Tuesday, December 18, 2007


UPDATE: CTF Saskatchewan Director Lee Harding and WAM organizer Ellen Quigley speak debated on Tuesday, December 18 on Newstalk radio 650 and 980. Listen to or download the segment here. Quigley said that the event needed to be free to have the scope of impact necessary. Host John Gormley wonders if environmentalists and music fans won't pay for at least some portion of this, why should government?!

The WAM festival in Saskatoon forgot two letters--FG. The We Are Many festival should have been called With All Money From Government.

The festival is slated for August 22-24, 2008 in Saskatoon, and will feature music, theatre, visual arts, and dance – to commit participants to environmental sustainability, er, radical activism. Organizers plan for each participant to sign a
"WAM Pact" that includes 40 means of behaviour change to help the environment. A mandatory part of this pact is to sign up another 5 people. From here "community caucuses" will be formed to make environmental changes in their communities, including this radical example from their website:

For instance: the people of Montreal and Toronto could unite in agreeing never to fly between their two cities again. Together they might decide to work with ViaRail, the Quebec and Ontario provincial governments, the federal government, and Canada-based businesses to make their choice an affordable and viable one. We Are Many takes in the local and the global, and encourages collective action on every level.

Of course, ideas this radical can only be supported by government. On December 9, organizer Ellen Quigley wrote,
-- One month and two days ago, Lorne Calvert was the Premier of
Saskatchewan. As of Friday afternoon, he is an active participant in
WAM and has offered to approach people such as Shirley Douglas and
David Suzuki on behalf of the festival!

-- We now have the support of two Sask Party Ministers and nine MLAs
(provincial representatives, for the Americans on this list) from both

-- Also, 2 out of Saskatoon's 4 MPs are on board as well.

-- Not only that, but we can say we have the support of all 7 of the
City Councillors who have met with us so far. We have meetings with
the Mayor and an 8th Councillor on December 12th.

On November 12, WAM told us this:
Grants: The Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation has pledged $8000 for WAM and is applying on our behalf for significantly more. This is one of our largest single contributions to date and a major advance. We have also submitted applications for grants from the Sask Arts Board and Sask Environment's Green Initiatives Program. Grants we're working on for the near future include the EcoAction Grant and awards from the Crown Corporations.

If you think this is a waste of public money, let these groups know:
SCIC: scic@web.ca
Saskatchewan Arts Board: (800)667-7526. Minister Tell: minister.tpcs@gov.sk.ca
Sask Environment: 1-800-567-4224. Minister Heppner: heppner.mla@sasktel.net Phone: (306) 787-0393


Ellen said...

Dear Mr. Harder,

Just a little correction -- John Gormley was the one who said that no one would come if we charged an admission price; I merely stated that we wouldn't get 50,000 people that way.

Much more important, I would like to meet you to tell you a bit more about the festival; I doubt you would have such an opposition to it if you knew a bit more about what we're doing. I will come down to Regina if need be. You are not in the phone book, so I am hoping -- in the spirit of frank and open discussion -- that you will take the lead and e-mail me at info@wearemanyfestival.com or wearemanyfestival@gmail.com so that we can set up a meeting. All the best,

Ellen Quigley
General Coordinator
We Are Many Festival

Lee Harding said...

Hi Ellen,
I accept your invitation. I will also correct the wording in this original post.

Ellen said...

Dear Mr. Harder,

Great. We leave for our promotional train tour on January 1st; would you be willing to meet before then? If you let me know when you're free, I can plan a trip down to Regina. All the best,


amc225 said...

Mr Harder:

I fear from your post that you haven't spent any time researching this before coming out attacking.

I'm a student in Saskatoon and out of interest, I signed up for the email list on the festival website a couple months ago and usually skim through them to see what's going on.

The festival has had multiple fund raisers to date, a fun eco-bash on campus, an individual donors afternoon event, and there's even the opportunity to donate online as an individual through a group called Citizen Powered. ttp://citizenpowered.ca/?page_id=53

Listening to Mr Gormley's thoughts, his major concern seemed to be 'Charging a toonie or a loonie to help cover costs'. So wouldn't that mean every individual donation of $100 would cover 50-100 people's 'free admission' up-front for attending the festival, making it accessible for all.

In the email updates WAM has also updated us on presentations to FirstSask credit union, the Kinsmen club and many other NON-governmental organisations to ask for sponsorship. Their search for funding seems to be very diverse making the title of your post "with all money from government" completely false.

Summer festivals are funded all the time through designated Government funds and a majority of these are free of charge to attend with no individual donations as a funding source. I don't ever remember paying for Canada day or a centennial celebration at Diefenbaker park.

Perhaps you could spend your time 'fighting for the taxpayer' by calling the City of Saskatoon on stupid expenses like $500,000 worth of lights on the Victoria bridge, rather than attacking one of many special events, an event that will even save taxpayers money in the long run in a multitude of ways through a reduced environmental impact as a city.

Anthony Carlson

Lee Harding said...

Before this continues any longer, "just a little correction" of my own--my name is Lee Harding! I also thank you for posting your own name, as I appreciate people willing to put their name behind their comments.

To respond, "With all money from government" is barely hyperbole. Government and crowns remain the overwhelming target for funds for a free event. Apart from $2500 in donations near the start, the biggest donation listed is on the website is from SCIC, which is government-subsidized and, in this case, is a co-lobbyist for even more money!

I can only hope that in the end government really won't be picking up the tab for this activism. A wide chasm remains between justifying government funding for CANADA DAY celebrations and eco-activist gatherings with overtly political goals.

CTF You Tube Channel

Canadian Taxpayers Federation's Fan Box