This isn’t North Korea, but certain Canadian government policies should send a shiver down your spine if you love freedom, hate taxes, and despise being forced to fund cultural propaganda. Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly is no fan of freedom, and no miser when it comes to spending your money.
In a past life I was a musician, and spent 7 years in the industry playing gigs, and selling instruments and gear to other musicians. I’ve spoken to countless musicians about the business. It’s tough to make money. The bar scene isn’t what it used to be. Then there’s everyone’s favourite: how am I supposed to compete against someone with a grant?
Do-gooders and well-meaning urbanites unite around the banner of supporting the arts. Government funding is essential, they say, to compete in the American-dominated market!
Tell that to the indie bands trying to get on the radio. Their problem isn’t American music, it’s competing with yet another Juno award nominee funded by the taxpayers of Canada.
If you’re on the government-approved list of welfare musicians who suck up taxpayer money because some panel of bureaucrats thinks your music is Canadian enough, you’ve got it made. Your shitty song will keep playing for decades, and you’ll get royalties for it all.
No matter how unpopular you are, your music will play regularly enough to get stuck in people’s heads. And they’ll hate it. But it doesn’t matter how they feel, because they’ll be forced to pay for it. Either through direct taxation on their incomes, or worse – through crazy schemes like putting levies on broadband internet, or taxes on Netflix.
This is no joke.
The outgoing Chairman of the CRTC, Jean-Pierre Blais, called on the government to speed up its “long-awaited decision on the cultural policy review.” Why, you might ask? Because “it’s undeniably important to consider such issues … Anything less creates years of further uncertainty.”
Here’s an idea. Back off. Get the government out of the culture business, and stop making young independent musicians, artists, and actors fight for government grant money. Let them focus on producing quality content that people like.
In an era of YouTube millionaires and iTunes popstars, we don’t need Uncle Justin pushing his idea of what Canadian culture should be at the expense of what Canadian culture truly is.