Monday, September 29, 2008

Me on Duffy

Sometimes I just don't get the Tories.

Let me explain.

This evening I was Mike Duffy Live "Prime Time Edition" debating some lefty-artsy guy about the Conservative government's political strategy of cutting arts funding.

The artsy guy, of course, was all indignant about the cuts.

But I defended the Conservative government, saying cutting arts was good politics because it mobilizes the Tory base and appeals to non-artists Canadians, who would rather see their money spent on something other than giant flying bananas.

OK get that? I was defending the Tories.

So anyway, on the very next segment, Duffy asks Tory spinner Jeff Norquay about my comments.

And how does he respond?

Does Norquay agree with my assessment?

No he attacks me. And then proceeds to explain how the Conservatives are actually spending tons of money on the arts.

In other words, he undid all the good I had done for the Conservatives on national television.

Sheesh.

All I can say is, don't blame me if they don't win a majority.

15 comments:

Miles Lunn said...

I don't think the cuts help the Tories at all. Lets remember, they need more seats in Quebec to win a majority and support for the arts there is very strong across the political spectrum. Its not like in English Canada where it splits by ideology.

Besides I never bought the idea of appealing to the base. The reality is the base has nowhere else to go but the Tories and never mind every poll has shown for every right wing ideologue they pick up, they lose two moderate voters. Only around 10% of Canadians are ideological Conservatives, so there are not nearly as large as you make them out to be Gerry. Never mind, most are found in Western Canada or Rural Ontario, otherwise ridings that the Tories are way ahead and will win anyways. In the swing ridings the right wing base is probably around 5%, while 60-70% absolutely cannot stand them and never mind the centre and left hate the right wing base so much they are far more likely to vote strategically if you pander to them. The Tories need a strong split on the centre and left to win a majority and being too right wing only ensures the centre and left unite around one party, not split.

MLM said...

Yes, Norquay reminded me of the Wizard of Oz: "Pay no attention to the man behind he curtain!"

Anonymous said...

Norquay could have been more diplomatic, and played it from both viewpoints quite safely.

Anonymous said...

Was this before or after Harper announced money for kids taking music lessons?

Anonymous said...

Hi Gerry,

I watched the show and had a bit of the same feeling that you expressed. However, while you were technically correct, Norquay was following the script.

While the arts funding issue was good politics as you stated, it is equally important that the party not appear divisive and overtly political in its motives around funding issues ... you know, mean-spirited.

In actual fact, the combination of both messages served the Conservatives well.

JC Kelan

Anonymous said...

One good argument defending the arts cuts is that Harper has given the people a tax cut that they can use to support the arts should they choose to.
And they get to choose which arts they want to support themselves instead of giving the money to the government and having some bureaucrat decide for them.

Anonymous said...

I watched both you and Norquay comment. While you are correct that this could be good politics, the average voter doesn't particularly like to be reminded of the fact that a lot that goes on is political maneuvering. Makes things seem a bit too cynical. It is also possible that these cuts do hurt Conservatives in Quebec -- not the cuts themselves, but the way they are percieved as an "attack" on culture. Not true, but perception is everything. I thought that Norquay's explanation that arts broadly have not been cut is an important one to highlight. LS

Anonymous said...

Important to note that these cuts were not actually an attack on culture, but rather targeted cuts after these particular arts programs were recognized as not cost-effective. The cuts were reasonable, but the "spin" is probably hurting Harper some -- esp in Quebec. Best not to emphasize that the cuts were targeted for political gain. I personally don't think the cuts were intended to target arts, but rather programs that had outworn their usefulness.

Ryan R said...

Miles - The Tories are in the center.

And Gerry is right on this one - a lot of this arts funding is wasteful spending if ever there was wasteful spending.

Why should my tax dollars go to fund "art" that's either silly (like a huge flying banana) or crude and anything but art (like a rap group that's pure profanity - nothing more)?

Do you honestly consider the Dion Liberals centrist? With plans to bring in a brand new carbon tax at a time when the economy is struggling?

The Liberals during the days of Chretien and Martin were probably centrist - at least to a degree - but the Dion Liberals are just as liberal as Layton's NDP.

The only difference is carbon tax vs higher corporate taxes, and socialism veiled as environmentalism vs. honest socialism.

At least with Layton you know what you're getting...

