Que­bec awaits Net­flix in­vest­ment

StarMetro Halifax - - DAILY LIFE - Giuseppe Valiante

Women hold up signs sup­port­ing gen­der equal­ity at the Women's March on In­ter­na­tional Women's Day in Zurich, Switzer­land, in 2017. A sur­vey found only 39 per cent of Cana­dian com­pa­nies have ac­cu­rate data on wage dif­fer­ences. MON­TREAL—ON a re­cent episode of Que­bec’s pop­u­lar TV talk show, Tout le monde en parle, co-host Dany Tur­cotte asked Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau why he hadn’t heard of any sig­nif­i­cant Net­flix in­vest­ment in Que­bec since a ma­jor an­nounce­ment last year.

The U.S. stream­ing gi­ant com­mit­ted in Septem­ber 2017 to in­vest­ing $500 mil­lion over five years in Cana­dian-pro­duced movies and tele­vi­sion shows, in both English and French.

“It’s not hap­pen­ing fast,” Tur­cotte said to Trudeau about Net­flix money in Que­bec. “There is noth­ing hap­pen­ing.”

The prime min­is­ter replied de­fen­sively: “On the con­trary.” Net­flix would in­vest “even more than they had ini­tially planned to,” he promised.

Maybe Trudeau knew some­thing about Net­flix’s plans that Net­flix promised a five-year,$500-mil­lion in­vest­ment in Canada.

Tur­cotte, a Que­bec show-busi­ness vet­eran, didn’t.

But no Que­bec-based pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies or unions rep­re­sent­ing ac­tors, di­rec­tors or writ­ers con­tacted said they have heard about French-lan­guage movie or tele­vi­sion se­ries in de­vel­op­ment by Net­flix in the prov­ince.

Net­flix’s $500-mil­lion an­nounce­ment was seen by cul­tural and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in the prov­ince as a sop to the in­dus­try af­ter Ot­tawa de­cided against im­pos­ing sales taxes on stream­ing ser­vices such as Net­flix. WWW.THES­TAR.COM

It’s a ques­tion of eq­uity, said Gilles Char­land, direc­tor gen­eral of the union rep­re­sent­ing Que­bec’s im­age and sound tech­ni­cians.

“It’s not about adding a tax on peo­ple,” Char­land said. “It’s about en­sur­ing that whether you’re sub­scribed to Bell or Videotron or Shaw or Net­flix, you pay a tax for us­ing that prod­uct.”

The $500-mil­lion pledge was sup­posed to make up for the break given to Net­flix, but more than one year af­ter the an­nounce­ment, fran­co­phone Que­bec di­rec­tors, writ­ers and ac­tors are still wait­ing for a big project.

“It’s very dis­ap­point­ing,” said Gabriel Pel­letier, head of a union rep­re­sent­ing 700 film, tele­vi­sion and web-based di­rec­tors in Que­bec.

“It takes time to de­velop projects,” he con­ceded, “but still, there should at least be some deals for de­vel­op­ing some­thing.”

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