The non-elected upper chamber has heard from over 50 witnesses in examining the legislation over several weeks. The omnibus tax bill, C-10, threatened to withhold production tax credits should a production be found contrary to 'public policy.'
'Witnesses from all segments of the film industry including producers, writers, directors, and actors as well as civil liberties groups have all agreed that Bill C-10, in its current form, would have a devastating impact on the Canadian film industry. This view was reinforced by financial institutions, municipalities, and labour groups,' said Senator Francis Fox at a press conference in Ottawa Wednesday. 'By making these amendments public at this time, those concerned about Bill C-10 will have the opportunity to review and comment on these proposals before they are voted on.'
The proposed changes would remove the power for the Heritage Minister to refuse tax credits based on 'public policy' or to issue guidelines about content. Rather, as was suggested by many critics of the bill, the Criminal Code of Canada would be the litmus test of content. Further, producers would be provided an 'efficient judicial appeal mechanism' should the minister block or delay funding.
'These changes, which are a direct result of the testimony before our committee, will add certainty and stability to the film industry while continuing to ensure that pornography, child pornography, and hate propaganda do not receive government funding,' said Senator Wilfred Moore.
The amendments will be introduced in a clause-by-clause examination as part of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce before the bill is returned to the House of Commons.
The minority Conservative government has said C-10 would be subject to a vote of confidence. However, a political staffer told Screen International the government is unlikely to hold to that stance. Senators Fox and Wilfred are both Liberal appointees in the Liberal-dominated chamber.