National art treasures ours, not Harper’s

I recently read an article that left me quite sad and so disappointed in the short-sightedness of this federal government, and one that I believe touches all Canadians, especially here in Yukon.

I recently read an article that left me quite sad and so disappointed in the short-sightedness of this federal government, and one that I believe touches all Canadians, especially here in Yukon, where we enjoy a vibrant artistic community.

The Harper government’s Foreign Affairs Department had been considering the selling off its artworks – sculptures and paintings from some of our most famous Canadian artists such as Borduas, Kurelek and Riopelle.

Perhaps Minister John Baird was influenced by popular TV shows, like Pawns Stars, Canadian Pickers or those hotel trade shows looking to give you cash for your unused treasures.

Luckily for us the minister has now retracted this idea, which would have been an unprecedented move, a move that would have liquidated our heritage, our history, our culture for quick cash. It would have been a horribly misguided short-term measure that would have affected us and future generations profoundly.

This brings to mind a government that is out of touch with the majority of Canadians, a government that does not believe in Canada – past, present or future – a government void of long-term strategic financial planning.

I am certain Canadians could easily suggest other cost-cutting measures to this government. In fact there are many of their programs that come to mind.

We must remind this government that these artworks do not belong to them. They belong to the people of this country and to our future generations.

The only rights Canadians have conferred to Mr. Harper and his government, in regards to these priceless works, are as custodians.

If they no longer wish to have them in their offices, they should be placed in museums across Canada for Canadians to enjoy, not hidden away in the hands of the rich elite. We must remember that once sold to private hands, they will be lost to us forever.

I urge you to get the message out. Tell your friends, write to every level of government, as it affects all of us, all of them. Should they ever consider such folly – whether as city councillors, mayors, MLAs, MPs, the minister of Foreign Affairs or the prime minister –

tell them to keep their hands off.

The art of the people, our Canadian culture, our heritage, our history, our national identity is not for sale. Not now, not ever.

Louis R. Gagnon

Whitehorse