The Daily Kel

Blog for Kelly Lamrock, M.L.A. for Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak, New Brunswick

Friday, September 08, 2006

Arts Debate

I had an interesting forum on arts policy with Dennis Atchison (NDP-Fredericton Silverwood) and Will Forrestall (PC-Fredericton Lincoln). Both did well, and it was a nice thing to have a debate where people were thoughtful, civil, and focussed on ideas.

I mean, I did have to differ with Will when he mentioned the MacKay Report as a "Conservative accomplishment". They commissioned the report, but when I moved a motion to accept it, the government MLA's voted it down. I think it's important -- it means early help for special needs kids, retoring arts, music and trades to classrooms and giving teachers the support resourcesthey need to give kids individual attention. And I believe the government should be held to account over voting their own report down.

Two other areas of difference

1. The Tories seem proud of this $500 tax deduction for families who put kids in recreation programmes. And play and exercise is a public good, no doubt. But is an $47 tax reduction (because you get 9.5% of $500) really going to make a difference, given that it will go to those parents who can afford to pay out of pocket for programmes in the first place?

I made this pojnt -- when I was in elementary school, we had phys. ed. 3 times a week, taught by a specialist trained in kinesiology. We played sports on school teams, because we had coaches.

Today, elementary school kids get gym once a week, taught by the kids' teacher, who may or may not have the ability to do so. And there are no school teams -- they got cut. You want to play, you pay for a private team. (We pay the FDSA, CAMFA, and YBC. It costs us $600 bucks a year, with the discount we get because I coach my son's YBC basketball team).

My point is this -- is it worth giving $47 bucks to a two-lawyer household like mine if that robs us of the fiscal capacity to have proper physical education and sports in public schools that's free to all kids? Isn't that pandering?

2. Tories still think having a guy in an office called "The Captal Commission" means they've done the job. I think we need a Capital Commission with real money and a mandate -- give core funding to arts and heritage groups, invest in heritage buildings, fund animations, guides and theatrical performances at heritage sites and beautify our region. But more on that later....

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