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!