Coverage on April 11, 2008 in the Globe and Mail on Bill C-10 was quite a switch from earlier reports on Heritage Minister Josee Verner's presentation to the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Banking, set up to conduct hearings on the bill in Ottawa and how the bill would affect tax credits for film, TV and video game productions. Coincidently, on April 9, the Globe had an article on telefilm funding awarded for a film script based on the Montreal Massacre for the sum of $3.1 million. On that same day, I made reference to this unfortunate decision on the part of the government agency in my own remarks before the Senate Committee. At that time, I also made reference to the $120,000 in tax credits given out, in the past, for the film, "American Psycho", based on the book by the same title that was convicted Canadian serial killer,Paul Bernardo's bible. Toronto District School Board teacher and C-CAVE member, Eileen Shapero, and I both appeared before the Senate Banking Committee on April 9th.
Coverage on our presentation appeared in the Ottawa version of the Globe and Mail on April 10th but not the Metro Toronto edition. Complete transcripts of all the senate hearings and discussions related to Bill C-10, can be accessed by logging onto
Sitting in on the hearings when numerous opponents to the Bill made their presentations the following day, April 10th, was DEPRESSING! The amount of misinformation and bald faced lying on the part of industry representatives was breaktaking, in addition, to pandering and reinforcement from most Liberal Senators determined to ignore anything they heard the day before from witnesses or from Conservative Senators attempting to clarify the intent of the bill and its evolution over a period of more than10 years. Repeated references were made to "only two films being questioned about suitability for tax credits" over the years, although the precise ones were never identified by anyone. Certainly not the ones I referred to. Both committee members and witnesses emphasized that production of pornography does not now receive credits so it was "unnecessary to fix a problem that does not exist". My own reference, the previous day, to the third annual awards ceremonies held in Toronto last weekend for pornographic films which included a category for those with Canadian content was ignored. Unidentified and ignored, also, were film clips brought in by a guest on behalf of the Writers' Union prepared to argue against passage of the bill, referred to by TVO host, Steve Paiken in his show on Bill C-10 several weeks ago. They were offered as examples of the kind of films that would be threatened if tax credits, deemed not to be in the public interest, were withheld. Paiken said he was unable to air them because the sexual content would violate the standard of acceptibility for the station.
One of the Committee members, Senator Spivak, had this to say,"No bill can become law unless the Senate passes it. It does not matter if the House of Commons does not agree with us. It comes back here, and we hopefully will never agree...this business that taxpayers should not give money to something that, God forbid, offends them. ..What about the oil sands? What about tobacco companies? I do not agree with it, but we live in this country and we support it. Art rules! To hell with the tax payers!"
Don't forget to raise this issue with your local MP, especially if he or she are liberals. It was pointed out time and again, that Bill C-10 is the same now as that first recommended by Sheila Copps as Heritage Minister and again by John Manley as Heritage Minister during the previous two administrations. Several supportive Senators read and re-read this fact over and over again to no avail.
When industry representatives such as Canadian actress Sarah Polley were asked if they would support a committee appointed by the Minister of Heritage to review applications for tax credits and/or funding that would include not only representatives from the industry but other stakeholders as well, such as educators, health professionals, psychologists and experts on child development, the questions were ignored entirely. Similarly, suggestions, which I also made, from Senators, Michael Meighen , Trevor Eyton or Tkachuk, that we have some criteria for giving out public money that is higher than the bar set by the Criminal Code and what might put someone in jail, were rejected. Reference, by a committee member, to remarks made by CAVCO (which oversees tax credits to the industry) representative, Robert Souci, that more discretion is needed on how funds are given out to productions, were described by witnesses appearing yesterday on behalf of the industry as "unfortunate".
Sarah Polley kept emphasizing Canada's growing international reputation for controversial films (she didn't mention violent video games such as Manhunt 1 and 2 produced in Toronto but presumably she approves) and how Canadian film artists and producers must continue to have unimpeded funding for everything produced otherwise these revered trends would die out. She has a point. David Cronenberg's films, such as "Crash", are often banned from distribution in other countries due to content considered contrary to the wider public interest, and tend to get lousy reviews anywhere other than Canada. Consider "Eastern Promises" which opened at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, 2007. It got glowing media coverage in Canada but a bad review in The New Yorker Magazine.
The impact of cultural commodities such as TV and films on the community at large, especially children, wasn't even on anyone's radar screen in discussion yesterday. In addition, the first witness of the day, Guy Mayson of the Film and Television Production Assn, actually began his remarks by pointing out how environmentally friendly film and TV productions all are, regardless of the content. My article refuting this, published in the latest issue of THE LEARNING EDGE by the Canadian Ass. for the Study of Adult Education, titled, "Shifting the paradigm toward a Greener Earth in media, business and community", was brought to the attention of the Senate Banking Committee on April 9th at the conclusion of my remarks and a copy was left with them. (One was also left with the Ontario Goverment panel on Roots to Youth Violence following my meeting with its members the day before, on April 8th). It can be accessed at
If you are as concerned as Eileen and I are about increasing trends in popular culture toward more and more material known to be harmful to the public at large, but children in particular, we suggest you express your support for the Bill by writing to Minister Verner and the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.
Rose Anne Dyson Ed.D.
Consultant in Media Education
Chair: Science for Peace (Media Working Group),
University of Toronto
President: Canadians Concerned about Violence in Entertainment