For Better or For Worse: Canadian cartoonist exhibit cost taxpayers $15,799

Author: 2021/10/29

By Bryan Myers, Freelance

A Canadian cartoonist with a career spanning several decades received more than $15,000 from the Mission Cultural Fund – a federal fund established to promote Canadian arts abroad.

“We are more than $1 trillion in debt and these bureaucrats think spending thousands of dollars on cartoons is a good use of tax dollars?” said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “Lynn Johnston is a successful artist, she doesn’t need to be pocketing money from taxpayers.”

The work of Johnston, creator of For Better or For Worse, has appeared – and still appears – in more than 2,000 newspapers around the world.

Despite Johnston’s success, taxpayers were still billed thousands of dollars to show off her art in America, according to documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The Washington D.C. art installation, titled The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston, coincided with the 40th anniversary of the publication of For Better or For Worse. It was on display at the Canadian Embassy from September 2019 to January 2020 at the cost of $15,799 to taxpayers, over the original budget of $15,000.

Global Affairs told the CTF that while the installation was originally planned to be completed in-house, the department was unable to print the foamcore posters comprising most of the exhibit. The work was outsourced at a cost of $1,226, resulting in the budget overrun.

“Not only is this a complete waste of money, but these bureaucrats couldn’t even keep their cartoon spending on budget,” said Terrazzano.

Global Affairs also said the number of visitors to the exhibit was not tracked.

“Due to our proximity to Capitol Hill and the many galleries and museums of the Smithsonian Institution, the embassy gallery receives a lot of foot traffic from tourists and residents alike,” it said.

The CTF sent a request for comment to Johnston’s studio, FBOFW.com, but did not receive a response.

In the past, the fund has also paid sums to well-heeled Canadian talent like Bryan Adams ($52,000 for a collection of photos of Adams’ famous friends, including the Prime Minister), Margaret Atwood ($10,000 to promote the sequel to Handmaid’s Tale in Australia), and the artist known as Peaches ($8,813 for an art installation titled ‘Whose Jizz is This’).      

“This is another prime example proving Ottawa bureaucrats have way too much taxpayers’ money on their hands,” said Terrazzano. “Taxpayers don’t need sex toy exhibits, we don’t need to be footing the bill for rock stars and we don’t need to be going overbudget on cartoons, we need Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to scrap the Mission Cultural Fund.”