1 min

Tories ditch film censorship clause

About-face follows public outcry and drop in polls

Credit: Brent Creelman photo

Following public outcry over censorship and declining support in the polls, the Tories have abandoned a clause of Bill C-10 that would allow the government to deny tax credits to films and TV shows it finds “offensive.”

In the days following the federal leaders’ debates, support for the Tories has plummeted in Ontario and Quebec. Polling numbers released by Harris-Decima suggest Conservative support has fallen from a peak of 41 percent in early September, down to 31 percent in recent days.

The Tories are already under fire for their $45-million cuts to arts funding, and the tax credit decision appears to be a last-minute attempt to stave off criticism of the party’s cultural policies. But it’s not likely to comfort many in the arts community, given that Harper recently said “ordinary people” don’t care about arts funding. The Tories have stood by their cuts to the arts, refusing to budge.

In Feb 2008, the Globe and Mail broke the story that C-10 would allow the Heritage Minister to deny tax credits to films that were deemed “contrary to public policy.” Days later, Charles McVety, head of the rightwing Canada Family Action Coalition, claimed to have influenced the Harper government’s decision to create the new rules.

Since then, more than 40,000 people have joined a Facebook group protesting the censorship clause in C-10. Dozens of artists, economists, writers and actors testified at the Senate banking committee and slammed C-10. Most said that it would harm Canada’s film industry and restrict freedom of expression. Liberal Senators vowed to amend the bill to remove the film restrictions.

The censorship clause had a few social conservative supporters, including the rightwing group REAL Women Canada. In his appearance at the Senate committee, McVety said gay films shouldn’t receive tax credits, because he claims they would “proselytize children to be homosexuals.”