Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ottawa's Arts Cuts: Part II

I mentioned a few days ago that the city of Ottawa is planning deep cuts to arts and culture as well as social services. Normally I wouldn't comment on another cities local matters but in this case I feel obligated. First of all it is the national capital, and a place we are all supposed to be able to take pride in and second I know a number of people in Ottawa who are upset about this. They have been trying to convince me, and others, that Ottawa is shaking it's dull, bureaucratic image and becoming a more interesting place.

I will even go so far as to say that Mayor Larry O'Brien should resign. First of all it's politically stupid and he should know that. After all it was only about a month ago that Stephen Harper's position on arts and culture prevented him from getting a majority government. Beyond that, not only does O'Brien not get that Ottawa, as the capital, has a certain responsibility to Canada's image and reputation or that Ottawans would like to take pride in the cultural offerings of their city but he does not understand basic civics.

Mr. O'Brien is quoted as saying that 'I think it's time that we stopped subsidizing provincial programs.' No program, except perhaps the military or postal service, exists on only one level. Everything that is accomplished in Canada is a result of the cooperation between various levels of government and individual citizens.

A person who was deeply ignorant and irresponsible might, for example, say 'I'm done subsidizing provincial programs, the next time I cut myself - rather than buy a band-aid I'm going to the emergency room.' If (Toronto Mayor) David Miller thought the way O'Brien did he might say "illegal imports are Ottawa's responsibility so we're not going to involve our police in firearms or narcotics anymore. Let the feds deal with it."

Now, David Miller would obviously never do such a thing because if he did he would never get re-elected, nor would Mr. Miller make the kind of cuts being suggested by Mr. O'Brien because Miller understands basic civics and the need for cooperation in order to make society function and because if he suggested the kind of cuts that are being pushed for in Ottawa not only would he not be reelected, he would not be welcome in Toronto anymore.

Please join me in standing with our friends in Ottawa in denouncing Mr. O'Brien's cuts. Even if you are not in Ottawa, letting them know that as a Canadian you take pride in Ottawa and that arts and culture influence your tourism decisions will have an impact.

The website has some suggestions for things you can do and, although I'm surely overstepping my bounds, because I couldn't find one I created a Facebook group at

On Edit: There is a larger group that already exists at so I'm deleting the one I started.

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