Sunday, December 7, 2008

Re: Cultural Arts Funding

This just in from the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Honourable Lawrence Cannon:

Mr. Michael Kruse


Dear Mr. Kruse:

The Office of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister,
forwarded to my predecessor, the Honourable David L. Emerson, on August
20, 2008, your email concerning arts promotion programs, in particular
the conclusion of the International Arts Promotion Program (Promart). I
regret the delay in replying to you.

I appreciate having the benefit of your views on this issue and I have
taken note of your concerns. In the 2007 federal budget, the Government
of Canada committed to review all program spending on a four-year cycle
to ensure the efficient and effective management of public funds to meet
the needs of Canadians. In the 2008 federal budget, the Government
presented the first results of the Strategic Review which involved 17
federal departments and agencies, including Foreign Affairs and
International Trade Canada (DFAIT).

It was a primary objective that resources be used to carry out core
mandates and achieve key objectives as efficiently as possible. DFAIT
will, therefore, focus its activities on advancing Canadian interests
and values in the world and providing Canadians with vital consular,
business and diplomatic services. As such, on March 31, 2009, Promart
will end. Promart grant applications will be received only for projects
whose expenditures will take place before that date, and as funds are

Overall, the conclusion of the Promart program only affects a relatively
minor portion of the $2.31 billion that the federal government spends
annually on the arts and cultural sector. Please note that Canadian
Heritage and its portfolio organizations will continue to play the lead
role in the government's overall promotion of arts and culture at home
and abroad. These portfolio organizations and delivery partners - which
include the Canada Council for the Arts, the Association for the Export
of Canadian Books, the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records
(FACTOR) and the Fondation Musicaction (Musicaction), Telefilm Canada
and the National Film Board - have annual funding dedicated to
international initiatives for culture.

DFAIT will continue to support the promotion of Canadian artists and
cultural entrepreneurs abroad through its international network of
missions and cultural representatives - including the Canadian Cultural
Centre in Paris - in close collaboration with these organizations.

Please be assured that the Government of Canada remains committed to
arts and culture and will continue to work on behalf of Canadian

Thank you for writing and sharing your concerns.


The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Monday, November 17, 2008

Gone Oratory Gone

In this world of constant selling why has the pressure of success not produced better oratory among Canadian politicians? I am frankly at a loss to explain this (although, perhaps I have not tried hard enough.) I have just ordered Great Canadian Speeches from the Federal Press here in Toronto and I even plan to read it. Perhaps I will even attempt to write what I think our politicians should be saying to inspire us.

This minor polemic has been inspired, of course, by my listening to the acceptance speech of President Elect Barack Obama a couple of weeks ago and my near obsession with The West Wing as of late. Words are just words I know and deeds speak the truth but we all need a good argument to get off of the couch and start doing something or at least to pay our taxes without grumbling too loudly.

As I get through Great Canadian Speeches I will let you know about the inspiring ones and perhaps try to clue our politicians into the fact that oratory matters.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

re: Safe Injection Site Science

A reply from the PMO regarding my email about Insite, the safe injection site in Vancouver's downtown East Side.

Dear Mr. Kruse:

On behalf of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, I would like to thank you for your e-mail, in which you raised an issue which falls within the portfolio of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. The Prime Minister always appreciates receiving mail on subjects of importance to Canadians.

Please be assured that the statements you made have been carefully reviewed. I have taken the liberty of forwarding your e-mail to Minister Aglukkaq so that she too may be made aware of your comments. I am certain that the Minister will give your views every consideration. For more information on the Government's initiatives, you may wish to visit the Prime Minister's Web site, at

L.A. Lavell
Executive Correspondence Officer
for the Prime Minister's Office
Agent de correspondance
de la haute direction
pour le Cabinet du Premier ministre

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

re: Finacial Stability in the Arts : More Comments

Here are some more comments from the Financial Stability in the Arts Survey:

I spent the last year working as a freelancer as full time minimum wage work left little time for anything else and was still not enough to make ends meet. While the first month or so went well, work quickly dried up and I found myself scrambling for 6 months, unsure at times how I would pay my rent. My field within the arts requires that others hire me to work for them. The "if your art is good, people will buy it" simply does not hold up if there is no one left to hire me.

