By Todd Jackson
Rob Anders, MP for Calgary-West, gave a stern smack last week to NUTV, the Students’ Union, CJSW and other University of Calgary organizations. Each year these groups rely on federal money to support the creation of student summer jobs, but this year Mr. Anders put his foot down and declined the funding. Although campus organizations in other ridings in Canada may suckle from the governmental teat, this won’t happen in Calgary-West.
Why the fuss? In an interview on Road Pops on CJSW, Mr. Anders complained that supporting these organizations undermines development in the business community. To make sense of his position, consider the case of CJSW’s funding. Mr. Anders argues that when we support campus radio we create a dangerous kind of competition for commercial radio. CJSW is non-profit, community-driven radio. Anders fears that it’s harder to get the money churning in Calgary’s radio industry if he throws dollars at student organizations that don’t participate in economic growth.
Student organizations aren’t the only ones to lose out. Mr. Anders also rejected federal summer job funding to the private sector. But the point still stands that Mr. Anders doesn’t think there is any point in supporting campus radio. Since CJSW stands as an alternative to the market, Mr. Anders refuses to give it a hand.
Mr. Anders must like the market more than he likes music, though, because the market has provided some of the worst musical disasters in history. Vanilla Ice? Billy Ray Cyrus? Celine Dion? By endorsing commercial radio, this is the kind of thing Mr. Anders has in store for us. CJSW escapes this mainstream torment. That’s because their DJ’s play music that they want to share with the community as opposed to music that they want to sell to Calgary. Rather than being forced to listen to sugary-sweet major label offerings you can hear something interesting. By failing to appreciate this distinction, Mr. Anders misses the point of supporting such organizations.
By resigning himself to the market, Mr. Anders has abandoned his concern for quality. He can’t hang on to both. The market doesn’t have to provide quality radio, it only has to make money. But why limit our community to that? We don’t have to just hope the market provides the kind of community we want. Where business fails, federal support can help fill in the blanks. As a nation, we can support student groups because we recognize that these are aspects of our community worth fostering.