Monday, April 21, 2008

Josée Verner Minister of Censorship

Josée Verner has come out of the blocks, waving her arms in the air, demanding that her every statement be discounted, mocked and laughed at. As the champion of the Conservative's dirty little censorship act, Bill C-10, she can't understand why a film maker would criticize the legislation. If Verner has anything going for her at this moment, her stupidity almost surely precludes active corruption. Even as poorly as the Cons have managed their election fund cheating fiasco, there was an initial moment of cunning. Verner couldn't find her hands in her pockets.

Globe notes the ruffling of her feathers. Her little outburst comes in response to statements made by Oscar winning director Ang Lee. Addressing Vancouver film makers he told them that they had to fight for their freedom to create.

During a talk with young Vancouver filmmakers on Saturday, Lee urged them to “make a noise, whatever” to stop Bill C-10. “It's almost like censorship.”

Let's recall that
Charlie McVety, the evangelical fundie clown that has his tongue in Stockwell's, um, ear, (and runs an endless string of pressure groups from one phone number, out of one office at his tax exempt University of Jeebus) claims to be behind this bill. Of course when put to the test in the Senate he recanted those boasts but you can't get the egg back into the chicken. He was quite clear in expressing that Bill C-10 would be used to quash productions that dealt with stories of gay life and whatever other alternative lifestyles scared his fat little self so.

So given those posts as context, there's no lack of comic irony to have the New Canadian Minister of New Heritage, Josée Verner pop up like a mousse poisoned whack-a-mole to bluster and scramble for traction.

Upon hearing of his comments, Verner issued a statement Monday: “I'm surprised about the comments of Mr. Ang Lee, director of the world acclaimed movie Brokeback Mountain.”

What a fuck wit. Stockwell old boy, you have competition, you just might not be the most laughably stupid creature infesting fat Steve's cabinet of horrors. Somehow creative artists and Canadians are supposed to accept that a woman this blazingly stupid will be the one determining what is "offensive".

The goal of the stealth retards behind this travesty is to enact a morality regime in the government that impedes the process of creation and freedom in the arts. Verner is actually stupid enough to profess surprise that the Oscar winning director of a film about two men's drama of denial and temptation for each other
in a gay relationship would suggest fighting the bigots. Cripes. Does she wear a CCM helmet to bed? Not content to bumble into the statement, she pauses to reflect on other reasons to detest this transparently bigoted piece of legislation.

In addition to pointing out that Lee, as a non-Canadian, is himself exempt from being denied the particular tax credit included in the bill, Verner denied Lee's charges of censorship.

I hope she wears flavoured socks, her feet are wedged into her mouth like some kind of fetish porn. Under her stewardship, 'Brokeback Mountain' is exactly the sort of movie that a Canadian wouldn't be assisted in producing. But a foreigner like Mr. Lee would face no such restrictions when he brought his crew to Alberta, home of gay cowboy moving pictures. So this festering idiocy serves only to hamper and impede the work of Canadian artists, how very fucking reassuring.

“Our government is determined to ensure freedom of expression and will continue to support the production of entertaining and high quality content,” the statement said. “We are reaching out to industry to work with them on Bill C-10. Together, we will find the best solution for the industry, for Canadian citizens and tax payers.”

Yes indeed. Freedom of expression exept not about fags and stuff. Or anything that would make Stockwell cry. The best solution for the industry? Tear little ol' Bill C-10 into tiny pieces and force feed them to puritanical manipulators like Charles McVety and his dinosaur riding BFF, Stockwell Day. The solution is that Telefilm Canada and the other funding agencies be allowed to do their jobs. It is not up to the Verners of the world to determine what represents high quality, entertaining or appropriate content. That would reduce the Canadian film industry to a terminal miasma of heart warming shite. Don't fix what ain't broken Josée.

That raises another issue for critics of the bill such as writer Susan Swan, the chair of The Writer's Union of Canada. Swan says the arts community has no intention of working out guidelines with the Minister. Swan was in Ottawa last week to deliver this message to a senate committee.

“None of the delegates from the other arts organizations at the senate banking committee last week expressed any interest in doing it,” she said. “There are already guidelines in place for government funding of film. Why would we want to add another tier? The Writers' Union, like Ang Lee, believes artistic freedom is the best public policy for film funding.”

These idiot Cons are actually upset that the people they don't like or respect would bridle at being asked to help pick out the colour of the straight jacket they'll be forced to wear. They are desperate to feed their base, the terrified, the backward and the superstitious, at any cost. And that includes the destruction of any form of domestic film and television industry. There are already enough hurdles facing a Canadian film maker and now these fools want to make things more difficult. At the same time, leaving the advantages in place for off shore producers. Yeah. That'll work. Reverse protectionism, fucking genius.

Update: Hats off to Ang Lee! Should any of you readers care to drop a line to the Senate, I would appreciate your effort.

You can reach Senator Hervieux-Payette at HERVIC@SEN.PARL.GC.CA I received the following in a timely response to my note:

Liberals to Shed Light on Conservative Censorship Attempt

OTTAWA – Liberal Senators will ensure that hearings are held to consider amendments to controversial legislation so that a tiny clause in the Income Tax Act does not become a tool of government censorship, Liberal Senate Leader Céline Hervieux-Payette and Liberal Heritage Critic Mauril Bélanger said today.

“We are concerned that if Bill C-10 is allowed to pass in its current form, the way will be paved for the use of Canada’s tax system as a de facto censor of film and video production in Canada,” said Senator Hervieux-Payette.