I have so much pride being a Canadian citizen - but as an arts worker, I find that support for the arts in this country is really lacking. It's upsetting that most people are forced to either leave the country or leave the industry all together to make a living. No where else have I experienced this kind of sad neglect. Personally, I am looking for work outside my expertise right now so that I can find some financial relief...and then return to the arts again where I belong, which has been hugely upsetting. No where else do people work as hard for such little payoff, money, or glamour...we all invest so much of ourselves and get shit upon the whole time by lack of support.

like most of my colleagues, my rent constitutes more than 40% of my income, life has always been week to week, cheque to cheque. I don't believe I've ever known financial security, and I've been working in the arts for over fifteen years. It's what I accepted and anticipated entering the art world, to see such an ignorant view from a world leader is enraging.

In the last twenty years of working as a professional actor I have always had to work anywhere from one to three additional jobs to make ends meet. For many years I consistently earned well below the national poverty level. To work in the Canadian Arts is to do so knowing that work will always be hard to come by and that the absolute best you can reasonably hope for is a chance to practice your craft at a wage that will allow you to survive without having to hold down a full time job outside your chosen career. I have never wanted anything more out of life than the chance to do what I do best and practice my art with the reasonable expectation of making a decent living wage. Without the support of our government even that meager hope is gone.

Working in the arts is like walking a tightrope in the dark with a small flashlight in your mouth.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

California Proposition 8 - Banning Gay Marriage

Proposition 8, being voted upon in California today is attempting to make gay marriage illegal; a right that was afforded to gays and lesbians by the California Supreme Court last year. The folks from an awsome skeptics forum that I belong too re-cut the propoganda video for Prop 8 to equate the logical fallicies with inter-racial marriage. Check out both videos:

Original video:

Re-cut Video

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Safe Injection Site Science

Mr. Harper,

I am sad to see that irrational ideology has once again blinded your government from seeing consensus opinions from the scientific community. You and your government have let your ideas about drugs blind you to a greater public health threat and as such have been working to find reasons to close down Insite, the safe injection site for drug users in Vancouver's Lower East Side.

As early as 2007 researchers looking into the efficacy of the safe injection site model of public health had produced much evidence from sound scientific research to show that safe injection sites reduce harm to drug users and the community by allowing street-level social workers to meet with drug users and help them to prevent the transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C and prevent overdoses of drugs like heroin, cocaine and speed.

This was an approach that came from the streets. From people who were tired of seeing people destroy themselves and others through their addictions and who found a way to reduce the harm that dirty needles and unsafe sex posed. This was not an ideological approach, this was a realistic approach and it has had led to a real reduction in the spread of HIV and Hep C and lessened the number of overdoses in that area. Even more, it has put the people most in need in contact with addiction counsellors and in methadone programs to help them kick the habit; a process that any alcoholic or smoker will tell you is long, painful and arduous.

It appears, however, that your government has chosen to disregard this research and discount it by saying studies are inconclusive, as was said by your health minister Tony Clement last year when many of the studies were published. And why? I can only imagine that you think that punishment and law enforcement are the only sticks with which the government need act, that beating the addict with the justice system and locking him or her up will solve the problem. Who do you turn to for an example? The U.S Government and their failed War on Drugs which as seen an increase in drug use over its lifetime and has resulted in a department of corrections which is bulging at the seams with drug users, being kept daily by the public purse.

But that won't stop you, oh no, you won't let something like facts get in the way of your ideological approach to governing. I suppose you would like to use my tax money to lock people up instead of helping them. On the one hand you purport to be a champion for personal freedom and the free market while you take away the ability of drug addicts to make good health choices by attempting to close the one thing that will help them get better and keep them healthy while they do so.

I call upon your government to listen to the people. To listen to the good science that is being done. To listen to the people who are making an honest effort to protect communities through prevention. To listen to the addicts and sex workers who need your help.

Above all, not to stop your ears from the very public you have sworn to represent and protect.

Lead, Mr. Harper. Lead this country through rational decision making, not ideology. Don't let your own biases kill those who need you most.


Michael Kruse

see: the journal Open Medicine for an editorial on Insite and the recent Globe and Mail article

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Re: A Better Plan for Green Stability

I received this letter from the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty:

The Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1

October 14, 2008

Mr. Michael Kruse
2104-655 Broadview Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M4K 2P3

Dear Mr. Kruse:

Thanks for your online message sharing your views about
how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I'm always
interested in hearing about the things that matter most to

Our government takes our stewardship of the environment
very seriously - we believe that as responsible citizens,
each and every one of us has a role to play in tackling
climate change and reducing our environmental footprint.

