Friday, February 29, 2008

Censorship or Erosion of the Arts?

To those who still believe that the Con's cannot do any damage to this country with a minority government, think again.

The Conservative government has drafted guidelines that would allow it to pull financial aid for any film or television show that it deems offensive or not in the public's best interest – even if government agencies have invested in them.

The proposed changes to the Income Tax Act would allow the Heritage Minister to deny tax credits to projects deemed offensive, effectively killing the productions. Representatives from Heritage and the Department of Justice will determine which shows or films pass the test.

While I'm not yet sure what the guidelines are going to be and who precisely is going to enforce them, this makes me really uncomfortable. From the article, it seems that bureaucrats will be in charge, though Charles McVety said in an interview with Duffy tonight that it will be an appointed board. (Boy, that interview was beyond creepy. There was little doubt where Duffy stands. 5th vid on the Duffy show.)

From the article:

A well-known evangelical crusader is claiming credit for the federal government's move to deny tax credits to TV and film productions that contain graphic sex and violence or other offensive content.

Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said his lobbying efforts included discussions with Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, and "numerous" meetings with officials in the Prime Minister's Office.

Day and Nicholson apparently do recall meeting with him. Right. It's pretty well known what kind of access McVety has to this government. Anyone familiar with him knows that he is waaay out there, except the Con's apparently.

Mr. McVety said films promoting homosexuality, graphic sex or violence should not receive tax dollars, and backbench Conservative MPs and cabinet ministers support his campaign.

Fantastic! Gay and Lesbian tax payers aren't allowed to have a voice in telling their story? As for graphic sex and violence, well how subjective is that?

More than censorship though, which trust me is disgusting to me, I see a real peril for our arts community. Canada needs more exposure in the world, not less and currently vast sectors of that business still require financial assistance. Europeans love our films and increasingly we are being recognised at Festivals in the States, not to mention the Oscars.

I know that the article mentions that the Liberals intended to review the guidelines too but consider who the Ministers were then, compared to now. Irwin Cotler who is all about rights versus Nicholson who is all about taking them away. Liza Frulla who can be interesting at times but is all about expansion of the Arts compared to Josee Verner who is happy cutting funding to women's groups, let alone standing up for the rights of gays.

No, this is dangerous to me and as much as the Cadman story will stay in the limelight, the Liberal Party would be remiss not to address this issue. The influence by stealth that the far right is having on our system is not to be ignored, indeed it is to exposed and stopped.


RuralSandi said...

You know, Harper has tried so hard to keep his ties the evangelicals low key (Harper is an evangelical -belongs to the Alliance Evang church) and now this comes out.

This is dangerous and makes you wonder how far it will go.

Are they next going to try to decide what books you can read? In the south US these evangelicals try to stop people from reading books like Tom Sawyer, etc.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding really irritated, does anyone actually read these bills before they are passed?

I am actually more bothered at the fact that NO ONE - not Liberals, not the NDP, nor the Bloc - actually pointed this out or even seemed to know about it before the final reading of the Senate.

Shouldn't we expect a bit more of the over 60% of the HOC who aren't conservatives????

Yes, the conservatives did an underhanded sneaky attack to promote their own censorship - nanny government indeed!

But they seem to have had some rather clueless assistance from the hapless parties in the HOC.

While we're going after the conservatives on this, can we also cast a bit of collective anger at our "allies" who dropped the ball?

Karen said...

I think we've had some book incidents up here too Sandi. Increasingly the far right is gaining influence because in large part, they are doing it under the radar.

I think most Canadians really naively (I don't mean that in a disparaging manner), believe Canada is as L/liberal as it always was, but I don't believe that to be true.

It is dangerous and not something to be quiet about.

Karen said...

Joseph, on he surface I completely agree with you and I'm trying to find out more information.

What I think at the moment is that this change was not outlined in the Bill itself. These are guideline changes that are coming from the department.

I'll update if I find out more.

Anonymous said...

I would be interested in knowing more so if I see anything else, I'll post it. I do remember reading that this provision was part of C-10.

My concern is what knb says, so much is going on under the radar. While I place blame on the conservatives for these kind of things, the reality is the 3 other parties really need to be more alert about this kind of stuff. And if not them, allies such as egale, arts support groups, etc.

In the US during the late 80s / early 90s, the conservatives really gained their foothold under the radar as well - running stealth candidates for school boards, city councils, etc. This helped them in two ways. They got into positions of decisions without ever hinting they were going to start policing community "values" until they were in place. In some communities, towns found out they had a bunch of fundies on their school boards about the time the new majority started voting to ban books, or clubs they didn't approve of, etc. Or when the town councils started going after controversial topics instead of focusing on community issues that brought people together.

The second way it helped them was they developed a cadre of people to run at the next level, stage government, congressional representatives, etc.

In the past 6 years, many of the "overrun" councils have reversed with entire school boards losing elections - which is unheard of in small town America. But it was only after the damage was done and communities were taken off track. Many of those towns are still in recovery and have lots of wounds and distrust.

I just don't want to see the opposition parties naively assume that new laws put forth say what they are really about. Someone really should be looking for these types of poisonous pills and yelling like banshees when they see them. I just don't see them recognizing the danger.

The cons have been TRAINED by their brethren in the south . . . I've read articles about it. We cannot pretend it isn't happening.

Karen said...

joseph, we are hand in hand on this.

I appreciate your help if you have more info.

I've written to some MP's, we'll see.

I'm happy to know others are worried about this but sad at the same time.