The Maple Leaf Forever

Thursday, 1 July 2004 — 9:41pm | Music, Television

We hear a lot today about how Canada is somehow in danger of cultural assimilation on the part of our southern neighbours, hence the need for arcane and increasingly unenforceable satellite TV regulations on the part of the CRTC, among other things. What is actually best for both consumer choice and the promotion of Canadian artists is a discussion for another day, as is whether or not this purpoted cultural assimilation exists when Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for Governor on a platform of putting a cork in Hollywood’s Vancouver-ward drainage, but I will point out a little something that may seem contradictory from an ideological point of view: I like the CBC. I like them a lot.

Taking a consistent stand on the extent to which government protectionism should apply to the arts is, again, nothing but blind ideology. A more pragmatic stance is to look at the merit of entertainment regulations and providers on a case-by-case basis, instead of blanket statements about bolstering or gutting the CRTC and CBC. The naive argument is that if consumers want Canadian content on their television sets, they will pump their money into it by their own will, only they won’t, because Canadian television sucks – when currently, all television sucks, except for – note the country of origin – Hockey Night in Canada (along with a number of odd exceptions I omit to preserve and emphasize my point). But as for the inferiority of television – that, too, is an entirely different matter.

Chuck the satellite regulations, but a well-funded CBC stays. The proof: CBC Radio Two – specifically, After Hours, the best jazz show in the whole country, period, no ifs and no buts. After Hours, which plays on Radio Two weeknights from 10pm to midnight, did nothing less than teach me everything I know about jazz. Mind you, filling domestic content quotas is a heck of a lot easier when your country can lay claim to the likes of Oscar Peterson, Moe Koffman, Regina Carter, Lenny Breau and Diana Krall. An anecdote: hree years ago, back when the legendary Ross Porter was still hosting the show – sadly, he has since left – I wrote the show in response to a call for written submissions on “the definition of jazz”; ten months later, the CBC informed me (quite to my surprise) that it was actually a contest of sorts, and subsequently sent me a CD wallet, Verve Records shirt and no less than twelve albums by bassist Charlie Haden.

Hockey Night in Canada is but the icing on the cake – with a Cherry on top, one might add.

Happy Canada Day, eh.

Speaking of 1 July, the other anniversary of sorts, but one a hundred years younger, is the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese, which is celebrated every year with a good old-fashioned pro-democracy protest. Now, I know I have said little to nothing on these here pages of my June excursion to that region of the world, but that would just lead to more expressions of British colonial pride – which, of course, bring us back to the subject of the Dominion; and what a Dominion it is.

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