Parks Canada owes Tom Jackson an apology. That’s first and foremost.
But moreover, Parks Canada owes Canadians an explanation for why they feel they deserve to have a veto over plot elements of films shot on location in national parks. And for that matter, they owe Albertans an explanation for why they denied us the economic spinoffs that would have accompanied a major Hollywood production coming to Banff and Jasper.
Here’s the story:
A movie production team hoping to film in the Rocky Mountain national parks says their application was turned down after Parks Canada staff learned the plot involved an indigenous gang leader.
Mark Voyce is the location manager for a film project featuring film star Liam Neeson and aboriginal Canadian actor and singer Tom Jackson.
Voyce says his team began working with Parks Canada in December on permits for a crime drama to be shot on location in Banff and Jasper national parks.
Voyce says that last week a parks official called to ask if one of the characters in the film, a gang leader, would be aboriginal.
Voyce says that when he said yes, the official told him that wasn’t something Parks Canada would favour.
So although Tom Jackson – an accomplished and celebrated actor, singer, and humanitarian – is eager to tackle this complex role, Parks Canada has other ideas. Mind you, they didn’t read the script. They didn’t even reach out to speak to Tom Jackson. It’s incredibly insulting for Parks Canada to think that they know better than Tom Jackson about what roles he should be taking and how aboriginals are being portrayed on the screen.
For his part, Jackson says he would never compromise on something like that and that he had input on the script to make sure it was culturally respectful. But why does he owe Parks Canada or anyone else any sort of explanation?
All Parks Canada should concern itself with is whether a film production is going to have a negative environmental impact. They should not be in the business of critiquing film scripts, or casting aspersions on the career decisions of accomplished Canadian actors.
Here’s my conversation with Tom Jackson: