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The Scottish Government announced today that it will help fund the participation of Scottish writers at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto this fall, to the tune of $91,000 (₤50,000).

That's a nice chunk of change and helps make possible "Writing Scotland," a series of discussions and readings featuring Scottish authors during the IFOA (Oct. 21-31). It also cements an ongoing relationship between the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the IFOA.

The Scottish Minister of Culture, Michael Russell, made the announcement at the Edinburgh festival, with Geoffrey Taylor, director of the IFOA, in attendance (that's them together up top, with Taylor on the right).

"Reaching out to the 4.2 million Canadians who claim heritage ties to Old Scotia, and shining a spotlight on Scottish letters, are the following Scots and Canadian authors of Scottish descent: Alan Bissett, Ron Butlin, David Byrne, Margaret Elphinstone, Jen Hadfield, Richard Holloway, Quintin Jardine, A.L. Kennedy, Linden MacIntyre, Martin Macintyre, Alistair MacLeod, Ken McGoogan, James Meek, Denise Mina, Alice Munro, Andrew O'Hagan, Ian Rankin, and Eleanor Thom," the IFOA said in a press release.

Hmmm.... The Scottish Government is spending $91,000 to send its writers to Canada, because it respects culture and sees it as powerful nation-branding tool. Canada, meanwhile, is a country where, one year ago, the government axed a $4.7-million program to send writers abroad because Canadian authors don't "advance Canadian interests and values in the world."

Watch the video below of Michael Russell talking about the reason his government is spending this money and ask yourself this: Can you imagine a Canadian Conservative cabinet minister A) having an comparable understanding of the importance of supporting culture and B) being so eloquent about it?

I didn't think so.

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