Dear Mr. Harper

I am pretty sure that I am an ordinary Canadian. I’ve checked the Stats Can website, and other than the fact that Joe and I earn a little less than the national average and seem to have picked up an extra kid along the way, we’re really, really ordinary.

This is why Sir, I was absolutely flabbergasted to learn that you had made a statement that the arts “don’t resonate” with “ordinary Canadians”. I had suspected, after your 45 million dollars in cuts to the arts, that they didn’t resonate with you… but all ordinary Canadians? I listened as you lashed out at artists, claiming that we stand around at “rich galas” complaining that our subsidies aren’t big enough, and I could hardly speak. Although Joe and I both work in the arts, we’ve never been to a gala (though I hear that your wife is honorary chair of the National Arts Centre Gala) and although we both pay taxes, we’ve never received a subsidy or a grant… so I’m really not quite sure what you’re talking about.

Joe and I added up the number of people we know working in the arts. It was virtually everyone we know (with the exception of our friends who work in Health Care, but that’s a debate for another day) and not a single one of them are as wealthy as you, although most of them pay more taxes. Sorry. That was cheap. I’m still mad about your tax breaks for the richest Canadians. I’ll try to get a hold of myself and stick to the facts.

The fact is that last year your government invested 3.3 billion dollars in the arts, which would be shocking except for the fact that (as reported by ACTRA’s national president Richard Hardacre) the arts returned the favour by providing 1.1 million jobs within cultural industries and contributed $86 billion to the GDP. To put that in context, Margaret Atwood noted that the arts industry employs roughly the same number of Canadians as agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, oil & gas and utilities – combined. I see you Sir, day after day after day, talking quite rightly about jobs lost in manufacturing and the industries named above and how our country needs to make financial investments in their businesses to create as many jobs as we can, and dude… you’re absolutely right. Job loss in Canada is a huge thing and boy, should the leader of this country ever be trying to prevent any further loss any way he can… and Mr. Harper… that’s what makes your cuts and your statements so darned confusing to me.

I’ve thought and thought about it, and I’ve come up with some possibilities for why you’re doing what you’re doing.

1. You are trying to lose the election, and throwing away the votes of 1.1 million “ordinary” taxpaying Canadians by trashing them, their integrity and their industry in public is just the beginning of your master plan. (In which case Sir, I can only say “AWESOME START.”)

2. You had no idea that the Arts industry was an actual industry (I mean, not like cars or oil) or that it employed that many Canadians, and when you walked off stage after making your statement, you had to ask someone why your entire campaign staff was lying on the floor seizing in a pool of their own cold sweat.

3. You’re still sort of scarred about that day in kindergarten when the teacher said that Bobby’s fingerpainting was nice and didn’t say anything about yours, and then on top of it he got the be the carrot in the school play when the teacher knew you wanted to be the carrot and would make a way better carrot than him and ever since then you just haven’t been able to see what the big deal is with the whole art thing.

4. Maybe Gordon Pinsent has always sort of annoyed you and this is a revenge thing.

5. You made a strategic decision to say that. You sat down and decided that there were an awful lot of Canadians (a lot more than 1.1 million) who would really, really want to stick it to artists. You figured that there must be an awful lot of voters who don’t read books, don’t go to the movies, don’t listen to CD’s, don’t dance or watch dance, don’t read magazines or newspapers, don’t listen to the radio and wouldn’t touch the TV with a ten foot pole and therefore don’t have the arts “resonate” in their lives.

(Well. That or you were hoping that there were a whole lot of Canadians who didn’t know about the 1.1 million jobs/ $85 billion dollar industry thing or were hoping they were stupid enough to be tricked. Good luck with that.)

Some time ago, when I made a political comment in this space, someone said to me that if I were going to state my political position publicly – even if I did so without condemning the views of others, that I should expect to lose the support of people who didn’t agree with me. They felt that if I said I wasn’t a conservative (or a whatever), that I should expect to lose the readership of conservatives (or whatevers). This person maintained that simply not being on the same page politically was enough to justify not continuing to support me professionally. This is a position I was absolutely stunned to read and still don’t understand. I feel that politics belong in public. That ones political positions are a reflection of ones moral and ethical concerns, and that as long as no-one is condemned for their views or insulted for their beliefs, that everyone wins when politics are discussed in the pubs, kitchens and blogs of the nation.

That’s something I’ve kept in mind as I listened to your speeches throughout this campaign. I reflected on how your political positions were reflecting your ethics, and kept a clear head – listening to your positions and promises. I stuck to my position, which is that it is possible to disagree on matters of personal choice while still liking, respecting and enjoying the people with whom you debate or disagree, and I believe that it is unchecked politics, unexamined policy and an unconcerned nation that let politicians run amok and invites corruption of all forms. In short, Mr. Harper… I think that the cornerstone of all good politics is respect. Respect for positions that run counter to yours, respect for jobs that are not like yours, and in this case, respect for all Canadians…. especially as you ask for our votes.

I would submit, Mr. Harper, that suggesting to all of Canada that a particular 1.1 million Canadians who have helped to pay your salary for the last several years and whose money you would like the privilege of continuing to spend, are not “ordinary Canadians” is the absolute definition of disrespect.

Further to that, claiming that you represent “ordinary Canadians” (we’ll overlook the number of galas you’re at in a year) while the 1.1 million of us who are working in film, music, writing, dance… are not only excluded from your definition of “ordinary Canadians”, but according to you “don’t resonate” with the people who are…. Well. I think it was rude. Darned rude. The Canada that I thought I lived in doesn’t have some Canadians who are worth the efforts of the Prime Minister, and some Canadians who are not. The sort of Canada I want to live in has always had a society based on respect, the respect we are supposed to show each other and the respect that leaders are especially expected – or maybe owed to give their constituents was entirely absent in your statement, and a leader who is that rude to his fellow Canadians, boldly and in public – isn’t observing the cornerstone of civil and progressive politics… respect.

In light of that, and remembering that ones politics are a reflection of ones morals and ethics – I’m afraid that not only have you lost my vote (Oh, fine. You didn’t have it anyway) but greater than that and with every cell that I posess… I humbly withdraw my respect for you as a leader, and submit that there’s just got to be a lot of “ordinary Canadians” who feel the same way.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee


(PS. I am going to consider it seriously hypocritical if you keep playing music at your events, hiring writers for your speeches and getting graphic designers to make those pamphlets that keep landing in my mailbox. If art doesn’t resonate… they why are you using so much of it? Just saying.)

(PPS – For the Non-Canadians who are thinking “huh?”, Mr. Stephen Harper is our Prime Minister, and the leader of the Conservative Party in Canada. During our last election he formed a minority government, winning 124 of 308 seats, and 36% of the popular vote, which means that roughly 2/3 of voting Canadians didn’t vote for him or his party, and chose an option to the left. (There are no options to the right of Mr. Harper.) This is possible because we have a multi-party system. Mr. Harper and the other party Leaders, Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois (a federal party that only runs in the enormous province of Quebec), Stéphane Dion of the Liberal Party, Jack Layton of the NDP and Elizabeth May of the Green Party (I’m leaving out others, but they don’t hold seats in parliament) have been campaigning since The Prime Minister asked the Governor General to prorogued Parliament earlier this month (that’s sort of like dissolving the current session so they can start fresh with a new government after the election) and calling an election for the 14th of October. (We do it fast.) In Canada, we don’t have set dates for an election. We hold them whenever the party in power thinks it would be a good time or they run out of time (at least every five years) or whenever a government loses a confidence vote (which is essentially like getting fired.) We have no term limits – you can be Prime Minister for as long (William Lyon MacKenzie King served a total of 21 years as Prime Minister) or as little (Sir Charles Tupper was Prime Minister for 68 days) as the Canadian people allow you to serve.

442 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Harper

  1. I bet he gets a lot of responses like yours. But you forgot–of course, he dopes not care about the artistry that Canadians share with the world. I would be bereft without the artistry of Canadian knitters and dyers.

  2. Damn straight. What a dunce he must be!
    I wonder if some artist at a gala rebuffed his advances last month, and now he’s getting back at her. Or, maybe his wife just bought a painting he doesn’t like.
    I have no confidence that politicians make their decisions based on any more complex reasons than those half the time, especially when they say things that were obviously not well thought out or are completely false.

  3. I’m so sorry, it sounds like my country has been a bad influence on yours. Tell him to stop listening to the bratty kids next door.
    Excellent letter, though. If he pisses off writers, he should expect such quality, I’m afraid. I imagine the political cartoonists are warming up their pens, too.

  4. This ordinary Canadian cannot get her ordinary husband to stop buying art from unknown artists (but it was only $100 honey)and we need a whole room for his CDs. Our walls look lovely and we are enriched by the music that we listen to. Ditto!!!

  5. Sounds like you guys are itching for change as much as we are here in the US… I hope your election goes well!

  6. Stephanie,
    Thank you so much for this post. Articulate and to the point, as an artist and an “ordinary” person, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Hope you don’t mind, but I’m linking this post to my facebook page.
    Take care, keep up the good work,
    and knit-on
    Lisa in Saint John, NB
    An “ordinary town with ordinary people; artists and labourers alike”

  7. Two words: Term Limits
    Best way to control those whom think they are in power, forgetting that the people are the real power. Just saying, even if I’m not Canadian but think that anyone who lives in North America is cool. Especially if they are in The Arts!!
    You rock girl!
    Go get’em!!

  8. Thank you for saying this. I think it applies to more than just your Mr. Harper (hello US!). Somehow it’s really easy for folks to bash the arts, when they also love watching TV and going to concerts and going to see theater. Oh, and fashion, what would we do without the latest trend??
    They somehow don’t realize that it’s all connected, and that cutting music and art in schools actually means that tons of kids will never learn that they can get on stage and be whoever they want.
    -from a set designer (and knitter, of course)

  9. At least your leader(s) haven’t completely trashed your economy, gotten you involved in a hopeless war and alienated your country from the rest of the world. And no public figure is anywhere close to being a moron as our W…

  10. And how! Not only do I agree completely with your statement (being one of those 1.1 million “non-ordinary” Canadians, like yourself), but thank you for pointing out the hypocrisy of the statement that the arts “do not resonate” with the average Canadian. If someone is reading this blog, they “resonate” with the arts. It’s kind of like saying that there are people who can live without air. Art is in human nature just as deeply as wanting to learn to speak or walk when we are children.

  11. In Saskatchewan we have almost zero seats that aren’t conservative. This is not for lack of trying. Anyway, our knitting circle decided to host the candidates on our Sunday afternoons and thus far have hosted a Green, NDP, and Conservative candidate. Let me tell you, the conservative candidate did a very good job of disrespectfully reminding us why we generally in our group don’t vote conservative.
    It is time for ordinary Canadians to stand up and TAKE a voice in our government.

  12. You nailed it with the PS. How can he ever hire a speech writer, book an band, or have any decor at an event when this is his position? Maybe if he learned to knit……he’d understand.

  13. Well said, ma’am. And thank you for the PPS at the end! This American got the basic gist of the letter, but the details were very helpful. Good luck! =)

  14. oh, don’t tell me about multi-party political systems and its problems, I’m from Belgium (and wondering if we currently have a real government or not, I live abroad).
    Agreeing with Jackie G. here- send out the word. How dumb does he think the average human/Canadian is? (not a retorical question, answers on a post-card.)

  15. Well said/written! Especially the parts about how he himself uses the arts.
    One’s politics, spending habits, friends cultivated, hobbies enjoyed and spiritual (or not) practices, among other things, are different ways people express their values and ethics. Therefore one’s politics have every right to be in your knitting blog as anything else.
    And it’s important that politics be discussed in all venues, not just in “political” blogs, talk shows, etc.

  16. When I read this, my first thought was “I didn’t know that the Canadians had their very own George Bush running amok up there.” Good on you for calling him out. May both of our countries pull out of our current messes.

  17. Thanks for posting this Stephanie. I think this particular issue goes to the heart of what is happening with the current Federal government, it’s vitally important to talk about.
    There are, I’m afraid, an awful lot of people who agree with Harper. Just check out the comments on on some of the stories about the cuts. I think part of the problem is that the “arts” are being portrayed a certain way: opera, dance, Voice of Fire (remember that?) and not a lot of people are talking about the fact that government INVESTMENT also made possible: Feist, Corner Gas, Arcade Fire, Flashpoint, Nelly Furtado, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Bryan Adams, the efforts of many, many Canadian owned book publishers and magazines, video game developers etc etc etc. If investment ceases to exist what will we be left with? American entertaiment.

  18. So true. And the whole “people won’t support you if they know your political viewpoint” is non-sensical. The only way to expand our own minds and feel confident in why we believe what we do is to listen to, be challenged by and factor in the well-reasoned opinions of others. It doesn’t matter to me if someone shares my views or not. If they disagree and choose to share their view, I hope it is thoughtful and reasoned.

  19. Please, please, PLEASE send this letter to Mr. Harper AND to the OP Ed section of the Globe and Mail and every other newspaper you can think of. Although your readership is huge, it still leaves out a lot of people who should be reading this letter!

  20. I totally agree with your comments. Respect and Integrity are vital qualities in a leader. Would the world be spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out institutions that did business with integrity instead of greed? How many people could be feed with those dollars? We need a world with food for the body; books and education for the mind; music and dance for the spirit; hope and dreams for the future.
    I am an ordinary Canadian who cares about our future.

  21. I’m glad someone else in world said it. Respect will allow you to play nice with other people even if you have absolutely nothing in common with them. Respect is what we must have, hands down, no questions asked. It’s vital for healthy relationships from family all the way up to politics and the person in line in front of you at the bank.

  22. Well said!
    Similar things are happening here :o(
    I work in the arts, and the organisation I work for is having trouble finding funding, since the Arts Council grants were slashed to pay for the London Olympics.
    And yet, we’ve been asked to participate in the Cultural Olympiad… with no funding provided…

  23. I’m not Canadian, but…….You Go Girl! I thought the US was the only country that had to deal with “lowest common denominator” politicos.

  24. Stephen Harper`s lack of interest in the arts is not new. Yann Martel (author of “Life of Pi”) has been sending him a book every two weeks to encourage him to read literature. I don’t think he’s received a single response from him, and he has now sent 39 books (i.e. 78 weeks…)

  25. Truly excellent political discourse. The type I would be happy if more folks would engage in, rather than the hideous attack ads we, here in the country south of you, are being currently inundated.

  26. Hear, hear. I know of three votes this gentleman (and I use that term *very* loosely) will not be receiving. I realize that a household like ours~single mom, 2 grown (and voting age) children and 4 cats might not exactly be average, but we’re still pretty “ordinary”. And I can say most emphatically that the arts *do* resonate with us.
    Liza {who does wonder exactly *who* Mr. Harper thinks are “ordinary Canadians”?}

  27. Well said, Stephanie!!! I think the “ordinary Canadians” comment will come back to haunt Mr. Harper. I don’t think he has respect for anyone, even his own Cabinet and backbenchers, since he won’t let them speak to the public without permission from the PMO. What does that say about the quality of the people in government today? When their own leader doesn’t even trust them!