I appreciate your suggestions about a carbon tax, public
transportation and incentives to encourage the use of
alternative energy. With respect to a carbon tax, Ontario's
preferred approach is to move ahead with a cap-and-trade
system - one which allows companies producing less carbon
than their caps permit to sell their unused quotas to
companies that exceed their caps. We believe it is a fair and
effective approach that is both economically and
environmentally sound. We can impose a carbon tax, we
can put in place a cap-and-trade system or we can do a bit
of both. The important thing is for different levels of
government to work together to combat climate change and
to ensure a great quality of life for future generations.

We have taken a number of important steps to reduce
emissions that cause local, regional and global air issues. I
agree that increasing the use of public transit will help
reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in our cities.
That is why our government is investing in infrastructure
funding for municipalities which includes providing money to
improve public transportation .

I have noted your views on the use of alternative energy
sources. As your views would also interest my colleague
the Honourable George Smitherman, Minister of Energy
and Infrastructure, I have forwarded a copy of your online
messages to him for his information.

Thanks again for contacting me. I welcome and value your
input. Working with you and your fellow Ontarians, my
colleagues and I will redouble our efforts to make a
meaningful difference in the lives of people of all ages,
and from all walks of life. Together, by building on the
progress we have made so far, we can - and will - build
a stronger, healthier and more prosperous Ontario.

Yours truly,

Dalton McGuinty

c: The Honourable George Smitherman

Friday, October 3, 2008

Arts Survey: Stories from Struggling Artists

Here are some of the more compelling stories from the people who have filled out the survey on the arts. Let us know what you think by commenting below. I have redacted any data that could be used to identify the writer so as to protect anonymity. No Spell checking has been done.

Can you comment on a period in your artistic career when your financial security was jeopardised or share a general comment on what it is like to be a working artist financially? (If you do not want this answer shown publicly - please say so in the body of the comment)

"When my daughter turned 16, she said to me, "No offense, but I don't want to work in theatre. It sucks to be this poor." I have worked 60-80 hours per week for 6 years running, and we literally live hand to mouth."

"Working as an artist there is no job security. My design contracts are all only 3 to 4 weeks long so I have two jobs, one as an artist and another as a job hunter. As most artists are self-employed there is no EI, workers comp, health insurance or rrsp program. It is a very stressful environment in which to create because you are always worried about money and your future."

"in order to push my career in a vital direction, I lived on a grant of $4200 dollars over 3 1/2 months, and lived in a different city. This meant keeping my Toronto apartment (which I share) and paying for another in said city, as well as other unrecoupable expenses like gas and food. my car needed serious fixing in order to do the grant, as did my computer, as I am dependent on a functioning computer. I ate into my meagre RRSP savings and am still trying to make up lost time. The up side is, that those 3 months provided some of the best training and networking in the country, and I wouldn't trade that for anything!"

"Until I decided to put my art aside and keep my family afloat by teaching, we never had savings. We couldn't buy a house until we were in our fifties and our second hand cars were driven into the ground until they died. We have had to turn to our parents a number of times for assistance - and to the Actors Fund - because when our child was very small, I became quite ill and couldn't work. There was no support system for us! However, we have had a wonderful life doing wonderful work with amazing people but it has been very hard at times. I have only been to two galas in my life and neither cost more than $50 entry. Rich? Hardly."

"What is frustrating at the moment is that I am making less money now than I was 5 years ago. And the money that I make now takes more work to get. "

"I spent the last year working as a freelancer as full time minimum wage work left little time for anything else and was still not enough to make ends meet. While the first month or so went well, work quickly dried up and I found myself scrambling for 6 months, unsure at times how I would pay my rent. My field within the arts requires that others hire me to work for them. The "if your art is good, people will buy it" simply does not hold up if there is no one left to hire me."
"... No where else do people work as hard for such little payoff, money, or glamour...we all invest so much of ourselves and get shit upon the whole time by lack of support...."

