What is Stephen Harper reading?

I’ve been away and I’m back to an inbox overflowing with goodies. The following, by Yann Martel, caught my eye and will be a website to watch over the next while.

What is Stephen Harper reading?

By Yann Martel
April 14, 2007

For as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, I vow to send him every two weeks, mailed on a Monday, a book that has been known to expand stillness. That book will be inscribed and will be accompanied by a letter I will have written. I will faithfully report on every new book, every inscription, every letter, and any response I might get from the Prime Minister, on this website.



The story behind the website: http://whatisstephenharperreading.ca/the_story_behind_this_website.html

SK Budget ’07: Update to A Missed Opportunity

The Sask Arts Alliance has provided the following regarding monies to the arts in today’s budget. It’s almost as though the NDP want to lose the next election…


SAA Logo

March 22, 2007

2007 – 2008 Provincial Budget

Hon. Andrew Thomson tabled the 2007 – 2008 Provincial Budget: Making Life Better in the legislature today. In a pre-budget briefing, Culture, Youth and Recreation Minister Glenn Hagel spoke about his Department within the context of the Government key priorities: Keeping the Strong Economy Growing, Making Saskatchewan an Even Better Place for Young People, Increasing Access to Health Care for Saskatchewan Families and Seniors, and Building Highways and Infrastructure to Secure Growth.

On the positive side, government is introducing supplementary eye care benefits and enhanced drug coverage for lower income workers (which we presume includes independent contractors). A Saskatchewan First procurement policy was adopted and Sask. Property Management Corporation will allocate 0.5% of capital costs to public art in public buildings. Minister Hagel again committed to bring the Status of the Artist Amendment Act to the spring legislature. The Building Communities Program for new construction, sustainable development and rehabilitation of community-created recreational and cultural infrastructure should also offer opportunities for arts organizations.

Overall though, the budget fell far short of expectations, particularly considering that Saskatchewan is experiencing great prosperity. Given recent government initiatives such as the Music Industry Review and Status of the Artist legislation, it appeared that Government recognized the value of the sector, and understood the demands it faced in terms of both increased costs and increased expectations to meet Government priorities. However, although there are increases in some areas, none are substantial enough to address the long-term pressures facing the arts sector let alone to provide for sustainable development. The Saskatchewan Arts Board allocation is far short of its needs (about 10% of their new money will be earmarked to address this year’s collective agreement and pay equity for their own staff). The Cultural Industries Development Council is still suffering from cuts to its funding that occurred in 2004, and Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation funding is so limited it is losing ground in its efforts to save our heritage.

Although disheartened with today’s budget results, its is a step, albeit a very small one, forward and Saskatchewan Arts Alliance remains committed to work on your behalf for sustainability of the sector.

Following are excerpts from the Culture, Youth and Recreation Estimates. 

Arts Related Estimates With Comparison to 2006-07 Estimates (in thousands of dollars)

Links to all budget documents can be found at http://www.gov.sk.ca/budget0708.

SK Budget ’07: A Missed Opportunity

From the Sask Arts Alliance:

Sask. Arts Alliance News Release

For immediate release


March 22, 2007


Provincial Budget, A Missed Opportunity?


Today’s budget was a missed opportunity for government to address the needs of the arts sector. While unabashedly pointing to the vitality of the arts community as an attraction to bring people home, Government failed to invest the funds needed to address the long-term pressures faced by the sector, let alone to capitalize on the opportunities the arts present in helping to develop a creative and vibrant society.  


 “Government keeps expecting more of the arts community, yet fails to provide the funding necessary to address even its basic needs. Our estimation is that the Saskatchewan Arts Board needs an additional $3 million base funding to maintain the status quo and address a few new pressures[i],” says President Skip Kutz. Noting Government’s priority to make 2007 a year of celebration of the arts and music, Kutz says, “I am all in favour of celebrating our arts but what we need now are long-term investments and policies for the whole culture sector. It is time for government to pony up and put in place the resources needed to make sure the arts have a viable future in our province. Special event funding is not a long-term strategy to supporting the arts sector. The arts are much more than a party.”


Initiatives this year such as the Recording Industry Review and promises to support implementation of recommendations of the Minister’s Advisory Committee on Status of the Artist were seen as positive signs that Government’s commitment to the arts sector was sincere. There has been some progress. Yet with the Saskatchewan Arts Board facing increasing costs and an increased mandate, its allocation is far short of what is needed. As well, the Cultural Industries Development Council is still suffering from cuts to its funding that occurred in 2004, and Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation funding is so limited it is losing ground in its efforts to save our heritage.


