I've been rather quiet on the remarkable public outcry over Bill C-10, the legislation currently before the Senate that would give the Minister of Canadian Heritage the power to veto tax credits for films or television productions deemed objectionable. This afternoon I received an email urging me to "write your Government and support restricting or banning funding from the taxpayers for 'pornography'." Given this nonsense, it is important to urge everyone to lend their voice to this issue by contacting their elected representatives and the Senate Banking committee to ask them not to pass the legislation with the film provision. Much like the outcry against DMCA-style copyright reform, there has been a huge online protest with a Facebook group now over 21,000 members.
I believe there is a place for government support for culture. While that support is not unconditional, neither is it appropriate for government to reserve for itself a veto power over content it finds objectionable (the loss of tax credits could effectively kill some film productions). After the Prime Minister's Office apparently pulled Canadian Heritage Minister Josee Verner away from the media, late last night she issued a press release claiming that the provision is designed to stop tax credits from being issued to films that include content that may be subject to prosecution under the Criminal Code. This raises a couple of issues.