Saturday, March 14, 2009

Open Letter to James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Dear Mr. Moore,

I'm writing to you as a concerned Conservative. I am troubled by the recent news that your department plans to change the funding paradigm for Canadian magazines. In particular, I think the idea of restricting funding to magazines with a subscription base of 5000 or more is a serious mistake. Why so? Because of what it will do to the artists, Mr. Moore.

Now, I imagine your office has already been inundated with letters decrying this potential deathblow to small arts and literary magazines. Personally, I could care less about the fate of these rags, filled as they are with the noodlings and doodlings of pretentious fifth-rate phonies. But the continued existence of these magazines serves a very important pragmatic purpose, which I think your party has lost sight of in its zeal to return money to people and corporations that already have it--and why not, they've earned it after all!--and take it away from wobbly, weak-kneed calves suckling at the public teat.

What purpose, you wonder? It's very simple, Mr. Moore: they keep the artists busy, complacent and quiet. You see, the "average Canadian" so prized by Mr. Harper isn't even aware of the existence of these magazines, much less is he reading them. In third world countries and totalitarian regimes, however, the artists, marginalized by the state, have the public's ears and eyes. They have real influence. And they are generally not in favour of the status quo. They cause trouble. They spark opposition. They foment unrest. They are dangerous people, Mr. Moore--and in Canada they do not like your party and its aims.

As long as the government throws artists--dogs that they are--the odd scrap and bone, they heel nicely, without being asked. They argue amongst themselves about matters of no public consequence. They circulate in their ghettoes in near-perfect isolation from the average Canadian. They compete fiercely with each other for the meagre funds available. They publish their little magazines that aren't even read by other artists. They whine occasionally about not being appreciated, but aren't sufficiently motivated to do anything real about it.

If you start taking this appeasement away, Mr. Moore, all you will be doing is kicking a sleeping dog in the ribs. Poets and playwrights will turn to satire, sculptors and painters will produce grotesque nude effigies of your leader (they will not be kind to his manly bits), folk singers will start writing protest songs instead of celebrating the faded glories of their piece of rural heaven. They will acquire an edge. They will gain relevance. Their ideas and images will begin to infect the public, as they will have to take public presentation of their work into their own hands with no more subsidized outlets available. And your party's government, barely scraping by as it is, will be defeated.

Nobody wants that, Mr. Moore. As Mr. Harper is always saying, Canadians--40% of them!--voted for a Conservative government. Conservatives, as the name implies, do best to leave things the way they are. Please, sir, believe me, depriving the little magazines of their piddly pittance is a very bad idea. For the love of all that's holy, hands off and laissez-faire, don't piss off the poets.

Sincerely yours,

Zachariah Wells,

PS: When I clicked on the link to your email address, the subject line "Hi James!" came up automatically. Please, sir, have some dignity. You're a cabinet minister.

1 comment:

daniela elza said...

i love your letter. This is one instance in which I appreciate your sting. I hope you do not forget to mail this in.