Crosscountry: Canada at a glance – April 2016

With three new studios opening this year, Vancouver’s film and TV industry is booming. Plus, the Canadian farming and agriculture sectors are enjoying a period of prosperity.


In the hands of the gods

A belief in all-knowing, moralistic gods helps cement links between societies, claims anthropologist Benjamin Purzycki of the University of British Columbia in an article in the journal Nature, as reported by Science News.

According to Purzycki, cooperation between strangers in expanding civilizations hinged on a shared belief in gods that punished bad behaviour. This belief helped enable the rise of modern civilization by paving the way for vast trade networks.

The anthropologist devised an experiment including 591 individuals from eight communities ranging from the South Pacific to Siberia. Participants were asked, in private, to put money in cups earmarked for different beneficiaries. The more the participants rated the gods in their religion as moralistic and punishing, the more coins they gave to remote strangers from the same religion.

Film set 


Hollywood North

A low loonie, provincial tax credits and homegrown talent are ensuring that Vancouver remains a go-to spot for film and TV production, reports Business in Vancouver.

Until recently, Vancouver had been missing out on many productions because of a lack of adequate facilities. But now, Ironwood Studios has opened a new 177,000-square-foot studio with seven stages, two workshops, office space and storage. Last summer, Sony Pictures Imageworks opened its new 74,000-square-foot headquarters in the city, and Halifax-based DHX Media will open a 75,000-square-foot animation studio at the end of 2016.

“We’re really putting roots down here because we feel this is where the talent is,” said Ace Fipke, DHX Studio’s chief content officer.


The rich get much richer

Raising taxes on the top 1% to lessen the burden on the middle class won’t stop the rise in income inequality, says the Institute for Research on Public Policy, as reported in Le Devoir.

In Income Inequality: the Canadian Story, the institute says the federal government’s move to raise taxes on the rich is a step in the right direction but it doesn’t go far enough.

In the past 30 years, there has been a huge increase in inequality, with the top earners seeing a “spectacular” rise in compensation while the middle and lower income earners barely progressed at all. The government needs to tackle the problem from many angles, says the institute. Among other initiatives, it should consider raising the minimum wage.



Money grows on farms

Lower oil prices might spell misfortune for the oilpatch, but they are good news for farmers and exporters of agricultural commodities, especially when combined with a lower dollar. According to Agriculture Canada, farm incomes reached record levels in 2015, and should remain above average this year, says Halifax daily The Chronicle Herald.

In 2015, the net cash income of farms totalled $15 billion, an increase of 6% over the previous year. A projected increase in crop and livestock receipts helped contribute to higher incomes.