September 23, 2008 Jill

This quote from Steven Harper speaking yesterday in Saskatoon can be found on the ArtistsVOTE website:

“I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people at a rich gala all subsidized by the taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren’t high enough when they know their subsidies have actually gone up, I’m not sure that’s something that resonates with ordinary people,” Mr. Harper told reporters. “Ordinary people understand we have to live within a budget.”


Mr Harper’s and his Conservatives are using an us and them divide and conquer style that is very similar to what McCain et al are doing down south.  He wants artists to be seen as pariah, leaches sucking off the system.

His followers seem to agree.  Check out the comments on the Dust My Broom website following a posting about Jack Layton’s campaign promises.  Even if you totally ignore the comment that mentions jackboots and brown shirts, you have to recognize that these people are seriously hostile to the message the arts community is putting out there.

But they don’t argue against us.  They don’t take us on on the issues.  Instead they call us elitist.  They call themselves ordinary people and us the ones who don’t understand about budgets.  We’re the people at rich galas.   Not the ones whose work is a bigger economic force than retail.  Not the $84 billion industry.

How do we combat that?

Denis has some thoughts.  The ArtistsVOTE and the WGC website have information and ideas.

I think we need to give some thought to who our audience is — the undecided and the voters in the 45 battleground ridings in BC, Ontario and Quebec.  Then we need to craft a message that will help them decide to vote our way.

Battleground Ridings

That message isn’t about our needs or what we think Harper will do to us.  Maybe it’s about the needs of other Canadians and how a Harper government will effect them.  Or maybe we should be painting a vision of Canada as it could be; a Canada that those voters want to share.

In the end, isn’t our job as artists?