The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics has been a wild ride for fans across the globe and especially here in Canada. I cannot think of any previous multi-day event that has so completely captured the attention of Canadians. Nor can I think of any event that has united Canadians to the degree these games have, at least, not since the 1972 Canada-Russia hockey series.
It seems rather odd that our governments spend billions of dollars on arts and culture in Canada, yet Minister of State for Sport Gary Lunn, on behalf of the Conservative government, says the federal Tories will only continue to fund the Own the Podium program after the 2010 at the current level of $11-million per year, and will not take on responsibility for other funding which is sure to be lost after these games.
According to Statics Canada, in 2006-07, governments across this land spend some $8.2-billion on culture, excluding transfers between different levels of government. Of this total, the federal government’s share was $3.7-billion.
The $3.7-billion in federal spending was dominated by the broadcasting sector ($1.8-billion) and heritage organizations, including museums, art galleries, public archives, nature parks and historic sites ($959-million).
Federal government spending on the arts (defined as performing arts, visual arts and crafts, and arts education) was $268-million.
Later today about 10 million viewers in Canada are expected to watch the Canada-US gold medal hockey game—according to CTV, Canada’s semifinal victory over Slovakia was watched by 9.7 million viewers.
According to the Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections presented last September by Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty, Canada’s federal revenues for 2010-11 are projected to be 233.1-billion. Folks, that’s 233,100 million dollars. Can we not find 100th of one per cent ($23-million) of that to help ensure we get a boost to our national pride every four years?
The $23-million suggested above doesn’t have to come from new spending, it can come from amounts already allocated to spending on culture. That about 6 tenths of a per cent of the $3.7-billion spent by the federal government in 2006-7 on culture.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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