Gay films and television shows are threatened by proposed changes to the federal tax credit system, but the fight isn’t over yet, says the NDP’s queer issues critic.
Changes to the Income Tax Act proposed in Bill C-10 would allow government officials to revoke tax credits for Canadian film and television productions that are found to be “contrary to public policy”.
The Globe & Mail reported last week that the Ministry of Canadian Heritage was drawing up new guidelines that would deny tax credits for content that has “gratuitous violence” or “significant sexual content”.
That has many saying the Tories are trying to impose conservative moral values on Canadians by not supporting cultural productions that clash with the party’s rightwing ideology.
“We know when conservatives seem to have problems with films, video or literature, that queer videos or literature are often on their list of complaints,” says NDP MP Bill Siksay.
Siksay is urging Canadians to email politicians directly with their concerns about C-10 (see links in the sidebar of this story).
Canadian film and video producers rely on tax credits, which are intended to support made-in-Canada content. But under the new guidelines, producers will be pressured to self-censor their work if they wish to qualify for the refund.
C-10 has not yet passed third reading in the Senate, and a Senate steering committee is meeting tonight to decide what to do with the bill.
That gives senators one more opportunity to amend C-10 before it becomes law. If they choose to amend the bill, C-10 would be sent back to the House of Commons for approval, giving Members of Parliament another chance to look at the legislation.
“People in the House are doing everything we can think of to get it back on the agenda in some way,” says Siksay.
Bloc Quebecois MP Maria Mourani introduced a motion yesterday, calling on the House to amend Bill C-10, in order to remove the reference to “public policy”. Mourani’s motion reads: “this new provision opens the door to unacceptable government censorship of film and video production.”
The motion will be debated tomorrow, Mar 5 — an opposition day for the Bloc Quebecois.