By this time next week, I should have pretty good idea of what I’ll be working on next – and, more importantly, where.  Whether it’s the SF space opera or the urban fantasy series or the non-genre cable show or one of a number of other opportunities, scoring the gig will only be half the battle.  A change of location could well be in the cards.

I wish it were as simple as getting the green light and then moving forward on production here in Vancouver with the many talented individuals I worked with on Stargate.  That would be a best case scenario but, realistically, even if one of our shows does get the go-ahead, there’s a strong likelihood we may be headed east, to Toronto, to shoot it.  It’s incredibly frustrating because, as much as I love Vancouver, the ruling BC Liberal party has made it almost impossible for new productions to seriously consider shooting here.  Simply put, your budget goes a lot further in Ontario – which is why that province is so unbelievably busy.  BC, on the other hand, is another story.  The film & television industry here is hurting.  The work is going elsewhere. And what is the government doing to help?  Not a hell of a lot.  They claim that matching Ontario’s tax credits would be, in their words, “a race to the bottom”, in which the province would lose out on revenue. Bullshit.

This is what I had to say on the subject a couple of months ago:

“This link offers a great analysis of the situation ( and a great explanation of how it works.  Kurt Bruun sums it up this way:

BC was standing around one day thinking about how it loved apple pie (yes, I’m using a pie analogy for money).

“MMM….I love apple pie,” said BC.

“What’s that?” said BC’s next door neighbor “You like apple pie?” 

“Heck no,” replied BC “I said I looove apple pie!” 

“Well,” said the neighbor “You can have this apple pie I have right here for free.It’s a delicious apple pie!” 

“Free apple pie? What’s the catch?” asked BC 

“Well, you can have this here beautiful apple pie but once I give it to you, do you mind if I have a small slice of it back….say, 7.9%?” 

“Deal!!” exclaimed BC. And BC took the pie, sliced off 7.9% and gave it to the generous neighbor.

This arrangement went on for years with the neighbor always bringing BC the apple pies and BC slicing off the 7.9% to enjoy over 90% of it.One day the neighbor came up to BC and said “Hey buddy, times are tough and I’m wondering if there’s any chance you could slice me off another couple of percent off that pie. You can still have the pie but maybe just make my slice a little closer to 10% than the usual 7.9% we’ve been doing for years.” 

“You know I sure do love your apple pies, neighbor but…up yours!” said BC. “I want to only give you back 7.9% still.” 

And the neighbor walked away with the whole pie.”

It’s not, as many think, a case of productions taking money out of the taxpayer’s pockets.  Unlike BC residents who must pay taxes here, a production will pay taxes wherever it chooses to set up shop.  By coming here to shoot a film or television series, it is helping to fill the government coffers, both directly (in the taxes it pays as a business entity) and indirectly (by employing hundreds of BC residents who, in turn, pay taxes as well).  By driving productions away to far more attractive shooting locales, it’s the BC government that is taking money out of its own pocket.”

The BC Liberals make it sound as if it’s a level playing field in which an equal amount of productions are shooting in both provinces and thus paying taxes in both.  That there is idiot talk.  They’re either too stupid to figure it out or completely disingenuous, relying on the simpleton assumption that the matching “tax breaks” the BC film & television industry will take money out of taxpayer pockets.  Again, just the opposite is true.  Matching Ontario’s tax incentives or, at the very least, making BC more competitive, would level the playing field, luring productions to BC that would spend money in BC, employ BC residents, and pay taxes in BC – rather than go elsewhere.

But the BC Liberals, apparently, can’t be bothered to help.  They’re too busy dropping 11 million dollars on a Bollywood awards show, a move many see as a transparent attempt to win votes ahead of the upcoming provincial election (  Unlike the tax incentives, this 11 million dollars IS money out of taxpayers’ pockets.

The BC Liberals don’t seem all that interested in helping those in the BC & Film Industry keep their jobs.  And I’m sure those in the BC & Film Industry are looking forward to May 14th, the date of the next general election, for the opportunity to return the favor.

Further reading:

Save BC Film | Facebook

36 thoughts on “March 27, 2013: A rare political tirade!

  1. Very short-sighted of them. And I love that analogy!

    Make sure you vote in that next election, Joe. Losing votes is one of the few things politicians seem to understand.

  2. Yeah, I heard about this and it’s a crock of crap if you ask me.

    Again, I’m very tired so I can’t quite get my thoughts together, other than to say it’s a crock of crap. 😛


  3. Sigh… I could rant on for hours on similar taxing/government issues… However, there is nothing more divisive in the world right now than politics. So I shall digress.

