July 28, 2011
Premier Alward, Education Minister Hon. Jody Carr, Supply & Services Minister, Hon. Claude Williams,
RE: Letter below from James Houssen to John McLaughlin regarding the proposed film "The Phantoms".
I am writing to advise you that there are people who work in the film and broadcasting industry who do not agree with this film and you can expect more to come forward, not just provincially but nationally and internationally, thus putting the failure of New Brunswick's student transportation policies into focus for the entire world to see.
Don't believe Dream Street Pictures when they say this is a feel good movie. No matter what spin they try to put on it, this film IS about seven innocent children who were killed because of lax student transportation policies and despite everything you may want to believe from the spin, the mere thought of producing this film in Bathurst - or anywhere in New Brunswick - is raising the ugly spectre of the government's complicity in our sons' deaths and forcing the victims' parents to relive the worst day of their lives all over again.
The producers of We Are Marshall waited 30 years to make a film on that tragedy. Not enough time has passed for a movie to be made on our boys' deaths. All this film is doing is bringing up bad memories for everyone and you, Mr. Premier, Jody Carr and Claude Williams, of all people, should know better than to pretend it is anything else but a film that will exploit our misery. It is insulting and offensive to me as a parent who lost a child in the Bathurst tragedy to know that your government is funding Dream Street Pictures up to $250,000 while at the same time saying it cannot afford Class 2, licensed Yellow School Bus drivers behind the wheels of the Multi Function Activity Buses in the NB Department of Education's fleet. The contradictions and hypocrisy are evident for all to see.
You were all in opposition when our sons were killed. I know you have a conscience and that you understand the sensitivity of this file for all involved. I beg of you, as a mother whose son was killed along with six other members of the Bathurst High School Phantoms basketball team, do not fund this film with tax payer's money or provide the producers with facilities from District 15 or elsewhere in the province, including Fredericton. I tell you, nothing good will come of it.
I am waiting to hear from you about this letter and can be contacted at 506-546-6370 or by cel at 544-0533.
cc. John McLaughlin, Superintendent, District 15
Subject: Re: Bathurst Mother Asks John McLaughlin to NOT Participate in Film about Boys in Red
I Jim Houssen of Houssen Broadcasting Ltd., CKO Radio Moncton, http://ckoefm.com, as well as James Houssen Productions (video) "do not" support the making of this movie as I to agree that the deaths of these young people should not be glorified for profit. Would I watch this move? Not in a life time.
On Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 8:37 AM, email@example.com
Editors: The following letter was sent to John McLaughlin, Superintendent District 15, NB Department of Education, today and has been posted to the Van Angels website.
July 28, 2011
Superintendent District 15
Department of Education
464 Montgomery Street
via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have just found out from a CBC radio report that you have been approached by Dream Street Pictures to participate in the proposed made for television movie, The Phantoms, and that you will base your decision to participate in the film on the support you receive in Bathurst.
We have had our differences in the last three and one half years and, yes, I have criticized you for what happened to my son Daniel and six young boys but if there is one thing I never believed you would do, is participate in a film that glorifies their deaths.
I am asking you, as a parent who lost a beloved son in the most terrible way, to reconsider your relationship with Dream Street Pictures and decline their offer to be part of this film.
Do not be taken in by Dream Street's spin that this is a "family film" that will focus on the Phantoms basketball team's victory in 2009. Even the producers of We Are Marshall had the sense to wait more than 30 years to make a movie about that tragedy. It is only three and one half years since the death of seven young students from District 15 who proudly played basketball for Bathurst High School. It is too soon do a film on the tragedy and no matter what Dream Street Pictures says, the movie is about our boys. They never had a chance to play to the end of their basketball season and without their deaths, there would be no film.
There is only one reason Dream Street is making this film - money. They will do and say anything to convince you that they are right and the critics are wrong: the fact is they need you to make this film. They are using your position in the community as District Superintendent to say they have public support. Ask anyone who works in the film industry in this province and you will find out that the money from these type of films does not trickle down into the pockets of ordinary workers. The big money will be made by the producers - otherwise, they would not be in the business of making movies. Their failure to consult with the victims' families before announcing the film last week should give you some indication of the kind of people you are dealing with.
After all is said and done, Dream Street's producers will profit enormously from the death of our sons and I implore you to not participate in this film in any way: do not lend your name or the use of Bathurst High School or any of District 15's facilities to Dream Street Pictures for this movie.
I want to close by saying that you and I both know that everything about this film will be controversial: it will have its supporters who applaud you and its detractors who will criticise you. What makes you an easy target for criticism as the leading representative for the Department of Education in Bathurst is the obvious contradictions inherent in the Department's insistence that it does not have the money to pay for professional, licensed Class 2 Bus Drivers yet somehow, the government can find $250,000 to make this movie. That you are even considering the use of Bathurst High School and other District 15 facilities as props for this film is shameful; the hypocrisy breathtaking.
You are a leader in this community: I believe you have a conscience and that you do feel pain for what happened to our sons. I am asking you to lead by doing the right thing and saying NO to Dream Street Pictures,
Premier of New Brunswick, David Alward
NB Minister of Education, Jody Carr
NB Minister of Supply and Services, Claude Williams