  28. Though I’m not Canadian, I found this post wonderful! Good for you for taking a stand. I am SO ready for the election here in the US. I can’t believe we are still over a month away. Go Obama!

  29. I am an artist. At least, by definition. I work in the theatre industry as a Technical Director, carpenter, welder (jack of all trades). I can’t afford health insurance (American, btw), and I can barely afford rent and food because I am very early in my career. I stay in this industry because I believe that the Arts give something to the world that math and science can not – their humanity. I one day hope to run my own children’s theatre because that is where the arts get hit the hardest (IMO) here. I don’t know what I would have done as a child if all the funding had been cut to our art programs, though I do know it came close a couple of times. I remember when I was 10 sticking a notecard to my violin case proclaiming “save the music!”
    I am happy you posted this. “Ordinary” people NEED to be aware of the politics that manage their lives. I fully support people’s opinions, even if they are contrary to my own, as long as they are based on facts and research. Do the research, know your stuff, and then believe what you want.
    Was it Ben Franklin who said, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”?

  30. You are SO Good! I agree with the others – send this as an open letter to Mr. Harper and the newspapers.

  31. I’m about as apolitical as anyone can get and still be breathing….in fact, when the “artfully” designed notice appeared in my mailbox informing me that I was eligible to vote, I thought, “Huh? Is there an election happening? What’s it for?” (I don’t watch the news, read the newspaper or listen to the radio. I’m blissfully ignorant & very happy.)
    In any event, that said, I would just like to say, “WELL SAID, STEPHANIE!!!!” The guys clearly a dolt.
    I also think you should submit this post to several of the national newspapers so others can benefit from your very astute assessment of the situation. (for those ‘ordinary Canadians’ who read them…)
    Keep up the good work.
    Art Dealer

  32. I have been banging my head against walls at the mention of Stephen Harper for a while now and I wondered who left the dent right beside mine.
    Well written!

  33. This is your blog, about you, your family, your knitting, your opinions, your books, and your fiber activities… If you lose readership because of posting your political views, then so be it. They were just here to be entertained.
    Rock on!

  34. I had seen the whole re-election thing on’s website, and was wondering what was going on (and if the election thing was normal. It seemed to be, though there wasn’t much explanation).
    Perhaps he also doesn’t realize the money flowing from elsewhere in the world back to Canada for yarn, patterns, books, music and other arts? Think of how many lovely pattern authors, yarn companies and knitting accessories are Canadian!
    Maybe he was the kid with the itchy, poorly-formed wool sweater and never got over it?

  35. Another delurking American here. Sorry to hear you have the same kind of “leadership” there that we have here. This is a wonderful open letter – please send it into the newspapers and get it published.
    Hope the candidate you support wins.

  36. Fine writing and fine arguments from your nimble and informed conscience. Wow…please do not send that person south to the U.S. He sounds like someone ‘W’ and company would take in right away.
    I do agree with some above, perhaps you might post these thoughts to newspapers or other places where people can benefit from your writing.

  37. Well said, Ms. Pearl-McPhee. Your sense of outrage is palpable, and I admire your willingness to say it how it is, despite previous criticism. I see you as more than a knitter – also a writer, a Canadian, a woman, a voting citizen, and more. So shouldn’t your blog reflect all of you? Keep up the thoughtful commentary. Thanks.

  38. I’m not Canadian, but your PM’s position on this pisses me off on your behalf. I sincerely hope that you did send that letter in some form to him personally.

  39. This writer and daughter of an art dealer wants to dance in appreciation at how well you said that. And seriously, you might want to run for office…

  40. Thank you for the crash course in Canadian politics! If they’re anything like American politics, your Mr. Harper is going to have a permanent burn on his left ear (courtesy of many, many news and individual sources) for several weeks to come.

  41. As an American who has been fantasizing about moving to Canada should our election not end the way I’m hoping it will, I’m very sorry to hear this. It seems that our respective conservative governments have been chatting a little too often. I think you should actually send this letter to him. It’s an excellent letter. I’m sure you could get a lot more signatures to add to it too!
    For the record, I enjoy reading your political views. It probably helps that I feel the same way on most issues, but I agree that it’s your blog. If someone “withdraws their support” because they disagree with you…well. Who needs ’em anyway? You have plenty of other supporters!

  42. Very very well said. My feelings on Mr Harper never come out very articulated. He upsets me to the core, and I typically devolve into snarls and grunts.

  43. I’m not Canadian, but it’s interesting the same thoughts prevail both in Canada and the U.S. I’ll never understand how politicians can make such statements as this one. Perhaps they should go back to living in caves.
    Note, he didn’t say the arts don’t resonate with HIM. That’s a bit arrogant, in my book.
    It’s the same in many countries, of course. The thin is, if we don’t speak out, no one will have anything to listen to.

  44. I am not as informed as I should be about Canadian politics (nor about my own US politics) but I have to wonder: have Mr. Harper and Mr. Bush ever been seen together in the same place? Because they sound like they could be the same person. I am sad to think there might be two of them.

  45. Stephanie, I would hope that those of us US-types are not so insular that we know who Harper is. I also hope that if we didn’t know it before, we know now that the Canadian Government serves at the will of the people and you can throw the bastards out any time you want…and are filled with envy.

  46. Seriously, I’d like to ask him if his kids take piano or dance lessons. For parents, one of the reasons we do this is to enhance the development of our children & make them well-rounded/balanced. It’s the same for our country (we’re just a baby compared to say, Europe). We need a balance of activity in order to be a great place to live with great national character. Ask any Russian about their art history, famous authors, musicians & poets – they’ll be able to quote from classic novels. Harper is really missing a critical point, but then again, he’s said he doesn’t read Canadian papers but feels he learns a great deal from American ones & by following the election of our neighbours to the South. We need a leader who thinks for themselves with OUR best interest at heart. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  47. Tell you what, I wish I were Canadian right now. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat watching the stock market fall and holding my breath in hopes that our 401k will make it through.

  48. And I was just thinking it might me a good time to check into moving to Canada from the States!!! lol
    My husband does approve highly of your fishing up there, but I guess politics are politics the world around!

  49. Get it together up there! I was planning on moving there if the election in November doesn’t go my way!

  50. Go you!
    I’ve lacked confidence in the American government for eight years now. Wish we’d had the option to call an election when things looked dismal and bleak… OTOH, we failed in the bid to get rid of this particular government four years ago, so I suppose it might not have helped…

  51. I love this post!! Oh, how I love this post! Wish Harper would read it — and think all of us Canadians who read it should print a copy and hand it to the Conservative candidate in our respective ridings!

  52. Amen, hear hear, and a thundering standing ovation to you for saying exactly what I was thinking, but much better than I could have.
    From a loyal lurker, devoted knitter, and ordinary Canadian with a Music degree.

  53. Ugh. It’s so nice to see Mr. Harper is taking all of the worst points of American politics and importing them to Canada. People who aren’t just like you aren’t American… or Canadian as it were.
    When I lived in Seattle I would watch the CBC, and one episode of Rick Mercer’s show from a few years ago, he went to the Conservative convention, where he got various members of the party to sing along to an April Wine song… and Mr. Harper was a very willing participant in the arts at that point.

  54. I don’t think your Prime Minister is wrong is what he said for his little nook of the world. (Not that I’m agreeing with him. Oh no, not at all). I think the people he meets at “rich galas” do complain about the funding they’re not getting, or that people don’t understand their “art.”
    I have a friend from high school that went to one of the top art universities in the US. She’s very talented. But she believes (partly what she was taught at school) is that the “common” people don’t enjoy art. It’s true. I don’t enjoy my friend’s art. I find it be hard to understand and the message is often that of despair, turmoil, sadness and anger. While all those emotions need to be expressed I really can’t take yet another person saying “Feeling my rage inside me!!!!” Yet this same friend refuses to use a knitting pattern because (her words) “I’m in artist (emphasis on artist). Knitting pattern aren’t art.”
    She fails to realize that art around her. A well written knitting pattern isn’t only a godsend, but it’s using the art of clear communication. A woman (or man) that works hard to make their pattern balanced to the eye and to the soul is developing art, enabling it to be passed on.
    [Steps off soap box and hands it back].

  55. Could Harper be a bigger tit? Every time he opens his mouth something more nonesensical, idiotic, or horrifying comes out.
    My brother and sister in law are both classical musicians and I can assuring you the only gala-going they do is playing the music.
    And don’t even start me on the daycare thing. $100 a month is a joke – we don’t need the money – we need somewhere to SEND the kids. Talk about buying votes. Bleah. Don’t even get me started. I feel dirty just thinking about him serving another sweater-vested term. Not that I’d dis the sweater vest if he knitted it himself…
    I’d love you anyway, but it would be MUCH harder if you thought Harper was OK.

  56. Terrific post. I was dismayed to hear you Canadians are battling the same nonsensical kind of leadership we have here, (although ours is much worse) where the person in power, while extremely rich and all their friends are rich, will badmouth a large group of ordinary citizens. And the same leader will make cuts in wonderful programs while giving the rich further tax cuts. Will common sense leadership be restored to our nations? With the involvement of ordinary citizens, hopefully so.
    As for the correctness of posting your political views on your own blog, why the heck not! This is a real upset to you, just as when your furnace gave you trouble. The decisions our leaders make affect us or our friends and neighbors, as well as our children’s futures. We all should be talking about these issues! And being very careful about who we vote for.
    Now I must go calm down by knitting a bit.

  57. Thank you for saying what I’m sure many of us apparently un-oridinary Canadians have been wanting to say since hearing that comment. I am not employed by the arts industry but I do very much enjoy and support Canadian arts.
    I’ve already voted since I am voting in-absenteeism, and I am proud to say Mr. Harper did not receive my vote, for this reason amongst others.

  58. Semper Fi, Stephanie!
    Well said.
    I am also aghast & agog at Harper & what is starting to happen in my country. This is the first time I have ever seriously considered voting “strategically” to make sure a party didn’t win, and I hope you don’t mind if I show a site devoted to that idea:
    I agree with others: Please send this directly to Bush Jr.—ooops I mean to Harper himself, and as many public places as possible.
    I will be sending to my friends, political or no.
    Good luck to us all!
    not currently in the Arts, but knowing their nutritive value I remain,
    An Ordinary Canadian

  59. Thanks for writing this. Articulate, well-reasoned, and passionate — and I had to laugh at your p.s. As a writer and editor, I’d love to see Harper try to run his election — or this country, for that matter — without the services of the arts community in all its various forms.

  60. Very well stated. I’m a de-lurking American here, but isn’t anyone employed at a video store or theatre popcorn counter (and a million other professions) also technically employed in “the Arts”?

  61. I love it when you explain your politial system to me. I would love to read more about it, in any depth you care to dive, because I’ve already told my husband that if I don’t care for the outcome of our election in November I’m moving my yarn north for the duration, Rick says he’s dumping all his fly-fishing flies in a bucket and coming with me; but I don’t think there’s enough space in the car for my yarn, my son, my dog and him.
    Deb in PA

  62. I really hope that there’s a knitter or two who work for him & will point out your letter. But, look on the bright side: at least you don’t have George Bush running (oops–meant to say RUINING) the country.

  63. There is nothing I could add to the pure truth here.
    This is something that needs wider distribution. Your vote is your voice. So, brothers and sisters
    to my north, I hope you speak up about this.

  64. I heartily agree! As an “ordinary” Canadian, I’m amazed at the sheer number of his policies and ideas that don’t resonate with me in the slightest.

  65. Bravo! What a wonderful post. Being in the States, our art community seems to always be played down. Art is so important to our culture, pride, humanity.
    I thought we had it bad with our lack-of-intelligent-people in government. Instead of helping out the US people they are going to shove $700 billion (that is wht a B) do banks who pay their executives millions for putting them down the toilet. (Sorry it is a bit of a painful topic.)

  66. Very well said. Art is not something we leave behind in 7th Grade with our pencil crayons and blurry watercolour pictures. We need it to live and breathe and have ideas about the world.
    I cannot get over how much that word “ordinary” is mobilized in political discourse. “Ordinary” never means ordinary, as far as I can tell politicians use it when they want to hook in the votes of middle-class-on-up white taxpayers without actually saying “we want votes of middle class white taxpayers.”

  67. Well said!
    I hope anyone who disagrees keeps in mind this is your opinion and is not meant to sway anyone who wishes not to be swayed. We are a nation of respect and are willing to listen to people with differing opinions from ours.
    ps: but I totally agree, I never voted for him!

  68. Very educational, and well written I must say! I do believe that I’ve learned something about the structure of the Canadian government that I would never have learned in school. Thanks Stephanie!

  69. Stephen Harper’s politics disgust and enrage me to no end.
    Apparently, Steve has never seen an ordinary Canadian enjoying the arts.
    I have yet to see any local bands perform at a black tie gala. It’s usually at a grungy bar where we’re all wearing jeans. It seems quite accessible to “ordinary” Canadians. Just because it’s not a black tie gala, does that mean it’s not art?
    Our friends perform street theatre – the people that attend their shows seem like “ordinary” Canadians to me. The plays even seemed to resonate and entertain them. Should they be out getting “real” jobs and leave us all to stare at empty stages, pages, and television and movie screens?
    My husband is a recording engineer. His business teeters on the edge every time a cut is made to arts funding.
    The bands that make it “big” do not all get there through participating in reality shows like “Canadian Idol” or winning “Battle of the Band” competitions. They get there by working hard, scraping together pennies, and sometimes, if they are lucky, getting a FACTOR grant to record their music. If they don’t get a grant, it means that borrow money from their family, and record bits and pieces at a time. They either record at night, after they are finished their day jobs OR they take vacation from their other jobs to record. They are “ordinary” tax-paying Canadians.
    I know that you know this life well and you understand that it isn’t an easy life. It’s frustrating and it’s full of ups and downs.
    And every time a family member or a friend decides to vote Conservative, I can’t help but feel that they are voting against my husband and I.

  70. Brava!!!
    Wonderfully stated. Can we banish that one along with his US cohort?
    I agree that this post should be brought to the attention of the Canadian newspapers (assuming that since the subject of said post doesn’t READ it himself).
    I would make one observation, however. Along the lines of catching flies with honey… Some men are a bit sensitive to references about their carrothood, even if – no, especially if(!) said carrot is um… a little teensy one.
    All funning aside, you’ve defended what makes us human, and done it beautifully. It’s just a cryin’ shame a defense is even necessary.
    Thank you.

  71. There is a humor piece in the New Yorker (9/29/08) by George Saunders entitled “My Gal” that resonates with what you’ve written today. Moose-hunting versus elitism, to paraphrase. I am dismayed — just when I’d thought it wasn’t possible to find anybody dumber to lead a country than George W.