  4. The BC Liberals don’t seem all that interested in helping those in the BC & Film Industry keep their jobs. And I’m sure those in the BC & Film Industry are looking forward to March 14th, the date of the next general election, for the opportunity to return the favor.

    so after those idiots are kicked out of office, i hope you guys don’t have to wait too long to bring in some brains and restore BC!


  5. Joe, it appears that the BC Liberals not only don’t care about jobs but don’t care about the Arts in general. Who’s next, Bard On The Beach?

  6. Dear spirits, I just spent 15 mins reading about political parties in Canada and really dude, y’all are messed up beyond belief… federal parties, local parties, regional parties… WTH?

    But I was glad to see “liberal” there is nothing like LIBERAL here (much as conservative party in GB is more like our democratic..). I like politics but my head is spinning and my eyes rolling back in my head so I’ll just say great analogy and they are idiots.

    I hate to see you have to hit the road again. But hopefully the work will be great and you’ll find a great place to live if it comes about.

  7. The incredible or maybe just the stooopid thing about politicians is that they claim to be taking action in the interest of their constituency….NOT!

    They are power hungry and as soon as they achieve some level of power/authority, they are gangbusters to show off how “important” the are.
    LOL…they are legends in their own minds.

    yeah….like das said – crock of crap!

  8. Uh, Joe, for the B.C election, don’t you mean, May 14th?

    I wish Canada was having a federal election on the same day. This time, I hope people have figured out that Stephen Harper also has to go.

    I have everything crossed, including my eyes, that your sci-fi show gets picked up. Yeah, the crossed eyes thing is problematic. I keep walking into furniture…

  9. The same thing happened in New Zealand. The Lord Of The Rings production got tons of tax breaks and practically built the film industry there. Hundreds of people who would otherwise have left the country for work were employed. Thousands of other people were employed. Hundreds of millions of dollars flooding into the country. Not to mention a huge boost to tourism.

    When The Hobbit comes around to filming the NZ government change the rules and make it much less attractive to film there. It might not have been specifically tax related . . . I think there were some labour laws in there somewhere too . . . but it’s still meddling government. Thankfully they worked it out.

    Stupid governments!

  10. On my recent visit to Victoria, I sat in on a BC Parliament Question Time – more than I have done in my own country…it was very interesting…

    You should read Lexa Doig’s tweets on this subject – they make strong, interesting & sometimes humorous reading …eg. when hearing where I had been, she asked if I spat on Christy Clark for her! – joke btw in case of any misunderstandings! 😛 – plus they remove all pointy objects, cameras, phones, jackets and anything else that might compromise security before you can sit in the public gallery..;) Lexa (not Christy) also talked about this problem at her recent panel at Emerald City Comic Con & said that the saving grace for actors is that at least they can move around as they have always been “gypsies”…as her hubby Michael Shanks is away filming the second season of Saving Hope in Toronto for 7 months, she is experiencing it from both sides I guess..but I feel so very much for all the wonderful people unable to move around like the actors/directors/writers etc and those whose permanent homes and families are in BC…

    I decided not to take a nostalgic visit to The Bridge Studios on my recent vacation in Vancouver…first time in ages…I just couldn’t do it, too many happy memories clouded by some very sad recent ones…

    On the other hand, Toronto is a great city to visit…I’m thinking of doing more location-spotting there in the future!!…:)

  11. “They’re either too stupid to figure it out or completely disingenuous…”

    From my experience, there’s no reason they can’t be both. There’s no question that politicians make decisions based on politics, not on common sense or logic. And if the facts get in the way of a politically based narrative, to heck with them.

    Hopefully, May 14th will see a turning point, and that prospective productions will take that into account. What are the polls saying about their prospects for reelection? The last I heard the Liberals were losing.

  12. Politicians making dumb decisions…not a first, and unfortunately a constant since the dawn of time.

    What is tragic is the fact the powers that be haven’t learned anything. Any good business knows that in order to flourish you need to speculate to accumulate. Sure, incentives to the film industry may cost initially but the income they generate in the long term is well worth the investment. In recent years both Scotland and Ireland have offered such good incentives to the film industry we are starting to reap the benefits not only from the initial income, but the knock-on bonus of showing our beautiful country to the rest of the world and increasing tourism.

    On a positive note, I’m glad that something is on the cards for you Joe. Please let us know what it is as soon as you can.

  13. I could rant for hours about government, but that wouldn’t be productive so let me just say I hope whatever work comes about that you’ll be happy with whatever and wherever it is.

    Have a great day!

  14. Wow! It’s such a shame this is happening. Very disappointing.

    So many great shows have been filmed in BC, it would be such a shame for that tradition to come to an end.

