Halifax production company takes premier to task over digital tax credit comments

John Wesley Chisholm and the Arcadia Entertainment team want Premier Stephen McNeil to know they do indeed exist.

That was the purpose of Friday’s “existential press conference” at Arcadia’s Quinpool Road offices.

“Yesterday the Premier of Nova Scotia said that we don’t exist, and I’m here to say that we do,” Chisholm, president of Arcadia, said to media surrounded by his colleagues.

The clip he’s referring to shows McNeil speaking to media, talking about the full time, permanent jobs provided by the digital tax credit. When a reporter says that’s exactly what’s said about the film tax credit, McNeil replies “we didn’t see that.”

The film tax credit had been in use for 20 years but was cut last year by the Liberals. In response to protests, a tax credit specifically for digital and animation media was re-introduced, leaving out live-action productions like those Arcadia creates.

One of Arcadia’s most popular programs is Hope for Wildlife, which airs in more than 100 countries and profiles the wildlife rescue of the same name. Hope for Wildlife staff and a few of the animals they care for, including a skunk, were also at the rally.

There are more than 30 full time staff employed by Arcadia, and Chisholm said he’d like McNeil to know many of them have had their jobs longer than he’s had his as premier.

Andrew Killawee, a writer and director, said he’s had his job for 14 years, since before McNeil was an MLA.


“Fourteen years is as full time a job as you can get,” he said. “They exist here in the province and the premier has to own up and either say what he really thinks or he’s got to come clean and have some serious talks with us because we’re in crisis mode.”

Chisholm said he and the rest of the staff just want to get back to doing their jobs, and they need support if they’re going to be able to do that.

“Our roots are here, our shows are here, Hope for Wildlife is not going anywhere,” he said.

“They’re going to keep rescuing 3,000 plus animals a year and we’re going to keep telling those stories to the world, but we need the tools to do it.”


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