By: Jenna Shummoogum
It seems lately that if you want to study anything in the province of Alberta that pertains to the arts, you’ve been informally urged by the Government to reconsider. Following the release of the provincial budget in March, the Alberta Government has cut deeply into funding for post secondary institutions, slashing $147 million. They did, however, find it in their budget to upgrade the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary to the tune of $142.5 million. The Schulich upgrade—which will enable the admission of an additional 400 students—coincides with drastic cuts at Mount Royal University to reduce enrollment by 10 percent by 2015. At the same time, Mount Royal recently announced plans to suspended critical arts programs—among others—including its acclaimed Jazz and Classical Music Performance, and Theatre Arts diplomas.
On the heels of province-wide protest, the Alberta Government announced early this month that they would be returning $50 million to post secondary funding—too little too late for programs that have already been cut. The message coming from the top is pretty loud and clear; despite a communication strategy that says “Alberta celebrates the arts”, this government has made it clear that arts and humanities simply do not matter. The Redford government values engineers, and if—once those engineers are trained—they can go work in the oil and gas sector to bring in incomes that enable them to donate to the Conservative Party, that would be great. As a result, the government will continue to not touch the precious energy industry because it’s where the majority of their support comes from, because the energy industry has the money.
And the Alberta Government works hard to keep it that way. If you want your sector remain untouched by funding cuts, you should write a cheque to the Conservative Party of Alberta—the more zeros the better. Unless, of course, you work in the arts. If you donated your entire salary to the Conservative Party, it would hardly matter. And that’s why politics sucks—because in Alberta, the Party elected to represent the people only represent and stand for the issues of those people who got them elected and have the money to keep them in power. I’d suggest that Alison Redford’s 2012 This Hour Has 22 Minutes Christmas parody video isn’t so much of a parody after all.
How do we make politics suck less?
Get involved; bombard your MLA about cuts to post secondary education before all our talented Albertans leave the province for greener pastures.