Tony Clement had final say on where to put federal culture money

Tony Clement had final say on where to put federal culture money

Tony "The Decider" Clement (Image: Geoff Cheng)

A while back, we mentioned that the Conservative government, either to stoke its base or simply avoid embarrassing photo-ops, had rejigged its funding of big events around Canada in a way that left Pride Toronto with no federal funding. The government said then that this was just a result of a policy designed to spread the wealth around (socialism, anyone?), but a CBC report tells a different story. The national broadcaster is reporting that the decisions were made at the almost-top: Industry Minister Tony Clement was personally choosing which events got which money (that is, when he wasn’t rewriting Canada’s copyright laws, commissioning fake lakes or dropping a tonne of cash in his own Muskoka riding).

During a parliamentary committee on Thursday, Richard Dicerni, deputy minister of Industry Canada, said Clement had final say on which projects would be funded.

Clement, for his part, didn’t deny that as he left the House of Commons….  “I take responsibility for all decisions in my department,” Clement said.

For the record, Toronto wasn’t shut out of funding: Luminato and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair both got Tony’s stamp of approval. All that parsimony had an effect: after cutting costs by slashing funding to Pride, the program was left with $12 million unspent. To put that in context, $12 million is equal to 200 fake lakes.

• Wall Street Journal