Dear____________

As our MLA we wish for you to know that we, your constituents, support the teachers and want this government to find terms the BCTF will accept as soon as possible. We support the 2002 class size and composition requirements, which were upheld by the courts. We also support a reasonable pay raise to catch the teachers up, having not accounted for cost of living increases for many years due to their wage freeze.

We believe funding education is the cost of doing business in a free society. We believe the BCTF will ensure that the best paying jobs remain in the public system and the best teachers remain serving the public, thereby ensuring the best education for all regardless of socioeconomic standing.

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I have always voted Liberal. Always.  In fact before this Provincial election heated up, I couldn’t really tell you who my MLA was – even though I voted for him. That’s because I walked into the polling station checked off the Liberal Candidates’ name and went home. I had faith in the Liberals.  They were my party.  This time it is different.

I am hearing that from many of my peers, “I have always voted Liberal but….”

I first started feeling rumblings of “that’s not right” when the then freshly elected Provincial Liberal majority government announced the HST back in 2009. At the time it seemed shocking to me that the Liberals had not even mentioned this during the campaign, since clearly it must have been talked about with the federal government. They removed Gordon Campbell as a gesture of atonement and lost the HST referendum.  Okay, I could live with that.

Fast forward to January 2013 when Christy Clark announces her “Jobs Plan.” The film industry had been struggling for a few years seeing a constant decline in work here, which was proportionate to the increase in work in Toronto because of Ontario’s enticing tax incentives. The industry unions and producers were already talking to government heads about increasing tax credits to be more competitive with Ontario.  But when Christy Clark’s “Job Plan” made no mention of the film industry whatsoever, things became very real for me. I remember seeing angry forestry workers and fisheries workers in the 90’s on the News – they were angry that their jobs were threatened. Well now it was my turn. The film industry was being abandoned, postponed, put on the back burner.

So I was awakened to a government that doesn’t listen to a billion dollar industry because they can’t wrap their heads around how the tax dollar value is captured. To me it is simple – if 100% of a chunk of money comes from outside the country into BC, but you give them 25% back (which is what they are doing in Ontario) 75% of that billion dollars – 750,000,000 stays in BC and swirls around the economy. I know because it swirls around me and I buy a house and a car and clothes. I don’t have those luxuries any more and if the Liberals are elected I will have to go to Toronto in the hopes of having them again. I think of all the people and businesses I personally supported that I cannot support any more – nannies, dry cleaners, florists, manicurists, hair stylists, restaurants, movie theatres, gyms, yoga studios – I don’t spend a dime there these days.  How can the Liberals be so blind as to how far reaching film money is when it is so clear to me? Then I realized. They don’t care. They just don’t care. We are not a part of their plan.

A balanced budget is all they care about because to them it is a signpost of good government, but I don’t believe that to be so. With their logic we have to pay that 25% right back into the same coffer from which it was taken. But you can never do that with such far reaching industry. How can any statistician hustle down the tax returns of every business I have supported and prove that my film money supported their taxable income and what amount they paid. Impossible. So rather than try to understand that and find a creative way to support the Industry they just give up. It’s easier to count beans.

I always laugh when I see the ad on TV with Christy Clark talking to a child and saying  “I want you to stay here.” Sure she may want my kid to stay here – but she clearly doesn’t want me to. I remember when I used to do improv at the Back Alley Theatre in Vancouver we used to do an “Rock Anthem Scene’ like Band-aid or Do-they-know-its-Christmas. All the improvisers would sing a verse about a made up cause like “saving the spatulas” etc.  If any one of us were ever stumped at coming up with a verse to we would jump to the fail-safe “What about our children” and lament their future with no spatulas. It always got a good laugh cause it is just corny.

Frankly, I see Christy Clark’s yearning for a debt free future for “kids” as a fail-safe tactic that is kind of corny. After all who doesn’t love kids.  And if you don’t like Christy Clark’s ideas, well then you must hate kids.

I went to a Liberal fundraiser and it was made abundantly clear that this party is not Liberal. It is Conservative. It has just evolved to that. Years ago when the Social Credit party died out there was a void left on the Right and over the last 12 years the Liberals have been in power they have slowly shifted into that space. This is a government that makes no bones about the fact that its priority is LNG, selling resources overseas and balancing a budget. Which all seems fine until you are on the other side of it. Until you are a teacher – who is asked to take a 10 year contract, or a sick person in the health system.  At this same fundraiser the Premier said disparagingly, that the NDP candidates are “Union Leaders” and “shop stewards.” Since when is a Liberal – a true Liberal opposed to Unions?  Seriously, why even bother calling yourselves Liberals?

