Magazine article Opera Canada

Notebook

Magazine article Opera Canada

Notebook

Article excerpt

AND SO THE TRUTH IS OUT.

After a lifetime of dissembling about my preferences and inclinations. After years of trying to heed the warnings of those who detected early signs of trouble--like my English teacher, Mr. Caws, who once ridiculed my "long-haired-aesthete tendencies" in front of the whole class. I've tried to change, God knows, but after all the effort, I have been exposed for what I am. I must say I am outraged that Conservative leader Stephen Harper, a man who does not know me and has never looked me in the eye, should think it's OK to out me publicly. That he did it in Saskatoon, far from my Toronto community, makes no difference. He cut cruelly to the embarrasing quick and exposed me to all for what I am: an extraordinary Canadian.

Yes, the truth is out, and I have to stand up and admit that I am part of what the Prime Minister seems to believe is the benighted and out-of-touch minority for whom the arts figure as an important aspect of our lives. He set us apart from the "ordinary people" he was appealing to in that election-campaign stop in Saskatoon. Defending himself against criticisms over $45-million in cuts to arts programs--a nickle-and-diming matter, really, in the grand scheme of public funding of the arts, though more drastic for individuals and organizations that might have relied on the programs--the Prime Minister opined: "I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people at, you know, a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers, claiming their subsidies aren't high enough, when they know those subsidies have actually gone up--I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people." The whole matter of arts funding, Mr. Harper would have us believe, is a "niche issue," and as for the cuts that turned the niche issue into an election issue, he added that "ordinary people understand we have to live within a budget."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Well, I think we extraordinary people, who also work and watch TV, understand that, too. And I'm sure that most extraordinary people would have a problem with taxpayer-subsidized galas in which the primary focus was to rant and rave about the inadequacy of government arts funding. …

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