Friday, April 10, 2015

An Open Letter to My MLA

I have never written to my elected representative before. Ok...I did once. I was in Toronto and wrote one to The Hon. Bob Rae. I heard nothing back. Quelle Supreeeze.

Alas, this is different....


To: Suzanne Lohnes- Croft, MLA  and Mark Furey, MLA

I write to you to voice my disgust over the cutting of the Film and TV tax credit in yesterday’s budget.

Clearly there is a great deal of shock and incredulity in the industry. The abrupt and severe nature of this change at such a crucial time is breathtaking.

I need to emphasize that the complaints being voiced are not simply those of a group of whining socialists upset at losing their government handout. Already the bigger players have made their intentions to leave very clear: DHX, Trailer Park Boys, This Hour Has 22 Minutes. They are the big fish. But It is the small ones, of which I am one of many, who will be seriously impacted and perhaps destroyed.

Your government- indeed, all Nova Scotia governments- pay lip service to “regional development” and finding ways to keep skilled young people in the province. Your budget manages to thoroughly dispel that notion, and would be comical if the consequences were not so dire. Indeed, it would be hard to inflict more damage on these two areas if you tried.

I moved here (Lunenburg) 4 years ago from Toronto. I love this place. While some of my work (audio and music for film and TV) is international, I have been gradually building my local business.  The astonishing number of creative people and businesses here presented a wonderful opportunity. That changed yesterday. As it stands I will personally lose about $30,000 of local (NS) business. That’s just this year. My clients, equally devastated and blind-sided, have put their productions on hold or cancelled them. That $30,000 gone is money I will not be paying tax on. Nor will I be hiring young assistants (to whom I pay good wages) to help me with this work. They won’t be paying tax on it here either. Indeed, they will likely leave the province of their birth and move and work and pay taxes in Ontario or BC. It is not an overstatement to say it’s another generation gone from a place that badly needs skilled young people to contribute. I taught many aspiring people when I was an instructor at the Centre for Arts and Technology in Halifax (now the DaVinci Scool of Arts and Technology). There, too, is more potential collateral damage: why would young people choose to stay and educate themselves here when there are no job opportunities in the local industry?

I understand difficult decisions need to be made come budget time. And even though I am usually a fiscal conservative and generally don’t think government should meddle in the economy I know you often do and often must. However, if you are to meddle, your meddling must be beneficial. In that light, then, I don’t think your government has any concept of the scope of consequences that will ensue from this budget. From carpenters, to audio engineers, set designers to retailers to restaurants and tour operators to car rental companies to film and TV post production houses; it’s truly not just the film and TV industry but tourism and the trades as well. So many jobs-good paying ones- and opportunities will be lost. Numbers are often bandied about, but it’s clear that $25 million in tax breaks has a huge positive echo effect on the economy overall- in rural areas as well has Halifax.

In contrast, your government had no trouble giving RBC- a multi-billion dollar earning corporation- a $22 million dollar tax incentive to create 125 low-level jobs. In the Halifax area. That decision was clearly not impacted and RBC were never in danger of losing this subsidy, were they?  125 minimum wage jobs for $22 million is OK. But $25 million for an entire industry and its many associated spinoffs that generates 5 or 10 times that amount is somehow “unaffordable”. It’s really quite difficult to fathom.

I have often voted Liberal an both the federal and provincial level. I am aghast that anyone who considers themselves a Liberal (or a liberal) would take these actions against an entire industry so swiftly and so thoughtlessly. If this goes through as proposed, I predict you will experience very negative repercussions in the next election. And for eviscerating a thriving industry you would deserve no less.


David Findlay

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