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DOC Responds to bill C-10

In response to Bill C-10, DOC sent letters of protest to Prime Minister Stephan Harper and Heritage Minister Josee Verner.  Here is the letter:March 4, 2008 

Dear Mr. Harper and Ms. Verner  

 

The Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) represents more than 700 documentary 

independent producers who create hundreds of hours of programming every year and 

employ thousands of Canadian craftspeople. We are a vital part of the supply chain to 

broadcasters that help to present Canadian stories to Canadian audiences and amount to 

more than one-third of the independent production industry in Canada.  

 

DOC is categorically opposed to language in Bill C-10 that would lead to the creation of 

a new content review panel to determine eligibility for Canadian Film and Television 

Production tax credits, the “public interest” aspects to this bill, and specifically in regard 

to the creation of developing guidelines. This additional layer of intervention is not 

consistent with democratic principals and frighteningly sets a landscape for potential 

political abuse. 

 

With this letter, DOC wishes to express its strong sentiment that it immediately rescind 

any provisions of Bill C-10 that could allow the government to censor film and video 

production in Canada. Further, DOC wishes to express its concern that the government 

have in place objective and transparent guidelines that respect freedom of expression 

when delivering any programmes intended to support documentary production in Canada. 

 

Moral judgment is not a business our democratic government should be involved in.  The 

potential for bias to enter into decision-making will seriously harm the production of 

diverse and thought-provoking programming. It will also irrevocably harm many other 

aspects of the business.   

 

The tax credit system was instituted to encourage the growth of the Canadian Production 

industry and employ film and television craftspeople in both domestic and “foreign 

service” productions in Canada. A jury system will certainly drive away foreign 

investment – no other jurisdiction in the world offering tax incentives to Hollywood and 

foreign production companies has such a “morals jury system” in place – such an 

impediment would bring our “hundreds of millions” of dollars service production 

industry to a halt.   And to exempt Hollywood films shot on Canadian soil from a moral 

review panel while hobbling home grown productions would contradict the reasoning of 

this new proposed scheme.    

 

Our system already provides a number of carefully considered standards and procedures 

monitored by existing Government agencies. These safeguards — that have been 

developed over many years – are measures that ensure pornography, hate propaganda, 

excessive violence, etc. are not financed or broadcast. Every contract signed by every 

Canadian filmmaker receiving government funding already has such provisions.  

 

Aside from the political and social ramifications of the proposed bill, this proposal would 

throw the Canadian production industry into severe financial uncertainty.  Most Canadian 

projects rely on bank loans to free up the cash flow necessary to pay expenses during 

production.  The loans are repaid upon receipt of tax credits.  What bank would grant a 

loan in an atmosphere where a producer may or may not be approved for Canadian Tax 

Credits?  In addition, the cessation of these business loans would surely lead to a loss of 

income for many Canadian financial institutions. 

 

Canadian productions – especially documentaries – are revered around the world.    But 

under the proposed scheme, would Emmy Award Winning Peter Raymont’s “Shake 

Hands with the Devil” be denied because it deals with a subject containing excessive 

violence? Would an award-winning film like “The Corporation” be denied a tax credit 

because it is critical of corporations who may have donated generously to certain political 

parties?  Would the recent box office hit  “Up The Yangtze” be rejected because it might 

offend the government of China?

 

From a practical perspective, CAVCO certification is already a lengthy process, 

sometimes taking months.  In any given year, approx 3000–4000 hours of CAVCO 

certified productions are made. To see all 4000 hours, a panelist would have to watch 

more than 11 hours of programming a day, every single day of the year. This would cause 

a further delay in the certification of productions, which risks to further hamper Canadian 

production. 

 

There can be no compromise on this.  All language pertaining to this ill-conceived and 

ill-advised scheme must be removed completely from Bill C-10. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Michael McNamara 

National Chair – Documentary Organization of Canada 

 

CC:  Mauril Bélanger, MP, Ottawa-Vanier 

 Bill Siksay, MP, Burnaby-Douglas 

 Maria Mourani, MP, Ahuntsic  

 Irene Mathyssen, MP, London-Fanshaw 

 Senator Jerry Grafstein 

 Senator David Angus 

 Charlie Angus, MP, Timmins-James Bay 

 

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