Friday, May 02, 2008

C-10 is for censorship

"Will vote on Bill C-10 lead to an election?" That's a darn good question. In a working minority parliament, the answer would ideally be no. The weight of opinion is against the bill as it is currently written. It begs for amendment and the majority of parties would want it to be so amended to remove the offending aspects. The arbitrary power to deny tax credits to filmmakers on the grounds that the product is objectionable, according to a government regulator making the decision after the product is finished, would arguably jeopardize the footing of the Canadian film industry, leading to a significant loss of jobs for those employed in the industry. Why a governing party would be intent on destroying a vital, pride inspiring industry for Canada is a mystery. Yet they seem to care little in that regard, judging by their public comments anyway. We get a hint that behind the scenes, however, there is dissent in the Conservative ranks and there could be a working solution to be had. Here are some uncensored thoughts from Minister Verner, provided by a clutzy Conservative Senator:

Comments Рcaught on tape Рby Conservative Senator David Angus, who chairs the Senate banking committee studying the bill, gave a strong sense that Heritage Minister Jos̩e Verner is not pleased by the current debate.

“The government has to bite the bullet. … The minister agrees. She told me she hates the law,” the senator said, unaware that his microphone was still on.

Minister Verner is about to meet her own form of censorship, in the form of the PMO, heh...:) I guess we'll have to wait and see whether Angus was telegraphing that the Conservatives will actually play nicely on a piece of legislation. What a concept that would be, minority government, what the Canadian public chose, working.

In terms of an election, on the free speech front, of course, this is a bad issue for the Conservatives. Very bad. It might make the crazies come out in force. They like this bill. But the process provided here for the film industry reeks of censorship, an issue easily accessible to Canadians that could explode in a campaign as an offensive overreach by Conservatives. There would be a lot of respected members of the arts community who could garner a heap of publicity during a campaign. Throw in recent questionable actions on the Conservatives' part such as their efforts to muzzle officers of parliament of late, not to mention their own members of parliament, the high profile firing of Linda Keen, the vote against Elections Canada, etc. and it doesn't make for a very pretty picture.

While there will be many issues in the campaign, the Conservatives are on the wrong side of this one. I'd sure as heck take my chances on arguing the opposing side.