Productions GFP – Federal Court declines request for judicial review of a CAVCO reversal of a preliminary ruling

The appellant (“GFP”) requested a preliminary opinion from the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office (CAVCO) as to the eligibility for the Canadian film or video production tax credit of a proposed production that would be in the form of a quiz contest but where the points would not matter and the focus would be on the participants being funny. CAVCO responded quickly that the synopsis provided to it indicated that the production did not seem to be ineligible, but reserved a final decision based on its review of an episode when produced. Two years later, after GFP had produced quite a number of episodes and CAVCO had reviewed some of them, it communicated its preliminary determination (later confirmed) that the Production had the features of a “game, questionnaire or contest” and was, therefore, excluded under Reg. 1106(1)(b)(iii).

In dismissing GFP’s application for judicial review, Pentney J stated:

… [I]t is clear that the opinion provides only a preliminary indication, based solely on the information provided by the producer, and that the final decision is based on an assessment of the actual production itself. …

There is nothing in the evidence to suggest that the decision was not made in good faith, that it constituted an abuse of power or that it otherwise violates the objectives of the legislation. …

… I accept that in view of the architecture of the system … those who want a certificate must spend money to embark on a production, with no guarantee that they will receive the benefit of a tax credit.

Neal Armstrong. Summary of Productions GFP (III) Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General), 2019 FC 1613 under Reg. 1106(1) – excluded production - (b)(iii).