Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Harper cancels controversial arts funding restrictions This is a red herring folks

Updated Tue. Oct. 7 2008 3:22 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

The Conservatives are cancelling plans to restrict which film and TV projects are eligible to receive tax credits -- a move that had enraged the arts community.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper announced the party's full election platform in Toronto on Tuesday, one week before Canadians go to the polls.

The controversial tax eligibility changes had been passed in the House of Commons as part of a larger omnibus bill. The changes allowed government to have the final say on which projects qualified for the exemption.

The Conservatives had defended the move by saying it was designed to ensure taxpayers didn't foot the bill for pornography or for films deemed offensive.
However, Harper appears to have changed his mind in an attempt to win votes in Quebec -- where opposition to the bill was most pronounced -- as poll numbers show a slide for the Conservatives in the province.

"We will take into account the serious concerns that have been expressed by film creators and investors," says the platform.

Here are some details from the platform:
• The total cost of the four-year platform is projected at close to $8.7 billion.
• The final year would be the most costly, at $2.8 billion.
• It projects a cumulative surplus of $8 billion over the four years.
• The platform pledges $20 million a year to help the forestry industry market its products abroad.
• It also promises $1.6 billion to help manufacturing and resource industries.

It comes as governments around the world take action to protect their economies and private investors amid the fallout from the U.S. financial slowdown.

Harper also put renewed focus on the economy during Tuesday's campaign announcement, saying his government began taking steps early and decisively, over a year ago, to protect against the slowdown currently hitting the U.S.

"Due to these actions we are not in the position of having to bailout our financial sector," Harper said.

He even quoted himself warning that the economy was headed for a slowdown.
Rather than release his entire platform earlier in the campaign, Harper has rolled it out one announcement at a time, saying the media is more likely to cover the individual announcements.

The Conservative's 41-page platform is dubbed "The True North Strong and Free: Stephen Harper's plan for Canadians."

An overlay on the front page of the Toronto Star on Tuesday showed Tory support sliding almost in tandem with the TSX.

While this is good news it only addresses the controversy over the banking bill that was being argued back in the spring. It was written to deny tax credit money to films they deemed didn't meet public policy. It does nothing to address the arts cuts announced between the beginning of August and the calling of the election or address the future of the industry and government support.

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