Re: Film Tax Credit for Dream Street Pictures Television Movie "The Phantoms"
Bathurst Mothers Ask NB Auditor General to Investigate Movie Funding
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Auditor General of NB: Request to Investigate Film Tax Credit for Dream Street Pictures Television Movie “The Phantoms”
August 29, 2011
Ms. Kim MacPherson
Auditor General of New Brunswick
520 King Street
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Original sent under separate cover
Dear Ms. MacPherson:
We are Isabelle Hains, Ana Acevedo, and Marcella Kelly, the mothers of Daniel Hains, Javier Acevedo and Nikki Kelly who were killed along with four of their friends on the Bathurst High School Phantoms basketball team on January 12, 2008. We are writing with the support of our partners and families to request the Auditor General of New Brunswick investigate the circumstances surrounding the granting of a quarter million dollar film tax credit to Dream Street Pictures for the movie “The Phantoms” by the now defunct, NB Film, an agency of the NB Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport.
We believe that the $250,000 film tax credit was given to Dream Street Pictures without any consideration of the outcry from the victims’ parents which officials and politicians in the Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport and the Department of Education were fully aware would follow the public announcement on July 22, 2011 that a movie about the Boys in Red tragedy would be filmed on location at Bathurst High School.
Contrary to the statements of the producers, Tim Hogan and Rick LeGuerrier, who have said the film is not about the Boys in Red tragedy, we and many others in New Brunswick believe that the film is about our sons deaths and cannot be made without reference to the Boys in Red.
We take great offense at the lack of consultation and indifference of Tim Hogan and Rick LeGuerrier to the sensitivities of the victims’ families and the Bathurst community which is still in mourning nearly four years after the tragedy which killed our boys. We, the parents and families who are most affected by the tragedy, have never been contacted by the producers and can only speculate on the direction which the script will take in dealing with the subject of our sons’ deaths.
In that regard, we have consulted with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Atlantic Director, Kevin Lacey, who has written to Hon. Trevor Holder, Minister of Wellness, Culture and Sport objecting to the film tax credit. (See letter dated August 12, 2011 attached).
We are also very concerned about the so called consultation process which followed a letter of complaint from Isabelle Hains on July 28 to John McLaughlin (see letter dated July 28, 2011 attached). In a mere eight days, Mr. McLaughlin claims to have consulted with stakeholders and come to the decision that filming on location at Bathurst High School was acceptable.
Mr. McLaughlin says he has read the script and is satisfied that it is sensitive to the concerns of parents. Meantime, we, who are closest to the story, who have fewer resources and no financial support and have never been consulted by the producers nor seen the script, have gathered over 100 letters of objection to the proposed film from citizens of Bathurst and victims’ family members from across New Brunswick and Canada. Those letters have been forwarded to Premier David Alward (see letter dated August 9, 2011) but as of this date we have not received any response to our letters or phone calls to the Premier.
We believe Mr. McLaughlin is in a conflict of interest because he has been too closely involved in every aspect of this story as it unfolded since January 12, 2008. In the absence of a script, we can only speculate that there may be an actor playing Mr. McLaughlin’s role in the story and / or actors playing roles of other District 15 employees with a very close personal connection to Mr. McLaughlin.
With so much tax payers dollars at stake, we believe that it is incumbent upon the Auditor General to investigate the negotiations leading up to the granting of one quarter million dollars in tax credit to Dream Street Pictures with a view to reprimanding the officials and politicians who were involved in the decision-making process and who cared so little about the feelings of the victims parents and families that they left it up to the media to inform us that a movie was going to be made in Bathurst.
We have filed a Right to Information request (see letter dated August 5, 2011 attached) as well as an official complaint with the Acting Ombudsman, Francois Levert, the substance of which should be of interest to you (see letter dated August 15, 2011 attached). In our RTI request we ask pointed questions about the script and the negotiations leading up to the granting of a quarter million dollars in tax credit by NB Film. In our complaint to the Ombudsman, we outline the reasons why we believe that the Ombudsman should reverse a decision by the District 15 Superintendent, John McLaughlin, to allow Dream Street Pictures to film on location at Bathurst High School.
Isabelle Hains, Ana Acevedo and Marcella Kelly
John McLaughlin, District 15 Superintendent, NB Department of Education
Letter from Kevin Lacey, Atlantic Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation, August 12, 2011
Letter to John McLaughlin, District 15 Superintendent, Department of Education, July 28, 2011
Letter to Premier David Alward, August 9, 2011
Letter to Hon. Trevor Holder and Hon. Jody Carr under Right to Information, August 5, 2011
Letter to Francois Levert, Acting Ombudsman, August 15, 2011