    On a brighter note, we’d love to have you here in Toronto! Not for tax reasons, just because we love you.

  15. People in power love to have control. Even if things are going well in one segment, they will shuffle papers around hoping it takes a while before that segment goes south. Unfortunately for the film industry, the paper shuffle showed negative results much sooner and now they have to scramble with the excuses on why it was so much better. Personally, I no longer believe in partisan politics and can turn my back on any party. There have been so many bad decisions made by the three main parties, that I really think non of them deserves more than one term before being turfed out. Non of the leaders seem to be particularly bad people, but their allegiances have led to some really questionable choices. Harper was good for his time but I don’t like some of his choices…. I don’t like Canadian resources being sold out to anyone… time for him to go.

    I hope that things fall into place for you and Akemi. But still, I wouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to get rid of your house just yet (remember thatshowthatwewon’tmention…). Kind of like being pregnant – wait a few months til it “sticks”… 🙂 I suspect that you have a pretty good idea of what could be in your future but can’t or won’t say – can’t blame you, much as enquiring minds want to know – can’t jinx the project.

    On the bright side, you’ll be able to enjoy all the culinary feasts that Toronto and Montreal have to offer, as well as seeing Mom and Sis and puppies more often. If I happen to see you in either city, I hope you won’t mind if I say hello… While the Stargate good times will never come back, there will be new places, people and projects to develop and enjoy and possibly old contacts remade. So, I wish you the best of luck and smooth sailing while you are turning the page in your life..

  16. @ Debra: Canada has federal parties and provincial parties. There are no parties at the municipal level, but individual municipal politicians often have a political affiliation with one of the major political parties. As well, provincial parties are not necessarily officially affiliated with the federal party of the same name, although they may have been in the past (e.g., B.C. Liberal Party is no longer officially affiliated with the federal Liberal Party).

    @ Patricia Stewart-Bertrand: I am SO with you about Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party! I want them booted out NOW, before they completely destroy the Canada that I love. I wish people would take their blinders off and stop being so complacent.

    Sorry, Joe, but it’s hard for me not to go off on a rant when politics are mentioned. I live in Ottawa, so I see and hear a lot about what really goes on around here, and it drives me completely crazy when people just don’t care about what’s happening at the federal level. All that aside, I do hope the situation with the B.C. film/TV industry improves (although as an Ontarian, I have to say that I’m happy that the industry here is doing well).

  17. How frustrating! It does seem to be the popular tactic to add taxes instead of cutting wasteful spending. Look at the U. S. Post office. They say they are losing money but they sponsor the Olympic games! Where is the logic?

    Living conditions in some parts of Memphis are terrible and instead of ADDING funds to the police force (they are cutting funds), the city council is arguing over changing the name of the parks. What a waste of time and resources! People are getting shot while sitting on the couch in their apartments, kids are getting RAPED in the Memphis public schools but they are worried about park names. (shakes head)

    I digress though. I’m sorry you are going through this and I hope you come out with a project you’re happy with.

    I’ll get to work once my blood pressure goes back to normal…… At least we don’t live in Cypress. It looks like everyones money there just got put the public fund.

  18. I always think back to “The Arrow” and it’s depiction of the brain drain of engineers due to govt shortsightedness. But you gotta go where the work is, and some amazing shows are being made in Toronto. Plus you’ll have that downtown living close to everything.

    I’m a huge ReGenesis, Lost Girl and Continuum fan, I love the way those shows look.

  19. P.S. Hugh has a great big “Noooooooo!” in the new Wolverine trailer, though it’s hard to tell what he’s noooo-ing at, but I’m sure it will be yet another dead corpse.

  20. Well, my state is one of those down here that works to attract filmmakers(the recent movie Lincoln was partly filmed less than a mile from my house). But even here there are politicians, on the state and the local level, that seem intent on killing the cash cow before it even sets foot in the state. They don’t seem to learn that the net benefits far outweigh the meager gains they would make if their increased taxes, fees, and regulations might generate. the movie above brought in over 2 million to a locality that desperately needed it.
    I am becoming convinced that office by lottery is the only solution. These idiots we elect may start out working for our interests, but something about political office corrodes and destroys integrity and common sense. We would do better simply drawing names from voter lists, have the persons serve a term in office, then repeating the process. I don’t see how we can do any worse.
    Still, fingers crossed that things will work out for the best for you. Looking forward to seeing what news next week brings.

