The public relations campaign waged by the Liberal government of Stephen McNeil against the film and television industry in this province over the past year has been a textbook example of Swiftboating.
It began when then Finance Minister Diana Whalen made a pre-budget speech to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce on March 25, 2015. In her remarks, which warned of austerity measures to come, she singled out the film tax credit in particular as a program that was “under review” (usually a political euphemism for “on the chopping block”). According to Whalen, the program “costs taxpayers $24 million dollars a year. With it, Nova Scotia tax payers pay up to 65 percent of the eligible salaries for film and television projects. Now by contrast, our payroll rebate program for other industries are capped at 8 to 10 percent for eligible salaries. Surprisingly, within the rules, there is no requirement to film in Nova Scotia. It may be called a tax credit, but it isn’t used to offset taxes that are owed. 99 percent of the money is being paid directly to companies that don’t owe taxes in Nova Scotia.”
In one speech, Whalen had portrayed the film and television industry as a group of money-grubbing fat cats who cost the Province $24 million based on a super-rich subsidy and that had no obligation to even film or pay taxes here. She might as well have included a picture of Scrooge McDuck lounging in his money bin with “Nova Scotia Film Industry” plastered all over it.
The problem was that her statement was a gross distortion of the facts. Nova Scotians deserve better.Read more