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Culture & ideology: a short history of Stephen Harper

Just so we're clear. When it comes to cultural funding, the Harper government has never shied away from changing the rules to make sure queer content isn’t eligible for federal support.

A pile of conservative commentators have pointed out that the federal government’s decision not to fund Pride Toronto doesn’t make economic sense. No matter what you think of the parade, they say, it kicks up a huge cloud of economic activity in its wake. Therefore, it makes sense to support them.

Riiiiight.

Newsflash: that’s not how Stephen Harper rolls. A good example is Montreal’s Black and Blue festival, which used to receive economic spinoff dollars from the feds for exactly that reason: the program was based on the size of the economic cloud, not the content of the activities. Not so much since 2006.

And don’t forget about funding for Canadian indie films. After rightwing activists complained that tax credits were going to an über-PG gay film, Breakfast with Scot, and a cheeky sex comedy, Young People Fucking, the Conservatives rallied behind C-10, which gave then-heritage minister Josée Verner the power to yank the credits from films that don’t line up with Conservative values. Only after Verner was caught on tape saying she hated the film clause did the Tories eventually back off.

And then there’s the Canadian Magazine Fund, which changed the rules recently on eligibility. A handful of gay mags, including fab and Outlooks, used to receive small grants. But when the Cons rejigged the requirements — surprise! — queer pubs were squeezed from the list of supported groups.


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