Bernardo movie may not be shot in Ontario

Montreal an option in wake of objections, film producer says

Ottawa Citizen,
December 21, 2020
by Christopher Guly

The producer of a movie about the notorious murderers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka may shoot the film outside Ontario because of the province's opposition.

"If they really would rather I take the movie, spend the money and go shoot the movie and fake it in Montreal, I might be talked into that," said Peter Simpson, chairman of Norstar Filmed Entertainment Inc., yesterday from his Toronto office.

"Quebec and Winnipeg would both welcome it with open arms -- and I'd get more money out of there."

Mr. Simpson made the comments after Helen Johns, Ontario's Minister of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, cautioned Norstar "to think very carefully about making this film at all and of course in the province of Ontario, secondarily."

Last week, Mike Harris, the Premier, told the Ontario legislature "there will certainly not be any co-operation from this government" and "that no government buildings will be used for any film that has anything to do with Paul Bernardo."

Chris Hodgson, the Ontario Minister who chairs the Management Board Secretariat, sent that message to the Ontario Realty Corp.'s acting chairman.

In a Dec. 13 letter to James McKellar, Mr. Hodgson wrote that "given the outrage expressed by the people of Ontario with respect to this issue," the ORC should reject any access requests by Norstar.

Mr. Simpson said he wished the government "had better things to talk about" in Queen's Park.

"I wasn't planning on using any government buildings so it's not a huge setback. But if it makes them feel good about the job they're doing for the people and if it gets people off the topic of Walkerton, I suppose it serves its own purpose."

Despite Mr. Simpson's intention to pursue the film, securing financing could prove a challenge.

Last Friday, Montreal-based Telefilm Canada notified Norstar that its request for funding had been denied.

Last week, Ms. Johns said the Ontario Film Development Corp. could, once production of the film is completed, deny provincial tax credits if the movie "is not in the public interest" and features "exploitation of sex," as well as pornography and violence against women.

Mr. Simpson said he would find private money to replace the lost Telefilm funding, which he said was just one of his sources.