Members, as you know, the next federal election takes place on October 21. This election is a crucial one for Canadian screenwriters. Our industry is at a crossroads.
Canada is a small national market, living next to the largest media producer in the world. It’s never been easy getting high-quality productions made in this country, even with the support of cultural institutions like the CBC and government regulation/funding over the years. And now, there’s a new and even bigger challenge threatening opportunities for Canadian screen-based creative talent — the growth of OTT/SVOD services like Netflix, CBS All Access and Canada's Crave. Simply put: They are not regulated like traditional broadcasters and have no ongoing commitments to support Canadian content, while their linear competitors do. This must change.
So, it’s more important than ever that we elect a government that values and supports Canadian arts and culture and delivers the regulations and policies required to safeguard our industry for the foreseeable future.
What are the Issues?
Canadian cultural policy is complex and multifaceted, but for the WGC right now it boils down to two key points that any Federal candidate must support to be considered for office.
- All media companies, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Wireless Service Providers (WSPs) operating in Canada must contribute to Canadian content and Canadian jobs. Canadian broadcasters have been subject to CanCon requirements for decades. OTT services/SVODs, and ISPs and WSPs like Rogers, Bell and Shaw, operate without any such requirements. This cannot continue. They must contribute to the market they serve, whether they are based in Canada or not.
- We must support a strong Canadian “authorial voice.” Canadian content is produced by the Canadian creators who make it. Screenwriters and showrunners tell Canadian stories, about Canadian characters, from a Canadian point of view. Hollywood service production does not serve this crucial cultural role. We need to keep our Canadian talent pool strong.
(The WGC has made detailed submissions to government in recent years on these issues. See the WGC’s Jan. 2019 BTLR submission and our submission regarding CanCon in a Digital World from Nov. 2016 for our research and full policy recommendations on these matters.)
Where do the parties stand on these issues?
Not all major Federal political parties have yet issued a complete election platform. When they do, the WGC will provide you with this information to help you make an informed decision on election day.
What can I do right now?
Get involved. We have what may be a generational opportunity. We can either ensure that foreign-based OTT/SVOD companies contribute to creating Canadian jobs and Canadian cultural expression, or watch what we’ve built over decades be dismantled. Your voice matters.
- Become better informed. Review the WGC’s policy materials in light of your own lived experiences as a Canadian screenwriter. Familiarize yourself with the issues.
- Participate in the political process. Discuss your feelings with friends and relatives. Post your views to social media. Write to the candidates in your riding and let them know your concerns. Speak to canvassers who may knock on your door. Attend local candidate town halls and debates, and ask questions that let them know that you’re a Canadian voter who contributes to this country and whose vote is available to be won or lost.
- Vote on October 21.
The WGC is working on other initiatives to inform, engage, and mobilize members this election season. Keep your eyes peeled for more from us in the coming days and weeks.