  72. You Go Girl! Although I am American, my husband is Canadian and American, his father, grandfather, great grandfather MacKenzie all Canadian. You will always have my support, I standby the Harlot! I appreciate your point of view. We need to speak out about what we believe in and stand up for our beliefs. I am a Jewelry Artist, knitter, and spinner(because of you!) Thank you for all your posts about spinning, my new wheel came last week. I am hooked! Because of you I recently stood up for myself when I was told I was doing somthing Very Old Fashion and looked down upon. I held my head high and said, “It is very vogue and a in thing to do! Yarn has come along way, we have amazing fibers to spin and the new wheels are high tech.” She smiled back at me and said,” Good for you. What are you going to do with the yarn, are you going to sell it?” I just might! When I get better. Thank you Yarn Harlot!
    Kim MacKenzie

  73. Respect? Oh, you mean like when someone says someone else just doesn’t understand, simply because that other someone doesn’t agree with his position?
    And if they’d look at the bulk of what they support as ‘art’ it might be obvious why some part of the population finds it ‘doesn’t resonate’ with them. Jesse (above) has that right.
    So let’s throw the baby out with the bathwater – so to speak.

  74. Ah, Stephanie! WELL PUT!
    I am extremely proud to be an ordinary Canadian and us ordinary Canadians like ART, *period*, no matter what shape, form, note, stitch, step, brushstroke or text it takes!
    Once again, Mr. Harper demonstrates why he should not lead this country as he is out of step with ordinary Canadians.

  75. Is there anyway of forwarding this to ” him with his foot in his mouth.” I think it is very important that he read this … may I suggest that you forward this to the ‘Letters to the Editor” of some newspapers as well. It is so well written and needs to be shared with a greater audience.

  76. I have to second what someone else said. I’m in the US and I was ALL set to move to Canada if the anti-christ and his pet got elected in November. It looks like “W” has a mini-me though. That’s not fair, where can I go now?

  77. I’m an art historian, teaching in Idaho. I’m going to be fast and loose with some of my numbers but I am reporting the big picture correctly: Some 6 or 7 years ago the city of Boise determined that a million and half dollars came into the city (not a very big city – some 190,000 people) annually because of people attending arts events. The average person spends about 41 bucks in restaurants, on tickets, parking and the like. This is the bread and butter of the economy. Boise has a 1% arts initiative (1% of any building construction must go arts contracts on the site). The result is a beautiful city that attracts visitors and brings people into the city center to live and play. Once political dimwits of any political persuasion start looking at the economic potential that the arts offer, they sing a different story.

  78. Amen.
    Love, Nikkapotamus
    Fiber Artist, Quilter, Knitter, Art Teacher, Book Reader, Movie-goer, Listener of Music, Viewer of Art, and Ordinary American (and have never been to a Gala either)

  79. If ordinary Canadians don’t care about the arts then why did 15,000 hockey fans each write an anthem for Hockey Night in Canada?
    (send here by a fellow blogger)

  80. Mr Harper does play the piano – and is doing so on the compaign trail…part of the kinder, gentler PM image.
    Seeing him hugging children and babies makes me shudder. This is the man who, on the first day of school, was seen shaking his son’s hand as he said goodbye – the boy was around 10 years old.
    He has an aversion to those galas, sending his wife with one of his MPs instead – so I doubt he knows of what he speaks.
    And it’s not just the arts.

  81. Well said, and I definitely applaud Margaret Atwood on her article in the Globe last week too.
    What do we expect though from someone who’s deputy leader once told Alexa McDonough to “stick to her knitting”? Not a lot of sympathy for the arts from him I’m sure.
    Thanks for putting your voice out there to fight opinions that will only destroy our arts culture here in Canada.

  82. Bravo Ms. Stephanie, I am sorry to see that politics seems to be the same every were. I really did enjoy your rally. I hope Mr. Harper gets to read it and that it may enlighten him (and his staff). He really does need to see how the arts touches everything.
    On this side of the water (I’m in Michigan)it is really getting muddy. I can’t wait for our elections to be done with. I’m 36 (not very old I know) and this is the worst I have ever seen it. They both can only slander the other is seems.
    P.S. I really like the confidence vote part. Maybe we should look into it since impeachment takes forever.

  83. As a fellow Canadian, from a very different part of the country, I have to agree with you that Stphen Harper really seems to have shot himself in the foot. As a professional politician, he certainly should have been able to take money from the arts and diss those who work in the biz in way that on the surface was nice. Maybe he doesn’t have speach writers. And frankly, even if what you said had be directly in contradiction to what I believe on the subject, which it isn’t, I would admire you for speaking on a subject about which you feel strongly. I am a librarian and I have had people ask me to pull materials from our library because of their content. While I’ve smiled sweetly and told them no bloody way, I admire them for standing up for what they think is right (however misguided that might be). Far too many of us would just reshelve the book or shake our heads at the politicians statements and think “what an idiot”.

  84. Alas, our system is not Parliamentary and you see what we’ve been stuck with for EIGHT LONG YEARS. And I am on pins and needles until November.

  85. What Calvin & ccr from MA said. Even for you this is a remarkably thoughtful, well reasoned post. Why do some conservative politicians feel they have to appeal to the lowest common denominator – to underestimate the ability of the “common man” to feel empathy for folks who are a bit different from them, to engage in well reasoned dialog, to arrive at reasoned compromises, to understand nuanced stands? I couldn’t agree more with your views on the role of respect in political life. I am a pretty far left liberal but have managed to somehow raise one daughter who is at the opposite end of the political spectrum. Yet we manage to love each other & carry on civilized conversations about political issues. I even enjoy reading some political columnists of the conservative persuasion – even though I may disagree with them on most points, I can enjoy their thoughts on issues & even agree with them on some things. In my youth, things were not so divided – there were liberal & conservative members of each party & they were able to talk with each other, negotiate & come to reasonable compromises on issues of national concern. I believe that you are right about its’ boiling down to respect. Certain politicians & their supporters have decided it’s “their way or the highway.” They are unconcerned with the rights of those who may not agree with them & are perfectly happy to trample them to get what they want. I suspect that it is not a coincidence that most of them seem to follow very authoritarian religious beliefs. They feel they are on a mission from god.

  86. Stephanie,
    What a great piece of writing. I hope you have sent it somewhere where he can actually read it. South of the border we have been a little bit distracted and maybe you will forgive me if I haven’t been keeping up with Canadian politics, but this thing sounds sadly familiar and, as you point out, ironic since S.H. employs the arts to get his message out. It’s even weirder to me, since much of my exposure to Canadian culture comes through the CBC which always seems so intent on celebrating Canadian music (and writing) – it’s much more nationalistic – seeming than here. Give him hell, and keep up the good work.

  87. I was an American living in Canada when he was elected the first time, and I thought it was a mistake then, but the Conservatives won because they reconsolidated themselves. Dear liberal Canada, please vote with strategy as well as ideals. Here in the US we’ve been fighting our government for the last eight years. Don’t make our mistakes. It only gets worse.

  88. Well said Stephanie. And like others have suggested, I do hope you decide to send this to National papers. I’m an ordinary Canadian too – a single mom with a teenage daughter. I am so thankful that my fiercely head-strong daughter has such a passion for expression through writing, drawing, dance, her guitars, and her piano. Who knows where all that teenage energy/angst would end up otherwise!!

  89. Very big of you to call him Sir and Mr. I’m not sure I would be able to be so mature, I fear I would sink to name calling.
    I have never really considered the size of the art industry, always just thought they meant art galleries and such. So thank you for educating me.

  90. Awesome letter. Can you help me write one? It starts: Dear John McCain- (and we can CC the Republican party, President Bush et al)…

  91. Encore!
    Now if you will excuse me I’m off to prepare for this evening’s gala, and meet some “non-ordinary” Canadians. By which I mean I have to prepare dinner for the fam before picking the child up from school.

  92. Yes indeed the Arts Community is here and active and contributing to the Soul of Canada. Thanks for speaking up with a well thought out and written article.

  93. I hope you will send this to Mr. Harper. I’m betting he is hearing an earful from artists who make his campaign a go, not to mention the rest of us artists making a living as ordinary people (Canadian or US). I’ve never read a better defense of the arts and artists! Thanks again Stephanie for your exceptionally well written point of view. I also thought I’d never read a better explanation of having a non-religious faith as I am often required to defend my point of view. I keep it tacked up on my studio wall!

  94. Lack of respect for fellow countrymen/women is at the core of a whole lot of crap going on this side of the border too. It’s enough to make one give up hope sometimes.

  95. Wonderful stuff, Stephanie. I only had one problem. You said, “In Canada, we don’t have set dates for an election.”
    Technically, that’s not true. Stephen Harper passed a bill for fixed election dates to stop the party in power from calling elections when they felt they could best win them and promptly decided to call an election.

  96. The people who started my country (US) once said that once the politicians control their own pay and their own power they are no longer a government of the people, for the people, but for themselves. Sounds like you may have a few of the same problems. Good luck!

  97. Sing it, sistah! Dude’s still preaching to his core costituency (former Alliance members) and has a decided vision to bring the rest of Canada into that fold. Arrogant twerp.

  98. I had to laugh at Calvin’s statement (first comment) as it crossed my mind, too!
    I say “Go Stephanie!!” I think you ought to send him this. 🙂

  99. I sometimes think we are the only country with bonehead leadership. If the election goes poorly, you could always get an Artist’s visa and hang out here for a while. . . not that you’d move permanently. . . I sometimes think a “break” from my country would be a nice way to attain perspective.

  100. Yes indeed the Arts Community is here and actively contributing to what makes the very Soul of Canada. It seems to me that a country without an arts community would be a very impoverished country. I hope Canada will never be that type of a country. Thank you for speaking up with a well thought out article.

  101. What a statement you have made here – very well thought out and, of course, well written.
    THe part that made me laugh hysterically was when you stated he lost your vote!! I’m with you, he never had mine to begin with and this just makes it worse!

  102. Very well said, and the only thing I could add to it is “Vote, vote, vote!!” Mr. Harper has had his turn, time to hand it over to someone else.

  103. Well said. I think that almost incoherent “rich gala” remark will haunt our Steve for a long time (and so it should). I can’t wait to hear Rick Mercer on the subject.
    BTW, did you see the poem on this subject in the Saturday Globe? I can’t find it on the website but I’m going to look for it at home in the paper-recycling bag. It was a keeper.

  104. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am a retired arts administrator and everything you say resonates powerfully with me. Unfortunately, Mr Harper’s opinions on the value of the arts in life and in education are not uncommon, especially amongst the bureaucrats who hold the purse strings. Write on, Stephanie!

  105. thanks for the enlightening, passionate, and well written post. I think your analysis is spot on. You should forward this to the Globe and Mail. the Toronto Star, and some of the other newspapers. I think a lot of non-knitting Canadians can really relate and would be interested in reading this.

  106. Awesome letter. And, I have to say that I love it when I find political opinions on non-political craft blogs. Especially when I find out that the cratfers I respect have political opinions I respect too.

  107. You know, I think you should send him just the PS. It says in two lines far more than the entire long letter does, and it makes a startling point. “If art doesn’t resonate…” then why does he depend on it so much? Well done, Steph.

  108. Wow is right! Please come to the U.S. and take on one or two of OUR pols – maybe a Canadian could wake them up. We “ordinary” Americans are off in a netherworld of unemployment, high prices and real uncertainty, too. And I bet Mr. Harper would be just astonished to find that someone who knits (and writes, etc., etc., etc.) can actually THINK at the same time!

  109. Boy, that guy sounds an awful lot like W. I REALLY hope that you and I are BOTH happy with our next elections.
    DH is a teacher…they often get treated just like you are describing artists’ treatment. But I know that you already know that!

  110. Dude I love you more every day. The personal certainly IS political, and the more people realize it the closer we will be to having a government that truly represents us.

  111. I only wish I had originally planned to vote for him, then he would lose my vote. But he lost my vote a long time ago! Well said Stephanie, well said. A copy of this post should go to the national newspapers to make everyone aware of the facts.

  112. As an American writer living in Canada, I have to say I was also disgusted by Harper’s comments. You go, Stephanie.

  113. I read that someone said you should send it to Mr. Harper. Do It, Do It, I doulble dare you!!!! Let him know what ‘ordinary Canadians’ think of his brilliant idea. Cheers, you rock as usual!!

  114. Living in the US, it fascinates me to hear criticism of a multi-party system. Here, there are many who beleive that that is some kind of magic key to all that has gone so tragically wrong in the last few decades. (I blame it on the republicans and their penchant for deregulation, coupled with the lie of “trickle-down” economics, but that’s just one woman’s opinion.) Here, the majority gets beaten out by our “electoral college”, and there, by the vote being spread more thinly. Interesting to hear the other side of the multi-party story!

  115. Well said! We hear similar attacks against the arts all of the time in the US and it sickens me. I hope you and all of those other normal Canadians who love and need and work in the arts get a better PM in October.

  116. This makes me so upset. I’m a canadian that went to school in the US to study the arts, i’m an opera singer. I went to the US because even 6 years ago, the arts in Canada were suffering. How am I supposed to think about returning home to Canada when I am practically being kicked out. Thanks for the warm welcome home Mr. Harper.
    “Welcome Home, we cant give you a job because your an artist and ordinary Canadians just don’t care about what you’ve dedicated your life to, but Welcome home”

  117. I’ve just spent six days getting to/from and eddying in the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. I kiss you on both cheeks.
    (P.S. From someone who’s steeped in four full days of some seriously honed language? Nice job.)

  118. Stephanie, a resounding “thanks” for your post today. I am thankful that people are able to articulate their views and are pasionate about the political process – I wish more people were – including Americans. With that said, I have to say that I don’t agree with everything that you said, which I’m sure that you would agree that I’m entitled to disagree – respectfully, of course. I do agree that the arts are an extremely important part of culutre – how would we know beauty of any sort if it were not for the artists who bring it to us? Creativity is an amazing human thing and should be encouraged at all levels of society – from the finger painting of 5-year olds to the refined musician of the symphony orchestra. However, there is one point in which I do agree with Mr. Harper. I, also being a relative “average” citizen as yourself, find it extremely irritating when artists of all sorts feel that it is their “right” to be a snob about their art. What I mean is this: I am using my God-given talents to the best of my ability, and while they are not astronomically brilliant, I have to work to provide a living for myself. I am using my TALENTS to provide for my LIVING. Operative word: work – and I work hard. I find it resentful when artists feel that thier talent should entail them to life’s finer side of life simply because their painting (which sometimes I feel I could replicate easily) or their violin playing (which I could possibly mimic by whistling) is “talent”. Pure talent is not an entitlement – and this is what I felt that Mr. Harper was saying – that there are those of us “average” citizens who work hard and labor for our livings while there are people – “artists” – who feel that they don’t have to work simply because of their “talent”. Having a subsidy is not work, it is a privilege that they receive as a recognition for their talents, therefore those artists that receive such subsidies should be grateful. Mr. Harper should not have said what he did – and I totally feel your outrage and thank you for speaking your mind on this one – and I hope that he will come back and apologize to all those “average” citizens that are artists – he insulted you and he needs to know that.
    Tonja, a semi-artist by way of knitting and average citizen of the US

  119. As an American musician living in Canada, I was also disgusted.
    But I did find it hilarious that he refused, when asked, to repeat the statement in French. No it is entirely possible that he didn’t know how (although I’m sure there was a translator handy if he had snapped his fingers or whatever, had he wanted one), but I prefer to believe that as the words left his mouth, Mr. Harper realized that it was step 1 in a plan to loose the election, and thought maybe he could still win, if the French speaking public didn’t know what he had said.
    As a recent transplant, however, I do have to remark how great it is to be somewhere that arts funding is a federal campaign issue at all.