Bill C-10, an omnibus bill which makes numerous, mostly technical, changes to Canada’s Income Tax Act, also includes provisions which would give the Minister of Heritage the authority to deny tax benefits to any production not meeting standards of their choosing.

Today’s announcement followed a Bloc motion calling on the Government to amend the bill “as soon as possible.” Senator Hervieux-Payette said that the swiftest possible action that can be taken is not through the Government, but through the Senate Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee, which is currently studying the Bill.

“Thankfully the bill is still in front of a Senate Committee that can give this important issue the close scrutiny it deserves,” said Senator Hervieux-Payette. “If necessary, we will not hesitate to offer amendments to ensure the tax code is not abused in this manner.”

The impact of the measures in Bill C-10 first came to light thanks to the boasting of socially conservative activist Charles McVety, who claimed he had influenced the government’s crafting of the bill.

“The arts community has already widely condemned the government’s attempts to twist the tax law into a means of censorship-by-stealth,” said Mr. Bélanger. “Liberals understand that artistic freedom is good public policy. We stand with Canada’s artists and the public in their desire to protect their freedom of expression.”

On the topic of responses, today I received a content free, form letter response to the several letters I have written to Liberal leader Stephane Dion. In the most non-specific of terms I am assured that my concerns have been noted. Traditionally, the rhetoric has been that the Senate is a sleepy retirement village full of aging patronage loafers, yet when I write to the Senate I get a detailed, on point and considered response to my concern. My Member of Parliament, Karen Redman, Liberal Party whip has yet to muster the energy to produce so much as a form letter. Jack Layton and the NDP were also quick to respond to a letter I sent and were also on point and detailed. Jim Prentice's office took months to manage to respond with a form letter that was so obviously tossed off that it assured me that the very opposite of my concerns were being addressed. And last but certainly not least the PMO has also pushed the send button to ship me a vague and meaningless form letter. I am left to determine from my own limited anecdotal evidence that the Senate is a far better and more considered branch of government than they are credited and the Liberal Party is asleep at the switch. Perhaps I should write to the Bloc and see what I get.


liberal supporter said...

L'il Mikey Coren was on about this on Saturday.

Still floating the canard that a tax credit is somehow a grant. And making all the usual unsupported claims.

Red Canuck said...

I've often wondered this about many Conservative MP's: are they too profoundly stupid to be cunning? Verner, Helena Guergis, Pierre Poilievre, Peter Van Loan, Rob Anders...the list goes on. There are times I almost feel sorry for them. Almost...

Lindsay Stewart said...

Some of them truly seem to be so dim that they absorb light and produce only a slightly sour gas.

Frank Frink said...

Under her stewardship, 'Brokeback Mountain' is exactly the sort of movie that a Canadian wouldn't be assisted in producing. But a foreigner like Mr. Lee would face no such restrictions when he brought his crew to Alberta, home of gay cowboy moving pictures. So this festering idiocy serves only to hamper and impede the work of Canadian artists

Glad you addressed this. Saw it this morning and realized what it meant right away - i.e. Foreign productions in Canada, good. Very good. No restrictions. Get your tax credits here. You Canadian artists, under our thumb.

More of that CPoC 'standing up for Canadians' bidness.

Red Tory said...

Funny how responsive the Senators usually are, isn't it? When I lived in Alberta many years ago, Sen. Bud Olson used to send me the Hansard from the Senate every other couple of weeks and I was always quite amazed at the subjects discussed and level of detail they went into on them. Any questions/concerns I had were always dealt with promptly and substantively. More than I can say for my MPs or MLAs since.

900ft Jesus said...

I usually get more thoughtful responses from the Senate as well. There are some there who work really hard, and have put enough pressure on where I work that they have made change happen. NDP, as you say, answer as well. Libs Ken Dryden & Coderre, in my experience.

I hope the Senate doesn't back down on this, or C-484, if it gets that far. I'm sick of the CONs threatening to force an election, even by pressuring the Senate. It's getting ridiculous - chubby little Stevo pitching his little fits and getting his way on destructive bills.

Dean P said...

Reading the Senate hansard is far more rewarding than reading the Commons'. Maybe it's because the Senate doesn't face TV coverage so they don't grandstand. Maybe it's because they know they can be thoughtful and independent.

The Senate's hearings on same sex marriage were far more considered than anything the House could manage. And people want to abolish the Senate because of some nonsensical notions of it being anti-democratic or whatever.

The strongest institutions that have served Canadians the best are the unelected ones: The Courts, the Senate, and the Crown. The unelected staff of the ministries.

Better them than some elected hack who has to pander to the masses to win his seat and then is subject to the will of Teh Leader.

Dana Hunter said...

What's going on up there is making me ever so glad for this wee little First Amendment of ours. It's a nice sap to use on the Speech Police. Usually conks them right out.

Red Tory said...

Dana — Some of us are quite envious.

By the way PSA, I linked to this post with a video of McVety talking about the issue in case you're interested. It's quite a funny interview. Strombo gives him the gears (in that nice, friendly sort of way he does...)

Lindsay Stewart said...

cheers red! go trombone-opolous.

skdadl said...

Very fine post, psa. Thanks so much.

Verner (well, all of them) thinks that business-management talk about negotiating artistic standards is going to work on actual artists? These really are pod people.

That guy said...

the Senate is a far better and more considered branch of government than they are credited

Yes, they really are. Ironically, one of the reasons that they have a bad rep is that they often run too well for a government body.