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Toronto film fest bodyguards raise licensing questions

TORONTO — Organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival say they had nothing to do with a proposal to allow celebrities to import their bodyguards to the star-studded event.


August 8, 2011
By Maria Babbage

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Ontario requires that all security guards be licensed by the province, but the governing Liberals quietly proposed an exemption recently for film and TV stars that should take effect just a few days before the festival begins.

“TIFF was not involved in any discussions on this proposed new legislation,” said spokeswoman Genevieve Parent.

“In terms of security during the festival, we work closely with studios and distributors to ensure talents’ needs are met and that all parties are comfortable.”

However, the courtesy the governing Liberals are planning to extend to Hollywood celebrities wasn’t extended to Bollywood stars when they were in Toronto last month for their version of the Oscars.

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Ontario Provincial Police laid 142 charges for violations of the province’s security regulations during the International Indian Film Academy awards celebrations. One Bollywood star saw two bodyguards charged for working without a licence.

Some are accusing the government of providing special treatment to Hollywood stars and squeezing Ontario security firms out of well-paying work.

The Liberals are rolling out the red carpet for high-profile celebrities while small businesses across the province are forced to toe the line, said Progressive Conservative critic Steve Clark.

Ottawa bars and restaurants were targeted by police for licensing infractions when Prince William and Kate visited the nation’s capital, he said. And there have been crackdowns in other cities, such as Niagara Falls.

“I think that the entire system’s botched, and to now provide that pass when the system is so full of red tape — that’s questionable,” Clark said.

But the government defended the move, saying it’s only trying to protect the province’s billion-dollar film industry.

–The Canadian Press 


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