  120. Firstly, I think you are perfectly entitled to state whatever your opinions or beliefs are on your own blog. Secondly, I wouldn’t vote for Stephen Harper if he were the last politician on earth! He lost my respect when he sent troops to Afghanistan and seemed just a little too friendly with Bush.
    Let’s hope he does a bit more of that “shooting himself in the foot” thing” over the next couple of weeks and we can be rid of him.

  121. Hear! Hear! Tax cuts for the rich, do all these “conservatives” think alike? Boy do I wish we could vote ours out of office when we have lost confidence!

  122. And, don’t forget that any of his rallies will have a stage manager (probably many of them), not to mention the lighting and sound people, the set people….
    As a stage manager living with a lighting guy, I was definitely not impressed with Harper, and wish I could tell him that to his face.
    Out of interest, my art-employed, theatre-working, lighting-technician boyfriend was the followspot operator at the big ‘waiting-for-the-results’ event when the outcome was Harper BECOMING prime minister. He was just one of many, many people involved on that rig. At the time, it was just another job, but good luck finding anyone who will light you now, Mr. Harper. Or at least anyone who isn’t thinking about forgoing the safety chain on the heavy machinery hanging directly above your head…

  123. For Mr. Harper – This weekend, we bought 3 music CD’s in our family,( two were Il Divo – sigh) one DVD ( I was home ill) and 3 books, two used. We watched a mystery on public broadcasting too. Besides that, both I and my husband have jobs that include a lot of writing, design and media work – for an entire US state program. We read newspapers daily, have about 6 books going at once and wish our economy allowed us the extravagance of a play or concert ( in essence, a gala event in our budget). I sew and embroider. My husband and son draw. Our son has played flute, bassoon, trumpet and guitar through school, lessons and teaching himself. The arts are what makes life around these politicians and wars bearable. We can literally, TUNE THEM OUT by substituting the arts in our home.

  124. You go girl! Behind you 100% all the way from Scotland. Arts celebrate what it is to be human. Mr Harper obviously feels that “ordinary” Canadians aren’t.. or don’t deserve to have their humanity celebrated? Patronising sod of a man.

  125. Please, please write one of these for us Americans. We have folks who think it is more important to wear a flag pin and stand in front of a flag, then to think about what they are doing to our country.

  126. Cr*p! There goes the backup plan for a GOP win on the south side of the border. I too had one of those ‘moments’ whilst being bombarded by a political ad that went on and on about wanton pork barrel spending on, get this, a theater!, music programs!!, and my personal fave, libraries!!! You know what spendthrifts those wacky librarians are. Frankly, I think it stems from the fear that other people will learn to read. And based on your commentary, I would think the PM might really desire a bit of music being broadcast to the ‘ordinary Canadians’ as ’tis supposed to soothe the savage beast.

  127. It is because you let the strength of your convictions shine through your writing that you are the most loved knitting blog.

  128. My husband correctly points out, though, that there IS a difference between Harper and Bush: Bush would never malign the arts. He would praise them to the skies … while cutting funding and ignoring them at with the same energy as Harper. If possible, hypocrisy makes it worse.

  129. Holy Smokes. It’s good to see other countries/governments can be as annoying/messed up as mine.
    But I’m kind of glad the US has set election dates, I’d hate for our politicians to get to decide it was time to change on their own.
    At least you don’t have to suffer with drawn out campaigns like we do. sigh.

  130. Rock and Roll! Thanks for the excellent post.
    Too bad all of the other male Canadian party leaders are less than exciting.
    I need to read more about the Green Party platform.

  131. Sigh. . . I want to move to a country where the arts are even discussed during an election.
    Hear hear.

  132. I think Mr. Harper has spent waaay too much time with George Dubya. In our November election, someone just as (insert any of your favorite %^#*^#%*!@#!@)scary as Dubya may be elected. It will keep the comedians full of material and the rest of us scared shitless….

  133. Can a Canadian run for office here in the US? Please, Stephanie, please!!!
    And to think he spouted his drivel on TV and the sound didn’t go mute and the screen didn’t go black. What field did he think all those camera operators, sound and light technicians, producers and directors are working in?!?!?!

  134. Thank you, Stepanie. You’ve done it again! With your usual aplomb and clear thinking, not to mention your amazing writing skills, you’ve managed to present the issue at hand exactly as I understood it in my heart. I couldn’t have stated it in anyway as well as you did. You can be sure that I, too, will be casting my vote elsewhere!

  135. Surely if you’re gonna have CanCon you gotta fund it? Feed it? Here I was thinking Canada was really arts-focussed, but I suppose like anything else it depends on the numb-nut in charge!!

  136. I’m comforted, and saddened, by the fact that my President isn’t the only clueless one in the Western Hemisphere.

  137. What Natalie said at 12:57. On top of everything else, by calling this election, Harper broke the spirit of the very law regarding set election dates that *his own party* proposed and passed! What a hypocrite!! Gah!

  138. We have a huge number of politicians in the U.S. who say the same sorts of things. Trying to earn a living in any of the arts is difficult enough without having to deal with this kind of nonsense! (Especially while also dealing with people who don’t understand that obtaining their music, movies, etc. from pirates online means that they’re ripping off the folks who created them…but that’s another rant altogether, lol.)

  139. I love politics and I agree, it needs to be public, people need to be involved. I think Americans are way too apathetic and think their vote does not count and that is why we have had 8 years of W!

  140. Well put! Can your next letter be to our President? Since he won’t listen to his fellow Americans and claims we have no problems here, maybe he’ll listen to you. (Okay, probably not, but it’s nice to dream.)

  141. Here, here, Cheeerrrrsss, Hurrah!!! Applause….loud applause. Well put Stephanie!!!Our family enjoys arts in our home in many forms. We are an automotive family feeling the uncertainty of our industry. Personally it appears to me that Mr Harper does not think that anyone WHO IS NOT HIM, is not intelligent, including his own cabinet!!!! I hope you forwarded this to his office….working Canadians, all working Canadians deserve much more respect from our Prime Minister…we pay his salary. His derogatory comments about almost every sector of working Canadians is appaling!!! Personally I wonder how he thinks he is going to be able to fund a government with the deficit he has created, the reduced tax base that is going to occur when all the announced plant closures as layoffs actually occur, and pay for the increased draw on EI. If I was his mother I would be telling him to have more respect, empathy and support for his fellow Canadians, instead of demeaning them further. As a Canadian, as a woman, mother, worker……Mr Harper would never get my vote. Keep up the excellent work Steph,

  142. Do you still have a first past the post system? In NZ it’s possible for a party to get 36% of the vote and still become the government but they would need to form a coalition or get agreements on confidence and supply from minor parties first. Works really well! It does mean minor parties get a little bit *too* much influence sometimes (like last election we ended up with a Foreign Minister whose party wasn’t even in government!) but that just adds to the excitement really.

  143. I admit, I can’t stand politics, but that’s because usually only hear from elite people who haven’t a clue of what’s really going. I like hearing from someone like you who obviously knows her information and is in touch with the regular world and regular people. I also think anyone who would have a problem with you voicing your opinion in such an educated and informed way on here on anything, politics or life or whatever, needs to get a life.

  144. Just a few thoughts about why Stephen Harper will not be getting my vote:
    1. Harper’s frightening complacency and wilful ignorance about the environment and the immediate (soon-to-be irreversible) state of emergency.
    2. Harper’s blatantly ignorant dismissal of the wide socioeconomic and cultural benefits of the arts, as expressed so eloquently above.
    3. Not to mention the Conservative policies of withdrawing support for social programs and institutions, and wantonly withholding the federal payments to provinces and to municipalities which are needed to support education and health care and transportation, to repair our crumbling urban infrastructures and to maintain all the standards by which Canada was known in my youth as one of the very best countries in the world in which to live.
    But that’s okay, because the Conservatives are returning all this to Canadians in the form of tax cuts to individuals and corporations. In the former case, these are often measly amounts compared to the wider social costs of losing those programs (and disproportionately given to those who need it the least rather than to those would benefit most from keeping the programs). In the latter case, supporting socioeconomic and legal structures that assign to corporations the rights which should belong to (human) persons, providing protections far greater than those given to persons, while simultaneously eroding those of the individual.
    This October, I will be voting. Unfortunately that might mean that I will choose to vote defensively – by casting my ballot for the candidate most likely to prevent a Conservative victory in my riding. Or perhaps I will throw such cautions to the wind and vote with my conscience for the candidate and party I believe could bring the most beneficial change to our society if given the opportunity, in the vain hope that even if my candidate doesn’t ultimately win a seat, the numbers will still demonstrate my beliefs about how my country should and could be run.
    P.S. Whew. I seem to have written an entire post here, rather than a mere comment. I’ll just slink away and post this at my own blog now.

  145. Very well stated. I hope you sent him a copy as well as to the editor of whatever paper is most popular in Canada.
    I get nervous whenever a blogger I enjoy reading decides to get political. Most of them don’t manage to do it in the respectful way you have.
    I agree with this statement: “That ones political positions are a reflection of ones moral and ethical concerns, and that as long as no-one is condemned for their views or insulted for their beliefs, that everyone wins when politics are discussed in the pubs, kitchens and blogs of the nation.” The problem of course, is that so many people take their politics very personally and have a difficult time not feeling that a contrary opinion is a personal attack.
    As an American, I’m a bit envious of the quick campaigning and election process you Canadians, and the British, have. This present Presidential Campaign has worn me out and whoever gets elected better put through some election reform so we never have to put up with this again. Seriously, these people have been running for office for nearly two years. I’m so fatigued I almost don’t care who wins; I just want it to end.

  146. Stephanie,
    I rarely comment here, but I wanted to this time because I am always truly impressed and heartened by your “political” posts. Admittedly, I suspect my views are the American equivalent of yours.
    I wish I were as eloquent as you are, and frankly, I wish we could steal you over to the States to make a few points on our behalf.
    Best wishes for a better PM! 🙂

  147. I have to be honest, everything that you’ve said I agree with.
    I’m at a loss though. I am in BC, so the Bloc isn’t an option. I don’t really like anything that Stephane Dion has had to say. I think the promises that Jack Layton and the NDP are making are a little ludicrous, and that leaves the Conservatives or the Green Party. I like the representative for the Conservatives in my riding, but I don’t really like the one for the Green Party. On the other hand, I could do without Mr Harper. Hmm.
    I hate the feeling of not knowing who to vote for. I am at a loss. Maybe I will ask them to blindfold me and spin me around before I head into the booth so that my vote can be completely random.
    I don’t want to vote for any of these people, but I don’t want to NOT vote. Arg.
    Does anyone else feel this way???

  148. i totally agree with you, and what you said is how i feel about our politicians in America.
    well, if my kid can’t color, write or draw, and starts his own marching band in high school, i’ll know who to blame.

  149. You are amazing! I hope you send that letter and for that matter — everyone who knows this man’s web page can forwarded it to him.

  150. Well said Stephanie! Lets get rid of this joker. He belongs in the unemployment line-up with George!

  151. I was thinking that same thing (well, not as well written as you of course) when I heard him say that. I kept thinking back to Justin Trudeau’s eulogy of his father and how his father taught him all about respect. That although you are competitors, you do not disrespect another person. I watched that eulogy again earlier this month. Really brings a lot of perspective and I learned a lot about Trudeau since I didn’t grow up in his era.
    Anyway, thanks again for your words.
    Mary in Victoria, BC
    Radio Producer and Knitter. 🙂

  152. *stands up and cheers*
    Thanks for this, Stephanie, especially for pointing out that the term “artist” encompasses so much more than the stereotype that Harper is relying on with his “rich gala” remark.
    To those in the US – you have my sympathy, although some days I wish that we had a candidate as charismatic, intelligent and committed to change as Obama.

  153. AMEN sister! Politicians, Canadian and USA must get their plans from the same big businesses.;)
    They will find out what the art world can do,
    vote for someone that cares about the arts!
    I can’t wait!
    Thank you for all you do!
    not to mention Keep Knitting!!

  154. Send it to the paper! (I believe “ones” needs an apostrophe though = “one’s”.)
    The man should be banned from listening to music ever again! Or writing, or watching movies – what a git!

  155. when artists started to become a more obvious presence in one of the counties in western North Carolina, some of the locals groused a bit (“damn hippies,” etc.)….until they realized 1)how much money the artists were bringing into the area via tours, galleries, etc. and 2)how much money the artists were spending in the area because they lived there fulltime….
    Just talk money.
    Also? I believe the carrot in the school play theory.

  156. i have to change colour this year. as far as i can see, there is no other option. to tell you the truth, i’m not sure there’s a party worthy to vote for at all. sigh.

  157. I believe in todays world that there is no such thing as an “ordinary” anyone,be it Canadian,American,etc.,and anyone thinking so(politico or not)needs to get a new pair of glasses.We are dealing with this right now in the U.S. with each of the candidates, seemingly every day,alienating a different group of voters.My DH, a die-hard republican,doesn’t even want to vote this year because of the suck choices we have.I think we need to form a new country – Artslandia- with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee as leader.All arts programs would be funded and we would all have health care. What more could we ask for?

  158. I’d love you see you (or someone pretty darn close) as Prime Minister. Just picked up and dropped there, so there wouldn’t be time for your clear-headed-ness to be skewed and clouded by all of the political galas and schmoozing that goes on as one vies for office.
    Well-spoken, and well-said, Steph. I often wish I lived in Canada.

  159. Oh, and to whoever asked – his kids play HOCKEY, not the piano – because sports have so much more inherent value than the arts, dontcha know? Contrast Harper’s cuts to the arts with his tax credit for parents who put their kids into sports programs.
    (Because I know I am going to get nailed for this – I am not trying to devalue sports as part of a child’s development – I was privilged enough to participate in several, as well as in music and art programs. Thst is kind of the point, actually – I feel that both of these contributed to my development as a person, and that by cutting support for one Harper is denying that chance to future generations of kids.)

  160. I was dumbfounded when I heard that speech. Dumbfounded. I’ve never understood why a bunch of reasonable human beings elected him leader of the party. I mean, really, did he have naked pictures of them and threatened to leak them? There’s no really good reason he’s leading out country, and to be honest, I’m ashamed that he is. The problem with this is that the next viable option is Stephane Deion, and well, I don’t want that either.

  161. As a member of a family that is supported by the arts industry, I wanted to raise my hand here in agreement. I enjoyed the idea that ordinariness is a quality that is determined by the number of galas one does or does not attend. I am personally looking forward to October 14.

  162. Though I completely agree with your letter, I have to say that the US has it way worse. At least your PM has some idea of what “The Arts” are…I have a feeling that GWB doesn’t.

  163. Thanks so much for your eloquent comments. I am almost depressed that this Neanderthal is going to be our PM for four more years. What will happen to our arts and culture in that time? But, is ANYONE listening?

