The Film & TV industry debate
In the campaign to be mayor, the constant debates have become one never-ending audition. On Wednesday, things took a decidedly theatrical turn... as the candidates took to their seats at Pinewood Studios for the FilmOntario debate.
Early on, Joe Pantalone came out swinging, comparing his fellow (and yes, it was only the boys in attendance today) candidates to ‘mini-Mike Harrises’, and referring to “Deep Freeze George” in reference to Smitherman’s commitment to freeze taxes. It certainly doesn’t take much to see the Harris-ite connection with Ford, blathering on about the homeless people and the filth and his record as a businessman. All sounded pretty 1995 to me…
With George, on the surface, you get a taste of the creeping conservatism, especially as he attempts to carve out a little of Ford’s support for his very own. But George knew his audience and didn’t take things too far in that direction. Not this day. With George you have to dig deeper.
I’ve heard some commentators remark that Ford clearly didn’t know his audience – film and tv producers, union representatives, actors and technicians and directors. I’m not so sure that he didn’t know his audience. I think he just doesn’t care. We are not his people, his voters. He knows it. He doesn’t think he needs us. He doesn’t care. And he certainly isn’t afraid of us. So he makes these completely unsubstantiated, random accusations about dirty deals behind closed doors at City Hall, while the people in the audience who know about the industry, and are proud of the studio and hopeful for its future, all sit back in complete shock.
Pantalone was the only one to really call Ford out on his outrageous accusations… He rightly countered that Ford should have called the police if he thought something illegal had transpired. But Ford is never one to let the facts or the truth get in the way of a good bluster. And he didn’t care what we all thought anyway.
Smitherman is deflated, unengaged. I remember him in his firey opposition days, taking on Mike Harris. It’s like someone stuck him with a great big needle and let all the fury and passion out… I’m not the guy’s biggest fan, but even I was saddened to witness this. He is apologizing constantly. Not a flicker of Furious George, or even Curious George or certainly Mayor George. And his ‘ideas’ to build and nurture the film and television industry here … well, the guy clearly hasn't been paying much attention. Try telling this crowd that they haven’t had a film-friendly mayor for the last seven years?! Bit of a stretch. Hellooooo, where have you been, George? Oh yes, of course. And so during all those years in the McGuinty government, you admit you weren't really paying attention to this industry. So why should we believe you will now?
Rossi is a great speaker. No question. He is smooth and articulate. But scratch away at the surface and I don’t see anything of substance there. His line that he hasn’t been a politician so he’s never been part of the problem before… Sorry Rocco but I don’t want to gamble my City's future on an untested candidate.
Pantalone is the only one who can speak with any credibility of working with the arts community, the film and television industry. Miller was a great advocate and friend to our industry… Pantalone focussed on the things we have actually accomplished together and what we can do next. He’s not going to throw out ridiculous assertions without facts to back it up. He’s not going to ignore Ford when he makes such assertions. He’s a fighter, that Joe. I liked what I saw.
He also made the most insightful comment of the morning: We are at a crossroads. We need to take the road to Paris not to Detroit,
I wish it wasn’t such a stark choice, but I’m afraid he may be right.About Marit Stiles