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The 2015 federal election promises to be an ugly fight, with a lot of half-truths and fact twisting. This has been the tone set by the Harper government so far, and it shows no sign of changing course. Luckily, together with our allies will be pulling together real numbers and evidence to refute the mistruths and fact check the election campaign.

Stephen Harper loves movies. And TV shows. Especially Breaking Bad. No, this inaugural Fact Check isn’t auditing the Prime Minister’s dubious statement that he has watched one minute of an edgy, groundbreaking dramatic series about Crystal Meth (although he might watch it for the way it turns a privatized health care system into a major plot device).

Besides, we know that his actual favourite television show is Murdoch Mysteries (also available on Canadian Netflix). That’s a checked fact you can have for free.

No, we are interrogating Harper’s highly cynical suggestion that Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau have “left the door wide open” to introducing a “Netflix tax.” If, by “left the door wide open,” the Prime Minister means “have never mentioned it ever,” then I suppose we could call this statement true. But then he also should have said they both support an “elephant tax” or a “beard tax,” because Mulcair and Trudeau have also “left the door wide open” to these taxes by not talking about them as well.

In fact, as many on social media have pointed out, the only person to propose a tax on Netflix was Stephen Harper in his 2014 budget:

“Canada’s government is considering new tax rules to level the playing field for e-commerce vendors that complain foreign giants such as Inc., Apple Inc. and Netflix Inc. have an unfair edge when selling digital products.”

It looks like Stephen Harper is not being exactly accurate when he says, “I am 100% against a Netflix Tax. Always have been.”

Harper is likely referring to the discussion in September of last year on whether foreign corporations entering the Canadian television market through the internet should be forced to pay a tariff to the CRTC to produce Canadian content. You know, like everybody else. That, he did oppose. But the different ways of regulating, taxing and monitoring players in the increasingly complex landscape of online media don’t fit in a hilariously insincere tweet.

By the way, Netflix is an American-based corporation that takes hundreds of millions of dollars from Canadian consumers in profit every year — and doesn’t pay a dime of tax, including GST. The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) estimates that on Netflix sales alone, the federal government is missing out on $11.1 million in GST, while the provinces lose another $15.6 million in unpaid sales tax.

So maybe we should be talking about Netflix taxes. Just think of what Pierre Poilievre could do with that money!


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