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Opposition says Tories out of tune with music industry

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NDP MP Andrew Cash says the federal government doesn't appreciate Canada's music industry.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

NDP MP Andrew Cash says the federal government doesn't appreciate Canada's music industry. Photo Store

The same weekend Winnipeg hosted Canada’s Juno awards, federal Opposition critics came to the city to draw attention to Ottawa’s missteps in the music industry.

Cuts to a program to help musicians market their work in the post CD-world and new fees on small bars and restaurants that book non-Canadian bands are two measures in the past year that show Ottawa doesn’t understand the music industry, the critics said.

NDP Heritage critic Pierre Nantel and rocker writer Andrew Cash, now a Toronto-area Opposition MP, were in Winnipeg Sunday.

Nantel said federal budget cuts wiped out a small but vital fund under the $25 million Music Funds program. Its loss makes it harder for artists to come together and come up with new Internet streaming strategies to market their music. He said he believed the cut amounted to $1.25 million.

Meanwhile a levy to limit the entry of temporary foreign workers is having an unintended impact on musicians on tour.

Small venues must now pay fees to Ottawa to have bands on tour from aboard perform in restaurants and bars, Cash said.

The levy doesn’t apply to entertainment centres such as the MTS Centre.

Both MPs said the cuts and new fees show the Conservatives don’t appreciate the importance of Canada’s music industry.

As an industry, music contributes $93 million to Manitoba’s economy and it’s directly responsible for the creation of 4,000 jobs in the province.

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