Entertainment

Verner calls for film, TV industry's help to draft C-10 guidelines

Heritage Minister Josée Verner is appealing to Canada's television creators and filmmakers for help defining Bill C-10, which includes a controversial proposed law the industry has condemned as censorship.

Heritage Minister Josée Verner is appealing to Canada's television creators and filmmakers for help defining Bill C-10, which includes a controversial proposed law the industry has condemned as censorship.

Verner, who appeared Tuesday before the Senate banking committee currently scrutinizing the bill, said she wants to work with the cultural community to draft parameters for the proposed law.

"As you know, I wish to work in close collaboration with the industry and establish a partnership," Verner said, adding that she invites further input from the film and TV production sector.

Bill C-10, an omnibus bill comprised of complex amendments to the Income Tax Act that passed in the House of Commons in October, has been harshly criticized by the industry for a provision that gives the Heritage department the discretion to cancel the tax credits of any production that is deemed unsuitable and contrary to public policy.

Proponents have argued that the law is intended to prevent government funding of productions depicting extreme violence or pornography. But members of the film and television industry have argued the law would result in de facto censorship.

Verner also proposed a year-long grace period before the bill would become law, to allow representatives of the creative community to help her develop guidelines.

Some of the senators at Tuesday's session expressed concern about passing a bill that didn't include key definitions — a feeling echoed by others, including Writers Guild of Canada executive director Maureen Parker.

"Once guidelines are imposed, they're there," Parker, who monitored the hearing from her Toronto office, told CBC News.

She was also worried that the guidelines "could be subject to changes based on lobbying by conservative groups who may be seeking to limit freedom of speech."

Parker will be among the members of Canada's film and TV production community to appear before the Senate committee next week. Lobby groups concerned about the amount of sexuality and violence in Canadian productions will also appear.

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