PM to Culture Minister: This is your job. Now do it.

PM to Culture Minister: This is your job. Now do it.


norman lebrecht

November 18, 2015

As part of Canada’s new open government policy, prime minister Justin Trudeau has published letters to each of his ministers specifying what he expects from them over the next four years.

Here’s what the Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly has been ordered to deliver:


Dear Ms. Joly:

I am honoured that you have agreed to serve Canadians as Minister of Canadian Heritage.

We have promised Canadians a government that will bring real change – in both what we do and how we do it….

As Minister of Canadian Heritage, your overarching goal will be to implement our government’s plan to strengthen our cultural and creative industries. Our cultural sector is an enormous source of strength to the Canadian economy. Canada’s stories, shaped by our immense diversity, deserve to be celebrated and shared with the world. Our plan will protect our important national institutions, safeguard our official languages, promote the industries that reflect our unique identity as Canadians, and provide jobs and economic opportunities in our cultural and creative sectors.

You will be the leader of a strong team of ministers, supported by the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities and the Minister of Status of Women.

In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:

Review current plans for Canada 150 and champion government-wide efforts to promote this important celebration.

Restore and increase funding for CBC/Radio-Canada, following consultation with the broadcaster and the Canadian cultural community.

Review the process by which members are appointed to the CBC/Radio-Canada Board of Directors, to ensure merit-based and independent appointments.< Double investment in the Canada Council for the Arts.

Increase funding for Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board.

Restore the Promart and Trade Routes International cultural promotion programs, update their design, and increase related funding.

Increase funding for the Young Canada Works program to help prepare the next generation of Canadians working in the heritage sector.

Work with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities to make significant new investments in cultural infrastructure as part of our investment in social infrastructure.

Develop a new multi-year Official Languages plan to support English and French linguistic minorities

Establish a free, online service for learning and retaining English and French as second languages.

Work with the President of the Treasury Board to ensure that all federal services are delivered in full compliance with the Official Languages Act.

Work in collaboration with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to provide new funding to promote, preserve and enhance Indigenous languages and cultures.

Work with the Minister of Justice to update and reinstate a Court Challenges Program….

I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. In turn, please know that you can count on me to support you every day in your role as Minister.

I am deeply grateful to have this opportunity to serve with you as we build an even greater country. Together, we will work tirelessly to honour the trust Canadians have given us.

Yours sincerely,

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada




  • Pedro says:

    More money for everything! Hurrah!

  • Eddie Mars says:

    ” PS – Don’t bother with outmoded crap like film-making, theatre, live music, orchestras, opera, art or museums. We are mostly interested in tokenism that leads to Facebook likes, so bear that in mind – if you want to keep the job. “

    • Emil says:

      Of course, you mean that museums, opera, classical music subsidies, etc. are of provincial competence. The provincial governments fund most of the country’s art institutions. She is minister for Heritage, not Culture (which is provincial), although there is overlap.

      • V.Lind says:

        The National Arts Centre? The National Gallery? All the other national museums? The CBC? (With a bit more money they might be able to re-introduce drama to radio). The Canada Council contributes to almost every major and many minor artistic institutions in Canada, throughout the country. Of course the provinces are involved also, sometimes exclusively. But this is the most positive step for the arts, as well as heritage and the other responsibilities under this ministry, in many years. The last lot essentially opposed the arts as something they could not control. Laureen Harper was so embarrassed by some government moves that she sat out her role as patron of the NAC Gala one year.

        I am not a Liberal, did not vote for them, and was concerned about Trudeau’s intentions of running up a deficit to try to repair some of the damage his predecessors had done. But if he’s going o spend it anyway, I am glad the arts is getting a whack. I suspect the new PM actually realises that a healthy arts environment has positive economic consequences.

        • Andy says:

          The National Arts Centre gets not a penny from the Canada Council. It feeds directly from the teat of the federal government, from which it extracts obscene amounts of taxpayer dollars. Far, far, far more than it would receive standing in the breadline for handouts with every other performing arts organization at the Canada Council’s door.

          Removing the very expensive taxpayer-funded crutches that have been supporting the NAC since 1969 would be a giant leap forward for the arts across Canada, all of whom could then share in the massive piece of the Arts Funding Pie the NAC consumes every year like a hog at the trough.

          The previous prime minister’s wife should be ashamed of the support she provided the fatted NAC, while wonderful arts organizations across the country struggle for survival.

    • Clifford says:

      Your negativity shows a lack of awareness of how Canada’s arts funding operates. As a performing artist in Canada, I can tell you that almost every point made by our next Prime Minister will have a positive financial impact. A revitalized CBC, increased funding for the Canada Council, and the Trade Routes programme are wonderful things. I welcome the return of the 5% + of my annual income that used to come from CBC broadcasts, as well as the opportunity to hear fellow Canadians’ performances broadcast nationally. Doubling the budget of the Canada Council is fantastic! How on earth could strengthening the major arts funding body in the country be seen as “tokenism”? The arts ministers- both federal and provincial- of this country have had to apologize for even daring to request funding stability over the past generation, and now we have a government that is determined to follow through on campaign promises to revitalize the arts sector- with transparency and conviction! This is a huge step forward, and should be recognized as such.

      • Milka says:

        Just think of the millions upon millions of dollars wasted in printing in two languages, money which could have gone not only to the arts but social services .
        To be held in thrall by a bunch of cuckoo birds who will probably benefit the most .

      • Eddie Mars says:

        That must be why the new minister is gawping on while Opera Lyra goes to the wall, then?

  • Jaxon says:

    Why did Norman chose to write such a contentious headline? It makes it seem like an argument is going on.

  • V.Lind says:

    I am perfectly well aware of that. I was LISTING national institutions, of which the Canada Council is one.