"In the last twenty years of working as a professional actor I have always had to work anywhere from one to three additional jobs to make ends meet. For many years I consistently earned well below the national poverty level. To work in the Canadian Arts is to do so knowing that work will always be hard to come by and that the absolute best you can reasonably hope for is a chance to practice your craft at a wage that will allow you to survive without having to hold down a full time job outside your chosen career. I have never wanted anything more out of life than the chance to do what I do best and practice my art with the reasonble expectation of making a decent living wage. Without the support of our government even that meager hope is gone."

"Some days I have to rely on the scraps left over from fancy galas for my lunch."

These are the first of many stories that I will share on this blog. I will send these comments to the national party leaders to give a voice to those who are sacrificing to work in the arts.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Strategic Voting

There is a growing movement to vote ABC - anything but conservative. This approach looks at riding's where there is a narrow conservative margin to win the seat but vote splitting among the other parties would let the conservatives win. In order to keep them out you vote for the candidate that is closest in the polls behind the conservative member. The following website has the best tool to decide - all you have to do is put your postal code in.

If you do not want to vote strategically that is OK too. Thankfully the candidate that I most likely will vote for is also the leader so no worries for me. If I was in a swing riding I would be very temped to vote strategically. Check out the website: if you are undecided.

I will begin posting the most compelling comments from the survey this even - keep posted!

Monday, September 29, 2008

More Articles about the Fallout of Harper`s Comments

This was sent to me by a friend:

1. Margaret Atwood's thoughts on the arts in Canada.

2. Here is a brilliant letter as sent to,,

Dear Mr. Harper,
I have made my living as an actress for over 40 years - had kids, have a mortgage, pay taxes. I have always been proud of my job, and honoured to be part of the entertainment industry. I had not realised I was part of the hundreds and thousands of "government-backed whiners". I hadn't realised how insidious we are.

To my and your horror, one of your ads has music - composed by a government-backed whiner? Did an art director choose the location to shoot in, the colour of your clothes, did a director shoot the commercial? Was a cameraperson involved? More government-backed whiners. I'll call them gbw's. You mentioned "ordinary" Canadians coming home and turning on the TV (rife with gbw's). You have spoken of going to a movie with your son (corrupting him to see gbw's in action). To protect yourself, please remove all art from the walls of your home and office, throw out any DVD players, Blue-ray machines, TVs. If your son has an i-pod, get rid of it (gbw musicians). Destroy all pottery, stained glass, never go to a festival, avoid bookstores, block all music from your car, read nothing, avoid plays, musicals, concerts.

We are everywhere. And, to avoid gbw's, could you suggest what the tourist industry should recommend people do when they come to Canada, or are they just collateral damage? You have attempted to belittle my life, my work, my community.

Shame on you.
Linda Goranson

3. And, related… from the globe and mail…

Financial Stability in the Arts: Preliminary Results

These are some preliminary results. The total of respondents this morning was 121. The most striking thing to me was the number of respondents that said they made less than $10 000 a year from professional arts income. It was about 40% of the total respondents. The sample set contains a wide variety of arts workers include those in print, visual, film and live media. I have upgraded the account so I can collect a total of 1000 responses. Keep em' coming!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Update: Arts Survey

Well, as of this morning, 60 people have participated in the survey in the first day. Not bad at all. They seem to be from a wide spectrum of disciplines and all have completed the entire survey - well, there are only 10 questions so its not too hard really.

The most shocking thing for me are the stories that people are sharing in the comment section. I was not sure what to expect from this section but what has resulted has been mind blowing. The survey really has two components, a data section where I can quantify the financial scope of participants and story-telling section, which as artists is our forte and can be much more visceral than cold data. The stories have been stirring and powerful and are covering areas that we don't often discuss as artists. We have all been a part of conversations where we complain about lack of funding or the lack of work or rent being due but that is where it stops most of the time.

The Stories being tendered to the survey include both philosophy and hardships but the most common aspect is a commitment to produce art and continue to comment on society despite financial hardships.

I am not quite sure what I have here yet but I feel an undercurrent of something powerful.