  164. Thank you Steph, for that fantastic post.
    One of the things that struck me most about Harper’s comments is that he linked them with his stance on tougher sentencing on youth crime. His comment was that he did not need “people in the ivory tower who live off Canadian taxpayers ” to tell him how to fight crime – no, he was going to get his advice from the people on the street fighting crime. Well as someone who worked with street kids and youth at risk (and I can tell you that no Conservative ever asked my opinion), I can say that adequate arts funding translates to arts education programs. When arts education reaches kids at risk, those kids find hope for the future and possibility. Kids who have hope for the future are less likely to commit a crime. So, we take away funding for the arts to put towards fighting youth crime. Duh?
    And p.s.
    Mr Harper, I am a graduate student who studies Canadian literature, with a government scholarship I worked very, very hard for. According to your definition, this makes me a parasite living off the taxpayer, not the working Canadian with whom you ally yourself. Clearly you do not want my vote.

  165. He probably thinks that artists wouldn’t vote for him in the first place (would be my guess as well). So why not cut their funding?
    I still don’t know how he got elected last time, I’ve yet to meet one single person who admitted to vote for his party.

  166. Hear, hear! Well said. As an arts administrator I particularly like the fact that you noted Mrs/Ms Harper is chair of upcoming gala (that will raise much needed $$ to employ many individuals, including artists, to return said economic impetus to the commonwealth). May we import you to the lower 48 to take on our philistines?
    Good work, Ms. McPhee. Mary Sue

  167. *pout* I want a multi-party system. I also want a fast campaign season; give those suckers – ahem, excuse me – the candidates less time to slip around, and change their positions so as to look more leftish, or rightish, or centerish.
    Did you really send your letter to Mr. Harper? I hope so.
    keep on opining!

  168. Well said. As a dancer, writer, knitter, and “starving artist”, I thank you for your amazing words and hope that someone listens.

  169. Although you’ve got a pretty good readership on your site, don’t stop here. You’ve nicely summed up the moral outrage we’re all feeling but couldn’t quite put our finger on- take this bigger. Newspapers, press releases… I don’t know,but this needs to be read.

  170. Amen Sister!
    Thank you for using your voice to speak for those that do not have one, you know, those non-resonating artists.
    Don’t even get me started on how the Fashion Industry is treated here!

  171. I am shocked to find that Canada has people like this. All these years I had hoped that there was a perfect Land and that it was just north of where I live, second star on the right. Sigh.
    I think this guy thought he was taking potshots at the Minority, the fabled Elite that the Struggling Masses want to bring down when times get hard. I think that is often why wealthy people get into public service–so that when the Revolution comes, they can point and say, “Over there, guys! Go get ’em!” and hope they don’t get noticed.
    I hate it when people say that Ordinary People don’t get art (or Art). I’m as ordinary as they come, I enjoy art (or most of it) and I resent politicians calling me stupid and obtuse. Most people have to know me a while before they can call me that.

  172. another “hear hear!” from my corner!
    My only fear is that you wrote so eloquently that Mr. Harper won’t be able to understand you. He doesn’t seem to have a lot between his ears.

  173. WELL DONE!! Hats off to you! I am just home from campaigning AGAINST the boob that would be Conservative PM (or should I say BM?). Let’s see what we can do to get his a$$ ousted!!!
    Thanks for your clear, concise and articulate letter. I hope he reads it!!!

  174. Stephanie, I hope your soap box is large enough for another ordinary Canadian to stand up with you. I thought I had misheard when Mr Harper made the Arts – elitist statement. Until I heard it again. How insulting.
    I think maybe his sweater vest is too tight and it has cut off the circulation to his brain.
    Does he believe that the ordinary Canadian doesn’t read books, listen to music, go to craft festivals, admire a piece of art, attended plays, or concerts…?
    Well, Mr Harper I do all of these things and yes I also watch TV; mostly CANCON if you must know. Mr Harper, I am not an artist nor was my income derived from an artistic field. Mr Harper, I think you have lost touch with the ordinary Canadian.
    Then again you don’t want to hear my opinion as I know how you feel about Atlantic Canadians; or maybe I misheard you… and what you called us was elitist and not defeatist…ya, really know how to piss of the ordinary Canadian, Mr Harper.

  175. I couldn’t have said it better myself! Thanks, Stephanie. I have 2 nieces in the Arts Business, so this topic is close to my heart. Also, my daughter is running for the NDP in Alberta, so guess how I’m voting…. 😉 (By the way, this is the 1st time I’ve ever de-lurked on your site, but I own all but the last of your books, & am so glad you’re one of our “ambassadors”. Keep up the excellent work!)

  176. Stephanie, you should seriously consider running for public office!
    And Mr.Harper would do well to remember that the 1.1 million figure only represents the Canadians employed in the arts…Never mind the amateurs, the just-getting-started, the families and friends of our artists, and the many, many of us who value (highly) the fantastic contributions of Canadian artists & who appreciate the richness they bring to our lives. At home and abroad!
    So SPPPLLLTTTT to you, Steve!

  177. Stephanie, I have to correct one thing. You say that the Conservative was possible “because we have a multi-party system.” As an electoral reformer (this where I plug Fair Vote Canada,, I feel as if I have to add that it’s actually possible not because we have a multi-party system, but because we an electoral system that fails to adequately reflect our multi-party political culture. If we had a proportional system, we wouldn’t see such skewed results.
    – One of the many unrepresented Albertans who did not vote Conservative in the last election

  178. Thank you for this!! I really hope you send it to some newspapers (I’ll give you the address for the Inuvik paper!).
    Unfortunately I think he’s brainwashed some people up here with the trip he made right before he called the election.
    I think we hold a very important seat – even if we do only have one and I’d hate to see it go to waste.

  179. I totally agree. I’m so excited that Elizabeth May, perhaps the smartest woman in Canadian politics, will be speaking during the leaders debate. I think our dear Mr. Harper did more harm to himself that he thinks he did by playing like a big bully and trying to not let her in.
    If Canadians know what’s good for them, they’ll place their votes elsewhere. (Look at the Greens if you like a conservative fiscal platform)

  180. Okay, so I’m comment # eight million, and I’m sure someone else has already said this, but:
    1. I love you.
    2. Do you think we could create a double for you, this time, with U.S. citizenship and commentary?

  181. Now you know how we’ve been suffering down here in America with our congenital idiot of a president.

  182. I hope you’re printing this out and sending it to him. Or at the least to a newspaper that he might read.

  183. Oh Canadians!
    Learn from the mistakes of your neighbor to the south. Do something to stop this kook. Is it me, or are the terms “in power” and “out of touch” becoming every more synonymous worldwide?

  184. Sadly, the one currently living at 24 Sussex who has an appreciation for the arts, has had to bow out of her gala-hosting responsibility, so as not to be publicly photographed – during the campaign, yet – with those “undesirables”. Poor Laureen.
    Hockey OR art? How about hockey AND art. Even hockey AS art!
    Yes, I’m also an ordinary Canadian. And you know what? I’m homeless right now, due to change in marriage status (don’t worry, I’m bouncing from one sister’s home to another’s, I’m not sleeping under an overpass anywhere but I do not have a domicile of my own for the moment). And while I’m working my two jobs and re-learning my second language, I’m not buying a car, or appliances, or lumber. You know what I spend my (limited) discretionary income on?
    Music festivals. Concerts. Theatre. CDs. Books. Art. Fabric. Because there is more to life than work.
    The rest of my family is “ordinary” too. The adults have full-time jobs, the university students have part-time jobs, and you know what – all of us make art, too. In our family, we sew, quilt, knit (of course), make music, paint, photograph, collage, and build/carve/refinish furniture. Only one of us is an Artist, but the creative urge is in all of us as part of the human spirit, and we express it in the way we live.
    Of course we have to be mindful with how tax money is spent. We need to adequately support our armed forces, ensure our roads and bridges are safe, and all sorts of other myriad government responsibilities are met. But all of those are hollow if we lose what makes us, “us”.

  185. For as much political crap as we have to deal with on this side of the border, I really felt bad for Canada when Bush Lite became PM. Here’s hoping he’ll get ridden out of town on a rail.

  186. And the truly scary thing is, Harper is edging into majority (seats, of course, not votes) territory.
    What we really need, I think, is proportional representation.
    Anyhoo, I won’t prattle on here, as I’ve come late to the party, and so many have said what I feel already. I’ll just add another THANK YOU!, and “hope that you’ve actually sent this to the PM” to those above. 🙂

  187. BTW, Laureen Teskey Harper is not generally accompanied by her husband when she attends galas or other arts events. John Baird often escorts her.
    And that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

  188. Wow. And I thought the US government was nuts. Does this mean I’m going to have to review my plans to move north, far north, (but of course not as far as Alaska, that’s a whole ‘nother deal right now)?
    You go, girl, and feel free to write to the leaders of your neighbor to the south!

  189. Politicians are politicians, Canadian, US or where ever.
    Well written, send it to the boob! As well as vote.
    Some would have you believe your vote doesn’t count. But it does, just like it takes tons of stitches to complete a sock!

  190. I may not agree with your politics, or that of many here, but I will still read your blog because you write about many things that are universal to People, regardless of their political party. I read your blog because it is funny, insightful, you have a great voice/style, and because you show lots of great yarn and projects!
    I’m not particularly happy with either one of the US political parties these days, but in general consider myself a conservative. I hope, however, that some minor political differences won’t keep others from thinking that I am a good person. There are LOTS of good people, even great people, on both sides of the aisle, and the political party affiliation shouldn’t be a way of determining a person’s worth.
    I echo your thoughts on the arts, though. They are an important part of history and an important part of life. Your Mr. Harper is obviously out of touch with the Real World of the Ordinary person, conservative or not!!!!

  191. You rock, Stephanie!
    an American, married to a Canadian, who is thinking Vancouver Island is looking better and better!

  192. Please tell me, dear Harlot, that you printed this letter to Harper and put it in an envelope and sent it to him. Because, although he probably won’t listen, he needs to hear your message. Imagine — what if he actually listens to you? So do it.

  193. 1) I never agree with your politics, and I always read your blog. But then, knitting supercedes all.
    2) I think you should publish this in your local paper. It is nice to see points made with actual facts (clearly you are not a politician) and I think the clarity will be a welcome change.
    3) While you are south of your border, can you teach our politicians how to count, too? You may have heard, we are having a few problems this week. Perhaps a stitch count (and a few markers, without ears) are required.

  194. Oh, I so agree with you and I sincerely hope that robot doesn’t get re-elected.
    Also, I cast on for your “unoriginal” hat pattern from last year, and am loving it! I’m making it on 5mm needles and using what is probably slightly thinner yarn, so that it will be toddler sized. Thanks for the pattern; it’s such a quick and satisfying knit! Just watching the progress of the cables is pleasing me immensely (guess I fall under the ‘easily amused’ category).

  195. I agree with you. Please, please keep putting your voice out there, many people read this blog and if you can change just one vote, you have made a difference. It is troubling that despite his bizarre, American-themed policies, he is GAINING in the polls every day. People need to be more vocal.

  196. First, let me begin by saying that I am an American, and therefore have a limited knowledge of your country’s politics and government. Second, I agree that dumbing down “ordinary Canadians” as incapable of undersstanding or appreciating the arts is politically stupid. However, governments are limited to spending the tax dollars they collect (for the most part!)and your country does a much better job than most in providing healthcare. If there is a finite amount to spend, then healthcare is the place to spend it. Faced with a choice, I would cut arts funding also. Remember, Canadians (and Americans) are always able to donate to Arts groups or send in more tax dollars! It is not the responsiblity of governments to subsidize all of our pet projects (I personally would like a special tax break for mothers who breastfeed!), but it is the responsiblity of individuals to invest (time or money) in what they believe in. This is called empowered activism.

  197. Oh I am so disillusioned. And here I thought Canadian politicians were so much smarter than ours (US). This art historian thanks you immensely for speaking out on behalf of the arts!

  198. BRAVO! He does sound like a W. wanna be.Hope Canada has some better choices for the election than we “southern” Canadians have!

  199. As an American, I can understand being frustrated by having a so-called leader that the majority of the population didn’t vote for. We’ve had one for 8 looooong years, now.
    I hope you really sent this letter to the PM. He needs to read it and see what an idiot he looks like to those people whom he insulted.
    And, you ARE lucky enough to have the no-confidence vote thing ( sure wish we did). Get rid of the jerk!
    And feel free to air your political opinions. It’s your blog. 😉

  200. Thanks so much for speaking up on this. I get so tired of gov’t telling me how to enjoy the arts. And also, down here south of your border, being told that I’m somehow not a “real” voter because I live too close to a coast, or a major city, or am educated, or resonate with the arts, or like to eat the occasional arugula. Doesn’t my vote count the same as everyone else’s? Can’t wait to wield it!

  201. I am very conservative and often disagree with you politically and yet I love to read your blog. I believe conservatives and liberals often have the same goals but disagree on how to obtain them.
    I take OFFENCE in your statement:
    “That ones political positions are a reflection of ones moral and ethical concerns”.
    Are you telling me because I disagree with you politically that my morals and ethics are wrong. From reading your blog I think our morals and ethics are mostly the same. I would never lie, cheat, steal, or do harm in anyway. I try to only speak kindly of others. I try to help all those in need that I can including donating about 20% of this one income family of 9 to charity.
    Some of my favorite people are oposite me polically yet I find their morals and ethics completely intact.
    This is quite a slam on those who disagree with you.
    A Loyal Reader

  202. Well said! The arts are sadly neglected in the US, too. Thanks for being the voice for the voiceless. BTW, you have EVERY right to infuse politics as necessary; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  203. Steph, I really really hope you forwarded this wonderful piece of writing to all the major Canadian newsoutlets, papers, websites, etc. If ever a letter actually deserved to be printed, it’s this one. As an artist (a make-up artist) who has to also be her own businesswoman, accountant, agent, and manager, I applaud what you write. I just finished shooting a public service announcement from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film and TV, which basically was just a big shout out to those who live and work in New York City, in the film industry, and I was so happy that we were getting not only recognition, but appreciation. How in the world can a leader think any less? Forget it, don’t answer that. We all know the depressing answer. Just know that this artist supports you, your ideals, and the arts. Don’t worry, I’m sure some Canadian follow-spot operator will ‘miss his mark’ at Harper’s next stage appearance. Or maybe the sound board operator will ‘forget’ to turn off his mike when Harper goes to use the facilities. Immature? Perhaps. Worth it? Absolutely. Tee hee.
    Hope to see you at Rhinebeck!

  204. I live in Stratford. We have this big theatre festival here every year… (you might have heard of it) This city would curl up and die if it weren’t for the “arts” bringing tourist dollars into our economy, other manufacturing concerns aside.
    It scares me to think we could have a government who is so obviously out-of touch with reality.

  205. Delurking here.
    Now, could you come a little south and dress down the two terrible choices we have??

  206. You go, Steph! I’m south of your border (and we have our own problems), but disrespect needs to be challenged everywhere.

