I thought I would include an update about bill C-470 this time. As things get going again this fall, Bill C-470 is in committee. While it isn't getting the media attention that the possible demise of the Long Gun Registry is, this bill is still of great concern for many of us.
On August 19, Imagine Canada sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the leaders of the Opposition parties (Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe) outlining the potential consequences of the legislation as proposed and again calling for dialogue. I highly recommend everyone take a look. Aside from the capping of staff compensation at $250,000, there are several issues of particular interest to arts organizations. Among them is the potential invasion of privacy, given that charities would be required to publicly disclose, on their annual Charitable Tax Return, the names of the five staff members earning the highest salaries and their total compensation. I can think of many arts organizations where that would be most or all of their staff. Their salaries, for better or worse, would be posted on the CRA website, alongside their names, for anyone to see.
I'm sure that this invasion of privacy was not uppermost in the minds of those who wrote the bill originally, but I believe it is something that needs to be carefully considered now, along with all of the other issues raised in Imagine Canada's letter. I share all of these concerns.
I want to reiterate that I don't know of any Arts organization (or any charity, for that matter) that has a problem with being accountable for the donor and taxpayer dollars it receives, and that many, many hours are spent ensuring just that. I sincerely hope that Imagine Canada and the rest of the signatories of the letter (among them representatives of several Arts-focussed organizations, including Business for the Arts, the Canadian Arts Summit, the Canadian Conference of the Arts, and Compagnie de danse Marie Chouinard) are successful in securing the dialogue that needs to happen around this bill.
I would also call on all of us to take every opportunity to remind politicians of all political stripes and at every level of government, whether they are campaigning or already in office, that THE ARTS MATTER TO OUR COMMUNITIES. The Arts are an intrinsic, vital part of our societies and society would be a shadow of its former self if the Arts did not exist. Please encourage everyone you know to have an open, positive exchange, a constructive dialogue, and simply let our elected officials know that when they support the Arts, they are doing a really, really good thing for all people.