Breaking Bad yes, Netflix tax no.
That was Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s message in a 54-second video posted to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, in which he alleged that the NDP and Liberals have “left the door wide open” for taxes on digital streaming services. “I’m 100 per cent against a Netflix tax. Always have been, always will be,” Mr. Harper says.
— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) August 5, 2015
“We have no plan on bringing in such a tax,” NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said at a press conference.
“Any suggestion that the Liberal Party supports a Netflix tax is nonsense,” Liberal spokesman Cameron Ahmad told CTV News.
Digital law expert Michael Geist argued on his blog that the Ontario and Quebec governments have been working on wider regulations of new media, and though the Liberals and NDP have not proposed a Netflix tax per se, they have sought measures that he called a “soft form” of new-media regulation. Moreover, the prospect of taxes making Canadians’ access to Netflix costlier has come up before — in the Conservatives’ 2014 budget, The Globe’s James Bradshaw reported in January. The budget document contained a few short paragraphs inviting input on “ensuring the effective collection of sales tax on e-commerce sales to Canadians by foreign-based vendors,” and whether to enforce mandatory collection. Such tax rules would ostensibly level the playing field for e-commerce vendors that complain foreign giants such as Netflix and Amazon.com have an unfair edge when selling digital products.
The claim, and Mr. Harper’s chosen hashtag – #NoNetflixTax – was met with some incredulity on social media.
— Stephen Lautens (@stephenlautens) August 6, 2015
— Matt Patterson (@yyz2yyc) August 6, 2015
Some started a punning contest with the hashtag #HarperANetflixShow:
— Alana Bowker (@AlanaBowker) August 6, 2015
— Marty Chan (@Marty_Chan) August 5, 2015