  207. Right on, sister!!
    Yes, one must have respect. For the ideas, the process, and the engagement that is required for politics. It is important for us to express our political opinions – not just with our votes but in reasoned discourse. Not puffin ads!
    Thank you for an excellent explanation of the importance in the arts and a fine voice for active citizenship.
    He ain’t gettin’ my vote!

  208. Stephanie, you always say everything so well! I don’t work in the Arts but a) I enjoy the arts and b) I have a daughter living in Toronto who works at a job that supports the film industry.
    I couldn’t imagine if there wasn’t any arts. And I’m proud to say I’ve enjoyed many Canadian television shows and movies.
    My daughter spent 3 years at Sheridan College in the Media Arts program. For the amount it cost we probably could have sent her to school to be an engineer and she would make way more money that she does now as a Camera Tech. She spends a lot of weekends working on pilots and short films for free. And I’m scared these cuts could eventually affect her career. It’s hard to make it in the arts.
    I work for one of the largest corporations in the world. A few years ago when we were embarking on a new project we went to the government for funding so that our company would bring this project to Canada and therefore create and maintain more Canadian jobs. The government has often given automotive companies money. I think it’s all good if it creates jobs that help people pay more taxes and spend money to boost our economy. I just don’t get why this industry is not being supported. I know one thing is that Harper will definitely not get my vote.

  209. So, he makes these comments about the Arts, when yes, in fact, his wife is the Chairperson for the National Arts Centre Gala in Ottawa….. and…not a day later, she states that she will no longer be attending the Gala due to “another commitment.”
    Apparently, her cancellation is not linked to her husband’s comments. Yeah, right!
    By the way…. great post! Loved every word!

  210. Stephanie – a standing ovation for you! You have stated so clearly what so many of us are feeling. Thank you!

  211. One of the many things I admire about Canada and Canadians is that the arts do resonate through their lives.

  212. First time responding here.
    I didn’t know the arts contributed that much to the GDP, that’s amazing.
    Also, so say the papers, Mr. Harper refused to repeat his statement in French despite being asked..I’m wondering if he’s trying to show separate sides to English and French Canadians.
    And I totally agree with the comment to send this off to as many op/ed pages as you can think of.

  213. Good on you! I’m in the UK and ashamed to say did not even know the name of your PM, but I have to say he sounds like a right twit. And whoever the guy/girl was who thinks they won’t support anyone’s business who doesn’t have an identical political opinion? Good luck getting anything done in life!
    Why don’t idiots like this understand that ‘the Arts’ may not feed or clothe us (unless we happen to earn out living that way), but they are the things that make life worth living? I don’t want to live in a place with great industry but no literature, music, film, tv, dance, etc, etc…

  214. For reasons such as these (and his policy on the youth criminal justice act), I am not voting for his party (and I don’t know too many young adults who are even considering it)…complete ass hat

  215. You can’t see me as I’m all the way over here in Brisbane, Australia, but I’m standing up and cheering. (Although I would never have described you as ordinary!)

  216. Don’t worry, not everyone who has different political views than you will abandon you if you tell us what yours are. I’ve been known to hold different views than you, but I still love your work. That should be one of the cool things about knitters, we CAN all just get along.
    P.S. I can’t really think of much besides art that does resonate with people. Politics certainly doesn’t!

  217. Stephanie, I do hope you get this printed in several large Canadian papers. I think it needs an even wider publication. We ordinary folk need to stand up and be heard!

  218. Well said, Stephanie. I know there has long been frustration among Candadian artists with the disrespect the Government has shown and I think you have presented a clear-cut rebuttal of the this unthinking position. OK, there were bits of sarcasm but, let’s face it, fully deserved. Perhaps he just thought that artists were self-absorbed creatures that wouldn’t be listening to a politician or know how to respond.

  219. Well put. And thanks for posting the Margaret Atwood link – I read her column the other day while I was in a waiting room and really wished my husband could have read it. Now he can. 🙂

  220. I am beginning to think that ALL political contests are actually designed to find the stupidest, crassest humans a country has and put them in office.

  221. Great Post. Well stated.
    I’m sorry to say I am not very familiar with your Prime Minister or Canadian politics but I feel you have enlightened me in a very resonating way.
    Can you help us with some of the letters to our leaders??

  222. I’m with you Steph. It will be a good day when he’s out of office. And if you do need a poster of this… give me a holler.

  223. Good comments! I’m an American but even here many people assume that “artists” don’t “work”–they just have extensive hobbies. When in fact it seems in any art field people work harder and earn less. I’m going to knit a sock in honor of your position!

  224. Go get him, Steph!! How can I lie and tell people I’m Canadian (my plan if the US election goes horribly wrong) if American political idiocy has caught on up there????
    I like this idea. A WHOLE lot. We call it being impeached, but as you know that can happen and no one actually has to leave office. Of course down here the population can vote for someone who also doesn’t actually get to serve since we have the electoral college. Ick.

  225. Hear hear – what a woman!
    Well done you and look out; you’ll be prime minister before you know it. Please promise me you’ll hold up the sock and take pictures in parliament. 🙂

  226. What Paula said at 3:55. You set that man straight!
    *sweater vest too tight* love it 😉 smirk

  227. Many of these comments are very disrespectful to Mr Harper, which makes me appreciate your well-reasoned and respectful comments even more, Stephanie.
    The Conservatives have announced tax credits for parents who enrol their children in arts programs, piano lessons etc. So perhaps he has seen the error of his ways.
    I really don’t care for the rude name-calling found in many of these posts, even though I am someone who last week wrote to Mr Harper criticizing the dismantling of CBC Radio 2.

  228. Tonja wrote:
    “that there are those of us “average” citizens who work hard and labor for our livings while there are people – “artists” – who feel that they don’t have to work simply because of their “talent”. Having a subsidy is not work, it is a privilege that they receive as a recognition for their talents, therefore those artists that receive such subsidies should be grateful.”
    Ah, clearly spoken by one who has never gone through the hell of filling out an arts council grant form!
    Tonja, who are all these artists you know who sit around twiddling their thumbs and expecting to be funded? Because I work in the arts and everyone I know is a) skint, b) working far more hours a week than most people and c) doesn’t get holidays, sick leave or any benefits. Most of them DON”T get grant funding and those who are lucky enough to get funding spend weeks or months putting together highly detailed funding applications and scrabbling around for every single penny.
    Most of the artists, writers, musicians and theatre people I know need to work two jobs – their art job and then the job they have to do to pay the rent. I believe that the majority of the artists in the US have no health insurance and I know for certain that the majority of artists in the UK have no pension, not because we’re too lazy to work and sit around expecting our talent to somehow miraculously translate into money but because the arts are appallingly badly paid. Often the artist is the one person in the equation who gets nothing. Are you regularly expected to work for no pay? As a fine artist, I am! People expect me to put in written proposals for free, I am expected to pay my own way when I enter shows, hell sometimes I’m expected to pay an application fee for the privilege of even applying for a show! In the last six years as an emerging artist I’ve never been paid and I’ve have had travelling expenses ONCE.
    Talent means NOTHING without a great deal of hard work and there are damn few folk in any area of the arts who haven’t ‘paid their dues’ by spending YEARS working very hard for very little financial reward before ‘suddenly’ becoming famous.

  229. can you hear the standing ovation I am giving you? I hope so.
    Here in the far west, we often feel powerless when it comes to voting, we have such a small population that it doesn’t seem to matter who we vote for, we have no voice. Mr. Harper showed up here the other day for his token visit, what a jerk, he knows we don’t matter.
    Thank you for speaking for me.
    I will vote on Oct 14, I have never missed an election that I was elegible to vote in, and never will. I keep hoping that someday, my guys will get in

  230. we must continue to discuss politics out loud and in every forum possible for it is the only way to facilitate change- through communication
    THANK YOU. if we sat around like polite little moths in the corner keeping our thoughts in our heads and not expressing ourselves change would never occur. THANK YOU.

  231. Really, I think he might just be jealous of all the press Georgie Jr. has been earning across the southern border–especially now that he seems to have lost the support of even his own party. Do you see any media anywhere in the world that DOESN’T constantly mention Georgie? Granted, it’s usually followed by “moron” or “dumbass,” but it is publicity. Can Mr. Harper be trying to catch up? If so, he’ll need start a few unnecessary wars, sound like a complete moron each time he opens his mouth, and of course it wouldn’t hurt if he could owe his office to an equally-moronic brother who was heavily involved in S&L scandals a few years ago. But take heart, he just might get there–he does seem off to an amazing start!

  232. Amen! I have never been overtly political. I have no problem talking politics, but I don’t usually wear them on my sleeve (or my front lawn for that matter), but this election, I feel that I need to make a statement that I am not voting for Harper and the conservatives. I am not overly sold on the alternatives for a variety of reasons. Wish there was a sign and box on the ballot that said “Anyone, but Harper.” I am not trying to be disrespectful of him, but I can’t help but feel that he is waiting for a majority to show us what he is really like! His arts comments were possibly the real Stephen coming out…shades of things to come!

  233. As a Canadian (with a degree in music), I appreciate everything you have to say about politics, because you do it in an edu-taining, non-biased/fact-based sort of way. Now I know what party Harper is, LOL. I just can’t keep everyone straight. There are some times I wish we could vote for PM separately from our local MP. I know it’s odd to like a party but not it’s leader who could become PM. Thanks!

  234. Now I don’t know Mr Harper but he sounds very familiar. I also am noting that ultra conservatism seems to be rampant in North America and I just cannot fathom how anyone can vote for fewer jobs and higher prices.
    I do know that people like Mr Harper who live in rarified circles have absolutely no idea how you and I live AND they really could care less. Someone in our current gov’t who shall remain nameless so my blood pressure stays down, actually said that all this inflation, higher prices, fewer jobs was psychological on our parts.
    Boggles my brain. Thanks for spouting off so eloquently.

  235. one of those times where you really wish you vote AGAINST somebody instead of FOR another canidate

  236. I’m sorry, I didn’t read all the comments. I do agree with your views about Harper, and I’m a scientist, not an artist. I’m sure he’ll cut lots of our funding as soon as he can figure out how to do it without looking like a backward yokel….
    Still, one thing that’s a tiny point of order. Yes, up until recently we were supposed to have elections whenever we wanted to, or whenever the gov’t wanted to, or was ousted, or what have you. Wasn’t it Harper’s idea to have elections on a schedule? and didn’t he break that little law when he changed his mind?
    Just sayin’. It’s not the only thing he said he wouldn’t do and then turned around and did (David Emerson? are you listening? oh…no, you’re leaving politics. Forgot.) but it’s one that seems to have been swept under the rug, after a tiny kerfuffle once the election was called.
    Bah. In Guelph I will vote for Tom King. OH my, he’s an artist……

  237. What a terrific writer you are, Stephanie! You always seem to translate so many of the same feelings and beliefs I have into such powerful statements. Besides politics, I’m thinking also of your writing on religion (or non-religion) during your recent trip to London. I’ve also really enjoyed reading the comments, and hope that everyone puts their knitting down long enough to go vote – we have to change the way things are!

  238. Bravo!
    This reminds me of our governments problems also.
    I think this would make a very good political essay for our times. Maybe make it more generic for all those politicians who think the rest of the country is only here for their benefit.
    Have it published too — if only the media still had the respect it used to and we could trust it like we used to trust the government. Or was that only in our dreams.

  239. My wife, who usually reads your blog, directed me to this post of yours. You said a great deal of the things about your government that I, a US citizen, have thought or said about mine. I am a professional musician, and I just want to thank you for your views and your willingness to share with us. So, thanks! And I hope there are more people out there like you!

  240. A thunderous round of applause! Oh, why can’t the right be as fractured as the left? It would make it so much fairer.

  241. Poor old Prime Minister H. Yet another fool who underestimated the Knitter element. The only way he can recover is to send copious amounts of merino out to every home (at his own expense).
    But seriously, he really should read your blog, then maybe he wouldn’t make such silly assumptions.

  242. I don’t know whether to be relieved or depressed that other country’s politicians can be idiots too.

  243. hear hear! good job Stephanie!
    It’s not like the cuts to the Arts will seriously harm small museums and archives and defeat digitization strategies that would only benefit ordinary Canadians.

  244. Oh, well said Stephanie! If only some of the politicians running against Harper were so articulate!

  245. Well said Stephanie! Unfortunately Harper and Bush seem to be cut from the same cloth (my friends and I keep wondering what country we can run away to if the Republicans win here in November since they’ve already pretty much destroyed this country in the last 8 years).
    And about publicly stating your opinions? My favorite political button is actually party neutral and says it all:
    “Democracy is not a spectator sport.”

  246. I hope you forward a link to this post to his office. And even though I’m not Canadian, I agree 100% with what you said. I think every politician everywhere should be obliged to read this.

  247. Oh dear…and here I was hoping to move to Canada because I thought maybe the leaders there had more common sense. Sorry to see the U.S. is rubbing off on Canada. Thank you for all of your common sense, Stephanie. You go girl!

  248. It is stunning what these nitwits will come up with, isn’t it?
    Here’s hoping the ordinary people speak out!
    Beware the power of artists! – KVL
    p.s. Sounds like Mr. Harper has a good start on a lovely library, courtesy of Yann Martel; maybe if he loses his job he will take time to read it and learn something.

  249. I think Mr. Harper is mistaken on one count, which undermines his argument for his second point. He believes that (1) because the ordinary taxpayer is uninterested in the arts, (2) a democratic government should not support them. As you pointed out, the arts encompass a lot more than a few high-priced galleries downtown, and virtually everyone is interested in one or another facet of what college courses refer to as “Humanities.” In my opinion, art grants should be unnecessary precisely because of that interest. The history of charitable giving proves that the private sector is far more efficient than a government at distributing wealth according to the will of the populace. The obverse of “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be” is “Where your heart is, there will your treasure go.” This applies not only to the arts, but to any human activity.

  250. I wouldn’t worry about losing the support of any conservatives who cannot be in any sort of relationship with nonconservatives – there are enough of us socialists, social democrats and libertals to support you in every way that any conservatives feel they must drop. Great post! Anything that makes me laugh instead of crying over this is good.

  251. That was lovely. You should start another line of work: powerful, calm letters to politicians, for those who can’t write them without having a stroke.

  252. Well, I guess moving north of the border has it’s drawbacks too, but staying on this side is getting really scary. I would really like to see his campaign devoid of the work of all the artists as you suggested. Can you start a campaign to get them to see how influential they could be?!

  253. Another de-lurker. Many thanks for your words – I was aghast at Mr Harper’s words against the arts. Apparently, he is announcing a program for parents to send their kids to arts classes now! First the government slashes arts, library and gym programs in elementary schools, then “suggest” parents send their kids for hockey school ( and pay for it to get tax deductions ), now we have to pay for art/drama/music classes. We must get out and VOTE!!! (nervously awaiting the results of the election!) However, I enjoy the arts, and now will make more of an effort to enjoy the priviledge. Thanks Steph!

  254. I am starting to like the idea of being Canadian more and more. The whole ability to fire the PM is looking like a pretty good deal. As for losing the support of whoever does not agree with you. I think that is a little crazy. Part of supporting someone is standing behind their views even if those views differ from yours.
    P.S. I agree it is hypocritical to not support the arts but to still use them.

