Many local issues are being discussed in this election, but Ottawa’s vibrant arts and culture scene doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. That’s a shame, because Ottawa is a heavy hitter in supporting a strong cultural sector. However, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the city’s arts scene, and it will take many years to rebound.
The Ottawa Cultural Alliance and Apartment613 are just two of many organizations devoted to fostering Ottawa’s arts and cultural scene. We jointly developed a candidate questionnaire and are publishing all the response we receive prior to Election Day on September 20. Christian Proulx, Green Party candidate for Vanier, was one of those who took the opportunity to respond. Check out the other candidate responses here.
What are your roots in the riding where you are running for office, and how have you been involved in the community?
I was born here and have lived most of my life in the riding. I’ve been involved in the community from a young age, through parades, scouting, hockey and fundraising. As father of three adult sons, volunteer work continued with eleven years as a Scout leader, minor hockey league coaching, helping the needy (through la guignolée, le Souper Canadien, Soupers de fèves), and more.
Why should our readers vote for you?
As a long-time resident of Ottawa-Vanier, I’m passionate about overall sustainability, efficiency and progress. I’m committed to building strong, resilient and safe communities in the face of the growing social, economic and environmental challenges in our riding. I get things done. I’m recognized for having down-to-earth people skills, and delivering on results. Professionally, I manage teams to work efficiently with various clients, consultants and other trades to deliver solutions that best reflects a project’s intent. My vision for Ottawa-Vanier is a riding focused on sustainability. This includes safe, walkable neighbourhoods, affordable and balanced housing and urban development options, services and support within communities, improved public transit and bicycle networks, and thriving local businesses. Ottawa-Vanier can be a template for smart, community focused development and renewal in which all can participate, thrive and enjoy. As Member of Parliament, I will work to implement lasting solutions to address the various needs of our residents and in the best interest of our communities in Ottawa-Vanier.
Cultural resources such as festivals, museums, and galleries play a critical role in the mental health of Ottawans. In fact, seven in 10 residents think cultural venues are important to mental health and well-being. They are places where our most vulnerable citizens can make social connections and be stimulated. Culture is arguably more important than ever as our economy and communities recover from the pandemic. What role do you see culture playing in the city’s reopening and recovery?
It’s noteworthy that a good number of our active Ottawa-Vanier Green volunteers are involved in the arts: artists, dance choreographers, choir members, musicians in orchestra, people who love to dance, and people who organize community music and social events. Cultural resources and the arts are so important for the city’s reopening and recovery. During the pandemic and its public health-related lockdowns, we’ve not had the experiences of being in large groups to experience live performances together – in music, theatrical performances, dance, choirs. And these feed and inspire our human spirit. Museums and galleries give us tangible experiences of their exhibits that we can walk around, as opposed to experiencing the world through a computer screen, or smart phone. Parents can bring their children for a live shared learning experience in museums – so different from on-line learning from home. Even before the pandemic, our society has become more fragmented than it was several decades ago. Shared experiences (music, theatre, film, television…) help people have sense of being part of a shared larger community and culture : a very important aspect of mental health and well-being. The Green Party affirms that federal support for our cultural infrastructure must be increased. Artists have more influence on public policy than an army of politicians. We need to support them to fully engage with the climate emergency. It is said that poets are the true legislators of the world. Today it can be said that singers, actors, authors, playwrights, painters, makers of public art, multimedia creators and the producers and publishers who make their works accessible have more influence on people’s thoughts and lives than an army of politicians. The arts are frequently a creative outlet for the soul, and many who feel strongly about climate and social justice use the arts to express important messages in the most impactful way possible.
What specific investments will you support to assist and grow Ottawa’s cultural sector?
A Green government will: provide $25 million in additional funding to aid museums and cultural organizations in both post-pandemic reopening and continuing to offer accessible digital offerings. It will increase support for indoor or outdoor arts performances required to adapt to become compliant with COVID regulations ensure the viability of our cultural infrastructure in consultation with Arts Service Organizations, professional associations, trade associations and unions across the creative sector. It will also increase funding to $1 billion over 3 years to all of Canada’s arts and culture organizations, including the Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada, orchestras, theatres, galleries and publishers. Further, it will increase support for community arts programs and facilities across Canada by establishing stable base funding at a set percentage of the federal government Enact Copyright reform as envisaged by the current Heritage Committee report. Reform the Canada Revenue Act to allow arts and culture workers to benefit from a tax averaging plan that will take into account the fact that lean years often precede and follow a good year when a show is produced, a book is published, or a grant or prize is won. Establish permanent funding for festivals and events that celebrate Canadian Heritage.