Guillermo Verdecchia sent me the following stats that have been produced by the research unit of the Canada Council for the Arts. Thanks Guillermo . I also have just found which is a arts advocate website. This link has information on economic impact studies of the arts.
1. . Federal Government investment in arts and culture: $3.4 billion (0.7% of total government spending)

2. The three levels of Government investment in arts and culture: $7.4 billion

3. Number of people employed in the arts and cultural sector?
598,000 (3.9% of Canada’s total labour force).

4. The cultural sector within Canada’s economy?
Contributes close to $40 billion (3.8%) to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

5. Number of artists in Canada? 131,000

6. Average income of an artist? $23,500 per year

Sources: Statistics Canada;
Canada Council for the Arts.
Research Unit
The Canada Council for the Arts
November 2005

CAEA also has stats on member employment, which, as you know, ain't pretty. And here's a good article on the theme:

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Better Plan for Green Stability

Mr. McGuinty,

I am writing this letter to you to urge you to move more decisively and quickly toward a greener future. The federal government under both the Conservatives and the Liberals have dragged their feet when approaching the looming spectre of climate change so it is up to the provinces and cities to lead the way. We Ontarians have an excellent opportunity.

The provinces can do several things to support a "green" economy and to help retard and reverse global warming - an effect that the majority of climate scientists around the world have agreed is real and is a direct result of human activity.

I propose the following areas which the province can focus upon:

Carbon Tax

This is the only real way to effect change in society and force us to look at greener methods of doing business and living our lives. It is endorsed by most climate economists as the only fair and effective way to force this change. We are change adverse in our society and no one wants to pay more for gas or other items that are affected by fossil fuel prices but by making this tax neutral and offsetting it through cuts to income taxes it can be sold to Ontarians as a less painful and necessary option to avoid future warming and its harmful and possibly deadly results.

Public Transportation

The Province of Ontario must have a long term strategy to support and expand public transport in a profound way. We must have another option to inefficient cars in this province and without a strong public transport system, like the ones in many European and some South American cities, we cannot expect the public to support the carbon tax. This will mean increased funding and long term sustained funding to regional transit units across the province, including the north. As well, the European model shows us that taking the taxes generated from the gas tax and directly funding public transport with it engenders more public support.

Green Energy Production

We need strong provincial leadership in this area. Mandatory solar or geothermal energy production in every new house built will go a long way to solving our energy crisis and getting rid of all of the coal-burning power plants in Ontario. By mandating these products be built in Canada if not Ontario this will help support the manufacturing sector that has been hit badly in the last several years. As well, distributed generation like solar, wind and geothermal that are based at the household level improves our ability to weather power problems like that seen in the Blackout Summer of 2003 and allay fears of international terrorism affecting our energy sector. This can also soften the blow of bringing new nuclear options online as it lowers the pressure to build in a short time frame. These products exist now and countries like Germany have been very successful in their implementation. This would also include a system to pay a subsidy to those generating the power that can then be lowered over a long term time frame as more local producers come on line.

These are 3 viable options that we can take right now and will have profound affects on our impact on the environment. The more we dodge these fixes the more we pile these problems onto our children and the less a chance they will have to save the planet from the dangerous effects of global warming.

Please, Mr. Premier, the people of Ontario need your help NOW, not at the start of the next election cycle.

Thank You,

Michael Kruse

This email has been sent to members of the opposition parties and their respective critics as well as the Ministers of Energy and The Environment

Financial Stability in the Arts

I was further outraged this week by our illustrious Prime Minister's comments about ordinary people not be interested in the arts. I was especially thrilled to learn that we all attend elite red carpet gala's paid for by the tax payer - that's what that trip to McDonald's was last week...

In response to this I have created a survey on Survey Monkey to gather some informal data on financial security in the arts. I will hope to get about 1000 entries and post the data on this blog. Maybe I am crazy but the survey is only 10 questions. I will do future ones concerning grants but this one I think will give me a base line. Yes, the sampling is not random and keeps out people without tech savvy or access to the Internet but it is a start.

If you work in the arts or know someone who does please check out the survey:

Friday, August 22, 2008

re:Culture and Ideology - Jack Layton and NDP

A letter from Jack Layton:

Thank you for writing me regarding cuts to key programs assisting Canadians artists.
The NDP feels the Conservatives are wrong to cut important programs that help Canadian artists market and promote their work. I want you to know that NDP Critic for Digital Culture Charlie Angus and NDP Critic for Culture and Heritage Bill Siksay are working hard to protect Canadians artists. For more information on our position on this matter, please visit:
This move comes on the heels of Bill C-10 and the Harper government’s plans to censor film in Canada that it finds "offensive". I agree with many Canadians who are telling me that the Conservatives' continued attempts to force their tastes on Canadian artists and arts organizations is deplorable.
Again, I appreciate your efforts to protect artistic expression in Canada. All the best.
Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth) Leader, Canada’s New Democrats

Thursday, August 21, 2008

re:Culture and ideology: Response from Paul Dewar

From Mr. Paul Dewar, NDP foreign affairs critic:

Dear Mr. Kruse,

Thank you for your email concerning the recent cuts to government programs such as PromArt and Trade Routes. I have shared your concerns with Mr. Dewar and he asked that I send you a copy of the letter he sent Minister Emerson, concerning the cuts. I have pasted it below for your convenience. Thank you again for writing and sharing your thoughts on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact us again in the future.


