Saturday, February 24, 2018

Canada. Craven Colony of the U.S.A. Part Three.

                          By Robin Mathews   February 2018

“The major task of a Colonial Scribe is to avoid the truth without ever telling outright lies.” (Anonymous)

The role of “Canada’s National Newspaper”, the Globe and Mail, is to appear to cover the most important Canadian matters while, in fact, avoiding them.  Chief among its activities is to torture information revealing the country’s ignominious colonialism into some kinds of human interest stories without deeper implications. Thus we get Kate Taylor’s “The outsiders who got in” – a revelation that the essential forelock-tugging abasement of Canada’s artistic controllers has not changed a whit since the battles of the 1960s and 1970s (Globe and Mail, Feb. 2, 2018, R1 and R6).

Kate Taylor reveals that major Canadian policy makers and administrators in Canada’s Art and Culture field are still recruited from the former or the present Imperial Power to head (for instance, recently) the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Art Collection, Luminato, and the Shaw Festival.  More Imperial appointees will soon follow:  No Canadians Need Apply….

In a reasonably wealthy colony one of the problems in the Arts and Culture fields is “containment”.  How – put simply – can an expansion of artistic effort (publicly encouraged) be made possible at the same time as the deeply colonial nature of the overall community is maintained as the “normal” condition?  How, in effect, can artistic, cultural, creative forces be unleashed and publicly encouraged at the same time as a rigid subservience to Colonial Values is maintained … without the risk of creative activists demanding real social, artistic, cultural, political, economic, and military independence?

One way is to appoint ‘imperial masters’ to guide policy and to shape program. And to assure that artistic language does not become an instrument of change.

Wholly ignored by Kate Taylor – the 1960s and 1970s produced a major drive for independence for Canada and for the appointment of Canadians to all major positions in arts, culture, education, and more….  Those years produced the chaining (in protest) at the AGO. They produced the invasion (by legitimate members) of the AGO annual general meeting to bring about change. The Chair of that painfully colonial-minded organization had gathered hundreds of “proxies” to hold off Canadian takeover and to back any policy of the Colonials – however repressive. (Kate Taylor forgets, ignores, or is ignorant of all that.)

And so, apparently, is Gail (Dexter) Lord, consulted for Kate Taylor’s article.  “Toronto-based international museum consultant” Gail Lord [Lord Cultural Resources] was an activist battler for Canadian independence and for wholly Canadian-staffed positions throughout the artistic and cultural community in those earlier, heady years.  She, too … does not (it seems) remember even her own biography, having contracted (apparently) CMS, the Colonial Memory Syndrome, which is the tendency to forget history involving resistance to imperial domination by those winning or seeking significant place in Canada’s Arts, Culture, and Creative Community.

Astonishingly, the Guardians of Canada-as-a-U.S. Colony have never been removed – even though the struggles of the 1960s and 1970s produced the Canadian Artists Registry (CARFAC), the Writers Union of Canada, the League of Canadian Poets, the Association for (the study of) Canadian and Quebec Literatures, the Canadian Liberation Movement, the Committee for an Independent Canada, the ‘Independence and Socialism’ movement in the NDP nicknamed “the Waffle”… and many more organizations of anti-colonial expression and conviction. [see, to begin, “The Canadianization Movement”, Wikipedia].

The Canadianizing organizations that survived have mostly changed themselves into ‘guilds’ without nobler ambitions than to weasel from the Guardians of Canada-as-a-U.S. Colony enough Hush Money to keep them neutered and docile.  In fact, not one Canadian Independence/anti-imperialist work has been recorded in visual arts, theatre, music, poetry or prose for forty years at least.  The few created are hidden behind The Great Wall of Denial (as this article will also be). 

The Canada Council for the Arts has become beautifully sensitive to the need of funding for indigenous thought, feeling, and creative expression.  But it has not released a cent for anti-imperialist artists seeking the independence of Canada.  Spokespersons for the Council will doubtless say: “But we have had no applications for any such kinds of work”.  And they will be correct in that statement, for bribery, brainwash, and repressive tolerance have made their statement (almost) perfectly true. 

