Liesl! Pack little Farahilde and the cellos. We’re going to Ottawa!

Here in the string quartet section of, I know you’ll be as delighted as I am to learn that the federal government’s not-at-all-ridiculous Marquee Tourism Events Program has announced another grant. And just in the nick of time! Yes, it’s the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, which truly is a marvellous event, and for which I have already, long ago, purchased a single Platinum Pass so I can spend much of the next 10 days geeking out to Haydn and Mendelssohn without actually having to drag any of my already-long-suffering friends along. Anyway, just this morning, the indefatigable Royal Galipeau, Conservative MP for Somewhere Around Here, announced a MTEP grant of $210,000 to “make it possible to increase marketing and promotional efforts aimed at attracting audiences from out-of-province and out-of-country, specifically targeting major cities in the U.S., England and other European centres.”

For this year’s Chamberfest.

Which starts in three days.

This is asinine.

But perhaps I am being too harsh. Probably it would be wrong of me to point out that everyone in the government insists that MTEP was taken away from Diane Ablonczy and given to Tony Clement, not because some money inadvertently fell into the hands of Toronto drag queens — perish the thought! — but to ensure greater administrative efficiency is all, after the Ablonczy-administered program had a few faux pas like giving $338,000 to the Ottawa jazz festival three days before it started. So now that Tony’s on the case, the feds are giving almost one-third less to an Ottawa festival three days before it starts. Progress!

But I got to wondering. What if this MTE grant works? What if a program “specifically targeting major cities” in the U.S. and Europe hits its target? What if news of the chamber festival program, exciting as it is — I am looking forward, in particular, to the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the young Calgary pianist Jan Lisiecki, and my first chance to hear R. Murray Schafer’s 11th String Quartet — actually reaches, say, a hypothetical two-parent, one-child family in Salzburg, Austria? I hear they like chamber music over there.

So I looked on Expedia, and this just might work. If Hans, Liesl and little Farahilde hurry, they can fly out of Salzburg on Saturday at 6:15 a.m., connecting in Frankfurt and Toronto and landing in Ottawa 17 hours later… and then reverse the trajectory on Aug. 2… for only $2,122 each, or $6,636 for the whole family! This represents a substantial savings over the $19,840 that BMI wants for the same trip, leaving our hypothetical lieder-loving Braunschweiger clan with that much more money in their pockets to stimulate the Ottawa economy! (Try the flatbreads at Darcy McGee’s, folks. Wunderbar.)

Never let it be said that Canada’s New Government doesn’t spend money where it can make a difference. Oh, and I checked: Hans Braunschweiger is not a drag queen. Those are lederhosen, Tony. There’s a difference.