Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lurching towards a possible Ontario election: What the parties are saying about arts and culture

The prospect of an Ontario election continues to loom, the recent Throne Speech having failed to change the tone and tempo in the Legislature.  PC leader Tim Hudak has made it clear that, in his view, "we need to change the team that leads this province".  The NDP’s Andrea Horwarth argues the government’s Throne Speech was "vague and lacked details or concrete plans".

So where does arts and culture find itself within this environment?

The Liberals

Ontario’s recent Throne Speech positions arts and culture as part of the Province’s "bold vision" for a strengthened economy.  It talks about stimulating productivity across all sectors, including film, music and digital media.

Earlier this year, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, the Honourable Michael Chan, also launched the Live Music Strategy.   At the same time though, programs at the ministry are being consolidated or wound down, part of the fiscal restraint package put forward in the last budget.

The Progressive Conservatives

Word is that the PCs are developing their own arts and culture platform for the anticipated election.

In a February speech to the Toronto Board of Trade, Leader Tim Hudak said, “When it comes to creative talent, Toronto is blessed with deep bench strength.  One in four Canadian arts and culture industry jobs are here in Toronto.”

Further on, he stated, “But over the years we have overburdened some of Toronto’s crucial economic and cultural industries to the point where businesses are starting to look to other jurisdictions …. too many of them are having to make tough business decisions.  To go where business costs are lower, approvals happen faster and government treats them with respect, not suspicion.”

Mr. Hudak didn’t make any specific promises, but in the policy documents being tabled by the party, they make it clear that they want to “get out of the business of corporate welfare.”  How this would affect cultural industry tax credits is not clear.


If the past election is any indication, it’s likely that some policy on the cultural industries will be forthcoming.  At this point though, there are no clear statements or positions available.