Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shen Yung And Not Your Father's PC Party

The Shen Young Performing Arts troupe recently had their Alberta 2013 performance dates thrown into question when the Alberta Government revoked an agreement to use the Jubilee Auditoriums in Edmonton and Calgary.

The troupe celebrates Chinese Culture in a spectacular show of music and dance.  In their own words:

Based in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts was established in 2006 with the mission of reviving 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture.After more than 60 years of Communist rule in China, and especially after the Cultural Revolution, Chinese traditional culture has been all but completely demolished. However, the deeper spiritual core of the ancient culture, with its values of benevolence, honor, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods and the heavens, cannot be destroyed.

The troupe held sold out shows in Calgary in April 2012 but were unhappy because of some problems they had with the facility.  When they couldn't get their issues resolved they sent out a media release explaining their concerns.  What happened next, behind the scenes is fairly obvious, and the result was the government cancelling the agreement to allow the troupe's shows in 2013.  Alberta's Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk wrote a letter to the group informing them of the cancellation.  It was not written in all caps.

Shen Yung is connected with Falun Gong (aka Falun Dafa), a religious group banned and persecuted in China.  Falun Gong is loosely based in Chinese Buddhism, and by most objective accounts is quite harmless.  There are Falun Gong societies everywhere in the West where there are Chinese Communities, including Calgary and Edmonton.  Religious freedom and freedom of conscience is a Charter Right in Canada, which extends even into Alberta.

The problem here is the very serious allegation being made by the group that the Chinese Government has pressured the Alberta Government into these punitive actions against Shen Yung.  The CBC and Canadian Press have been reporting on this. For example, Travel Alberta suddenly pulled out of a sponsorship deal that would have involved some mutual promotion.  Also, Tourism Calgary withdrew from a White Hat ceremony. Classy.

It becomes apparent through various comments and emails that the Chinese Consulate has been intervening with Calgary City Council and Alberta Governments against the group.  Sadly at this point, it is not economically feasible for Alberta to alienate Chinese business interests. Floor painter meet corner.

The key issue here is freedom of expression and not allowing foreign governments to interfere in Alberta's cultural activities.  The other issue is transparency.  The Auditoriums are Government owned.  These are really nice facilities, and it's rather objectionable that they are the centre of a campaign to bully and repress a cultural events.

Yes, this is not your father's PC Party.  Our father's generation knew a thing or two about fascism.

Please recommend this post

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