But this really crumbled for me in something that isn’t getting as much attention and opposition as I would have hoped. Christy Clark’s LNG proposal – again, it’s for the kids. She wants to open new markets in Asia and sell these resources and save it in a box somewhere so our kids can buy nice stuff some day. I think it is crazy. I can always move to Toronto to follow the work. But what alarms me in the world and in this country and right now in this province is the lack of leadership on the real future. Not just our kids’ future but our world’s future. This reliance on oil and gas has to stop. We have to stop polluting, fracking, and poisoning our planet and destroying our water sources. Why on earth is Christy Clark focused on LNG for the next 30 years when we have an ocean right beside us and tide capture turbine technology hasn’t even been scratched. In fact I think I just made it up.  I say bottle that and sell it to California. With global warming they’ll need all the help they can get to crank up the air conditioning.

So I am voting NDP.  At least Adrian Dix has the wherewithal to suggest we should look at the harmful effects of fracking.  It is clear to me that the Liberals, like many parties that have been in power too long  owe too much to the people who pay for their campaigns. That has to stop. Adrian Dix said that he will stop this and ban corporate and union donations to political parties. I like that too.  If he is elected, I for one will hold him to it.  We need leadership that embraces high technology and new ideas. We need to encourage new Energy sources while winding down the old. We don’t need the new infrastructure of pipelines – let the railways carry it and invest in new infrastructure for solar, wind, geothermal, tide capture and whatever new ideas are awaiting us. How about that for our kids’ future!!!!  It beats counting beans.

The sad truth is I might have overlooked LNG and walked into the polling station and voted LIberal. But their direct assault on my industry has pulled me out of my apathy and made me take a closer look and for that I guess I can be thankful.

Clearly this government doesn’t get what is happening. If we don’t see any movement in the next month here is what I suggest. A huge rally to be held during the Gala Event of the Times of India Awards in Vancouver April 4-6.

It must be huge. All trailers and trucks and generators and catering trucks, all people in the Industry and their families, all people who benefit from the Industry – and their families – restaurants, suppliers, grocery stores, clothing stores etc etc. All the people who simply do not want to see the is province lose this Industry – and their families.

We organize them all – we have time. Then we have the biggest rally this city has ever seen. Christy Clark will be in attendance that night. Maybe she will hear us then.

Let me hear you RT and post if you agree… and stay tuned…

For those of you who don’t know me I have been an actor in Vancouver for 26 years. In the summer of 2011 I had no auditions. None. Which was unusual. I went online and googled the Toronto film list and saw that 28 shows were shooting there and 8 were shooting here. A few weeks later I ran for the board of UBCP/Actra and was elected.

I write this, not as a member of the board but as an actor and a tax paying resident of BC. I was so inspired to be a part of the the town hall and so impressed that we on the “laid back” West Coast finally got our act together and showed up in droves. I heard loud and clear that MPPIA encourages one voice and supports the view that we just need to be competitive with Ontario and not necessarily match their tax credits. I respectfully disagree.

Now let me preface this by saying, I am no genius. I am not a business person. I am just an actor. But I do have a pretty level head and common sense. It seems to me that the only real way to find stability with this industry, both here and in the East is to always match each other’s tax credits. If our government has a blanket commitment to always match Ontario and Quebec – no matter what – then there is no incentive to ever try to undercut one another ever. I believe, were we to do that, the first thing Ontario and Quebec would do in their next budgets would be to raise their all in tax credits to 20% or 17% or perhaps they would take on our 33% labour credit instead. That would certainly help the troubled Ontario and Quebec economies. It would also offer stability to the producers who would be clear about the incentives in Canada, wherever they want to shoot.

Toronto has seen its fair share of bad times too. We were the ones who started the tax credit competition in the late 90’s. It is time to rethink our approach nationally to the benefit of all our brothers and sisters in all the unions in this Industry. We have had our taste of their bad times so let’s call it a draw and figure out something that works for us all.

We have a unique advantage being in Canada. We have awesome, world class crews, our actors look and sound like Americans and we have a separate global economy. Why don’t we get a plan together and compete with the American jurisdictions for this very lucrative industry.

I would like nothing better than to work in Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax. But right now not being a resident of the province offering the credit causes problems. I can’t work there. I don’t qualify for the credit as a non-resident. Perhaps also with this blanket commitment to match all tax credits, we would expand this new plan to include applying the tax credits to all Canadian workers, not just the provincial ones.