  21. Joey – just a thought. With all the bs you’re dealing with lately on the work front, perhaps it is time to move out of your comfort zone if you are to get anywhere. The field is getting cluttered, there are more people out there trying to sell their ideas, and the industry is always looking for fresh faces and concepts. You may have to work a bit harder and maybe even make sacrifices to advance your projects. I think it’s just the nature of the beast these days.


  22. From a libertarian-philosophizing-in-a-quiet-power-vacuum perspective, tax credits may seem a good thing on first glance. Less money in the hands of government = good because they have less money to do stuff with.

    But, the government wouldn’t be bothering with that bidding war if there wasn’t some advantage to the individual government officials considering it. Whose schmoozing influenced them the most? And it’ll continue milking the rest of the tax base as hard as it can get away with so the dream of reducing overall taxation doesn’t happen. So, in that brief time the government had its flag planted in that money, it did do stuff with it, one of the worst things governments do with money – redistribute it to the in-crowd to the disadvantage of the out-crowd.

    Filming is expensive in BC. It’s unfortunate you’re in the middle of a bidding war with other provinces for these credits. This is where the libertarians will say “I told you so” because you could otherwise try to compete on a level playing field without the complication. But that doesn’t help you when you can’t control what other provinces do.

    Given the expense of filming, what’s a city to do with its power to influence the market? What if Tokyo wanted to encourage more film industry? It has the means to keep pumping incentives into the industry and can attract a full range of production budgets, especially indie, but the mismatch of expensive city and a production that should be seeking innovative ways to cut costs is ludicrous in that example. The existing, higher budget film industry honchos learn that putting money into lobbying the government is a better pay-off than putting money into cost-cutting efforts. They also learn the indies are competitors for the labor pool and have the connections to put a stop to that non-sense, if they ever allowed it to surface in the first place. Those bloated productions survive and the indies that should’ve set-up shop in a less expensive city are now entrenched and dependent and doomed to die.

    So you may say at least Tokyo encouraged jobs for a bit. Well, jobs in that industry, yes.

    Now let’s switch examples to the Vancouver setting for some familiar imagery. Let’s say an entrepreneur in Vancouver has a business idea. He wants to outfit successful food truck models to export to other cities. He needs the space to work and that derelict filming studio is the perfect space for him, close to the particular labor pool he’s looking at, plenty of head room.

    But, a filming production wants to shoot there, too. The production is just on the line budget-wise about whether it can afford Vancouver. It could put the money into finding a way to trim costs to outbid that entrepreneur or it can put the money into lobbying efforts to acquire more tax incentives. It chooses lobbying.

    The food truck guy isn’t in the right industry to pull off that lobbying. He loses the bidding war for that space. So, now the production that could’ve trimmed costs instead but didn’t is using that space. The food truck guy doesn’t find as good of a space and his idea fails.

    Harder times hit and the less-trimmed-than-it-would-be-if-it-didn’t-choose-lobbying-instead-of-cost-cutting production fails. Or maybe it finished and it’s time for another production to consider the space. But the town would’ve had a more cost-trimmed base of contractors if the previous production had taken the cost-cutting route. It doesn’t and a new production doesn’t take the space. The entrepreneur can’t afford it either now that harder times have hit.

    So, jobs are encouraged for a time, yes, but with the government incentivizing industries that aren’t already incentivized enough by market conditions, the government’s meddling to change who wins leaves the city in a less competitive position overall. There are millions of ways for events to play out but as long as government meddling is what’s causing the opportunity that the market wouldn’t sustain as well on its own to push out its competitors, the economy loses. Maybe a minuscule amount, maybe a lot, but it never wins.

    But that’s all from the perspective of what’s best for the city. The government officials are incentivized by the schmoozing and that comes down to who already has the right connections to pull off the schmoozing. I doubt they are holding out for what’s best for the city. They are holding out for the filming industry to schmooze harder than whoever else has their schmooze ear in order to optimized their own incentives for playing this game. What’s best for the city is irrelevant as long as civilization has this widespread tolerance for government meddling because if the filming industry doesn’t win that ear, someone else will. So go schmooze harder until you win that ear or it’s too draining to be worth it, then go to another city because those are the rules of the game that’s on the table.

    See why I say philosophizing from a power vacuum? That’s the curse of the pacifist. Our talent is in the game that’s not on the table.

  23. *powerless place

    “Power vacuum” was totally the wrong term, I meant a place closed off from power, not a place ripe for a rapid intake of power like the normals would mean when they use that word.

