Gotta Love Trump https://invictus-tv.com/gotta-love-trump

Gotta Love Trump https://invictus-tv.com/gotta-love-trump

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Bill C-11’s Foundational Faults, Part Five: How is “Gotta Love Trump” Cancon But Amazon’s Toronto Maple Leafs Series Isn’t?

My series on Bill C-11’s foundational faults has covered jurisdictional over-reach, the implications of treating all audio-visual content as a “program” subject to CRTC regulation, as well as the flaws and harms of the discoverability provisions. While the faults thus far focus on provisions contained in the bill, this post examines a critical aspect of broadcast and cultural policy that the government has failed to address. The bill purports to support “Canadian stories” but the current system often means that certified Cancon has little to do with Canada and fails to meet those objectives. Case in point: the certification of Gotta Love Trump, a film primarily comprised of pro-Trump clips that include Trump’s photographer, a former Apprentice contestant, Roger Stone, Candace Owens, and a cast of others with scarcely anything resembling Canadian content.

The Canadian film and television sector has enjoyed record success in recent years, with massive new spending often driven by foreign streaming services (the claims that companies such as Netflix don’t contribute in Canada has long been a myth). This is particularly true in Quebec, where recent data shows record spending. Given the enormous economic success, the suggestion that Bill C-11 solves an economic problem simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Instead, proponents argue that the bill is needed for cultural reasons by supporting the creation of certified Canadian content rather than what is known as “foreign location and service production” (FLSP), where the production occurs in Canada but is not certified as Cancon. However, the not-so-secret reality of the Canadian system is that foreign location and service production and Canadian content are frequently indistinguishable. Qualifying as Canadian requires having a Canadian producer along with meeting a point system that rewards granting roles such as the director, screenwriter, lead actors, and music composer to Canadians (the qualifications for CAVCO CPTC certification are here).

This is a poor proxy for “telling our stories”. I pointed to this issue in 2020 with the Cancon quiz, which highlighted the disconnect between productions Canadians might think are Canadian and those that are not. Recently, I found a more remarkable example of why Cancon rules require an overhaul in order for cultural policy to meet its objective of supporting “Canadian stories.” Gotta Love Trump is a 2020 documentary with practically no connection to Canada, yet the film is listed as a CAVCO certified Canadian production. It is sold on sites such as PatriotFortyFive.com, with a promo blurb about how “so many people have come to love the 45th President of the United States.”

Gotta Love Trump, Credits https://invictus-tv.com/gotta-love-trump

As the name would suggest, Gotta Love Trump is 90 minutes of pro-Trump clips and interviews, warning of the dangers of immigration from Mexico and the support for former President Donald Trump. The primary interview subjects are Joy Villa, a Youtuber and outspoken Trump supporter, Gene Ho, Trump’s former photographer, and Tana Goertz, a former The Apprentice contestant. The film also includes extended clips from Trump world luminaries such as Roger Stone and Candace Owens. As far as I can tell, there is one Canadian interviewed, Ashish Manral, an immigration consultant in B.C., who never reveals he’s actually in Canada.

So how does Gotta Love Trump, produced by Love Trump Productions, tell a Canadian story or qualify as Cancon? There are a few minutes of footage that show B.C. and the narrator is an Australian named Scott Allan, who previously operated out of Australia but has some Canadian connection. His IMBD page does not list the Trump documentary. The film credits list several other Canadians, but having watched the documentary I didn’t see them. For example, the cast purportedly includes Dean Aylesworth and Frederique Roussel, but perhaps I blinked and missed their appearance. Similarly, the credits also say there were interviews with Neema Manral, a B.C. Green Party candidate, and Hallie Latimer, a Vancouver cashier, but I did not see them on film either.

This documentary simply has nothing to do with Canada or a Canadian story. Yet it is purportedly this kind of content that Bill C-11 seeks to support with mandated payments from Internet services around the world. Gotta Love Trump stands in stark contrast to productions such as Amazon’s All of Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs, a five part series that followed the Leafs for months during the 2020-21 season. The film is narrated by Will Arnett (a Canadian) and used Canadian crews. However, it does not qualify as Canadian content, nor does Jusqu’au Declin (a Quebec film produced by Netflix) or Turning Red (Disney+). The problem lies with an outdated certification system that privileges some professions over others and makes it difficult to distinguish between Cancon and FLSP.

Gotta Love Trump is really just the tip of the iceberg. Programs such as The Handmaid’s Tale may be based on a Margaret Atwood novel, but using one of Canada’s best known novelists as the source doesn’t count in the Canadian points system. Meanwhile, “co-productions”, in which treaty agreements deem predominantly foreign productions as Cancon (enabling the Norwegian language film Hevn to qualify as Canadian) almost completely sever the link between certification and Canadian stories.

If Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez is serious about supporting Canadian stories, the starting point should not be to layer the flawed Bill C-11 onto a cultural policy framework that does not achieve those objectives. Rather, the government should first craft a policy approach that supports Canadian stories – not stories about Donald Trump that bear little if any connection to Canada – and then discuss potential policy measures to help fund that framework.

10 Comments

  1. This Bill is based on a pack of lies. The Bill is not about promoting Canadian stories, protecting cultural sovereignty, or addressing the non-existent problem of discovering Canadian content. It’s about the money. The Canadian cultural lobby feels they own the Canadian marketplace and they want the government to force foreign players to pay them for access to the Canadian market.

  2. and when yo have ot pay for a broad cast license like the big boys have it regualted by the woke police and then cant goto alternative or do your own hosting due to s210 , youhave in effect what 30s germany did to its media , what russia and china do to there media and entertainment. CONTROL. Then you can begin the gerbels brainwashing fullsteam.

  3. Fortinbras says:

    Michael Geist’s blog has nothing to do with Bill C-11 and is a complaint unrelated to the proposed legislation. The current Broadcasting Act does not address the issue of what constitutes a Canadian program, not should it. As with any legislation of this nature, the details are left to regulations. Michael Geist’s current blog is a retread of his grumbling from two years ago (March 10, 2020) so I will retread some of my comments at the time.

    As with any process in the cultural area, mistakes are sometimes made. The rules are not perfect, but the flexibility that allows for such mistakes also permits innovation and originality in other cases. Because Gotta Love Trump made it through the Canadian program certification process is in fact a testimony to the freedom of expression that Michael Geist purports to defend.

    The claims that companies such as Netflix contribute significantly to Canadian production has long been a myth that Michael Geist continues to spread. Locke & Key is an example of one of Netflix’s teen drama series that chose Canada (Toronto and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia) as a shooting location to fill in for Seattle and Massachusetts. Its storyline has nothing to do with Canada, so the series is not certifiable as a Canadian program. Contrast this with drama series such as the CBC’s The Porter and Pretty Hard Cases, shot in Manitoba and Toronto respectively using almost exclusively domestic creative resources. These productions address important domestic issues in a clearly Canadian context.

    The point system that acknowledges roles in a production, such as the screenwriter, director, lead actors, and music composer, is the most reasonable proxy for telling Canadian stories. The evaluation of television scripts in pre-production – trying to determine what constituted a Canadian story — was undertaken at considerable expense by Telefilm Canada between 1983 and 1996 with mitigated results. The practice was abandoned in favour of a more streamlined approach after complaints from producers and broadcasters that content analysis was unpredictable, unreliable and prevented them from planning in advance. The point system is the most efficient way to determine what constitutes a Canadian program.

    Of course, Canadian public policy may have more than one objective and pursue varying economic, cultural and foreign policy goals at the same time, and this is the case of policies concerning the certification of Canadian content. Some programmes, such as federal and provincial tax credits, target economic objectives and include the funding of foreign location shooting. The same is true of official international coproductions which the Department of Canadian Heritage believes further foreign policy objectives. Other programmes, such as the Canadian Media Fund (financed partly by Canadian Heritage), target high quality Canadian television production and Canadian stories. All of these programmes use the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office (CAVCO) rules as a starting point and then add their own eligibility criteria. CAVCO rules are essential since they require an impartial, objective administrative approach acceptable to federal and provincial revenue agencies.

    When we look more closely at foreign location shooting in Canada, it is apparent that most of it takes place in British Columbia. In other words, it consists of runaway Hollywood production attracted by federal and provincial tax credits. Moreover, the percentage of total foreign location shooting attributable to the United States has not changed over the last decade (it was 77% in 2009-10) and the contribution of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney has not altered this.

    Adapting one of Margaret Atwood’s novels counts in the Canadian points system as long as the principal writer on the team associated with the production is also Canadian. This increases the likelihood that the treatment itself is from a Canadian perspective. The Handmaid’s Tale is a wonderful production, but it was made with American writers, directors and principal actors. Margaret Atwood had only a salutary advisory role to play in the television production. Similarly, the adaptation of David Morrell’s novel, First Blood, the first in the Rambo series starring Sylvester Stallone, did not qualify as Canadian content even though it was directed by a Canadian and shot in British Columbia.

    Michael Geist wants to make the concept of Canadian content less meaningful. At no point does he suggest what an alternative Canadian content certification process would look like. No doubt the CRTC and Canadian Heritage will revise the certification process once Bill C-11 has been put into effect and the non-Canadian web giants have been assigned Canadian content obligations. Until then, the question is moot.

  4. Yes, there are many loopholes in the foundation bill. this bill not for non existing problem as per Canadian context.

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  10. Patrick Seguin says:

    Stop protecting a neoliberal government fascists.

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