FILM PATCH HAS INSECURITY
It’s been a yay/boo kind of week for Saskatchewan’s beleaguered film industry.
Vérité Films — and some of the other fairy godpeople who brought us Corner Gas — is starting a new CBC comedy series, InSecurity. The series will be shot in July with the assistance of the newly-announced Saskfilm Series Incentive Initiative, a program intended to attract new dramatic series to Saskatchewan.
The production is a bit of good news for the industry, which has suffered from world economic conditions, the high Canadian dollar, and competing tax credit programs in other provinces.
But for many filmmakers the announcement is overshadowed by the death of SCN, scheduled to go off the air April 30.
Filmmaker and spokesperson for the group SCN Matters, Robin Schlaht says that this new incentive program only has a fraction of the benefits that SCN was already providing. He points out that it will benefit only one production company and 10 weeks of production, and effect only the Regina area. Over the course of a year, SCN would work with 20 or 30 production companies, and 30 or 40 different development productions throughout the province. Schlaht says that the seed money and pre-licencing agreements SCN provided were a key component of film production across the province. The initial financing, along with the vote of confidence a broadcast license gave to a project was essential to getting film productions off the ground and on the air.
He points out that Vérité Films, which with this project will have shot four series in Saskatchewan, would likely not even exist today if it weren’t for early support SCN.
“SCN was excellent at that. They were a success story,” he says. /Carle Steel
PROPOSAL WEAKENS RIGHTS PROTECTION: CRITICS
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
That’s the advice NDP Justice critic Frank Quennell has for Saskatchewan Justice minister Don Morgan following the government’s announcement that it’s considering disbanding the tribunal that adjudicates complaints made to the Human Rights Commission. Instead, disputes would be handled in Court of Queen’s Bench.
News of the move leaked in mid-April and thus far, says Quennell, the government hasn’t provided a satisfactory rationale. “[Initially], it was suggested it was a budgetary matter. No one was challenging the expertise or independence of the tribunal. Now, the Minister is saying that that perception exists. But does it? And why?”
Quennell suspects the proposal is politically motivated. “I’m not saying it’s the Minister’s opinion. But it’s probably good politics in appealing to [the Sask Party’s] social conservative base to say ‘We can’t do anything about the Charter of Rights. But the Human Rights tribunal that made those decisions based on that law that you found annoying, we killed it off.’ The fact that a judge would probably make the same decision based on the same law makes this rather symbolic and empty populism.”
Symbolic and empty, except that people pursuing human rights complaints, who inevitably come from marginalized communities, will likely be more reluctant to pursue legal redress if they must go to court where costs are likely to be higher, delays greater, and legal formalities more intimidating.
“Cases can be appealed from the tribunal to court now, and the argument is that we’ll just cut out the [middle] layer because they’re going to end up in court anyway,” says Quennell. “Well, some do, and some don’t.”
If the change goes through, and cases are shifted to an already over-crowded court system, says Quennell, “there will be less recourse to question what the commission has decided in your case.” /Gregory Beatty