Netflix Hires Canadian Public Policy Chief Amid Calls to Tax Streamer

Netflix logo - Netflix event - Getty-H 2017
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Stephane Cardin has been hired away from the Canada Media Fund, the country's top TV drama financier, to serve as director of public policy.

Netflix has hired Stephane Cardin as director of public policy for Canada, as the U.S. streamer ramps up TV production here and fends off calls to tax U.S. streaming services.

"Stephane brings a wealth of experience and insights to the Netflix policy team as we continue to invest in Canada’s world class creative and production talent," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. The Canada Media Fund, the top Canadian TV financier where Cardin served as vp industry and public affairs since 2006, in its own statement wished him well.

"We thank Stephane for his tireless efforts over the past twelve years. He was instrumental in working with CMF management, staff and board to position the organization for the future and we wish him all the best, as he takes on new and exciting challenges at Netflix," said CMF president and CEO Valerie Creighton.

Netflix, after first launching in Canada in late 2010 to kick-start its global expansion, hiring a government lobbyist north of the border follows the U.S. streamer, led by CEO Reed Hastings, agreeing to invest CAN $500 million ($400 million) in Canadian film and TV production over five years.

It also has political headaches to fend off, including the Quebec provincial government's proposal to impose local sales taxes on foreign suppliers of paid digital services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, starting in 2019. The federal government in Ottawa has so far resisted industry calls to similarly impose a sales tax on the U.S. digital platforms operating in the country.

American digital platforms active in the Canadian market have argued they don't have a sufficient physical presence in Quebec, or Canada, beyond exporting content to local subscribers to justify a sales tax on their local business.

There's also mounting streaming competition in Canada for Netflix. CBS said it will launch a streaming service internationally this year, sending CBS All Access into the Canadian market.

And local broadcaster Bell Media has separate long-term licensing deals with U.S. premium cable channels Showtime, HBO and Starz to raise its game against Netflix Canada by streaming popular shows like Game of Thrones and True Detective on its own streaming service, CraveTV.

Disney's plans  to end its deal with Netflix and launch its own streaming service won't impact Canada, as Disney movies will remain on Netflix Canada, at least until 2019. Another new global OTT competitor, Amazon Prime Video, also expanded into Canada.