Friday, August 12, 2011

Canadian Taxpayers Federation Urges NB Government to Cancel Tax Credit to Bathurst Movie

Bathurst Mothers Say Lack of Consultation by Government and Producers an Insult to their Sons Memory: Money should be Spent on Student Transportation Safety

(Bathurst, NB - August 12, 2011) - The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging the province of New Brunswick to cancel government funding for a controversial made for television movie that is supposed to be filmed in Bathurst and Fredericton this fall.

In a letter today to Trevor Holder, the Minister of Wellness, Culture and Sport, Kevin Lacey, Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, asked the Minister to cancel the quarter million dollar tax credit to Dream Street Pictures from the now defunct NB Film agency.

"Our organization writes to you today to urge you to cancel the taxpayer subsidies promised for this movie.

We urge this for two reasons.

First, your government determined that the Film Tax credit program was deserving of budget cuts. Given the government determined the program was ineffective, we believe that no further money should have been spent.

Second, the CTF has been contacted by Isabelle Hains and Ana Acevedo, mothers of Daniel Hains and Javier Acevedo, two of the victims of the 15 passenger van collision of January 12, 2008. Both have said that prior to the announcement of the tax subsidy on July 22, there was no consultation with the victims or those affected by the accident by the government and / or the producers of this film. Given taxpayers money, including those of the victims families, is being spent to support the film, the government and producers should have sincere and meaningful consultations with the very people who will be most affected by the production of this movie."

Isabelle Hains and Ana Acevedo, two mothers whose sons Daniel and Javier were among the seven Bathurst High School Phantoms basketball players who were killed along with the coach's wife on January 12, 2008, have also asked the Premier of New Brunswick and Minister Holder to stop the movie from receiving taxpayer's funding.

"We are pleased to receive the support of the CTF on this issue," says Hains. "We agree that it is a wasteful use of taxpayers dollars especially when the government says it has no money to improve student transportation safety."

The mothers say the majority of the victims' parents support their view that it is too soon to do a movie on the Bathurst tragedy. They have asked the government to use the quarter million dollars to put Class 2 professional yellow school bus drivers behind the wheel of the new Multi Function Activity Buses which replaced the now banned 15 passenger vans in New Brunswick.

"People say we should move on but how can we when our own provincial government gives money to make a movie based on our sons deaths while at the same time saying they have no money for children's transportatin safety," says Ana Acevedo. "The hypocrisy is unbelievable!".

Acevedo says the filmmakers and government have been planning this movie for two years without any consultation with the victims families whatsoever. "We only found out about the movie the day it was announced to the media, on Thursday, July 22," she said.

Both mothers say John McLaughlin, District 15 Superintendent only asked for the victims' families opinion after the mothers raised the issue in a letter of complaint on July 28.

"The so called consultation lasted eight days, was sloppy and unprofessional," says Hains. "I was asked two questions on the phone by an employee of District 15 who didn't have the courage to come to my house and ask me the questions to my face: why are you against this movie and why don't you want it to be filmed at Bathurst High School? That's not what I call "consultation", she said, "and I don't think anyone else can call that a consultation either."

Hains adds that the parents have yet to be contacted by the film producers, who allegedly told the District 15 Superintendent that they would speak to the parents.

"The producers, Tim Hogan and Rick LeGuerrier have been quoted as saying they are 'sensitive' to the concerns of parents, but the only thing they are sensitive to is the potential loss of a quarter million dollars in tax payer dollars for their movie," she said.

Both Acevedo and Hains say the quarter million dollar tax credit to Dream Street Pictures is an insult to the memory of their sons who died "because they were innocent student passengers in an unsafe vehicle. All our sons wanted was to be safe and play school sports," says Hains.