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Day 18 - Is the artsy, fartsy chicken coming home to roost?

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A while back, the erstwhile Hacks and Wonks and yours truly duked it out over the Harper government's cuts to art funding. To summarize, I suggested the cuts were bad strategy for the Tories, a policy that would re-affirm all the negative stereotypes about the Alberta-based Tory rednecks. The Hack eloquently suggested I was out to lunch, and that cutting arts funding only affected a small group of fringe voters who do not support the Tories anyway. I think many blog readers agreed with the Hack, but I think that was because he wrote WAY MORE than I did. Quantity does tend to sway public opinion, IMHO. Seriously though, it was a vigorous debate with both of us trying to forecast what, if any, impact this policy would have on the electorate.It's way too early for anyone to say "I told you so" but there is some evidence that the arts cuts are hurting the Tories. Maybe not across the board, but in at least one key battleground - Quebec. The Globe's Adam Radwanski makes this observation today, and references a steady slide in support for the Tories in Quebec, as reported by polling's It-Firm, Nanos Research. The arts cuts are big news in Quebec, as witnessed by the rising up of a group of Canada's most famous screen, stage and television actors. Will this translate into problems on e-day? That is the question the aforementioned Hack and I are hashing out.First, if all it took was an endorsement from a bunch of overpaid actors to win an election, the Democrats would have a lock on the White House. But the issue being debated here is whether this convinces voters who have traditionally rejected the Reform/Alliance/Conservative brand, and thus kept them from the promised land of a majority government. Many pundits smarter than me (and by that I mean they write more than me, too) believe a majority is only possible with a breakthrough in Quebec. Certainly, it was thus for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.If the Conservative campaign remains stalled with the support of about 38 per cent of decided voters, which is just short of what is needed to form a majority, the question should be asked about what it could have done (or not done) to get over that magic hump. By election day, we'll know for sure whether a combination of policies including the arts funding cuts doomed the Tories in Quebec. And then we'll know for sure whether it was decisive or not.UPDATE: The Globe's strategist panel weighs in on the arts funding issue. I added to this post because, frankly, they all agree with me. I am mostly ignoring opinions that conflict with my own. That is, after all, the beauty of a blog, no?. :)-30-

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.

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