Denis Coderre “can’t wait to get back to Ottawa” to ask the Conservatives why Heritage Minister Josée Verner is defending C-10 in public, but allegedly singing a different tune in private.
On Apr 10, Conservative senator David Angus was caught on tape between committee hearings saying that Josée Verner “hates” the film clause in C-10.
“The government has to bite the bullet,” Angus said. “The minister agrees, she told me she hates the law.” (watch the video below)
That comment was accidentally broadcast on the Senate committee’s live internet audio feed.
Since then, the story has picked up steam, generating denials from Angus himself but no comment from Verner.
Coderre, the Liberal’s heritage critic, says that Canadians can “trust” the senator’s candid comments because he didn’t think he was being recorded.
The alleged difference between Verner’s public and private views is not surprising, Coderre says, because she “doesn’t have any influence” within her party and can’t force the government to withdraw the clause even if she disagrees with it.
“Every time I watch The Weakest Link, I think of the minister,” Coderre says, referring to Verner’s role in cabinet.
After C-10 passed through the House of Commons, detractors drew attention to a clause that would give the heritage minister the power to deny tax credits to films she deemed “contrary to public policy.” The bill is now before the senate and, if amended, could be returned to the House of Commons.
“Why are we wasting taxpayer money,” he says, “if even the minister hates the bill and wants to pull the plug?”
Earlier Apr 11, Coderre’s colleague Pablo Rodriguez put the question to Conservatives in the House of Commons. Bill Siksay, the NDP’s heritage critic, also asked about senator Angus’ off-the-cuff remarks during question period.
“It think it is important that she clarifies her comment,” says Siksay. Verner was not in the House of Commons on Apr 11 and has yet to address reporters directly about what Angus said.
Siksay says “it would be great” if she has changed her mind.
“I’m glad she agrees. I hope that it means she’s seriously questioning her commitment to the film tax credit clause of bill C-10,” says Siksay.
On Apr 2, Verner spoke to the senate committee about C-10. At the time, senators entertained the possibility of having the heritage minister back for more questioning.
The earliest clause-by-clause analysis of the bill could commence at the end of April. The opposition-dominated committee could postpone deliberations on the bill for months if it chooses.
“No minister, whether Conservative, Liberal, NDP or Bloc, should have that kind of power, to inflict their own sense of personal taste on the Canadian public,” Siksay says.