Liberal senators have vowed to amend Bill C-10, and they claim the changes will remove the power for the Heritage Minister to deny tax credits to controversial films.
“What we are proposing are amendments that will protect this vital industry as well as the principle of artistic freedom,” said Liberal senator Francis Fox in a statement released Jun 18.
According to the statement, the amendments would:
- “Remove the power for the Minister of Heritage to refuse tax credits based on “public policy” or to issue guidelines about film content, while at the same time safeguarding the right to deny funds when the production itself is contrary to the Criminal Code”
- “Give producers an efficient judicial appeal mechanism if the Minister blocks or delays funding”
- “Continue to prevent government funding of pornography, child pornography, and hate propaganda”
Senators have been studying the bill in committee and have heard from many film-industry and civil rights groups. Most spoke out against C-10, calling it censorship and a financial threat to the film industry.
“Witnesses from all segments of the film industry including producers, writers, directors, and actors as well as civil liberties groups have all agreed that Bill C-10, in its current form, would have a devastating impact on the Canadian film industry,” said Fox. “This view was reinforced by financial institutions, municipalities, and labour groups.”
Senators expect to send the amendments back to the House of Commons after summer recess for final approval.
C-10 passed through the Commons last year, but the film tax-credit clause was hidden among hundreds of pages of unrelated tax-law amendments. Opposition MPs say they missed it, and many say they would vote differently if they had a second chance.
Aside from the Harper government, the bill’s supporters include right-wing groups REAL Women and Charles McVety of the Canadian Family Action Coalition, who told the Senate committee studying the bill that gay films shouldn’t receive tax credits.
ACTRA, Canada’s national actor’s union, said it was “relieved” to hear of the proposed amendments, but would not job to conclusions.
“We’ll be looking at these amendments in detail and consulting with our partners in the film and television community to ensure that these fixes insulate our industry from uncertainty in film financing and that they remove the threats to artists’ freedom of expression,” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s executive director.