It is time to get smart and get a plan that works for all parts of the country and works for a long time to come. Incremental changes to tax credits are short term solutions brought in by governments that change every few years. If we could get our provincial ministers to agree to one tax credit across the country, I believe in the long run that would benefit all Canadians.

We need bold leadership and foresight to allow this Industry flourish across the country.

CALL TO ACTION

Help Save the BC Film and TV Industry



Over the past 18 months UBCP has been involved in a very intensive government outreach effort.  Our Government Relations Committee has met with 20 politicians representing all the major political parties at the provincial and federal levels of government.  This includes two separate meetings with the BC Minister responsible for the film and TV industry.
The issues we have discussed include:
·       Leveling the playing field with Ontario and Quebec
·       Tax averaging for performers
·       Inter-provincial performer mobility
·       Non-Canadian Performers taking jobs from Canadian Performers
Of course, a great deal of our discussions have centred on leveling the playing field with Ontario and Quebec which provide better incentives for production than BC.  In the last few years those two provinces have attracted more than a billion dollars in production away from our province.
While we left all of our meetings with the impression that our concerns were being politely heard, we have not been left with the impression that any change to the current government approach would come quickly.

The grassroots Save BC Film campaign has arrived at just the right time.  UBCP (and our partners in the Motion Picture Production Industry Association) have very respectfully informed the government and opposition about the issues facing the industry here.  Save BC Film has added a lot of volume and media profile through their magnificent efforts.

UBCP will continue to meet one on one with BC’s elected representatives.  We will continue to be a part of MPPIA’s outreach efforts, and at the same time we have added our support to the grassroots Save BC Film campaign.

Here are three things you can do to make the BC film and television industry competitive again:

1.     Sign the petition at http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/SAVE_BC_FILM/?weKgRdb

2.     Send your MLA an email or letter.  Or, give them a phone call.  Use MLA finder http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm for contact information.  For advice on what to say please see the “Tips when contacting your MLA” below.
 
3.     Visit these important links to stay current on what is happening:
Save BC Film – https://www.facebook.com/savebcfilm
We Create BC – https://www.facebook.com/wecreatebc
https://www.ubcp.com


Tips when contacting your MLA
·       Always be respectful.
·       Let the MLA know you are one of their constituents.
·       Make your point about how the downturn in the industry has affected you and your family.
·       Ask them to consider the 25,000 people working in the industry and the consequences of those people staying unemployed.
·       Make the point that not only are there 25,000 direct jobs, but there are thousands of indirect jobs created by industry.
·       Make the point that the investment in the film and TV industry is a good investment, which makes a positive contribution to the BC economy.
·       UBCP’s specific ask has been to have our government inform Ontario and Quebec that we will match their credits whether they go up or down.  MPPIA’s ask has been to come within 5% of the Ontario advantage.  We support whatever action the government takes providing it leads to us being competitive again.
 
 

Dear Premier Clark

Earlier today I left the following post on your facebook page regarding the 10 year contract for the teachers.

Wow – clearly you are deleting negative comments here. Ms. Clark – would you sign a radio contract for 10 years. That is a very unrealistic thing to expect any professional to do. It shows again this government’s inability to see the big picture. There is more to government than bottom lines and balanced budgets. In times of economic hardship you allow for debt to grow the economy and then balance it when the economy is robust – like all countries all over the world are doing now to pull out of this world economic tail spin. You are playing it safe by sticking to numbers because you lack the courage and vision to be bold. In the long run you are hurting the future of this economy with these oppressive short sighted measures. The good teachers will leave, the film industry will leave and you will be left with a culture-less province that caters to pipelines and natural gas.”

My post was deleted and I have now been blocked from posting on your facebook page.
I stand by my opinions and my post. Nothing was abusive. I just clearly disagree with your policies. I am assuming that whomever administers your Facebook is a government paid employee. As a tax payer I take issue with this. Perhaps you don’t understand Facebook. If you wish to have a Fan page where no one can comment but can see your posts and like photos etc then you should do that. I do. As an actor I don’t invite the opinions of other’s because I am not a public servant. If you are going to delete any critical posts then you are falsely giving the impression that more people support your policies than perhaps do not. That is deceitful. Check out Barak Obama’s Facebook page. There is a lot of dissent and differing opinions but that is the voice of the public. Sanitizing your page doesn’t garner you support, it makes transparent your disregard for the people over whom you govern.

Sincerely,

Ellie Harvie