August 12, 2008

Hon. David Emerson

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Emerson,

I am writing to you today to express my concern regarding recent funding cuts to the PromArt and the Trade Routes programs. Both PromArt and Trade Routes have allowed groups and individuals to travel the world and promote not only their unique abilities but also our country as a whole. Cutting the funds to these two programs not only limits what Canada has to offer the world, but limits what we offer to our own citizens. This will eventually lead to more Canadian artists leaving the country in search of better opportunities elsewhere.

I have a number of questions concerning the manner in which this decision was made by your office:

1) What review took place prior to this decision being made?

2) What criteria were used to make this decision?

3) Who was consulted when this decision was being made? Were our missions overseas consulted prior to the decision being made?

4) How many Canadian artists will be affected by this decision?

What is at stake here is the future of our Canadian musicians, artists and entrepreneurs in the arts and cultural sectors. With fewer opportunities to promote Canadian culture, the industry will continue to weaken and our place on the world arts stage will diminish.

We should be proud to support our Canadian exports and not limit their freedom of expression through art.

I respectfully urge you to reconsider this decision. I look forward to your reply.


Paul Dewar, MP | Député Ottawa Centre
NDP Foreign Affairs Critic
Porte-parole du NPD pour les affaires étrangères
519 Confederation Building
Tel: 613.996.5322
CEP 232

Monday, August 18, 2008

Culture and Ideology

Here is my most recent letter to the Rt. Hon. Stephan Harper.

Mr. Prime Minister,

I am very dismayed to have learned that the Canadian federal government under your leadership has decided to cancel the travel grants program available through the Dept. of Foreign Affairs.

Among other things I am an artist and several companies that I worked with enjoyed the support of the grants and had the opportunity to share Canadian culture with the rest of the world.

It was with even greater dismay that I learned that the reason you had decided to cancel them was not out of some cost cutting measure but because your government felt that the grants were not in line with the current ideological bent of mainstream society. As reported in the editorial section of The Toronto Star on Aug. 14 2008: " The targets were "people with narrow ideological agendas or people who are rich celebrities or really very fringe groups," according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications, Kory Teneycke."

Once again you have proved that ideology trumps reason. Canadian cultural industries have a long history of being very efficient when using federal and provincial funding to support their efforts. The funds available for most arts groups and intellectuals - barring the very small number of superstars who have large commercial success - have been quite small. Yet artists across Canada have managed to support a thriving cultural scene and employ many thousands of people directly; not to mention the bars, restaurants, suppliers, hotels and rental agencies that are supported indirectly by their efforts. Other great nations support their national cultural heritage with great pride. Your government does not even have a Minister of Culture.

Most arts organisations have very small corporate structures. The heads of many small and medium sized organisations don't even take a salary and are paid on a project basis or have other full time jobs to earn a living. In this way the federal funding goes directly to artist employment, capital costs and consumables; all of which help to float the economy. Almost all of the organisations are charitable or non-profit organisations as well. This ensures that, unlike the subsidies to the auto, forestry, oil and gas and mining industries, the money does not go to buoy up company profits and line the pockets of the already rich owners but ensures primary employment and investment in the end-product.

If the economic argument is not strong enough, let me voice my disgust with the cravenness that your government displays in the face of criticisms from these cultural groups and intellectuals. It is a cowardly act to choose to silence one's opponents rather that offer a better argument. This can only suggest that even you do not believe your ideology can stand up to public scrutiny. What is next? Refuse the Official Opposition office space in the capital? Perhaps we should do away with question period because the views expressed are not in line with mainstream thought. Maybe we should have the CBC only publish statements from the PMO rather than offer a diversity of opinion. That is what it seems you are implying.

