Canada's film, TV policy in new hands


TORONTO -- Quebec Parliament member Josee Verner on Tuesday traded places with outgoing federal Heritage Minister Bev Oda as part of a Cabinet shuffle.

Verner, minister of international cooperation in Ottawa, will move to the heritage post, responsible for Canadian film and TV policy, and Oda will take over his post. The switch came as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled his new Cabinet after weeks of speculation (HR 8/10).

Oda had been under fire for campaign financing irregularities, a situation instigated when she allowed major broadcasters she oversaw to organize a fund-raiser on her behalf last year.

In her new post, Verner will hold the country's purse-strings for investment in Canadian film and TV product. She becomes heritage minister at a time of convulsive change for Canada's film and TV sector.

The country's broadcaster regulator is now making its way through public hearings regarding a host of recent mega-mergers, including the CAN$2.3 billion ($1.99 billion) takeover of broadcaster Alliance Atlantis Communications by rival CanWest Global Communications and equity partner Goldman Sachs & Co.

Verner was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons from the Quebec riding of Louis-St.-Laurent when the ruling Conservative Party took power in January 2006.

Before entering federal politics, Verner followed a career in Quebec politics, and at one time served as deputy speaker of Quebec's National Assembly.