Tuesday, October 7

Weasel Words

Harper’s platform is finally ready for prime time television. CTV reports:

The platform also makes changes to controversial tax eligibility legislation for film projects, which had been passed in the House of Commons as part of a larger omnibus bill. The changes allowed government to have the final say on which projects qualified for the exemption, and many in the arts community said it was tantamount to censorship.

The Conservatives had defended the move by saying it was designed to ensure taxpayers didn't foot the bill for pornography or for films deemed "offensive."

However, Harper appears to have changed his mind in an attempt to win votes in Quebec -- where opposition to the bill was most pronounced -- as poll numbers show a slide for the Conservatives in the province.

Interesting phrase, appears to have changed his mind. Did he or didn’t he?

You be the judge:

"We will take into account the serious concerns that have been expressed by film creators and investors," says the platform.

They strike me as weasel words.

Just more smoke and mirrors, similar to Bill C-484 (the kicking ass abortion bill that’s not really about abortion). Harper similarly claimed that they would withdraw the controversial bill and introduce a variation that would protect reproductive choice, days before he announced the election. Both moves are a Conservative ploy to pander to Quebec voters, whom Harper seems to believe are stupid. Both statements are purposely vague, giving Harper wiggle room to pander to his core base, social conservatives.

An honest change of heart on either issue would have resulted in four simple words: We Are Axing It

The CTV site was updated between the time I first accessed it and returned to provide links in this post. Stageleft captured it on his blog:

The Conservatives are cancelling plans to put government control over which artists receive federal grants — a move that enraged the arts community, especially in Quebec where the party is desperate to gain ground.

Stephen Harper announced the party’s full election platform in Toronto on Tuesday, one week before Canadians go to the polls.

The platform pulls back from the controversial film tax changes that were passed in the House of Commons.

The Conservatives had defended the change by saying it was designed to ensure taxpayers didn’t foot the bill for pornography or for films deemed offensive.

However, the party appears to have changed its mind in an attempt to win votes in Quebec as poll numbers show a slide for the Conservatives.

In case you caught the first attempt at covering Harper’s so-called cancellation of the censorship clause, let’s point out the glaring mistake. A tax credit is not a GRANT. It is a refundable tax credit that is calculated on a production’s labour expenditures. It's a program designed to stimulate the film and television production industry and create jobs. Financing of films hinges on demonstrating that your production is eligible for a tax credit. Without that assurance, the fragile array of funding mechanisms can’t fall into place and productions will not be made. The negative economic impact that would have is tremendous in cities where films are predominantly shot. This is why the mayors of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal attempted to appeal to Steve “the economist” Harper’s common sense.

Between the media being willfully lazy and the Conservative Party's tendency to conflate things (individual artist grants with industry driven tax mechanisms), no wonder some "ordinary" Canadians are confused. Thankfully this news item was updated and the “grant” reference struck out.

What was added was this quote from the producer of one of the films that was bandied about by Harper’s spiritual advisor Chuck McVety before the Senate hearings:

Steve Hoban of Copperheart Entertainment, who produced this year's Canadian film "Young People F---ing," told The Canadian Press it was "good news all around." The film became a focus for debate about the legislation, largely because of its attention-grabbing title.

Sorry to disagree with you Mr. Hoban but this is not good news all around. There is no commitment to strike out the clause completely. And there is no commitment to restore the arts and culture cuts announced on two consecutive Friday nights just before the election. Don’t be fooled. Harper hates us and has no intention of taking into account our serious concerns. His government’s track record for conducting stakeholder consultations is non-existent.

Harper and his gang never announced the policy change with respect to the censorship clause in Bill C-10. It only came to light when Bill C-10 was in the Senate for review and Harper's spiritual adviser Chuck McVety boasted his influence over Justice Minister Rob Nicholson in getting that clause inserted. Harper’s minions purposely buried the short but controversial clause in an omnibus tax bill, hundreds of pages long. (Interesting that it was also Nicholson who was responsible for announcing the change of heart on Bill C-484 that McVety has been championing for ages.)

This was a stellar example of Harper's dishonesty and disrespect for government and Parliament. It backfired hugely once McVety opened his fat mouth. Filmmakers, film industry associations, guilds and unions, and other allied artists barraged Senators with their complaint. And they organized and campaigned against Harper's Bill C-10.

I honestly believe the subsequent arts and culture cuts were a result of Harper's vindictive nature. He hates artists, not because they are lazy hippies or silver spooned elites, but because they are intelligent, well spoken and creative. Unlike his gang of bully frat boys who think their "not a leader" website antics are brilliant, artists like Michel Rivard and Linda Griffiths know how to make very clever and hilarious video clips that send a profound message.

I suggest Mr. Hoban and anyone else who is interested in Canadian arts and culture as it pertains to this election, check out The Regina Mom blog site. She provides links to the NDP and Liberal responses to a series of straight shooting questions prepared by the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance. (The Conservative candidate refused to respond to the survey since it was distributed before they had a platform, I guess.)


At 6:58 p.m., Blogger skdadl said...

Gangbusters great post, Beijing York.

And I agree totally with your four words, on both bills. The cons are insinuating themselves into Canadians' lives in sinister ways that Canadians don't want and don't need.

Thanks for this. skdadl may try to riff on it one day when she has more strength. For now, bookmarked. Hugs.

At 7:02 p.m., Anonymous deBeauxOs said...

Weasel words indeed! And what's with that backdrop of a huge close-up of Harper with Stevie himself in the foreground? A little touch of narcissism to go with the press conference?

He keeps flashing that odious self-satified grin, I'd guess he was told by his handlers that women respond positively to men who smile a lot. Not to that smirk, Stevie, only to a real, sincere, genuine, heartfelt smile.

Hé! The word verification for my post is 'subczum'. That's the Conservatives, in a nutshell.

At 8:15 p.m., Blogger Beijing York said...

subczum! Oh my, that's hilarious deBeauxOs. His cold glare and insincere smile/smirk makes me wonder if he is a sociopath. I've pondered that from when I first set eyes on him but it really does seem possible. I love your description -- it fits to a tee.

skdadl, thanks for the kudos. I felt compelled to write one more time before the election. I'm off to Nova Scotia tomorrow, early in the morning and won't be back till E-day.


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