“Today’s budget is disappointing news”, says Kutz. “Particularly while the province is enjoying a time of prosperity. Our only hope is that there will be further funding announcements made before the spring session ends.” 




For interviews:

Skip Kutz, SAA President

t. 306 934-2202;  cell: 222-1928 (Saskatoon)


For additional information:

Marnie Gladwell, Executive Director

Saskatchewan Arts Alliance

#205A 2314-11th Ave., Regina, SK. S4P 0K1

t. 306 780-9820  f. 306 780-9821





Saskatchewan Arts Alliance, a non-partisan coalition of arts organizations provides a collective voice for the arts in Saskatchewan. SAA promotes the lively existence and continued growth of the arts and cultural industries in Saskatchewan. Established in 1984, the SAA advocates on issues such as public funding of the arts, freedom of expression, and artists’ working conditions.


[i]  Note: Saskatchewan ranks 7th in the provinces for per capita funding of the arts. An additional $3.8 million would be required to bring Sask. to the national average. Provincial Government Spending on the Arts and Culture. Hill Strategies Research, May 19, 2006

A Poem for the Winter Solstice

As we move into the winter, Politics’n’Poetry wishes you light and love.

This Holy Space


In ruffles as supple as satin, a small space hangs,
suspended mid-air in the middle of the room. Unbelievably real,
this curiousity of curves perplexes, beckons, teases
her consciousness, presenting only when her mind is calm,
when she is prepared, only when she knows the window
beyond the folds of here-and-now hides behind,
only when her focus is just so, her body
nothing more than cells curving into the fabric.

Only then can she draw back the curtain,
open herself to the bright light beyond the ruff.
She gathers courage, wraps it ‘round her
like a shawl, and steps through. Her feet,
first one, then the other, tingle with a pulse
that moves up into her calves where it thickens,
rises to her thighs, then up to her Yoni centre
and through and up again to that place of individuation,
climbing still upward to the beat of her aching heart,
and up through the breath of her love and up again
through the power of voice and higher still
through wisdom and thought and finally
up and out through the crown of glory shimmering
around and down in a shower of light and colour.

Oh, she is whole!
Oh, she is beginning!


— Solstice, 2006


Book Tag

Skdadl’s playing this, so I joined in.

First, the rules of the game

The instructions:
Find the nearest book.
Turn to page 123.
Go to the fifth sentence on the page.
Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
Name the book and the author, and tag three more folks.

— Tu es un papillon, vole jusqu’à elle.

— Mais ceci n’est qu’un rêve!

— Ne sous-estime jamais le pouvoir d’un rêve.

From what must be one of my kidling’s books, Amelia et les papillons by Martine Noel-Maw, which was sitting immediately to the left of the monitor.

I’m tagging Rhett (so he won’t cry like a baby again) and Book Ninja (pretty obvious choice) and the centre of the universe (aka the Book Chick) and anyone else who feels like playing.

Aldous Huxley & Planned Parenthood

Here’s a quote from the book I’m reading. This piece, from Aldous Huxley’s, Island, seems relevant now, almost 45 years after it was written:

Armaments, universal debt and planned obsolescence — those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste and moneylenders were abolished, you’d collapse. And while you people are overconsuming the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster. Ignorance, militarism and breeding, these three — and the greatest of these is breeding. No hope, not the slightest possibility, of solving the economic problem until that’s under control.

The quote is in reference to the Utopian society, Pala, a place where there is no over-consumption of goods, where militarism and ignorance do not exist, and where family planning is learned at an early age.

Fast-forward to present day and it’s clear that the Bushite has promoted ignorance, militarism, and breeding.  Didn’t he cut monies to Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the like in order to fight his dirty war?

And now, PMS is following in those footsteps. What’s the chance of Planned Parenthood / Canadian Federation for Sexual Health being able to access Status of Women Canada funding?  They clearly violate the new funding guidelines because they lobby for education around sexual health at the local, provincial, and federal levels.

Writers Decry Cuts

From The Writers Union of Canada:

October 6, 2006


“The fresh round of cuts to Canada’s cultural programs by Harper Conservatives will be a serious impediment to all Canadians who enjoy visiting museums and reading books,” says The Writers’ Union of Canada chair Ron Brown.

