Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thank You, No Thank You

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today that he plans to scrap planned changes to film-and-TV tax credits that would have allowed bureaucrats in the Heritage Department to withdraw credits after a production has wrapped (if its content was deemed objectionable). Really?

That's odd. It sounds like he's offering to make a change. It's a MOOT statement. It's like offering to withdraw a fine, before a court of law has decided if it can even be levied.

Those plans were not quashed today by His Benevolence, but by reality when Bill C-10 died on the seventh of September, 2008, on the Order paper. All un-passed legislation dies when Parliament dissolves. Period. Bill C-10 never received Royal Assent, and accordingly, has never come into force.

Presumably what Mr. Harper is saying is that he won’t re-introduce the same changes that sparked outrage, which in turn led to the entire 500-plus page document being referred to the Senate Banking Committee for review. The committee held hearings with appearances by cultural workers and policy experts offering testimony from December, 07, to the middle of June, 08. Bet that makes policy makers re-think the whole omnibus bill concept, or it should.

No report was completed or submitted by the Banking committee before the second session of the 39thParliament was dissolved. Back to the drawing board.

Maybe Mr. Harper's views about the role of government and the arts have shifted...maybe. But, it was just two weeks ago when media across the nation reported Harper making the following comments, "I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people, you know, at a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren't high enough when they know those subsidies have actually gone up - I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people."

Many have wondered what gala he was referring to, with my best guess being last spring's Canadian Genie Awards, hosted by Sandra Oh, where many Canadian film types aired their concerns about Bill C-10 and its real potential for censorship. (Censorship not subsidies.) And are you telling me that when Ford gets a huge subsidy that GM doesn't squawk, or have a right to?Come on.

Prime Minister Harper doesn't seem to feel the love for Canadian performers and that's curious, because he has some acting talent.

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