09/29/2019 14:16 EDT | Updated 09/29/2019 14:18 EDT

Liberals Want To Give Kids $200 To Visit Museums And See Plays

A Liberal party spokesperson said they got the idea from France.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau greets grade 7 and 8 students as he makes a campaign stop at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Elementary School in London, Ont., on Sept. 16, 2019.

OTTAWA — Liberals are drawing inspiration from France in the party’s election promise to give every Canadian child a $200 “Culture Pass” when they turn 12 to help pay for cultural activities. 

The promise appears in the party’s election platform released Sunday. The one-time pass can be used to access “theatres, museums, galleries, workshops, and other cultural venues and local Canadian content.” 

French President Emmanuel Macron campaigned on a similar promise that was introduced last year. The difference is that in France, teenagers are eligible for the credit only once they turn 18. 

But it’s more generous there, valued at €500 (CAD $725) and redeemable by an app. French teenagers are also allowed to use the credit toward buying books and musical instruments. The initiative is 80 per cent bankrolled by private companies including Amazon, Google, and Facebook, according to The Guardian.

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The Liberals’ $200 pass for 12-year-olds is part of the party’s suite of arts and culture promises intended to “protect, promote, and strengthen” Canadian culture. But details are thin, however,  about how Canadian 12-year-olds will be able to use their $200 culture credits. There’s nothing in the platform to indicate what activities and events would qualify.  

According to Statistics Canada’s 2016 General Social Survey, 86 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older participated in an arts activity in the same year. Among those surveyed, 39 per cent of Canadians (15 and over) said they visited an art gallery. 

The statistics agency tracks attendance rates for art galleries or arts performances and festivals.

Other Liberal arts and culture-related promises include a pledge to “strengthen the regional mandate of CBC/Radio-Canada” to broadcast more local news coverage and to open access to its digital platform for smaller outlets.

Another pledge that’s also void of specifics is to introduce legislation, within the first year of government, to make “all” content providers offer “meaningful levels of Canadian content in both official languages. 

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission uses a points system to determine if content qualifies as “Canadian” by reviewing the citizenship of those in key production roles.

The pledge picks up on a deal the federal government struck with Netflix in 2017 to invest $500 million in original Canadian productions over the next five years. But the optics of giving a foreign company hundreds of millions of dollars to produce Canadian content became a major issue in Quebec. 

Former heritage minister Mélanie Joly received substantial blowback over the deal for failing to implement a plan to protect and enhance the viability of Quebec’s creative industries.

The Liberals have budgeted $135 million annually, starting in 2021, for three years to fund their new measures to support Canadian arts and culture.