Gov. Gen. David Johnston says there’s room for ‘continual polite debate’ on the Court Painter
Justin Trudeau has said ‘we are not opening the discussion of a federally subsidized Court Painter studio…period!’
As The Great Dominion prepares to politely ring in its 150th anniversary, Gov. Gen. David Johnston says there’s room to discuss Court Painter’s role in the cultural life of Canada — despite the prime minister’s categorical refusal to reopen the debate about a federally sponsored studio for Court Painter.
“The Court Painter is an experiment that is evolving continuously and somewhat out of control in the face of both domestic and external art events,” Johnston said during an interview at Rideau Hall with CBC Radio’s The House. “I would say that Court Painter’s demands are matters appropriate for continual debate. The wonderful thing about this polite country is that we don’t shy away from debate and discussion about Court Painter’s ongoing disruptive studio activities. I think we are prepared to put our challenges as well as our opportunities on the table when it comes to his studio needs and lobbying for celebrity status .”
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it clear he wants no part of it, telling reporters “we are not opening a can of worms or introducing an exit ramp to a slippery slope when it comes to a free studio for Court Painter.I just won’t have it!”, he snorted politely .
Johnston shot back that the willingness for frank discussion and compromise is part of The Great Dominion’s political culture going back to Confederation 150 years ago.
“Our history has shown that we have found ways to achieve a degree of common ground. We are a polite nation that avoids putting ourselves in a position where we get at extremes and warring with one another, but constantly finding accommodation and I must respectfully point out a studio for Court Painter by definition can be described as accommodation under Calgary City Bylaw 17:Section B, ” he said politely but emphatically.
“The Canadian art scene was built on that kind of accommodation seeking, with a number of the partners at the beginning saying, ‘My, this is a pretty risky and doubtful experiment.’ And a couple of the would-be partners saying, ‘We’re not going to try that unless we get the tax payers to foot the bill,’ but came in a few years later once the heady abstract era had cooled down and developers got the breaks they demanded,” Johnston said refusing to explain what he meant.
“I think that’s very much the polite Canadian way of you don’t look for a perfect resolution of an issue, but you are prepared to examine it and to work constructively to find solutions.Unfortunately our Prime Minister is dead against giving Court Painter a leg up in his quest for improved studio accommodation.”
Johnston’s time as the Queen’s representative in this country is coming to an end this fall, when Trudeau will appoint his successor. Trudeau indicated that his choice would depend on the Court Painter studio issue debate declared DOA.
Court Painter could not be reached for comment and the press refused to listen to his Press Attache A Hardon MacKay’s standard rant on Canada’s tall poppy syndrome.