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Laying out the welcome mat for author Stephen Harper

In an article posted on workopolis.com, author Susan Swan welcomes Stephen Harper to the world of publishing by offering him a few tips for his upcoming book on the history of hockey.

Swan uses Harper’s “day job” as prime minister to segue into criticisms of the government’s slashing of funding for cultural programs abroad and comments about the difficulties and limitations of obtaining grants and literary prizes.

You mentioned that the research for your book has slowed down since you became our 22nd prime minister. Naturally, I wasn’t surprised, and I thought of suggesting that you try for Ontario’s $1,500 emerging writers’ grant and hire your own researcher. Like all emerging writers in Ontario, you are entitled to apply, although this modest start-up will barely cover a researcher’s fee for any more than a month. Nor will it help much to offset some of your moving costs, Mr. Prime Minister, if, God forbid, you lose your day job in another election.

Alas, the funding that once helped Canadian writers reach their world audiences has vanished. Thanks to you slashing $11.8-million from our cultural programs abroad, 30 years of support has gone overnight. Alas again, our cultural diplomats who were once employed to promote our culture abroad now have no way to publicize anything, let alone our writing. And knowing the stock you place in short-term results, these hard-working folks may soon be out of a job altogether.

As covered in Q&Q Omni today, The Writer’s Union of Canada, of which Swan is vice-chair, held a demonstration on Parliament Hill yesterday to draw attention to the financial and cultural contributions the arts make to Canada.