Canadian Government Blasts Mark Wahlberg Over Film Tax Credit Comments

A Heritage Department spokesman fired back at the Hollywood actor for suggesting federal production incentives for Los Angeles producers were cut.

TORONTO -- With friends like that: Actor-producer Mark Wahlberg has angered the Canadian government after he called on politicians to do more to keep Hollywood shooting in Canada, where he likes working.

The feds in Ottawa fired back at Wahlberg after he urged Canadian film tax credits for Hollywood film and TV shoots be restored after they apparently were cut.

“The government of Canada provides significant incentives for international film and television production companies to work in Canada,” a spokesman for the federal heritage department told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.

The ministry said two film tax credits launched by Ottawa in 1997 -- the Canadian film or video production tax credit and the film or video production services tax credit -- were sweetened in 2003 so Canada could remain competitive with rival U.S. locales and have not changed in value since then.

“They have not been cut at all since their creation,” the spokesman insisted.

During a charity event in Wednesday in Toronto, Wahlberg, urged Canadian politicians to restore subsidies for Los Angeles producers shooting movies north of the border. “We are really trying to encourage the government to reinstate these tax incentives to bring film and cinema back to Canada,” he told the Globe and Mail newspaper.

“It was some of the best work experiences that I’ve had, and it’s just a shame that films are going to other places,” added the Entourage executive producer, who has shot a half-dozen movies in Toronto and Vancouver over the years.

But Ottawa bureaucrats, unhappy with Hollywood North’s biggest fan, insisted Canada was not losing U.S. production to rival locales because of lost tax breaks. Instead, the total volume of film and television production in Canada reached an all-time high of $5.5 billion in 2011, the Heritage Department said.