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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Proclamations of the Red Queen

3rd March 2008

Canada, Censorship and Conservative Christians

Posted by: Craig Young

Some of our older readers may be familiar with the antics of the late spokesnun of the Society for Promotion of Community Standards, Patricia Bartlett. During the seventies and eighties, she terrorised the LGBT and arts communities, descending with holy wrath on censorship tribunals until they developed proper evidence-based criteria that limited the parameters of censorship policy to what was required in a post-Christian, pluralistic society.

Hard as it may to believe, Canada now has exactly the same problems, and has done so for quite some time. While the Canadian Christian Right lost its battle against same-sex marriage, it has apparently had better luck on the censorship policy front. On Saturday, I read the following in Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper (29/02/08):

“Evangelist Takes Credit for Film Crackdown”

Christian crusader says he pressured cabinet ministers and PMO officials to deny tax credits to productions deemed too offensive

OTTAWA, TORONTOA well-known evangelical crusader is claiming credit for the federal government’s move to deny tax credits to TV and film productions that contain graphic sex and violence or other offensive content.

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.

Canadian Heritage officials confirmed yesterday they will be “expanding slightly” the criteria used for denying tax credits to include grounds such as gratuitous violence, significant sexual content that lacks an educational purpose, or denigration of an identifiable group. More details are promised next week.

Arts groups say they will fight the change. Director David Cronenberg and other big industry names warned that the edgy, low-budget films that have garnered Canadians international acclaim will be at risk […]

Draft guidelines would give the Heritage Minister the clout to deny tax credits to projects deemed “offensive” by an independent committee that includes members of the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office and the Department of Justice.

Several powerful arts groups say the changes violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. [They include the Writers Union of Canada, and leading Canadian film director David Cronenberg, who was concerned that ‘edgy, low budget films’ like his would not be funded under the new regime][…]

Films with controversial subject matter, such as Lynne Stopkewich’s acclaimed necrophilia film Kissed and Atom Egoyan’s Where The Truth Lies (which got an NC-17 rating in the United States for a scene involving a threesome) could lose the right to tax credits under new public policy guidelines.

Works by Martin Gero, the director of a recent controversial Canadian film about teenage sexuality (which opens in theatres in Canada in April), could also get a once-over from the panel.

“It seems ill-conceived from beginning to end, and is less about censorship than destroying the economic foundation of our entire industry,” said Mr. Gero, who shot his debut feature film for $1.5-million with support from Telefilm and other government agencies. “

Rather like the late unlamented right-wing Australian Howard administration, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are showing signs of pandering to the Christian Right, with McVety, principal of the fundamentalist Canadian Christian College and chair of the Institute for Canadian Values, as its apparent instigator.

I had a look at the thoroughly unpleasant Canada Family Action Coalition website, and it also seems to be on the warpath against funding for feminist, LGBT and other progressive groups that seek to expand the boundaries of Canadian citizenship through challenges under Canada’s constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It looks as if freedom of expression and creative freedom are under attack in Canada once again. To keep more informed about this developing issue, take a look at the following websites:

Toronto Globe and Mail

Canadian Xtra newspapers (LGBT)

Canada “Family” Action Coalition (Christian Right)



Tags: 1

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Mike Harmon // Mar 3, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Mike Harmon

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