It wasn’t a scientific survey. But the number the Province trotted out in March to justify its decision to shut down SCN was far from statistically accurate.
Turns out, the claim that only four per cent of Saskatchewan residents watched SCN was taken from a national poll that included TV viewers from across Canada.
SCN’s own internal polling revealed that 20 per cent of Saskatchewanites watched the station. In today’s mega-channel universe, that’s impressive.
A recent on-line poll by the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Association (SMPIA) revealed equally strong support.
“SMPIA shared the survey with its members and associate groups like ACTRA, along with Saskatchewan arts and culture groups,” says Robin Schlaht of SCN Matters.
One section in the survey, which received over 350 responses, was directed at the film and TV industry. Production companies that responded attributed $13.25 million in revenue last year to funds they leveraged from other sources after receiving $1.2 million in SCN license fees. Overall, 98 per cent of respondents expressed support for SCN.
In late May, the province announced it was entertaining two bids to purchase SCN and … well, at this point no one’s sure what the government’s ultimate aim is.
Through every step in this process, it has shown a shocking ignorance of how the Saskatchewan film and TV industry operates.
As recently as 2008, the film patch contributed over $70 million to the economy.
With the effects of the 2009 global recession still being felt, says Schlaht, that’ll take a hit.
“I doubt production volume this year will exceed $30 million. If you take $13 million out of that, that’s a pretty big hit.”
Schlaht also has trouble envisioning how a revamped SCN, presumably with private ownership, will be able to fulfill CRTC license requirements.
“It’s hard to imagine a business model that’d be a provincial educational broadcaster but still be financed by the private sector,” he says.
Buoyed by SMPIA’s poll results, Schlaht reiterated SCN Matters’ demand that the government restore interim funding to the network. Then, instead of rushing to find a buyer, he adds, it should engage in broad consultations to ensure a positive outcome. /Gregory Beatty.
PHOTO-RADAR ON THE RADAR AGAIN
City council will be taking another look at photo radar thanks to a motion by Ward 1 Councillor, Louis Browne.
The motion, which was approved unanimously by council at their June 14 meeting, calls for a re-examination of the evidence of the effectiveness of photo radar. If the review proves promising, then the city will seek to establish a one to two year pilot photo radar pilot project in school zones.
To accomplish this, however, the city will have to approach the province to see if they are supportive of this venture as in Saskatchewan whether or not a municipality can institute a photo radar system is decided by the provincial government.
This is just the latest attempt to bring photo radar to the city as, according to Browne, Regina City Council, the Regina Board of Police Commissioners and the Saskatchewan Association of Chiefs of Police have all previously endorsed it. /Paul Dechene
UTURN HOUSE GETS GO-AHEAD
A proposed four-plex development in the Transcona subdivision received final approval from council at their June 14 meeting.
As reported in our May 20 issue, the four-plex will house a Youth For Christ Uturn Program that gives homeless youth a place to live and provides them with mentoring and support.
When the project went before Planning Commission, several Transcona residents came forward to voice their opposition to the project stating the Uturn house would introduce drug addicts, prostitutes, break-ins and property damage to their neighbourhood.
Councillors, however, lauded the Uturn program and its efforts to help at-risk youth and voted unanimously in favour of the four-plex development. /Paul Dechene
COURT SUPPORTS TRIBUNALS OVER TRIALS
June 11, the Supreme Court, in an unanimous 9-0 ruling, reaffirmed the power of administrative tribunals to adjudicate disputes related to human rights, labour relations, environmental protection and myriad other areas that fall under their jurisdiction as federally or provincially appointed bodies.
The decision was hailed by human rights activists who for some time have been concerned about the erosion of civil liberties.
In the early days of his first minority government, for instance, Conservative PM Stephen Harper eliminated funding for the Court Challenges Program that provided financial assistance to individuals who wished to challenge federal laws on the grounds of discrimination. More recently, Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan proposed disbanding the tribunal that adjudicates complaints made to the Human Rights Commission and transferring disputes to Queen’s Bench Court to be litigated.
With its ruling, says University of Saskatchewan law professor Ken Norman, “the Court makes it absolutely clear that administrative tribunals provide citizens with better access to justice than high courts. That’s the whole rationale for governments setting them up in the first place.”
In its judgment, Norman adds, “the Court also said we don’t have one Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] for courts and something else for other adjudicators. The Charter applies to all forms of activity in Canada and the Court has full confidence in administrative tribunals to interpret the Charter, apply it, and provide remedies.”
Canadian courts are already over-burdened. Placing even more responsibility on them to adjudicate matters that are currently handled by hundreds of tribunals across the country, critics argue, would create a logistical nightmare. So why are right-leaning governments so gung-ho to kill them?
“Tribunals are closest to the people,” says Norman. “That’s why governments, starting with the Liberals in the post-WWII period, put them into place, to provide access and avoid the kind of barriers that going to court can present to people.”
Not only are tribunals less costly and intimidating to access, they also are more representative of the general population than the judiciary tends to be. That gives Canadians, especially those from marginalized communities, confidence that when they initiate a proceeding they will receive a fair hearing.
“The Supreme Court deserves to be listened to by governments on this issue,” concludes Norman. “It fully endorses administrative tribunals as vehicles for justice in Canada.” /Gregory Beatty.