Harper Ditches Plans to Pull Tax Credits for Extremely Offensive Films



October 10, 2008

By John Jalsevac

October 9, 2008 ( – As the Conservatives continue to fall in the polls, party leader Stephen Harper has again extended the olive branch to social liberals, announcing his intention to abandon Conservative plans to cut tax credits for films deemed to be offensive or not in the public’s best interest.

Bill C-10, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, currently includes a controversial clause that would allow the Canadian Heritage Minister to deny tax credits to extremely offensive films.

But in his recently unveiled re-election platform Harper said that, despite the fact that “these proposals were approved unanimously by the House of Commons, we will take into account the serious concerns that have been expressed by film creators and investors.

“A re-elected Conservative government,” he said, “will maintain financial support for arts and culture at or above existing levels, while continuing to improve the effectiveness of allocations wherever possible.”

The proposal to allow the cutting of tax credits for extremely offensive films was unveiled in the midst of concerns that millions of dollars of taxpayer monies were going towards funding works such as the now-infamous “Young People F**king.”

Some members of the Canadian arts community, however, responded to the Conservative Party proposal with anger, accusing the Conservative government of “censorship.”

David Cronenberg, one Canadian filmmaker who is known for his extremely violent films, such as “A History of Violence,” and whose work may have been affected by the Conservative plan, welcomed the decision to abandon the legislation. “It’s the first arts cut that (Harper’s) made that’s actually good.”

Social conservatives, on the other hand, who have by and large supported the contentious proposal, have strongly criticized the Canadian arts community for an “entitlement mentality,” in which artists have come to expect government funding merely as a matter of course. To many Canadian artists the mere act of not giving government funding to a project has come to be considered “censorship.”

Brian Rushfeldt, Executive Director of Canada Family Action Coalition, has argued that charges of censorship are without basis: “Accusations that this is about censorship are ludicrous,” he said in March of this year. “There is no law that says (Canadian filmmakers) cannot produce whatever perverted movie they want to. They have been doing that. But this is about asking families to take money out their budget so David Cronenberg and other ‘artists’ can have a paycheck.”

Rushfeldt responded to Harper’s re-election platform by accusing Harper of “caving in” to the arts community. Rushfeldt says that the Conservatives should expect a backlash from Canadian conservatives. “I don’t think they won any votes by this,” Rushfeldt told “But I do think that it did some erosion to the Conservative Party base. I’ve had various people talk to me and say, ‘Well why am I going to even vote if this is what they’re going to do?’ So there’s anger and frustration among the conservative base.”

Earlier this year Rev. Charles McVety of the Canada Family Action Coalition, another strong supporter of the C-10 legislation, warned the Conservative government that it would “pay a price”, in the way of a grassroots rebellion, if it gave in to pressure from the film and television industry and amended or watered down its proposal.

“If they want to capitulate to David Cronenberg so that he can make a few hundred more million dollars, then they don’t deserve to be in government and they won’t be in government for very long,” Rev. McVety told The Hill Times. “If the government loses common sense and says that, ‘We’re going to continue funding films such as “Young People F-ing” and other such movies,’ then they will pay a price for that. That’s not good government and the grassroots will rebel.”

Social conservatives have become increasingly disillusioned with Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party in recent days. Besides the announcement that the government would abandon its proposal to cut tax credits for extremely offensive films, which had become a cause célèbre for many conservative groups, the Conservative re-election platform also enshrined Harper’s oft-stated unwillingness to in any way regulate abortion in Canada. Canada currently has one of the most extreme abortion regimes in the world, in which a woman can kill her unborn child up to birth at taxpayer expense for any reason. The Conservative platform says, “A Conservative Government will not initiate or support any legislation to regulate abortion.”

See related coverage:

Harper Would Have to Personally Kill an Unborn Baby to Avoid the Hidden Agenda Charge

Canadian Government Considers Halting Taxpayer Funding for Perverse Films

Bill C-10: Revoking Tax Breaks for Offensive Films, Federal Election 2008 Email Us 

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