NDP Oppose Conservative Cuts To Literature Festival

Festival international de la littérature has funding removed at last minute by Conservatives

SEPTEMBER 16, 2011

MONTRÉAL – The New Democrats today condemned the way the Conservative Government is treating the Festival international de la littérature (FIL), cutting its funding only six weeks before it is set to begin. As a result, the Festival international de la littérature’s will be greatly weakened and the Festival is now likely headed towards the first deficit in its 17 year history.

This is not the first time that the Conservative Government has cut funding to a prominent cultural event. Toronto’s SummerWorks Theatre and Arts Festival was also victim of the Conservatives, when it lost around $50,000 in federal funding only weeks before the start of its 2011 season.

“With such arbitrary and irresponsible actions, the Harper government is destabilizing the cultural and artistic community,” said Tyrone Benskin, Official opposition critic for Canadian Heritage. “The Conservatives anti-Arts policy needs to stop immediately.”

New Democrats pointed out the whole Canadian economy is weakened by the government’s actions, actions that threaten an economic sector worth billions a year to our economy.

“Cultural organizations cannot work properly if they have a sword of Damocles constantly hanging over their heads. Funding for festivals must be stable and free from political interference,” added Pierre Nantel (Longueuil-Pierre-Boucher), Vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.                  

The NDP is demanding the government restore the FIL’s funding and help ensure a bright future for a festival which is an important part of Canada and Quebec’s culture.

Created in 1994, the FIL has hosted more than 3000 writers and other artists over the years, including Dany Laferrière, Gilles Vigneault, Ariane Moffat, Marie Chouinard, Fanny Ardant and Jean-Louis Trintignant.