Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivered Ontario’s much anticipated 2017 budget this afternoon. His speech painted an upbeat picture that highlighted the government’s achievement of a balanced budget, while at the same time building a compassionate, fair and competitive economy for Ontarians.
The stated priority of balancing the budget dampened expectations in the cultural sector, a perspective that was well founded.
Manitoba’s Patricia Bovey and New Brunswick’s René Cormier were among Canada’s first recently-appointed independent senators. With deep roots in Canada’s cultural sector, they bring the perspective of artists, curators and cultural sector members to Canada’s Senate, an institution in the midst of significant change.
While not the first artists to be appointed Senators, it’s the first time that senators have been appointed on the basis of their contributions to Canada and vocation, not partisan alignment. As independent senators, Senator Cormier said “we can be free on what we want to say and how we want to say it.”
The Arts Advocate recently met with Senators Bovey and Cormier to discuss the perspective they bring to Canada’s Senate and what they believe their appointments mean for the cultural sector. It was a rich and far-reaching conversation that addressed Canada’s cultural policy, the place of artists in Canada and specific priorities like Truth and Reconciliation.
We thank them for agreeing to meet with The Arts Advocate so that we can share the following interview with our subscribers. This interview has been edited and organized for length and clarity.