At last week’s Banff World Television festival, Minister of Culture and Community Spirit Lindsay Blackett questioned a panel of experts about Canadian TV and asked: “Why do we make such s--t here?” This started an interesting conversation among Canadians about the quality of our TV shows, but the real question should be: “Who is to blame?”

While Blackett’s statements were directly about television, many of those who work in the industry also work in other areas of the arts. The statement inevitably blanketed the entire entertainment industry in a completely unfair and archaic light. Quite frankly, the people who still think Canadian television is as bad as it used to be are probably the ones who also refuse to pay for music or download movies illegally. For any industry to survive we need to show it as much support as possible.

If the minister thinks the television industry is producing “s--t,” he has no one but his own government to blame. Earlier this year, the faculty of fine arts at the University of Calgary was quietly merged with the new faculty of arts. With it came job abolishments, which now leaves many fine arts students without the support they deserve. These layoffs were mostly due to the lack of funding the government no longer provides to the ailing university. If these students are not receiving a quality education, how can they be expected to produce anything that meets Blackett’s standards?

After his remarks, I find it sad that so many students and professionals can no longer rely on the minister’s unconditional support. Luckily, you and I both know that our city’s actors, singers, artists and dancers are stronger and braver than we can ever imagine.

I spent the last week in Toronto visiting television sets. I was astonished at how shows like Being Erica, Degrassi and a new show called Lost Girl were able to film, mostly on government funding. After spending a few days talking to actors, producers and writers, I’m more than happy to report that Blackett is 100 per cent unequivocally wrong.

Instead of telling the world that not even the government supports its own product, our minister should have said how supportive he is of our nation’s television shows.

There are dozens of ways of telling people they are doing a great job and at the same time imply they can always strive to do better. Trust me, my parents are professionals at it.

– Mike Morrison writes daily about all things Canadian entertainment on the award-winning Mike’s Bloggity Blog.

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