Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Message to Yo Yo Ma: Harper's Not Barack

There’s been some interesting chitchat about how Stephen Harper played at the National Arts Centre benefit on the weekend. A media coup, some said. A masterstroke designed to show the PM cares about culture.

Well, the video that’s making the rounds doesn’t show just how much skill he showed playing the piano (just some chords to go along with “I’ll Get By with Little Help from My Friends," or something more?) But what is clear, documented by the backgrounder in Monday’s Globe and Mail, is that the appearance was carefully planned by one of Harper’s most skilled advisors, his wife Laureen. She was head of the benefit committee, and she was the one who lined up Yo Yo Ma to go along with the idea.

I really wonder how much the great cellist knows about Harper: Ma was a supporter of Barack Obama, and played at his inauguration which would suggest he’s not a right wing guy. What is clearer from the timing is that Ms. Harper set up a “surprise” that would played pretty good now, but which would have been an election bonanza, had the government fallen.

Since it was Quebec that deprived the Conservatives of their majority, in large part because of the way Harper and his friends showed their contempt for culture in the widest sense, this cameo performance would have (and may still) play extremely well in la belle province.

But playing the piano does not mean you care about music, as the string of Conservative budget cuts shows.

Mr. Harper, what friends are you talking about?

Mr. Ma, I think you were had.

No comments: