Canadian rock band Billy Talent is letting the world know they don’t support the Ontario government, after the province’s culture minister, Lisa MacLeod, posted two photos of herself with members of the group.
In a now-deleted tweet, MacLeod expressed her enthusiasm in meeting the band. Alongside the photos — one showing her behind a drum kit — she said she was proud that her ministry supports the Ontario Music Fund (OMF).
The Mississauga, Ont. band took issue with the photos and caption. They fired back Friday with a statement saying their label had asked them to meet with MacLeod. They agreed, hoping to convey the message that Doug Ford’s government’s cuts to the music fund were harmful for younger musicians.
“A photo of us with the minister was posted without our knowledge or consent that completely misrepresents the purpose of the meeting and has been misinterpreted by some as our support for the current administration,” the statement read.
“We thought that by engaging directly with her, we could make a difference. However, based on Ms. MacLeod’s mischaracterization of the purpose of our meeting and her misrepresentation of the government’s ‘support’ for the OMF, we realize that our appeal has likely fallen on deaf ears. For the record, we do NOT support the Ford Administration and what they are doing to the arts.”
MacLeod’s office told HuffPost Canada that the minister was meeting representatives from Music Canada to talk about the fund.
“During her visit, she was asked to stay late to meet the Billy Talent Band and offered the opportunity to play the drums, which she shared on social media through a light-hearted tweet in support of the band,” spokesperson Derek Rowland said in an email.
“She appreciates their feedback and will continue to support them, as well as all Canadian artists, in her role as Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.”
MacLeod’s time as an Ontario minister has been rocky. She was demoted from her position social services minister after her handling of the autism file angered parents, spurring a strong backlash and sustained protests.
Watch: Doug Ford shuffles cabinet, demoting a number of key ministers, including Lisa MacLeod. Story continues below.
She recently made headlines after she allegedly verbally attacked Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk at a Rolling Stones concert, calling him a “piece of sh*t” and a “f*cking loser.”
She later apologized for being so “blunt.”
The Ontario Music Fund — which the provincial government cut from $15 million to $7 million earlier this year — is “aimed at strengthening and stimulating growth in Ontario’s music companies and supporting this growing sector,” according to a government website. It is meant to support the province’s music companies and organizations so they can expand “their economic and cultural footprints within Canada and around the world.”
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The Progressive Conservatives are attempting to trim an $11.7-billion deficit and are cutting spending in a number of areas. That includes lower spending on tourism, arts and culture.
Culture programs are budgeted at $235 million this year, down from nearly $295 million last year, including slashing “arts sector support” from $18.5 million to $6.5 million.There are other initiatives that have also seen their funding drop.
The Ontario Arts Council, which awards grants, is receiving $10 million less from the government this year. And a $5 million Indigenous Culture Fund that the council administers, and was only established last year, has been discontinued.
With files from Zi-Ann Lum and the Canadian Press