Send a message on Bill C-10: go see Young People Fucking

Early this evening, I participated in a panel discussion following the 4:00 screening of Young People Fucking, which is at the Ridge Theatre on Vancouver's West Side.

The First Weekend Club convened the panel, which included one of the stars, Sonja Bennett, to discuss Bill C-10--the subject of this week's cover story in the Georgia Straight.

The key point I wanted to get across was that federal funding for Canadian films could be in jeopardy over the long term if the Conservatives remain in power in Ottawa.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe this to be true:

* There is a rising tide of Christian fundamentalism in Canada, which is gravitating toward the Conservative party.

* This tide is manifesting itself not only in the Fraser Valley (where hard-right Christian Conservative politicians Mark Warawa and Russ Hiebert were elected), but also in the suburbs. The Conservatives ran people with ties to Focus on the Family in Richmond and in North Vancouver in the last federal election.

* The Conservatives have thrown red meat to their Christian supporters by stacking an advisory panel with critics of embryonic stem-cell research. Some feel that this approach has promise in treating Type 1 diabetes and Parkinson's Disease, but Christian fundamentalists oppose the practice, claiming it violates their religious beliefs. The government could also stack an advisory panel on tax credits with right wingers who would oppose government funding for fine Canadian films, such as Young People Fucking.

* The film industry is centred in Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, which don't elect many Conservative MPs. Therefore, there aren't MPs on the government side of the House that will fight for the domestic film industry.

* There is a long history of Reform Party supporters, such as former publisher Ted Byfield, opposing federal funding of Canadian films.

* Last December, Gwen Landolt of the group REAL Women of Canada told the Straight that her group and several others are considering a constitutional challenge to curtail Ottawa's power to spend tax dollars on cultural industries, as well as on health care and other areas that her group considers to be provincial jurisdiction. She said a coalition has formed to try to determine if the British North America Act can be invoked to get a court order. If he stays in power long enough, Prime Minister Stephen Harper could stack the Supreme Court with judges who might be sympathetic to this argument. As filmmaker Mark Leiren-Young told me recently, Harper takes the long view to achieving his political objectives.

Bill C-10 could give the minister of Canadian heritage or her designates the power to deny tax credits if the film is "contrary to public policy". The bill is now stalled in the Senate.

The best way for Canadians to send a message about this legislation is to trundle off to Young People Fucking, and make it the most successful Canadian movie of the year.

It's a terrific film about relationships, often funny and not pornographic. From my observation in the theatre today and during the panel discussion afterward, I would say that the women enjoyed it just as much if not more than the men in the audience.

 

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