  255. Well. Another dream shot down. You see, I thought when things got really bad here, like say, the day after tomorrow, I could pick up and go to Canada.
    Been sort of an option since, oh about 1968, for me, when friends of mine discussed going to avoid the draft.
    Sure the winters would be tough, but there’s beautiful cities, like Montreal, Toronto, whole provinces like PEI, there are butter tarts at the Wolfe Island bakery, awesome people like you, and fellow expats like Amy Singer. I thought, “At least Canadians get it.” On a visit to Toronto, we learned which was the right version of Molson’s to order. You obviously get beer. Well, now I see it’s the same the world over, and I am sorry, you seem to have your share of political idiots too. On the plus side, I can save the gas it would take to get there, and won’t take a job away from a real Canadian. But man, it was a great fantasy while it lasted.

  256. Thank you Stephanie! The politicians need to learn that just because someone is not affiliated with big oil or military power, they are valuable. They do not understand the need for beauty in life. Also, thanks for the nod to healthcare workers. I am a knitter and a nurse, and I vote!

  257. Art is a fundamental part of what it means to be human. People who cut arts funding because they think art isn’t necessary or that people don’t need or appreciate or understand art are wounding humanity.

  258. Hi Stephanie, Thanks for putting this letter up. I’m flabbergasted at this man’s attitude. Completely blown away.
    I wrote a letter myself recently. If anyone is looking for the PM’s email addy it’s
    Hope it’s ok, I linked over to your post from my blog as well.
    Be well.

  259. Thank you for stating this so eloquently, precisely and clearly. Art is not a mere item to hang on a wall, but an basic extension of who we are. I am a proud Canadian, a proud knitter and definately a proud supporter of art, and I too vote.

  260. Right on!!! Send this to the Globe and Mail and to him personally. You speak for a LOT of people and you said it all so well. I especially like your P.S.

  261. If Harper loses on 14 October, and McCain wins on 4 November, can we all come stay with you? We’ll wait for the weekend so you can clear out the basement for all the Obama-supporting,knitting refugees.

  262. You missed the time on the East Coast when Steve told Danny Williams in a public forum that he didn’t need Newfoundland to win an election. Guess if he doesn’t need Newfoundlanders or people in the Arts industry, he must just need… not sure who’s left there.
    He sure doesn’t have those of us in the Forestry Industry after he gave Bush 1 billion dollars of the 5 billion he owed us. We had won the case at the W.T.O. court (for the 5th time in 15 years) and rather than stand and say pay us back the 5 billion you owe us in unfairly collected tariffs, just pay back 4 a little at a time is okay. Our town is in trouble and so are a good many more all over the country.

  263. I’m not Canadian, so I can’t really “educationally” comment, but I just wanted to tell you I think it’s great that you posted your view, whatever that view is, because a) this is YOUR blog, and b) what a better way to insure people talk about the issues (whether it’s with you or others around them) than to bring it up.
    PS. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the new book. Thank you for continuing to be a fantastic artist- both with your writing AND with your knitting.

  264. After living in the States for 10 years, there’s a lot that I don’t understand about the way they do things here. Part of what I love so much about your blog is the taste of home, and I usually feel refreshed and a bit more in the know about life in TO. But reading your post leaves me feeling sad, sad, sad. What has become of my home and native land– my beloved, superior, delightfully cultural country? Who is running the show up there? All I can do is lament and say, “Write on, please; we need you.”

  265. After attending UBC’s 100th birthday Gala Celebration with the CBC Radio Orchestra (another victim of lack of funding about to go by the wayside) and Ben Hepner yesterday, I unfortunately can’t claim to have never been to a gala… However, host Bill Richardson declared that the lack of champagne indicated that its definition as gala was a misnomer, so perhaps I’m still ok. Nevertheless, this very ordinary Canadian supports your letter wholeheartedly! Has the man no sense whatsoever? Oh, sorry, I forgot of whom I spoke.

  266. Speaking from south of the border, one of the things that fills me with delight about canadians is that your description of this kind of pandering demagogic twaddle is “darned rude”
    Good for you. Hope you get shut of him. Sorry about whatever our national role was in sticking you with him in the first place.

  267. That was very well written and very articulate. I so agree with all that you’ve said, though I live south of your border in the USA. The entire concept of democracy is that the leaders are supposed to serve their constituents, not the other way around.
    Actually, I think you all have it better than we do much of the time, but somehow I doubt Canada would like a 54-yr-old lawyer added to its population (more’s the pity).
    I am PRAYING that things go better this election hear in the US! It’s getting desperate, lemme tell ya!
    Joan from Ellicott City, “Merlin” USA

  268. just another reader coming out of the woodwork to applaud. Go Steph!
    maybe you should run for Parliament — It would be different to have someone there who’s had to pay bills lately.

  269. Thank you for a thoughtful political commentary. The main problem I usually have with political commentary is that it is so often NOT thoughtful – just bashing. It was refreshing to read.

  270. Great post – I agree – politics belongs in public. We are having elections in approx 6 weeks and our two main leaders have decided that instead of the usual all party debates they are only prepared to stage a head to head, presidential style debate. As we have a proportional representation system and are fairly egalitarian anyway this is going down like a lead balloon (although Mythbusters got that one to fly so I should change my similes *g*).
    I sometimes feel as if politicians live in a parallel universe. *sigh*

  271. Somewhere closer to the top of the comments list, Linda wrote, “At least your leader(s) haven’t completely trashed your economy, gotten you involved in a hopeless war and alienated your country from the rest of the world…” No, but Mr. Harper certainly tried, didn’t he? And it looks like that trend isn’t abating any time soon – it seems like every time he or one of his party representatives makes a statement of sorts the party sinks further and further into unpopular territory. (Does any other Canadian reader remember the remarks involving a meeting with Native representatives and a loose-lipped Conservative shooting something off about sobriety? Oh yeah, this campaign is chock-full of soundbites, and not too many of them will be remembered with any degree of fondness.)
    This is the first election that I can remember that’s garnered the attention of some of my more die-hard politically apathetic colleagues who are planning to turn out to the polls on Oct. 14th to try and make a positive change in how our country is run. And yeah, the bleak landscape that Mr. Harper is portraying in terms of funding cuts to the arts is just the tip of the iceberg.
    So… have you sent off your letter to all major newspapers and 24 Sussex Drive yet?

  272. I just wanted to add my support for your right to express your political, social, ethical … whatever point of view! … be it in your kitchen, at the park, at the library, in the street and especially on YOUR blog. I completely agree that to not discuss our views on politics and politicians can only damage our political system and society. I also agree with other comments questioning how sad you should be about losing the readership of people who express intolerance – it’s their loss if they choose to discount your amazing talent because they don’t agree with your politics. And I am outraged for you all the way from Australia – what an ignorant and short-sighted pm – he deserves to go. I too think you should publish this article further and I look forward to reading more of your political posts. 🙂

  273. Well, you seem to aroused the masses!! 🙂
    I have to admit that I had my balloon popped today when I read your post. I tend to “idolize” Canada-you know, good healthcare,keeping the small towns going, safe cities,clean subways, Quidi Vidi,Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, and some of the best yarn in the world!!!! I guess I had hoped that Canadian Leaders were smarter than those in the States. But no, it seems they too have feet of clay. Our current President didn’t win the “Popular” vote either-but still won the election. I don’t understand it(yes, I know the Electoral College) and think it stinks. If you don’t get the most votes aren’t you the loser?? No, it seems we are.
    Keep giving it to them-send your”rant” to the Toronto Paper and hopefully people like minded will see the light and he will be reading the classifed jobs section soon-between Galas.

  274. You go, Stephanie! I didn’t know you had your own version of Shrub (aka Bush) up there. It was a fantastic piece of writing (I’m standing up and hollering my support, just in case you can’t hear it from 3000 miles away). You should definitely make that letter very, very public and tell that man what’s what. And I bet a few million Canadians would cheer you on.

  275. Thanks for writing this. I tried but ended up with too many swear words for polite conversation 🙂
    I am not an artist. I am a quite ordinary Canadian. I cannot easily count the number of Canadian CDs, Books, and movies that have enriched my life that have in some way been helped out by some sort of grant or government program.

  276. You go girl! You are a voice in the wilderness! I suggest you print that baby out, put it in an envelope, stick a stamp on it and send it to Harper.
    I’m a bench scientist who is underpaid and constantly worried that I’m going to loose my job because we may not get the next grant that pays my salary (that’s okay, I’m only trying to find a better treatment for breast cancer) because Harper’s government won’t increase funding to CIHR. Every year more and more scientifically interesting and exciting grants get rejected because there isn’t enough money to go around. I’m looking forward to when you get on your soap box for health care, I’ve got stuff to say too.
    Arts resonate with me, and I don’t attend galas. I’m too busy going to music festivals, knitting, reading literature (love you Margaret!), going to the theater, reading the newspaper, listening to CBC and playing my instrument(s).
    Arts don’t resonate with the average Canadian? Hum. Interesting.
    I think I need to knit my sock.

  277. Ummm, Stephanie, do you have time to write something for your neighbors to the south about our dire economic predicament and who Congress should be bailing out of what? I mean, smart thoughts are smart, regardless of lines on a map. We could use your brain.

  278. Stephanie,
    I admire your well thought out, brilliant prose. It is very difficult to be that angry and that articulate. Congratulations. Too bad your prime minister didn’t have someone with your skills keeping him from such a stupid comment.

  279. Ugh, the whole thing sounds elitist- the arts don’t resonate with the “Average” canadians but in his mind he’s thinking ‘they resonate with me, but I’m not average, i’m above that’

  280. When I accept your open invitation to your living room in the form of your blog – as I do most days – I expect to hear your views. Though should you visit my living room I doubt that I could produce mine so eloquently.
    I will go for your suggestion Number 2.
    I would also suggest that Canada’s Mr Harper has a very narrow view of ‘artist’ and he maybe surprised to find out just how extensive artists are, though I know of none who have been to a ‘gala’ as he suggests. Good on you for the postscript, that puts things in perspective.

  281. Stephanie, your next book should be a political commentary. And your explaination of the Canadian political system was much clearer than my textbook’s for the undergraduate comparative politics class I am taking! Thanks!

  282. HA! You think ya’ll have it bad in Canada? We have George Bush! And dear God help us, look what we have running for his replacement! We are so screwed!

  283. As an American, I confess that I had not heard of these statements until just now. HOWEVER, also as an American, I would go with his motivations as being #6 (as some other commenters have alluded)–us vs. them, the commoners versus the elite, a partially artificial distinction that has a disturbing amount of traction in the U.S. but that I don’t know how much it applies in Canada.

  284. Extremely well put! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog update as it has put to voice so many of my own thoughts that I was having trouble expressing.
    Thank you so much! Even if he never reads this, your letter will definitely have a real effect on Canadians. I am sure of this.

  285. Another politician with foot-in-mouth disease. Seems to be a universal trait. Given that Canada had a $10bn surplus last year, it’s hard to see why they’re cutting anything. On the other hand, $50mm in cuts against a $3.3bn arts budget is only a little over one percent. Pretty trivial.

  286. You tell him Steph!!!!! I’ve followed a little bit of what’s going on in Canada and I’m sorry to hear about this latest blunder. I hear about people in power doing these sorts of things and wonder what in God’s name are/were they thinking! Seems like some of the lunacy from our country has spread north. So sorry! All I can say is at least it appears that your PM has a grasp of the English language. Every time our president opens his mouth I’m horrified. I keep hearing my 3rd grade teacher patiently explaining to us over and over that the whole point of teaching her students grammar and language is so that someday we would have the ability to express ourselves clearly, intelligently, and thoughtfully. I wish our president had paid more attention to his 3rd grade teacher! Great letter, I hope your PM gets to read it Feel free to write a similar letter to our president. God knows you have much more ammunition!

  287. Wow, awesome letter.
    Maybe he’s trying to stop people who write as well as you from educating others. Good luck to him, like you ha does not have ( not that he would have anyway) my vote.
    It’s not helping his robotic image either…

  288. Well said indeed! Other than casting my vote, which I will certainly NOT be doing for Mr. Harper’s party, isn’t there somewhere to send this message? A petition to sign? Something that the power of knitters can do to get this message heard?

  289. After reading your PPS, I thought, “Wow, what a great idea. Too bad we don’t have that in the U.S.” Glad to hear you have views and beliefs on the politics in Canada and aren’t afraid to voice them. I agree that it’s better for all of us to discuss and debate than to avoid the topic entirely.

  290. Go Girl!
    I am a UK knitter so would be seen as impartial in this debate and I wholeheartedly support your position. Even those of us not in the “arts” are aware of all that you contribute to the planet.
    Sometimes I wonder if the only way to sort out our countries is for people like yourself to be elected with other leaders to replace those who are supposedly leading our society.

  291. Well put Stephanie. Thank you for this. Let’s hope that a copy of your letter crosses his desk, or at least those of his advisors. I may not be working in the arts at this moment, but I have in the past and believe that a country that doesn’t value its artists, doesn’t value it’s culture or identity.

  292. I’m not Canadian, but if I were, I wouldn’t be voting for Stephen Harper, who sounds like an utter wally. My favourite band (Arcade Fire) and my favourite knitting writer (you, Stephanie) originate from Canada, so cuts to investment in Canadian arts seem like a very bad thing to me. Humph.

    PS Mr Harper passed a law saying that we would have fixed term elections. It’s supposed to be every 4 years. He ignored his own law and had Parliament dissolved early saying it was dysfunctional-HUH!!!!
    Note to Steve-you have a Minority Government, this means the opposition is going to moderate your plans Oh yeah I forgot your Mr “my way or the highway”
    PPS Mr Harper can also see what way the economic winds are blowing and wanted his stab at a majority before the economy tanked (while he keeps telling us our economy will be fine-I have this bridge for sale I’d like to talk to him about)
    I’m appalled he’s in the lead- get out there and vote strategically Elizabeth May has said it and so has Gilles Duceppe, insist at the door that the liberals and NDP figure out how to work together.

  294. One of the best non knitting post ever. I hope it influences lots of voters (although I would suspect that most of your readers were already leaning to the left). Now, if only Harper would read and understand your letter…

  295. We can only hope that the opinions here will reflect in the results of the next election. Fingers crossed…

  296. It’s interesting that Mr. Harper doesn’t support the arts, but certainly uses the arts when it benefits him. How about that lovely commercial he has where he is talking about his family and makes the statement that he sometimes plays music with his son….he plays the piano while his son plays the guitar. Sounds a little bit like the arts to me……just a thought!

