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Margaret Atwood’s Australian tour cost taxpayers almost $10,000

Author: 2021/05/26

By J. Goulet

Canadian taxpayers paid close to $10,000 to help author Margaret Atwood promote a new book in Australia, according to records obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“Atwood is a best-selling author and her books are the basis for major Hollywood productions, so why are the feds giving her tax dollars to promote her own book?” said Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director for the CTF. “It seems like Ottawa bureaucrats have too much money if they think giving a celebrity author $10,000 to promote a book is a good way to spend tax dollars.”

Atwood spoke at seven different events in Australia between Feb. 16 and March 1, 2020.

The events were aimed at promoting her 2019 book, The Testaments, the sequel to her novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The Handmaid’s Tale has sold over eight million copies since its publication in 1985. It’s also been adapted into a five-season, Emmy-winning TV series.

Meanwhile, The Testament has sold over 125,000 copies.

Despite Atwood’s success, records obtained by the CTF show the federal government gave her close to $10,000 for the tour through the Department of Global Affairs’ Mission Cultural Fund.

The CTF has previously reported on the Mission Cultural Fund, which is routinely used by Global Affairs to promote Canadian culture worldwide.

Examples of funded projects include close to $52,000 for a Bryan Adams photography exhibition in Toronto, and nearly $8,200 for an art show in Germany featuring giant, talking sex toys.

The department told the CTF that the Canadian consulate in Sydney leveraged the tour to create additional opportunities for highlighting important foreign policy issues. It invited guests to Atwood’s readings in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, and Hobart.

The consulate also hosted post-show events with Atwood, which “attracted high profile guests including government, academic, environmental and business leaders” in an effort “to advance Canada’s interests and priorities.”

Global Affairs said the Atwood tour reached more than 1,500 Australians.

The CTF sent a request for comment to the author’s publisher, as well as to Atwood herself. Neither responded by the time of publication.

“This is just one of many examples of the Mission Cultural Fund blowing thousands of our tax dollars,” said Terrazzano. “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to put this fund under a microscope and stop these bureaucrats from wasting more of our money.”