Sunday, March 01, 2009

Canadian Content Can Be Supported But Can't Be Protected Anymore

The internet age is here. That means that despite the wishes of Sirius and others that we can no longer protect Can Con on the airwaves. That does not mean that it cannot be subsidized. It can and should get subsidies. In addition to arguing for increased government subsidies I've come up with a number of ways this can be done even a way to pay for free content online. But building a national firewall and deciding whether or not people can look at something on the internet based on it's 'Canadianness'. Just won't work. Even to try we would have to give up a great deal of freedom and choice and in a great many cases people would find a way around it anyway. Billions of dollars that could be spend on arts subsidies (as well as environmental programs, anti-povery programs, etc) would be spend, largely without benefit.

For 400 years French Canada has managed to build, maintain and support it's own culture in the middle of a sea of English. Now it is time for English culture to do the same. If there is anything worth protecting in English Canadian culture then it is up to us to support it and insure that it lasts.

This means several things. I means that the CBC needs to be supported. Right now, out of 18 industrialized countries Canada ranks 15th in terms of it's financial support for it's public broadcaster. In exchange for this funding though the CBC needs to strengthen it's support for Canada. This means more Canadian programs, more local programs, and more coverage of Canadian arts and culture in the CBC's arts programming. It also means the CBC needs to give up some of it's advertising. Next we need more arts subsidies. The troglodytes who complain about taxpayer funding for the arts are working on stereotypes. They see the arts the way Harper does - a bunch of slackers sitting around coffee shops until it's time for their black tie gala in the evening. The reality is that artists work harder for their money and make less for their efforts than almost any other profession in this country. At the same time the arts contribute a tremendous amount to the economy even when the economy is bad. In this country provincial and federal governments spend a great deal of money subsidizing business. Conservatives need to learn that the arts are a business and (aside from the quite obvious other benefits) subsidizing small artists is like subsidizing other small business and it creates jobs and other economic activity.

Ultimately though it's up to you. No subsidies or special protections for Canadian artists and Canadian content will do any good if the Canadian public does not support it. If you don't listen to Canadian bands, watch Canadian TV, watch Canadian Film it won't survive. If Canada is going to be more than the 51st State, America Lite, etc., it is up to individual Canadians to protect the culture.

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