Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty has entered the ongoing film tax credit fray, saying the proposed tax law should not be amended and suggesting the issue will be a confidence vote of the Conservative minority government he represents.

The minister's comments followed an appearance before the Senate banking committee studying the proposed amendments to Bill C-10.

As currently written, Bill C-10 would give the minister of Canadian Heritage the right to withhold the federal tax credit of any Canadian production the minister deems contrary to 'public policy'. Cultural observers warn that the vagueness of that term portends arbitrary decisions. Producers groups CFTPA says the risk of tax credit annulments will put a chill on lenders.

Flaherty insisted that Canadian tax payers did not want their money spent on productions that are 'hateful, or extremely violent or very obscene.' Critics of C-10 flatly dismiss this argument, pointing out that a film's eligibility for tax credits is already subject to several layers of vetting, including the Criminal Code. Others have pointed to a double-standard, in that the new rules would apply only to Canadian productions and not foreign-financed ones.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail newspaper, filmmaker David Cronenberg reflected on his 1996 film Crash and suggested that the film would have been rejected had it faced similar stricture.

While Heritage minister Josee Verner has already said she would consult with the industry, it was not immediately clear if she planned to consult before or after the bill's passage. A Heritage spokesperson referred calls to the Ministry of Finance. No one was available for comment at time of going to press.