Restore Funding to Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT)
To: Government of Canada
To: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance
The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Honourable Bev Oda, Minister of Canadian Heritage
We are writing in response to the announcement of cuts to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) for Public Diplomacy. This funding currently supports the creation, dissemination and promotion of Canadian arts, Canadian cultural initiatives, and business opportunities for Canadian artists internationally. The health and expansion of existing international networks depend on DFAIT funding not only to create opportunities for artists to participate in an expanded, global economy, but also to bring professionals and key decision-makers from abroad to Canada to create and promote cultural exchange and business opportunities here at home. The $11.9 million cut over two years represents a 100% withdrawal of the Public Diplomacy budget – funds that would normally enable Canadians to participate in international festivals, exhibitions, concert and lecture tours, dance and theatre productions, conferences, and academic exchanges. These cuts to the Public Diplomacy budget will jeopardize Canada's longstanding international reputation as a free and democratic nation with a commitment to supporting Canadian values through its arts. We believe that fiscal responsibility involves securing our long-term investments into the arts and cultural industries in Canada, and that sustaining Canadian culture abroad is an effective and productive use of our tax dollars. The effects of the Public Diplomacy cuts are aimed at hard-working Canadians who depend on international recognition to succeed in their field. This withdrawal of support to diplomatic funding is particularly disconcerting considering that other governments are continuously increasing their Public Diplomacy funding, such as the United States, which has tripled its efforts in cultural diplomacy since 2001. We, the undersigned, would like to see the international dissemination of Canadian culture and values maintained as a priority for Canadians. We urge you to reverse your decision to cut these funds to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.