Questions By Members, 10 July 2015
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

EELC minister and value of culture

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I’m concerned that the hon. Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture is feeling abandoned and left out of the conversation –

Some Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Dr. Bevan-Baker: So my question is for him.

Minister: What value do you believe culture has in the lives of Prince Edward Islanders?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture.

Mr. Perry: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Culture has a great value to all Islanders. We have a great history and tradition on PEI and culture is a part of keeping that alive. As a government, we are committed to providing whatever support we can, within our means, to the cultural sector on Prince Edward Island.

Thank you.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party for his first supplementary question.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Winston Churchill, when told once that due to the expense of fighting the war some of the museums would have to be closed and some British orchestras would have to be disbanded, responded to the question by asking a rhetorical question: Then what are we fighting for?

A question to the minister: What does he believe we are fighting for in the fiscal battle to get back to balanced budget?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture.

Mr. Perry: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are being very prudent with our dollars within our budget. We are being fiscally responsible and we’re living within our means. But we are still supporting the cultural sector on Prince Edward Island. We are committed to supporting them. We have funding that goes out to probably 100 different events and programs right across Prince Edward Island from tip to tip, so we are very much engaged with the cultural community and our support remains to help that sector provide these programs and events that we all participate in across the Island.

Thank you.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party for his second supplementary question.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Aside from the philosophical arguments that we can make for continued or even expanded support for arts and culture on Prince Edward Island, we know from a strictly dollars and cents point of view that music, visual arts, dance, the written word, whether that’s performed on stage or in a book, storytelling, and all of the other unique and widespread varied cultural offerings that we have here on Prince Edward Island boost our economy. Sometimes we think of public expenditures as expenses, but in this case there’s a tremendous payback. It’s not an expense at all, it’s an investment. They provide employment, they generate tourism, they fuel all the multipliers and spin-offs that go with that.

So why, in light of this, does the minster continue to cut funding to the Prince Edward Island arts and culture sector?

Mr. LaVie: He was told to by the Premier.

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Education, Early Learning and Culture.

Mr. Perry: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As noticed when we had budget expenses on the floor, there was a $10 million reduction in the funding to culture and that was primarily due to the 2014 celebrations. In fact, $10 million of it was for the 2014 celebrations.

We continue as a government to support all the cultural events on Prince Edward Island. We are committed to, for the very first time in this province, the development of a cultural strategy, and that is something that will help the cultural sector, and it will even enhance an already vibrant cultural community that we have on Prince Edward Island, and we look forward to having them actively participate in this development.

Thank you.

 

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