Canadian union blasts FTAC probe

ACTRA pledges to fight attack on film industry

Leaders of Canada’s thesp union have blasted the Film & Television Action Committee’s move seeking a federal probe into the legality of Canadian film production incentives.

FTAC filed a petition Tuesday with the U.S. Trade Representative, alleging the Canadian subsidies are being used illegally to lure jobs away from Hollywood. The U.S. Trade Representative has 45 days to determine if a formal probe of the Canadian subsidy programs should be conducted.

“We will fight this attack on Canada’s film industry and insist on the right to provide support for our industry,” pledged Richard Hardacre, president of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists. ACTRA reps about 21,000 English-speaking actors in Canada.

FTAC contends that the Canuck subsidies are inconsistent with World Trade Organization rules. But ACTRA exec director Stephen Waddell said FTAC’s complaint is without merit and won’t succeed.

The petition by FTAC, an org of below-the-line workers founded in 1998, is being filed under Section 301(a) of the North American Free Trade Agreement and asks the U.S. Trade Representative to initiate negotiations with Canada to remove its subsidies. If those talks are unproductive, the WTO could then intervene.

But Waddell asserted that if the WTO issued a ruling favorable to FTAC, Canada could then retaliate along the same line by arguing that the Canadian production biz has been harmed by the high volume of U.S. films and TV shows in the Canadian market.

FTAC will hold a news conference today at SAG headquarters in Hollywood with speakers from FTAC, SAG, Teamsters Local 399, Studio Utility Laborers Local 724 and Plasterers Local 755.

Other members of the Hollywood establishment such as the MPAA, DGA, IATSE and AFTRA are opposed to the filing.

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