Source: CTV News: Tories Reject Funding for Montreal Gay Festival
Source: CTV News: Minister Defends Decision Not to Fund Gay Arts Festival
Source: CTV News: Ignatieff Uses Speech to Blast Harper's Attack Ads
Now, today's post is going to be a bit of a hodgepodge of ideas that revolve around a theory I have been working on for the past couple of weeks. Surprisingly, the theory becomes more and more relevant and seemingly realistic as I've gone over these articles. For the moment, I shall discuss the first issue before launching into my own thoughts, but, in time you will see how the last source is connected to the first two and many more on this site.
I want you to think back to one of my last posts, one in which Brad Trost asserted that Diane Ablonczy lost a $100 million dollar tourism program after she gave the Toronto Gay Pride Parade $400,000. Trost asserted that her losing the program came after the caucus rose up in complaints about it, and that even the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) was upset about it as well.
Well, the party couldn't have that, so they quickly said that Trost was not telling the truth and that it was only four or so Members of Parliament who were vocal about the funding. They also said that Ablonczy lost the program because her department was understaffed and too busy working on a National Tourism program to handle both.
Now, let's fast forward to the Divers-Cite Festival in Montreal. The Festival, which brings Gay and Lesbian acts from around the world to perform, had applied for $155,000 of funds under the Marquee Tourism Fund (the same fund that was taken away from Ablonczy and given to Industry Minister Tony Clement.)
Before the fund was taken away from Ablonczy, Divers-Cite was basically told by government bureaucrats that they had met the criteria needed to apply for funds and were basically given the 'green light'. The funds seemed to be apparently in the bank, so to speak.
When the Ablonczy problem hit the news, the people in charge of Divers-Cite came to the government's aid; they said that they had felt that the government had never treated them differently and that they had even received more guaranteed funding in the past two years than in any other year before.
And then, they were told, that the final authorization was before Minister Clement. And then they were told that their funding was denied.
Clement's office came out to say, later, that the Divers-Cite Festival was denied funding in the interest of 'regional fairness'. Clement cited the Just for Laughs festival and the Montreal International Jazz festival received about a combined total of $12 million dollars. Clement went on to say that his department was trying to keep things fair with Quebec and Montreal and the rest of the country; that 42% of the funds have gone into Quebec, which is the same amount that have gone into Ontario. (Which for those of you keeping tracking, leaves only 16% for the rest of Canada.)
However, some people are disputing Clement's defense of regional fairness. Luc Fournier, a director of a Quebec events group, said that his group had told Clement and the Conservatives that Quebec's festivals would likely take a lion's share of the money from the offset.
Fournier's comment is based on the fact that the major requirement of being able to get funding from the Marquee Tourism Fund is that it must be a draw for national and international tourism, that it must be a major draw. This is to prevent a repeat of the 'Sponsorship Program', but also the requirement that Fournier says gives Quebec an advantage over other provinces.
Others are quick to point out that there is nothing in the criteria of the Marquee Tourism Fund that says regional fairness must be considered when the government dolls out the funds.
Gay and Lesbian groups are crying foul, of course. The director of the Black and Blue Festival in Quebec, who claims that their festival was the second largest draw in tourism behind the now non-existent Grand Prix, has been waiting approval for a pittance of $125,000; while a smaller, non-large drawing music festival (which is not gay or lesbian backed) has received approval for $1.4 million dollars from the fund.
So, what is the point of my argument in bringing all this up? I had stated in my last post concerning Brad Trost's opinion, that we would never know the truth about whether or not Ablonczy lost the Marquee Tourism Fund over her funding of the gay pride parade in Toronto, as Trost states, or whether it was actually from being understaffed.
Now, I believe we have our answer. Ablonczy was indeed punished for her funding, and Trost (who as I stated before, really has nothing to gain from making up this claim) was indeed telling the truth when he stated that the Conservative Caucus was against the funding, and we are seeing it now through Clement's denial of funds to gay and lesbian programs despite meeting requirements to receive those funds.
And now, to my theory: You will notice that I've linked another story that talks about Michael Ignatieff condemning Conservative Attack ads that ran in Quebec, which likened the Bloc Quebecois to pedophiles by their refusal to support a certain bill that came before the House of Commons.
Now many of you are thinking, what does this have to do with the first half of this post? Allow me to explain.
When these Conservative Ads first came out, I had a thought that ran across my mind and that I rebounded off a close political friend of mine. He told me that he thought it was ridiculous, if only because he refused to believe the Conservative Electoral Machine was this smart.
Right now, the Conservatives have 10 members from Quebec in the House of Commons, a result that was considered a 'breakthrough' for the Conservative Party and their luck in Quebec.
In the last election, the Conservatives came under fire for their controversial cuts to Arts Funding, and Quebec was one of the most vocal opponents over these cuts and seriously hurt Conservative chances in Quebec.
Many of you are asking, will you just get to the point, aren't you? Well, here is my point and my theory:
I firmly believe, that the Stephen Harper Conservatives have seen the writing on the wall. They know that their chances of re-election are diminishing by the day, and they need a way to stem the bleeding. How is the best way to do that? The answer: Prevent your opponent, your major opponent, from picking up your losses.
What do I mean by that?
By attacking the Bloc Quebecois, Harper is hoping to push Quebec citizens away from the Liberals and hope that any Conservative losses in Quebec will be in favour of the Bloc Quebecois. Even if Harper loses his ten seats in Quebec, if those ten seats go to the Bloc and the Liberals make no gains elsewhere, Harper could still have a chance of staying in government by preventing the Liberals from making gains.
To further these ends, by saying 'regional fairness' in regards to the Quebec gay and lesbian events funding, the Conservatives are pushing more people towards the Bloc Quebecois by saying that any other party will consider 'regional fairness' and do what they can to spread the funds across the country even if their events are lesser draws than ones in Quebec.
As such, this will push Quebec to vote for the Bloc as it will make them feel as if the Bloc is the only people who will actually fight to get funding for events in Quebec that qualify for them.
So, so sum things up:
I firmly believe that given the Harper Government's positions towards Quebec funding and attack ads that were released there; the Conservatives are hoping to push Quebec residents towards voting for the Bloc Quebecois in order to prevent those ridings they may lose from going to the Liberals.
If the Harper Conservatives can minimize their losses elsewhere, as I assume they are banking on, then by ensuring their losses in Quebec go to the Bloc, they have a small chance to retain government rather than losing it outright to the Liberals.
And even if the plan fails and the opposition form a coalition government, Harper still wins a small victory in saying that the government is 'in bed with the separatists' and furthermore, he gives Quebec a larger voice in the coalition which will sow the seeds of its own destruction.
I hate to admit that the Conservative Machine could actually be this smart to come up with a plan as dastardly as this...The idea of chopping off the hand to save the body, but the more I see the current government picking fights in Quebec, the more I begin to believe it may actually be the case.