Mr. Speaker, can we envision culture without arts and letters, theatre, music, dance, literature, art crafts, and visual and media arts? No. Culture is the heart of every people.
In Quebec, the Mouvement pour les arts et les lettres, which represents 15,000 professional artists, has long been campaigning for increased support for artists, the majority of whom are living below the poverty line.
The government must understand cultural issues and the need for more support to our professional artists. Artists and artisans are not free to create. They generally have a double life imposed upon them by the obligation to earn enough to live on.
So that they may have that freedom to create a culture that will be worthy of protection by an eventual convention on cultural diversity, the budget of the Canada Council for the Arts needs to be raised to $300 million this very year, and the program “Tomorrow Starts Today” must be restored permanently, and enhanced as well.