and Culture

It’s official. On August 15, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau met with newly appointed Governor General Mary Simon to request that Parliament be dissolved. The request was granted, formally beginning Canada’s forty-fourth federal election.

Canada’s next fixed date election was previously set for October 2023. Instead, Canadians will return to the polls on September 20 after a thirty-six day campaign period; the minimum permitted by law.

There’s a lot at stake; from the reopening of Canada and being on the cusp of another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, to climate change, child care and renewed interest in the legacy of residential schools, the results of this election may have a dramatic impact on the future of the country for generations.

Arts, culture and heritage often take a backseat in elections in favour of major campaign points that are seen as being “hot button” issues to a greater number of Canadians. For those interested in building conversations and vocally advocating for the arts, an article from the last federal election provided starting points; but knowing what each party promises on arts, culture and heritage is key to being an informed arts voter. 

As of the date of publication, here are the positions of the major parties on arts, culture and heritage.

The Conservative Party of Canada has pledged:

  • A “Canada Job Surge Plan” which would pay up to 50% of the salary of new employees for up to six months
  • Provide business loans of up to $200,000 for small businesses in the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors
  • To give Radio-Canada a separate and distinct legal and administrative structure to reflect its mandate of promoting francophone language and culture
  • Create a new “Canadian Heritage Preservation Fund” which would provide $75 million in grants to municipal governments over a five-year period for the repair and restoration of historical monuments, statues and heritage buildings
  • To require large digital streaming services (ie: Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney+) to reinvest a significant portion of their Canadian revenue into producing original Canadian programming (including French language programming)
  • To conduct a review of federal book publishing policy to enhance the commercial viability of Canada’s independent publishing sector
  • To recognize and correct the adverse economic impact for creators and publishers from the uncompensated use of their works in a manner consistent with the recommendations of the Heritage Committee of the House of Commons Report in 2019.
  • To boost charitable donations by increasing the disbursement quota for charitable foundations to 7.5% to unlock money that may be built up tax-free in foundations.

The Green Party of Canada has not released their arts and culture pledges or a full platform for analysis as of the date of this article.

The Liberal Party of Canada has pledged:

  • To extend the “Canada Recovery Hiring Program” that covers up to half of the wages of rehired workers
  • Provide $300 million over two years to the “Recovery Fund for Heritage, Arts, Culture and Sports Sectors” plus $70 million over three years for the Canada Music Fund, $25 million to Canada Council core-funded organizations and $15 million for arts and heritage institutions to meet public health guidelines. Note that some of these measures were already announced in the 2021 federal budget.
  • To provide the country’s tourism industry with temporary wage and rent support of up to 75% of expenses to assist through the winter months
  • Create the “Arts and Culture Recovery Program” that will match ticket sales for performing arts, live theatres and other cultural venue to compensate for pandemic restrictions on venue capacity

The National Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) has pledged:

  • To create a dedicated re-building package for the performing arts, theatre, festivals and other arts that have been most severely impacted by the pandemic
  • To ensure that arts and cultural institutions receive stable, long-term funding to grow and promote Canada’s diverse cultures and histories
  • To make web giants (ie: Netflix, Google) pay corporate taxes, support Canadian content in both official languages, and take responsibility for the content on their platforms
  • To modernize the Broadcasting Act in order to create a level playing field between Canadian broadcasters and foreign streaming services
  • To extend support to Canadian media to assist them in making a digital transition
  • To provide financial support for Indigenous theatre at the National Arts Centre
  • To develop income tax averaging for arts and cultural workers

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