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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Proclamations of the Red Queen

26th April 2008

Canada’s Conservatives Versus Creative Industries (Part Four)

Posted by: Craig Young

Censorship policy has been traditionally rather socially conservative in Canada, at odds with the country’s increasingly progressive reputation, especially now when it comes to LGBT rights. So, how have LGBT Canadians dealt with Bill C-10, whose provisions threaten to cripple Canada’s thriving film and television industries?

And the latter is not hyperbole, for that matter. According to Heritage Minister Josee Vermer, the Income Tax Act might be used to remove tax credit funding from content that might be “contrary to public policy” through contravention of the Criminal Code.

Canadian independent gay filmmaker John Greyson is concerned at this, as his films Proteus, Lilies and Uncut aroused controversy, and still received tax credits beforehand.  Of course, the Christian Right resents this- probably due to the fact that their constituency is so mediocre and backward, it cannot muster its own ‘creative’ talent.

However, that isn’t the point. Might documentaries that question public policy but contribute to meaningful public debate about controversial areas of public policy be denied funding? Might dramatised productions that do similarly? For example, at one time, Britain’s Victim (1961) might have been caught under similar uch provisions, given that it was a ground-breaking examination of the plight of British gay men before partial decriminalisation under the Sexual Offences Act 1967?

 But it isn’t only Canadian LGBTs who are concerned about Bill C-10’s film tax credit removal provisions. The Board of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, Directors Guild of Canada, and ACTRA (their performers union) are also opposed to C-10, and have called out heavy hitters like renowned Canadian director David Cronenberg to try to halt the proposed legislation.

In an article in Canada’s Xtra newspaper chain, Cronenberg explained that Canada’s film and television industry is highly dependent on multiple public and private funding sources that involve distribution advances from overseas, some private investment, and public sector funding from government organisations like Telefilm. The above is a complex process, and government funding stabilises that. Furthermore, according to Xtra’s arts editor Gordon Bowness, even if Telefilm and Canada’s Television Fund might have agreed to fund something, the Ministry of Heritage might still be able to veto a project through denial of tax credit funding.

Bill C-10 is an affront to free speech, diversity of free expression and pluralist, democratic values. One wishes Canada’s LGBT community and creative industries well in their struggle to halt this extremist legislation. One thing has emerged from this debacle- Canada urgently needs sensible censorship policies.


Canadian LGBT national newspaper:

Gordon Bowness: “Bill C-10 An Absolute Catastrophe- Cronenberg” Xtra 13.03.08

Gordon Bowness: “Taxing Thoughts” Xtra 29.02.08

Tags: Politics · Religion

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