Heritage Minister Joly
Heritage Minister Joly

Heritage Minister Joly Huffs & Puffs In HuffPo Chat

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly joined HuffPost Canada editors Ryan Maloney and Amanda De Souza to answer Facebook Live questions on Netflix, Canada 150 and Canadian content this past Friday.

One could have only wished it was the BBC’s news program HARDtalk host Stephen Sackur because the minister danced, wriggled and bafflegabbed her way through a dozen or more questions without actually saying too much at all.

We learned, for instance, that the much ballyhooed cultural policy paper will be released in 2017, something that we already knew. What perhaps can be gleaned from unofficial backroom chats with people who may or may not be in the know is that, like the Harper government, the Grits view any form of taxation on Netflix, Google and other tech interlopers, as toxic.

She tells us that she has consulted stakeholders in Silicon Valley, across Canada, and peers in Europe and beyond, so she has a basket of ideas that now need to be pummelled into some sort of credible strategy, otherwise known as policy.

It is a fair guess that the nuts and bolts will offer a soft-landing for the creative core, offering a breadbasket of cash incentives, grants and stable funding for cultural institutions, and a cushion of some sort to spur production in the film and TV sectors. As for the fate of the CRTC, one can only wonder.

But there’s the fact that the Liberal PM last week shocked the electorate and, perhaps, even its own back-benchers, in announcing an additional $13.9 billion investment in the Canadian Armed Forces over the next decade, pushing up the $12.7 billion deficit the government has racked up in the first eight months of its 2016-17 fiscal year.

Wiggle room for more big expenditures is limited, so the policy paper is likely to offer salves instead of farsighted strategies.

But this is pure speculation. Had Stephen Sackur been fielding questions and responding to the Minister’s answers we surely would have been better served and assuredly greatly enlightened.

Instead, we had a Minister of the Crown who offered up a lexicon of buzz words that stroked the right communities, but said little about much at all. It was, to steal from Oscar Wilde, much ado about nothing.

As she famously told Globe & Mail columnist Robert Everett-Green in April of this year, “Politicians are like bees going to flowers. We cross-pollinate, and we need to go on every flower.”

You can read Joly’s pre-consultation paper here and listen to her HuffPost interview here

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