Culture defines a very broad spectrum at its most essential definition. Canadian diversity multiplies this underlying spectrum a hundred fold. I certainly do not pay my taxes to have my government tell me what to think and how to think it. I only want the opportunity for all to voice their opinions, whether I agree with them or not.

You obviously do not agree. Why so afraid?

yours respectfully,

Michael Kruse


Among the "left wing artists" not in line with mainstream ideology (complete list from 2007-2008 is not available online - the FA website is having some problems) :

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale (A gospel choir, under the employ of the NDP?? Perhaps)
Ontario (Canada)

Tafelmusik (a baroque orchestra - dangerously left wing!)
Ontario (Canada)

Banff Television Festival Foundation (almost Communist I would guess)
Ontario (Canada)

Toronto International Film Festival (well, duh, all those film folks are lefty's)
Ontario (Canada)

The Bloc Quebecois has a great cultural article here

More from the Toronto Star here

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

re: Statistics Vs. Ideology, from Jack Layton

A reply from Jack Layton and the NDP:

Thank you for your previous email relating to justice and crime issues. I appreciate your comments and suggestions as they are helpful in our work.

Too often we hear politicians talk about getting “tough on crime” by promoting an oversimplified, one-dimensional punitive approach. I believe in a more realistic and far-sighted strategy that embraces three core elements – what I call - the three “Ps”: Prevention, Policing and Punishment. The NDP is proposing practical steps to ensure Canada gets “smart on crime” and our communities are made safer. You can read more about our approach by visiting:

The NDP caucus team continues to work hard to increase public safety and seek fairness for victims. I am proud of their efforts that include the following specific measures:

Proposed National Youth Safety Strategy

Restated call to get smart on gun violence

Demanded national strategy to fight street gangs

Introduced Bill to help protect public transportation workers

Called for a National DNA and Missing Persons Bank

Criticized Conservatives for delay in amended crime package

Introduced legislation requiring offenders make restitution to victims in certain cases

New Democrats believe that everyday Canadians have a right to feel safe in their homes and their communities. When they don’t feel safe, we undercut the building blocks of a caring and prosperous society. By applying the NDP's three P's, we can begin to build secure and successful communities.

Again, I appreciate hearing from you. All the best.

Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth) Leader, Canada’s New Democrats

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Primer for Open Letter

This is a blog dedicated to motivating me and hopefully others to participate in government by sitting in front of their computers and writing down their thoughts. Pretty easy, huh? I access the Government of Canada website at for email addresses and click away.

I will post responses to the letters on this blog and would be glad to post open letters that you decide to write as well. I welcome any comments and criticism of my letter, logic or grammar even. Let 'er rip! For those of you who do not wish to get a Blogger ID to post comments I found a good anonymous way to gain access without revealing details. I guess that is what anonymous means. Check out this website for details: .

I have already written a letter this morning. I intend to fax or mail my letters as well so they have greater impact. The postage is free after all.

The only rules, of course, are all communications should be respectful no matter the hotness of your rant or comment. You (and I for that matter) will have to find creative ways to express very emotional subjects without flaming others. And if you have different ideas than the general direction of the blog then I think you have EXTRA impetus to post here; we all need a second look at our precious ideas sometimes. Also, make sure to spell and grammar check before you post or email.

Thanks and I hope you will consider participating in our democracy! I certainly am!

Statistics Vs. Ideology

Mr. Prime Minister,

I was struck this morning with comments from your Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson as reported in the Toronto Star. He stated that you don’t “…govern by statistics...” but by “…what we told and promised Canadians.”

This ideological point of view shows to me the ignorance with which your government makes decisions. That you decide major courses of action based on what you predetermined to be the best answer rather than basing it on sound evidence and rational thought shows to me a reckless modality in your decision making.

To ignore the declining crime rate and play on peoples fear rather than trying to actually fix the problem seems like a lazy way to govern. Selling new directions to the citizenry is difficult; I understand this but this does not preclude choosing the irresponsible course of shoring up poorly reasoned ideas with more poorly reasoned ideas. It may be the easy way but certainly did not vote for politicians because they choose the path of least resistance.

I challenge your government to re-think your position and give some serious thought to ways in which we can reduce the crime rate further by supporting those vulnerable to the allure of crime as a quick fix to their problems.

If not, the criminals will not be the only ones looking for quick fixes.

Yours respectively,

Michael Kruse