Also, 10% is a huge underestimation of the number of conservatives in Canada. Canada may be a center-left country, but it's not that liberal - if it was, there's no way the Conservatives would ever have been elected.

Anonymous said...

You may be right Gerry but the fact is the artsy fartsy crowd in Quebec is important to them and influential. Maybe being less dismissive would have been more helpful to the Conservatives in their efforts to obtain as many voters from Quebec. Calling fire in a crowded theatre is not helpful.

Powell lucas said...

A breakdown in the polling numbers shows that the Tory drop in support has come mainly in Montreal and it has skewed the numbers toward the BQ. Outside Montreal the Conservatives still remain in a good position to take seats from the Bloc.
This huffy indignation about arts funding still remains an issue only among the cultural elitists of the Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal clique.

Charles Anthony said...

"In other words, he undid all the good I had done for the Conservatives on national television."
I agree with that assessment. However, Gerry, maybe you should consider the possibility that the Conservatives are disingenuous or confused.

Furthermore, their proposals to offer tax-credits to this and that and the other thing are just a growth in bureaucracy.

Miles Lunn said...

Ryan R - Most of those who despise arts funding are probably already in the Tory camp and whether good or bad in terms of philosphy, I don't think it is a vote winner. As for the Tories being centrist, give me a break. The Tories may not be ultra right wing, but they are the most right wing government Canada has ever had. Prior to Harper, Mulroney was the most Conservative leader Canada had elected and he was not very Conservative, so I think my point that we don't elect people that go too far to the right makes sense. Dion is in fact very centrist. He favours even larger corporate taxes than Harper. Also Gordon Campbell in BC introduced a carbon tax and any resident would tell you he is no lefty and likewise in Britain, the Tories favour a carbon tax. Opposing a carbon tax doesn't make one a right winger, but supporting it doesn't make one a left winger. When I said 10% were Conservative, I meant the hard core types like Gerry Nicholls. I would say around 40% of Canadians lean to the right, but 30% are only slightly right of centre, while 10% are hard core right wingers.

Anonymous - I fully concur.

Powell Lucas - Say what you want about the arts crowd, but the reality is it did hurt the Tories throughout Quebec. In Central Quebec and the Eastern Townships, the Tories were running neck and neck with Bloc before, now the Bloc is clearly ahead. In Jonquiere-Alma, Tory MP Jean-Pierre Blackburn is actually running a risk of losing his seat. The Quebec City seats look safe, however the probably won't pick up the one remaining Quebec City riding whereas before they had a good shot at this. The reason it angers Quebeckers the most is Quebec has more than anyone else long felt their culture was under siege due to being an island of French speakers in a sea of English speakers. The arts played a very strong role in defining them. Your argument that those who support the arts are all lefties and elitist is not true and if the Tories take this attitude it will hurt them. For one thing, the anti-elitist attitude you see in the United States is much weaker in Canada. Most Canadians take pride in being sophisticated and knowledgeable and Harper's comments essentially was attack not on the rich, but on the smart and knowledgeable, someone how implying being ignorant and stupid is a good thing. There are many good arguments he could have made for the cuts and had he articulated it properly, he might have even gained votes, but his statement about ordinary people not liking the arts because they are elitist doesn't appeal to those beyond the base, even those who may question arts funding as most of us aspire to be educated, sophisticated and knowledgeable and don't have an anti-elitist attitude.

kursk said...

Well, if PM Harper and his Conservatives are leading Canada with the most right wing govt in our history, as Miles suggests, give me more!

If the other leftist parties unite after this election, can there really be any choice for whom one could vote for in any good conscience?

It will be very clear.Vote for a left coalition, and you get soft Marxism.Vote for Conservatives and run from the middle right.

That sounds very much like the making of the Conservatives as the natural governing party.

Miles Lunn said...

Kursk - I think few would dispute that Harper is to the right of Mulroney, Diefenbaker, or Joe Clark and those are the only non-Liberal PMs we have had since World War II. As for a united left, being neo-marxist, give me a break. In fact Dion has made loud and clear he is not a socialist as he favours corporate tax cuts something socialist don't. Besides check out this political compass if you want to see where the parties stand. Now I admit the centre is probably a bit to the left considering every EU government is on the right economically and everyone except Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, and Sweden on social issues, but still it at least gives you an idea of where the parties stand.