"It means the minister of heritage will have unprecedented powers. Public policy--what is that? It's anything she decides it is. ...The platform they're suggesting is akin to a Communist Chinese panel of unknown people, who, behind closed doors, will make a second ruling after bodies like Telefilm Canada have already invested.''--Canadian movie director, David Cronenberg.
Ottowa/Toronto--If Canadians thought they were going to escape the reach of the Bush era, they were reminded of the impossibility this week by Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper's proposed amemendment to Canadian tax credit policy. But did he and his party really author it? No, this is a collective move by both parties and outside elements. Are they the real instigators of this ill-advised legislation? What's the role of Hollywood in all of this?
A 13-word clause buried in a 560-page tax amendment is pitting Canada's film industry against Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The proposal would allow the Canadian government to deny tax breaks to films deemed contrary to "public policy,'' as determined by the Heritage Department, headed by [Harper appointee] Josee Verner. ("Censorship Charges Fly as Canada Moves to Cut Film Tax Credit," Bloomberg, 03.21.2008)
When Canada's government moved to strip tax credits from film and video productions that are "contrary to public policy," an election was on the horizon, and the public's reaction was swift and unanimous. No one noticed.
That was in November, 2003, when Paul Martin was about to take over from Jean Chretien as Liberal Prime Minister, and tax reform was low on the public priority list. With little fanfare and even less scandal, and after what they described as a long period of industry consultation, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and Minster of Heritage Sheila Copps proposed that Canadian film and video productions will receive tax credits provided that "public financial support of the production would not be contrary to public policy."
Almost five years later, draft legislation with those exact words made it through the House of Commons with barely a whisper of dissent--Liberal John McCallum called it "sensible"--and is now before the Senate for review. ("Uproar over 'contrary to public policy," The National Post, 03.08.2008)
But what do they want to ban? According to supporters of the changes, we get the usual sweeping-generalities from the 1980s: it would mean films with "gratuitous and extreme" content, namely sex and violence. You know. Sounds like the rhetoric of the extreme right, doesn't it? Why would the Liberal Party support such an obvious rightist agenda? Neither side appears to harbor any sense of nationalism in protecting Canadian media's autonomy, so other forces must be at-play. Business reasons.
Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said his lobbying efforts included discussions with Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, and "numerous" meetings with officials in the Prime Minister's Office. "We're thankful that someone's finally listening," he said yesterday. "It's fitting with conservative values, and I think that's why Canadians voted for a Conservative government." Mr. McVety said films promoting homosexuality, graphic sex or violence should not receive tax dollars, and backbench Conservative MPs and cabinet ministers support his campaign. "There are a number of Conservative backbench members that do a lot of this work behind the scenes," he said. Mr. Day and Mr. Nicholson said through officials yesterday they did not recall discussing the issue with Mr. McVety. ("Evangelist takes credit for film crackdown," The Globe and Mail, 02.29.2008)
Hagee’s assessment of Harper isn’t based on news clips alone. His Toronto host, not to mention his longtime Canadian major-domo, was Canada Christian College president Charles McVety, one of the most outspoken players in this country’s religious right wing. During the last election, as head of a handful of pro-family lobbies including the Defend Marriage Coalition, McVety emerged as a power to be reckoned with. He bought up the rights to unclaimed Liberal websites such as josephvolpe.com and stacked a handful of Conservative nomination contests in favour of evangelical candidates adamantly opposed to same-sex matrimony, a campaign he has vowed to repeat. As Harper navigates the tricky waters of minority rule—keeping the lid on any eruptions of rhetorical fervour from the rambunctious theo-cons in his caucus—it is noteworthy that he has continued to cultivate a man regarded as the lightning rod of the Christian right. ("Stephen Harper and the theo-cons," The Walrus, October 2006 issue)
"Uproar over 'contrary to public policy," The National Post, 03.08.2008:
"Stephen Harper and the theo-cons," The Walrus, June 2006 issue:
"Evangelist takes credit for film crackdown," The Globe and Mail, 02.29.2008: http://www.friends.ca/News/Friends_News/archives/articles02290804.asp
"Censorship Charges Fly as Canada Moves to Cut Film Tax Credit," Bloomberg, 03.21.2008: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=aQ473RO0jlU8