Just because we got called on our BS doesn’t mean we’re gonna change
I'm Not Angry
By now, I'm sure everyone has heard something about the Saskatchewan film industry through the grapevine. For the benefit of everyone, a quick summary follows this colon: when the provincial budget was tabled on March 23 of this year, many unexpected cuts were suggested by Minister Ken Krawetz. Among them was the suggested removal of the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit (SFETC). The SFETC incentivized filmmakers from outside the province to come shoot movies and spend some of those lucrative Hollywood dollars in our fair province.
The move seemed to be pulled directly from the fattest Saskatchewan Party minister's ass, as anyone in the former film industry would probably tell you. This literal blindsiding caused a mass exodus of very talented artists of all stripes from Saskatchewan. The spin placed upon this particular decision was that the industry could not survive without constant subsidy and, therefore, should not be subsidized indefinitely. Figures produced by Minister Krawetz suggested that the removal of the SFETC would save taxpayers $8 million annually.
As with every good piece of government misinformation, however, the dam was soon busted wide open. Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce held a small, organized press event in the Legislative Building on Oct. 30. During this conference, McLellan announced that, in conjunction with SaskFilm, the Chamber of Commerce found Minister Krawetz's figures to be skewed. In reality, the SFETC cost taxpayers roughly $1 million per year of its operation since 1998. In return, taxpayers saw no less than $44 million in pure revenue. It doesn't take a business tycoon to realize the pure earning potential of a program that was a mere drop in the provincial bucket. McLellan also said that the decision of the government to remove the tax credit showed the provincial government lacked “sector-specific knowledge” and transparency. McLellan also said that “there's better ways to [announce the cut] – but you don't kick them out at the knees in order to make better decisions.”
After the press conference, Speaker of the House Dan D’Autremont said in no uncertain terms that all future visits to the Legislative Building by Mr. McLellan would be accompanied by security. It was the Speaker's fear that Mr. McLellan was trying to incite a panic, or riot, or protest, or whatever the fuck dissent stupidity on the behalf of governments leads to. Completely avoiding the affront to the rights of citizens to attend their Legislative Assembly, the actions of the Speaker and of Brad Wall's government pose a serious problem.
Danielle Chartier, MLA for Saskatoon-Riversdale, and the Culture Critic for the Opposition was firmly on the side of Steve McLellan.
“If you could make the kind of return that you would on the Film Tax Credit that you probably would continue investing the money,” Chartier explained. “Artists and filmmakers keep life interesting for the lawyers and engineers, everyone else. It creates a vibrant, exciting community.”
Brad Wall has gone on the record several times since March saying that in no way will the film tax credit in its last incarnation be coming back. What I want to know is why he is able to continue making terrible decisions for this province? Is it because he has an imagined majority in a broken electoral system? Well, fuck that. If we can’t trust our elected officials to make informed decisions affecting the livelihoods of between 800-1,000 people and millions of dollars of revenue, then maybe it's about time we take the reigns of the economy, and give them a sharp yank. The Carillon attempted to reach Minister Bill Hutchinson for comment, but the minister was unable to provide a comment before press. I don't blame him. And I'm not angry. Honest.