  24. Joe, I hope you don’t mind my spewing a political rant too.

    The BC Liberals are also spending money on advertising and all sorts of little pet projects all over the province. As a former healthcare worker I despise the BC Liberal government. A 15% pay cut, then legislation that required my, and many other jobs to be contracted out regardless if we could do the job for less money, which we could and did. The hospital group I worked for consistently had the lowest labour costs in Canada as well as the lowest food costs in BC.
    The hit was a purely political attempt to destroy the Hospital Employees’ Union. As was the latest BC Government’s legislation to move thousands of HEU members to the British Columbia Nurses Union. No vote, no discussion, no negotiantions, just wham bam, thank you Clark.

    I think it’s important for British Columbians to remember that these BC Liberal MLA’s are almost all the same ones who kept Gordon Campbell in power. They supported his dirty dealings and lie after lie after lie, only giving him the boot when it became clear they didn’t stand a chance of winning the election with him.

    Only two Liberal MLA’s complained about Campbell’s lies, one on healthcare contracts, another on the BC Rail “sale”. Both were kicked out of caucus. None of the rest cared one bit about ethics or morals, all they cared about was power and keeping it. They failed to protect British Columbians, they failed to do their job by keeping their leader away from excess.

    Campbell may be gone, but the Liberal MLA’s are just as responsible for everything Campbell did. He couldn’t have done anything without their express support. They don’t deserve to be elected again.

    For those who don’t remember the BC Rail incident was when Campbell leased BC Rail to a private company. They tried to keep the deal secret, but eventually it was discovered the “lease” had options for 999 years. The Premiers aid was implicated in selling inside information to prospective buyers. This was brought out after at least one of those companies interested sued the government because the system was rigged and the aid was extorting money from the private companies.

    Gordon Campbell was George Bush jr, except in small print. After getting the boot from the party after implementing a harmonized sales tax which he promised not to do (yet another in a long line of broken promises) FINALLY the BC populous rose up and demanded that he rescind the HST and his people demanded he fall on his sword. Then the federal Conservative government rewarded Gordon Campbell with a nice comfy diplomat job oversees. I assume as reward for implementing the hated tax and to prevent the mob with pitch forks and torches from getting him. Possibly to keep him quiet about possible underhanded dealings with the feds.

    Or perhaps they just recognized that good liars make good diplomats. But we should never forget Gordon Campbell in a plaid shirt in front of a fireplace giving a fire side talk. This from a man who bathes in a three piece suite.

  25. Seems like everyone has an agenda… I hope for good things in your future endeavors, and that you all will be happy wherever the road takes you. (make sure it has a great kitchen)

  26. @scoring the gig will only be half the battle.

    Depending on the network your show is on, wouldn’t renewal be a major part of said battle too?

    Certainly if you’re a 13 episode show, or a 22 episode one, waiting on the greenlight for your second season, getting that would be a huge relief and a huge boost of confidence for further renewals lol

  27. Do you think Vancouver lost their shirts when they hosted the Olympics a few years ago? Maybe that put them in the poor house. They had to build a whole Olympic city for that thing. What is it being used for now? Giant flea market?

    Could you stike a deal with them? Put a famous city landmark in your opening credits or name a character Vancouver or Van Couver in your next TV show? In exchange for subliminal advertising on your show, maybe they could give you some tax incentives or breaks.

    I didn’t think so…

    Toronto here we come!!! I’m on board and will like it! 😀

  28. One thing is for certain. Politicians never have the public’s interests at heart, only the backs of whoever are financing their campaigns. I don’t know if that is the same in Canada, but that is always the first place I look. This issue does seem like a no-brainer when it was explained so plainly. Even I understood it without knowing too much about the details of the political machines.

    I hope you get good news. Perhaps it wasn’t the city you disliked as much as what else was going on which just made you dislike the city.

  29. And Joe in the end of the tale it was the pie recipient who had only then most malevolent things to say of the pie giver as he walked away to include how greedy,- selfish and dark hearted he is. In fact he would wonder what the pie giver would do with the pie because he did not make it; he could not have done it without the help of others. And besides just how much pie can he eat anyways. Its more than he needs.

    One of the things I like about my DVD collection of the SG franchise are the commentaries I listened to throughout SG1 and SGA series. There was much talk about the cost of production and budgets. And, they talked about the cost of progress as sites to shoot were becoming more scarce and remote. Vegas is just one great example. So some of the slight tax breaks you get goes very little to cover the costs associated with production as the film industry as some very tight work rules and multitude of labor organization, I assume. It is not just the salaries of leading performers. Your government friends have just the opposite philosophy on budgeting as you do in business. They define what they want to spend then go get the money. You are given a certain amount of money and figure out where it can be spent. I remember listening to the comments and one person or another would talk about the expense of a CG shot and wishing it could be bigger, or if big had to cut back in another episode .

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