This doesn’t bode well for the YPF World Tour

After what happened last weekend in Surrey, it’s not hard to see why the Conservatives would want to retreat to less perilous pandering grounds: taxpayer dollars and naughty words. A classic combination – all this story needs is a gloatbyte from Charles McVety, and it’s C-10 all over again:

Ottawa axes arts travel program

Tories say funds going to programs that would ‘raise the eyebrows of any typical Canadian’

David Akin,  Canwest News Service

Published: Thursday, August 07, 2008

OTTAWA — The federal government will cancel a program on Friday that sent artists abroad to promote Canadian culture because the program’s grant recipients included “a general radical,” “a left-wing and anti-globalization think-tank” and a rock band that uses an expletive as part of its name.

The Conservatives are cancelling the $4.7-million PromArt program administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade because most of the money “went to groups that would raise the eyebrows of any typical Canadian,” said a government official, speaking on condition of anonymity. […]

The recipients singled out by the Conservatives include:

– $3,000 to Toronto-based experimental rock band Holy F— for a week-long tour of the United Kingdom.

– $5,000 to former CBC broadcaster Avi Lewis, who now works for al Jazeera and who is described in a Conservative memo as “a general radical,” to help pay for his travel to film festivals in Australia and Argentina;

– $16,500 to send Tal Bachman, a best-selling recording artist and the son of The Guess Who’s Randy Bachman, to South Africa and Zimbabwe for music festivals.

“I think there’s a reasonable expectation by taxpayers that they won’t fund the world travel of wealthy rock stars, ideological activists or fringe and alternative groups,” the source said.

There is absolutely no indication that the program was somehow biased towards foul-mouthed subversives like “left-leaning columnist” Gwynne Dyer, who apparently got $3,000 to cover his travel costs for a Cuban lecture tour, and who will no doubt be somewhat gobsmacked to be lumped in with Avi Lewis and the North South Institute as a dangerous rabblerouser who can pay his own way to make nice with the Communists, by George.

Nowhere in the talking points does it suggest that applications from funding from family-friendly music groups or right-leaning political activists were promptly fed to the departmental shredder; in fact, as Akin notes later in the story, the vast majority of recipients would be unlikely to raise the eyebrows of even the most conservative Canadian. Somehow, I don’t think many see the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet or the Rheostatics as hotbeds of radical thought. And as for that “experimental rock band” with the vapour-inducing moniker Holy Fuck (or, as the Post calls it, “Holy F—‘), they sound a bit too discordant to make it onto the ITQ iPod, but they were nominated for a Juno last year, so they can’t be pure evil, right? Wait, don’t answer that.

What is particularly disheartening here –aside from the pointless pettiness, partisan pandering, and inevitable appearance of Pierre Poilievre as official media go-to guy on the issue  – is the implication that a “typical Canadian” would be more appalled by government grants going towards purportedly obscene artistic and political views than  the obscene spectacle of that same government refusing a plea for money to rebuild a First Nations grade school. I may not be Muttart the Great and Terrible, but I think I know which one is more likely to raise not only eyebrows, but voter ire.

UPDATE: Comrade Colleague Wells rips the lid off another honeypot for subversive globetrotters — courtesy of the White House, no less!