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Income Tax Amendment Bill (film tax credits)
Sponsor: Hon. Marjory LeBreton (ON)
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The bill primarily dealt with non-resident trusts and foreign investment entities. However, buried in its 281 clauses was a provision (section 120(3)(b)) to change film tax credits so that “public financial support of the production would not be contrary to public policy”. These 13 words, out of literally thousands in Bill C-10, caused a public outcry against censorship.
The House of Commons had passed the bill through all three stages, without debate, in less than 60 seconds on October 29, 2007. The Senate sent the bill to committee on December 4, where hearings commenced a week later. The initial focus was still on trusts, but rapidly shifted to film tax credits and censorship when the issue was raised by legions of concerned citizens through email and Facebook campaigns.
Ultimately, 14 committee sessions were devoted to hearing witnesses on the censorship issue. The who's who of Canada's film industry testified, as did government representatives and a prominent evangelist. Mainstream media followed the issue closely (see, for example, the Toronto Star article of March 5), and editorials generally favoured changes to the proposed censorship clause.
Matters were left unresolved when Parliament recessed in June, but surfaced again during an election called in September. A large rally in Montreal, for example, vigorously protested against the government's treatment of film tax credits and funding cuts. One week prior to election day, the Prime Minister bowed to pressure and announced he would scrap the censorship provisions in Bill C-10.
Bill C-10 highlighted the way tax bills are neglected by the House of Commons. As one op-ed stated, "the Senate’s willingness to jump in and seriously examine the rules contained in Bill C-10 is a most welcome check and balance on what heretofore has been a free ride for [the Department of] Finance."
An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Copyright Act
(profit from authorship respecting a crime)
Sponsor: Hon. P. Derek Lewis (NL)
Downloads: Click here
This private member’s bill from the House of Commons sought to prevent criminals (or any member of their family) from profiting from the commercialisation of their crimes, be it through books, movies or other media. The copyright that would otherwise belong to the convicted person would become government property. The Bill was passed in the House of Commons on October 1, 1997 and sent forward to the Senate.
On June 10, 1998, the Senate adopted a Committee report recommending that the bill be rejected. The report raises a number of concerns and states that “Bill C-220 would effectively place the Crown in a censorship role, with the authority to control the dissemination of convicted persons' works. The appropriateness of such a role is open to serious question, in light of government's explicit obligation to comply with Charter values.”