At a recent meeting of its National Council, the Writers’ Union of Canada unanimously agreed to demand a meeting with Minister of Canadian Heritage Bev Oda to discuss the cutting of funds to a variety of cultural programs including regional museums, adult literacy and programs that promote Canadian culture abroad.

“It has become clear that this government is no great admirer of Canada’s culture,” said Brown. “Canada’s regional museums, like our writers, help tell the story of Canada to other Canadians. These institutions are strapped for funds at the best of times. This is a slap in the face of local heritage,” he said.

Adult literacy programs have also been slashed. “At the same time as the Ontario government recently launched its Spirit 2006 program to promote literacy, the federal Conservatives are placing a serious hurdle in the way of adults who want to enjoy the rewards of reading books, many of which Canadian writers create,” Brown added.

Regarding the cuts to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ “public diplomacy” program Brown added, ” It is odd that at a time when the U. S. government, which Mr. Harper so admires, has tripled its cultural diplomacy budget, our government is working to reduce ours. What better way to tell Canada’s many cultural stories abroad than through programs like these?” said Brown. ” When all these cuts are factored together, it’s as if the Harper Conservatives were ashamed of their own culture.”

The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing professional authors of books. Founded in 1973, the Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well being of all writers. For more information, please visit http://www.writersunion.ca.


– 30 –

For additional information
Ron Brown, Chair -The Writers’ Union of Canada
Deborah Windsor, Executive Director -The Writers’ Union of Canada

Fed Cuts: Impact on Arts Sector

More from my inbox, this one from the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance (not available online):

For immediate release

September 26, 2006


The federal Government’s recent announcement of funding cuts to the arts sector is a severe blow to the arts community. “The cuts are unwarranted,” explains SAA President Skip Kutz. “They came without advance warning at a time when Canada has a $13.2 billion surplus.”

Government suggestions that programs such as the Museums Assistance Program (MAP) are wasteful and ineffective is perplexing, and incorrect. In Saskatchewan, MAP has supported programs of many of our exemplary museums such as the Western Development Museum, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Moose Jaw Art Gallery and Museum, and Wanuskewin Heritage Park to list a few. The loss of this program is especially disconcerting given the Conservative Party’s promise during the last election to bring in new investment to the museums community.

The arts and culture sector is at the heart of our communities, bringing a richness and diversity to all our lives. The sector offers significant opportunities for social and economic development – a priority shared by all Canadians. Investment in the sector is money well spent.



Saskatchewan Arts Alliance, a non-partisan coalition of arts organizations provides a collective voice for the arts in Saskatchewan. SAA promotes the lively existence and continued growth of the arts and cultural industries in Saskatchewan. Established in 1984, the SAA advocates on issues such as public funding of the arts, freedom of expression, and artists’ working conditions.

For additional information:

Marnie Gladwell, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Arts Alliance
#205A 2314-11th Ave., Regina, SK. S4P 0K1
t. 306 780-9820 f. 306 780-9821

The avante garde

At Times of Hate, Times of Joy you’ll find a quote by Roger Shattuck, from The Banquet Years, about the precursors to the Dada-ists and Surrealists:

Words of Wisdom about the avant-garde

Conventionally, a work if art is considered to be the product of a different self from the one displayed in habitual action and ordinary living. A few courageous members of the avant-garde set out to extend the artistic, creative self until it displaced all guises of habit, social behavior, virture and vice. When our entire life stems from our one deepest self, the resulting personality is usually so startling and abnormal as to appear a mask or a pose. It is the ultimate paradox of human character.

However, I can’t find a comments section at that blog, so please feel free to comment here.

Or not.

Article re Legris

Visit the Globe and Mail quickly to read the full article acknowledging Canada’s new superstar poet disappears behind their pay-wall.  Here’s the teaser:

A poet’s winning season

Sylvia Legris’s break-out book won the Griffin, and her life may never be the same

From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail

SASKATOON — At the beginning of this month, Sylvia Legris’s quiet poet’s life was dramatically altered when she won the coveted 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize. Three times is apparently a charm, since it was her third book of poetry, Nerve Squall (Coach House Books, 2005), that garnered top honours.

Recently Legris and I shared a discreet upstairs booth at Grandma Lee’s Bakery in downtown Saskatoon. It’s her favourite haunt, she says, because it’s low-key and serves great Rice Krispy squares, but she’s a bit on edge. Since the Griffin gala on June 1, Legris has hit the poetry jackpot, been inundated with attention and been run over by a scathing critic.