  297. Hurray! Wonderful post, Stephanie!
    Please send your post on to the newspapers – and please include the Ottawa Citizen when you do.
    Harper’s latest dodge is to offer a “tax credit” to people who put their children in Arts-type extra-curricular classes. That’s not going to benefit very many “ordinary” people.
    Our provincial gov’t cut arts funding to schools many years ago, so anyone with a marginal income can’t afford to expose their child to violin, drawing, piano, or pay to participate in choir – or sign up for hockey.
    I know that as a full-time single parent with two jobs, it was a tough stretch to pay rent and groceries sometimes – there sure wasn’t anything left over for classes. Luckily I come from a family of book-lovers, so my daughter and I never lacked for something to read (often Canadian).
    Thank you, sincerely, from a knitter, reader, music lover, art purchaser, and doodler. 🙂

  298. Well said! Personally, I think his problem is #3 on your list… and that he shouldn’t punish all the ordinary Canadians in the arts industry with his obnoxious statements just because he’s hopeless at finger painting and didn’t get to be the carrot in the school play.
    Something that has bothered me for years is the tendency of politicians on every level of government to think that the arts are not important. Of course, it’s HUGE when someone on the national stage makes a comment as boneheaded as this one. My personal experience came with people much lower on the political food chain, when the school board in my town decided to cut all “extra” programs from the school budget – except for sports, of course – when I was in seventh grade. That meant pretty much everything I did after school disappeared – no more community orchestra, no more school play, no more school newspaper or literary magazine, no more attending my friends’ art shows… I had to go out for soccer just to stave off the boredom. The arts benefit people of all ages – they make for well-rounded children and culturally enriched adults. Why do the powers-that-be persist in thinking that the arts aren’t important?

  299. Dear Steph-
    From an American conservative (yeah, one of those- who will continue to read- of course.) all I can say is — ALL PEOPLE matter.. ART matters. Art is in everything- FPS. A world without art would be a world without communication. I hope the PM gets a clue- or gets a new job.
    PS- I also hope more people outside of the political spectrum would support the arts that they enjoy… then we wouldn’t need the government to do it. 😛 (Yes, I know… spoken like a true conservative.. but- one who invests her money and her time where her mouth is:)

  300. I loved this post. It said so much that we should hear about our current American government. My husband and I were in Canada last year and your wonderful city of Toronto. The museums, the architecture, and yes, the yarn shops, are superb. You have much to be proud of. Thanks for putting my thoughts about the arts into words. Hooray for Canadian authors.

  301. I just scanned the comments and it sounds like nearly all of the “keep your politics to yourself, or those of us who don’t agree will leave” have left. Their loss….
    I’ll add to the comments that you should sent this to Mr. Harper (not that he’ll probably see it personally), as well as to the editorial section of the newspapers up there. I’m sure a lot of “ordinary Canadians” will agree with you. I sure hope they show up to the polls to do it. Good luck with the election!!

  302. I wonder how he’d do if all the knitters in Canada voted against him since we’re all fibre artists? Unfortunately the thought that you’ll lose the conservative readership is true, I work in health care and one of my co-workers is a staunch Tory who went through the Harris years and lost her job twice, but thinks that the tax cuts are great. I tried to tell her that with Harris’s Ontario tax cuts I gained $25 in my pocket but now had to fork out the extra fees for chiropractor care and eye exams, and with the GST cut saved $0.04 on nachos at the rink until they raised the price $0.04, and all she could say is that tax cuts and privatization are good. She’s young and healthy now, wait until her poor lifestyle catches up with her…thanks for the great post…

  303. Stephen Harper makes me glad I didn’t keep my maiden name when I married. It was Harper – no relation! Canadian literature and film are two of the things I’m most proud of in this country. It is humanity’s creativity and love of beauty that make me believe in God. The arts and the people who live by them are definitely worth supporting. And as you explain it, good business too.

  304. And now he’s announced a tax credit for parents who send their children to art/music/etc lessons?
    And where is it that these children will perform?

  305. There was an article/comment in yesterday’s paper from Julius Grey (Julius H. Grey (born 1948) is a Canadian lawyer and professor, and one of Canada’s leading socialist and minority rights advocates).. Anyway he kindly reminded us that:
    – most of the Conservative Party we see today are old Reform Party member: right-wing, conservative, against abortion, etc.. people.
    He stated that because they were on the minority side, we have been lucky… so far and to expect more right-wing conservatism coming our way if they ever get elected with majority. Everything this guy says and thinks scares me to death and I just hope that on the 14th, people will wake up.

  306. I’m all for the arts, but I’m all for defunding them when they get a government grant to stick a crucifix in a jar of urine and call it ‘art’. I wish they could come up with some standards of some kind and THEN fund art.
    I’m a conservative here, but I love Stephanie, I love her writing, and I love the arts, and I love how she is able to see those who don’t agree as People rather than The Enemy who inherantly STUPID because they don’t agree with her.

  307. During the Great Depression, one of the programs devised by the government was the WPA.
    Much of our local infrastructure came out of this program, which at its height employed over 3 million people. Many of the schools I attended were built during this era, and the roads I drive on every day. One of the branches of the WPA was the Federal Art Project, the list of artists whose work was made possible by this project include Ben Shahn, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem deKooning.
    The New Dealers got it. When times are bad, people need art. And not all artists are whiny liberals.
    Does funding for the arts enrich our lives every day? You bet it does. Does that make me an intellectual or an elitist for thinking so? If you believe that you should see my bank balance.

  308. You say “I think that the cornerstone of all good politics is respect” Yup, your right. But it seems like, in the real world, “all politics is based on what you think someone in the crowd might want to hear”. When things get tight, or look like they are going to get tight, one of the first things to get blasted is the arts. The perception of a lot of voters, unfortunately, is that “The Arts” consists of a bunch of artsy fartsy layabouts…(I am NOT saying this is so, just that it is the knee jerk reaction of a lot of people) I don’t think is quite as true as it used to be, but politicos still find the arts to be fair game. I think its crazy myself.
    I personally don’t beleive a darn thing any of them say, and haven’t since my first time voting. I voted for the Liberals because Pierre Trudeau said he was against wage and price controls. 6 months later, he brought them in. I still vote in every election, federal, provincial, municipal. If you don’t vote, don’t complain about who gets in. It is just so discouraging though.
    (Just to clarify for the non-Canadians….the 21 years that William Lyon MacKenzie King served was not one term, he was leader of the party and the party got re-elected time after time.)

  309. This comes up in US politics a lot too. The idea is that taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize anything nonessential and that art, like anything else in a free market, should be self-supporting. I have a certain sympathy with these arguments: if, heaven forfend, I ever had to choose between eating or having a warm place to sleep and buying your latest book, I don’t need to tell you which one I’d pick. Likewise, I should be able to choose freely between buying your latest book and buying, say, the latest Mary Higgins Clark. (MHC is a writer of extremely labored and formulaic suspense novels with sales figures of which you can only dream and untold millions of fans. I am not one of them.)
    In this country at least there is also a certain amount of anger at subsidizing art that is 1) in questionable taste at best (see Monica’s comment above) 2) not in line with the politics or values of the current regime or of most Americans.
    On the flip side, there’s the undeniable fact that art brightens the world, which heaven knows we can always use, and there are all those jobs you mention. I’d say the benefit to society is worth the cost. And then some.
    On financial or demographic measures you may be ordinary, but I beg to differ with anyone (including you) who characterizes you thus in any other sense. Respectfully, of course.

  310. I hope you sent that to Harper too.
    As someone who has always worked in the Arts, mainly theatre and clothing. I’m surprised the techies haven’t turned the lights or sound off on him on stage, or his tailor hasn’t refused to finish his suit.
    I presently work in an Art Gallery and as far as I can tell the only people who can afford the art are the lawyers and politicians. They only way I’d ever get any is by the good old barter system!

  311. Thank you Stephanie for voicing what I didn’t have the words to write. I hope you have sent this in to the Toronto Star or some paper as an op ed piece.

  312. Dear Stephanie,
    Thank you for elegantly stating this! Your writing is always clear, and you state strong opinions without ever being petty or mean. I’ve been stunned by PM Harper’s cuts to the arts (I’m a musician), and by his apparent war on culture. Thank you for reasonably pointing out how important arts are to the economy, as well as to “everyday Canadians”.
    Chenoa (flutist and knitter)

  313. I love you.
    And so will my husband when I read this to him.
    May I strongly suggest you send this to the Star or Globe? (I’m guessing the National Post would never publish it.)

  314. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Stephanie, you are my hero. This is the most eloquent defense of the arts and ordinary people I’ve read in a very long time—perhaps ever.
    Since we in the States aren’t allowed to fire our politicians except perhaps once every four years or so, do you think you could come down and help us out in November? We’ve got some folks to kick out of office.
    Thanks again,

    Now, if only we could have this sort of debate in the US, instead of how we can waste 700 Billion US Dollars on “rescuing” Wall Street. It is seriously time to see what it takes to become a Canadian citizen.

  316. Hi Stephanie
    There is one politician in the world who gets it about the arts – Alex Salmond in Scotland (he’s the First Minister and yes, it’s complicated). Salmond is focusing on supporting and promoting the Creative Industries because he’s noticed that these industries create a great many jobs and produce a significant proportion of the GDP. He sees them as fundamental to an independent Scottish economy.
    Sounds to me like Canada has a similarly vibrant Creative Industries sector only your PM is blind to it. Scary.

  317. Brava! There are a whole bunch of countries with national elections coming soon, and it seems like most of them currently have a bonehead in office… Here’s to fewer boneheads!

  318. Great article.
    Just want to point out that there are members of the conservative party that have used songs for their campaign with out compensating the artists.
    One of these happens to be the Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day. So having a high ranking member who is willing to steal from artists it is clear what the attitude the conservatives have of artists.

  319. I didn’t have time to read each and every comment. I didn’t, however, come across any who were not agreeing with you (on either side of the wold’s longest undefended border). I have never before left a comment on any blog, but for this entry on yours, I say “Hurrah for you. Long live the Yarn Harlot.”
    I’m a proud Canadian, but ashamed of our present government.

  320. Yeah, I thought you were typing about George Bush and you just kept getting his name wrong and who could blame you ’cause you’re Canadian and all. Then I read the PPS and I realized I was wrong and now maybe I can’t move to Canada after all if John McCain and whatshername get elected. Sheesh.

  321. I hope you’re mailing him a personal copy of this letter. Your blog is probably too artsy for him to read.

  322. The other thing I’d like to point out is that our economy supports and is supported by a great many “boderline” artsy jobs, too. I’m a designer and work in an architectural firm. In the event that the arts in this country should shrivel up and die, my industry would not necessarily keel over in tandem (people will always need buildings), but we would lose a great wealth of creativity and innovation. It is an artist who can objectively look at a challenge and come up with a workable and inspiring solution. Something tells me that Mr.Harper never really cared about innovation (too busy sucking at the oil patch’s teat), so I guess it’s no loss to him.
    He never had a chance in hell of gaining my vote, either. (Although, it was nice having a PM who didn’t stick his foot in his mouth every time he opened it – so much for that!)

  323. Steph – Wow, you write so well, and keep it in check while doing so. Ditto the feelings toward politicos (especially US). We’re really seeing the underbelly of these folks, aren’t we? Time for another election, and another, and another.

  324. For the first time I actually WISH you were American just to read what you would write about the arrogant bastards that are running MY country into the ground. Also, your kinda ruining my fantasy backup plan to escape to Canada should the old guy win the election…..

  325. The shawl is beautiful. It’ s like the triathalon of knitting. Well done. And in other news – congratulations to you and to Joe.

  326. I miss the Canadian political system of “resetting” when things are not going right – now more than ever.
    As for the letter – well said!

  327. There is a quote from a movie in the 90’s, Mr Holland’s Opus. When they cut the music program due to lack of funds, the vice principal says that he values the “3 R’s” more than the arts. To which the response it “Fine, pretty soon these kids won’t have anything left to read or write about”. I’m paraphrasing obviously because I can’t remember the exact phrasing. But the idea is there. Without the arts what are we all (other than boring)? And who exactly are these “ordinary people”? Oh yeah…his ex voters.

  328. Nicely stated. If my mother wasn’t on the verge of a breakdown over what is happening here in the US, I’d share this post with her. Although she’s a hardy 83 yr old Newfie, this just might send her over the edge.

  329. Stephanie, I couldn’t agree with you more. I hope you will consider sending this letter to your MP and possibly to the Editor of the Toronto Star/National Post/Globe and Mail, which ever suits your political fancy. Stephen Harper is under the delusion that he is “in touch” with the average Canadian when nothing could be further from the truth. I hope you had a chance to catch The Rick Mercer Report on Tuesday night when he made a very poignant observation about Mr. Harper’s comments on the subject of arts funding.

  330. Absolutely! A PM has to represent the entire country, not just those like “him.” In the same line, the Atltantic Provinces and BC I guess don’t fit into his idea of Canadians to be respected. Canada is 10 provinces and 3 territoris…not 5 provinces (although they are quite lovely)!
    So nix BC, nix the 4 atlatinc provinces, and anyone involved in the arts and we will have Mr. Harper’s idea of respectable Canadians!

  331. As a Liberal Albertan [yes, we exist], I am writing to thank you for your post. I am doing everything that I can to get one Liberal elected in Alberta. Take care…

  332. I agree that cuts to arts funding was a wrong move. However, what alternative do you suggest Stephanie? When the Liberals had their turn at bat, they stole millions of dollars from Canadians…millions of dollars that was assigned for “national unity”! That money has not been returned to “ordinary Canadians”, such as myself. We have been robbed.
    To highlight parts of your post, “The sort of Canada I want to live in has always had a society based on respect, the respect we are supposed to show each other and the respect that leaders are especially expected.” and, “and remembering that ones politics are a reflection of ones morals and ethics”. For these reasons too, I do not consider the Liberals to be a viable alternative.

  333. To Ellie at 5:19 PM — Stephanie said that political views are linked to moral and ethical choices, not that the “wrong” political views means the “wrong” morals. It’s about what you value. But although she did not make that link, I would. That is, if someone is anti-choice, than I do feel that it’s an immoral stance. That does not mean, however, that I think the *person* is immoral. People differ. That’s life.
    And on another note: I probably have as little love for the arts as it’s possible to have. I don’t read fiction (only text books and journal articles in my field), watch movies, listen to music, do crafts, enjoy art museums, or care about graphic design. Visual stuff doesn’t move me at all. … and I STILL think that Harper was offensive. Thank goodness people can participate in and enjoy the arts, if that is what moves them. Rudely writing off people who appreciate a particular aspect of human ingenuity is politically unwise and tremendously unkind. I hope he realizes that he was not being fair and apologizes to those he wronged.

  334. You go, girl! I do think it’s a lesson well-learned to be able to talk about politics, even with those with whom we have differences of opinion, with respect.

  335. It’s refreshing to hear someone else voice their concern about their nations politics and present a thoughtful argument.
    Yet another reason why I love your blog!

  336. You’re right on the money on this one Stephanie. As an artist, I blogged about this the other day too. Harper irks me like no other…

  337. Did you just say “dude”? 🙂
    Don’t underestimate the public’s willingness to be tricked. I see it here in the US all the time and am constantly amazed. I guess the whole freaking world is really. I swear we aren’t ALL that gullible.

  338. i have to say that i’m appalled that anyone would let politics decide more than just that: politics. i have friends who lean both ways (only 2 real parties in the states, sigh), and i don’t care what they s ay, politically. that is not the be-all, and end-all of who a person is.
    my ex husband w as that way (and it’s a big part of WHY he’s an ex)

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