Indeed, even beyond Arts and Culture the brain-washing has been astonishingly complete.  Just for instance, the bold and tireless workers fighting the U.S. Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion being built to assure the pollution of Canada’s Pacific Coast, the destruction of the Salmon Fishery there – and much, much more that is evil -  will carry any poster but one that reads “Yankee Go Home”.  That anti-imperialist slogan has been erased from the possibility of thought in Canada.

Some Canadians may battle (in fact) against U.S. Imperialism … but true to colonial rules … they may not call it U.S. Imperialism.  They may not write: “Yankee Go Home”. The Canadian State and its partner, Kinder Morgan, know the organizing and activating power of language, and with Orwellian effectiveness control it – without those resisting knowing they are being effectively neutered.

Kate Taylor makes reference to the Banff Centre for Art and Creativity and to the U.S. “expert” there teaching Arts Leadership.  Pretending to need a U.S. “expert” to teach Arts Leadership to Canadians describes both the disease called The Banff Centre and its importance to the chain of cultural colonial-mindedness among Arts Administrators in Canada. Indeed, Principal of Rubenstein Associates, Rosalyn Rubenstein writes in a subsequent Globe and Mail article (“How to change arts leadership in Canada: an insider’s perspective”, Globe and Mail, Feb. 20, 2018, A16) a long plea to encourage the preparation of Canadians for top Canadian Arts and Culture positions.

Still avoiding the core issue (or she wouldn’t be published by the Globe and Mail) Ms. Rubenstein asks, “why aren’t there more Canadian faculty on the new leadership program at Banff?” Ms. Rubenstein’s heart is halfway to being in the right place.  But calling a spade a spade is obviously not her vocation … and so she pleads for de-colonization without daring to use the word.

Put in the very simplest terms, the Banff Centre is an integral part of the U.S. Arts Circuit.  It is not the Centre and a major part of a Canadian Arts and Culture system.  For those who have doubts … request the statistics from the Banff Centre of the citizenship of senior artists-in-residence, “experts” invited in, and other “star” visitors, as well as faculty there over the last forty years.  Statistics will reveal, I have no doubt, a controlling portion of foreign – mostly U.S. – people at Banff.  And that is only a symptom of the Colonial Disease there.

In that vein, Kate Taylor is unwise enough to cite U.S.-produced Kathleen Bartels, director of the Vancouver Art Gallery since 2001 as one of those imperials who “figure the differences out, adapt well, and stay put”.  There is not the slightest doubt in the world that Ms. Bartels has ‘stayed put’.  But many aware people in Vancouver believe she has adapted so badly she has hatched a Monster in the New Gallery plan, intended for an idiotic location, and using - of course - a foreign architect possessing giddy and inappropriate ideas of architecture for Canada’s West Coast.

Indeed when Ms. Bartels was drumming for her empire-building project (how suitable from one appearing from the present Imperial power) she ran a sort of ‘peoples’ referendum’ on the idea of a new gallery building on a board in the foyer of the present VAG.  Supporting comments written on the board were preserved; those that were opposed to her gallery project were immediately erased by attendants. 

Even in colonies, repressive tolerance is usually a little more subtle.

Ms. Bartel’s every action in and around the present historical, attractive, and central site has been – to far from a few Canadians – alienating, insensitive, condescending, patronizing … in a word: ‘imperialistic’.

The failure of Kate Taylor to report the real history and condition of Imperial Appointments (and the resistance to them) involving top positions in Canadian Arts and Culture is both regrettable and wholly normal for a Colonial Scribe. As is the obvious determination by the Globe and Mail’s ‘controllers’ that the real story of Canada’s struggle for independent artistic and cultural freedom will never be reported (by that newspaper) to Canadian readers.

 Contact: Robin Mathews

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