Freedom of Speech and the Great Bear Rainforest IMAX Film

October 02, 2019

As Executive Producer of the Great Bear Rainforest IMAX Film and President of Spirit Bear Entertainment Ltd. (sole owner of the copyright of the Great Bear Rainforest IMAX film) I have been mentioned in social media comments by the Heiltsuk Council and by Ian McAllister Director of the film and Executive Director of the environmental group Pacific Wild. While I respect their freedom of speech it is important for me to clarify some facts.

I care deeply about sustainability and took on this project because I believe a connection with the most beautiful parts of our natural world will inspire people to do their part to protect the environment. I did not help create this film for partisan purposes. When I started this project, I had no idea I would be running for the Conservative Party in this election.

As Executive Producer I was instrumental in the funding, making and distribution of the movie. Over a three-year period my efforts and money went towards making the film.

This film would not have been possible without the full cooperation of the three First Nations (including the Heiltsuk) in whose traditional territory we filmed. As President of Spirit Bear Entertainment Ltd., I approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department (HIRMD) and Spirit Bear Entertainment Ltd. I have not violated any aspect of this agreement nor do I plan to. Although I was under no legal obligation to do so, in January, when the Heiltsuk Council shared concerns with me about my use of images from the Great Bear Rainforest IMAX Film I voluntarily removed all digital images from the Great Bear Rainforest and of the Spirit Bear taken during the filming, including the official trailer, from my social media feeds and campaign website. The Heiltsuk Council's lawyer requested that I "cease and desist using images obtained on Heiltsuk Territory for the purposes of political campaign". I have voluntarily fully complied with this request. In May, when I heard the Heiltsuk Council were unhappy that I was using a personal photo taken on my iPhone (and not in Heiltsuk territory) in some printed campaign material I voluntarily discontinued using these printed materials and also stopped making a non-political presentation about the film to non-partisan community groups (i.e. Rotary Clubs, Probus Clubs etc.). The IMAX film poster that until recently I had on my website is an artist’s rendering and is not a digital image from the film. Again, to be sensitive to concerns, I have voluntarily removed the IMAX film poster from my campaign. The Heiltsuk Council have acknowledged that my role as Executive Producer of the Great Bear Rainforest IMAX film is part of my lived experience and forms part of my biography. I have never made any purported campaign endorsement with anyone involved in the film including the three First Nations who cooperated with us in the making of our film.

We made a beautiful and meaningful film that we are all proud of and that has received widespread acclaim for profoundly respecting the Indigenous Peoples of the region. I have the right to share with voters my experiences and passions that have shaped who I am as a person and would be as their representative.

In life I take a balanced approach and in responding to the concerns of the Heiltsuk Council I have tried my best to balance my profound respect for Indigenous Peoples with my own legal and contractual rights and like every Canadian my rights to freedom of speech.