Members of Parliament were aghast with Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault on Monday night when he failed to define what Western heritage was.
Blacklock's was first to report that Trudeau's heritage minister was told by MPs that "it’s actually a thing."
"Our entire heritage ecosystem is under threat right now from coast to coast to coast. Artists are finding it very difficult right now in Ontario, in Alberta, in Saskatchewan," Guilbeault said as he explained the $500 million in coronavirus aid to the culture sector.
"I’m wondering if you can tell the committee what constitutes Western heritage?" asked Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner
Guilbeault responded by rejecting the notion of Western heritage: "I would be one to believe in Canadian heritage from coast to coast to coast," he said.
The following exchange ensued:
MP Rempel Garner: "I’m just wondering if you think Western heritage— because it’s actually a thing, it would be like you asking me about Quebec culture and me not being able to talk about that—so, it is a thing. I’m just wondering if you think Western heritage is important to Canada?"
Minister Guilbeault: "I believe all parts of Canada’s heritage is important to Canada: Western heritage, Eastern heritage, Northern heritage, First Nations."
MP Rempel Garner: "Would you like to hazard a guess as to what is constituted in Western heritage?"
Minister Guilbeault: "If you have suggestions in terms of what it is we can do to help support different parts of Canada’s heritage ecosystem, we would be happy to consider them."
MP Rempel Garner: "Do you think Western heritage is under threat right now and perhaps needs a little bit of bolstering from, let’s say, the heritage minister?"
Minister Guilbeault: "I think I have tried to outline how our entire heritage ecosystem is under threat right now…"
MP Rempel Garner: "How would you as heritage minister preserve Western heritage if you don’t know what it is?"
Minister Guilbeault: "My role is to support artists throughout the country."
Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen then spoke up with clarity on the subject of Western heritage:
"As Western Canadians we understand and we cherish our pioneer spirit, those strong and gentle hands that built this country, Canada’s true environmentalists—its farmers and its ranchers, its surveyors and its fur traders that opened up the West, the merchants and the labourers who kept commerce going, the brave military men and women who fought and continue to fight to keep this land strong and free—that’s our Western heritage. That’s what we’re talking about."