May 11, 1933

CON

Alfred Duranleau (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of Marine)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DURANLEAU:

In your time it was

only the Liberals.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   PURCHASE OF STATIONS-APPOINTMENTS TO STAFF
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Never. What Liberal

station ever did that?

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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CON

Onésime Gagnon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GAGNON:

La Presse, the Toronto

Star and others.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I never understood La

Presse to be a Liberal newspaper. Let me say that at election times, and at other times as well, I have heard speeches delivered by hon. gentlemen opposite over the La Presse station. That never has been considered a Liberal station. From La Patrie I think almost every day we have talks by gentlemen who call themselves Labour-Conservatives or others who represent an organization called the Federation of Labour, which is merely a Tory association, as all hon. gentlemen opposite know. I still say, Mr. Chairman, that to divide the licences in Canada on political lines, so many to one party and so many to another, is a wrong principle that cannot be accepted or subscribed to by this house.

There was another thing said toy hon. gentlemen opposite in defence of this act; they say that Toronto had four broadcasting stations and it was not right that Montreal should have only two. What advantage is there in having so many broadcasting stations? It merely brings about confusion. I do not think it is of any benefit to the community that there should be several small stations; I do not think there should be a

competition as between Toronto and Montreal or Vancouver and Winnipeg as to the number of stations in each city. Rather I think good service and quality should be looked for in the organization of radio broadcasting.

My hon. friend from Dorchester, who was one of the members of the committee last year, said that committee had reported that stations of less than one hundred watts should not come under the commission. Whatever may have been contained in the report of that committee it is the law which governs in the matter, and there is nothing in the broadcasting act accepting the report of the committee in this regard; all stations come under the radio commission.

There is another point to which I should like to direct attention. Some hon. member who discussed this question to-day praised himself and the house for having had the support of the radio league in this matter, and the name of Mr. Graham Spry was mentioned in this connection. I knew the radio league had suggested that instead of a board appointed by the government and paid for its services there should be a sort of honorary board on which all sections of the country and of the community would be represented by men who would be willing to serve without expense to the country, and the real executive work should be entrusted to a general manager. That was the program suggested by the radio league. In the April 27th issue of the Weekly Sun, which is edited by Mr. Graham Spry, who was the president of the league, I see an article headed "The Radio Commission". I am not going to read it all, but here is part of what Mr. Spry says:

The Canadian Radio League proposal, first advanced in detail in the Queen's Quarterly, January, 1931, provided for a voluntary commission to which a competent and experienced general manager would be responsible for the practical details of administering broadcasting. In this way, the formulation ot policy would have been separated from its administration, as in the case of a company with its board of directors and its general manager and staff. There would have been the additional advantage that the voluntary board, selected by consultation between the three parties, would have represented different parts of Canada, would have been independent of partisan interest, and in a position to resist partisan pressure. This is the British scheme, and the British board, rather than the government, are held responsible for administration, thereby saving the government from criticism for the acts of its semi-autonomous commission.

The government of Canada, however, saw fit to establish a commission that combined the formulation of policy with its administration; then it appointed a commission, one of whose members was a former Conservative organizer. Subsequent acts and appointments of the com-

Radio Broadcasting Act

mission, rightly or wrongly, were taken by the public and the opposition parties to be partisan. The radio commission, therefore, became subject to political pressure and party criticism.

And so on. I think there was much to commend itself in the proposal of the radio league; certainly we would have avoided the situation in which we find ourselves to-day. My right hon. friend does not like it; no one likes it. We all supported the idea of nationalizing the radio, of public ownership; there was never such unanimity in the house as when the bill was made law during the last session of parliament. We were told by the right hon. gentleman that politics would not enter into appointments to the board which was to be created to administer radio affairs, but unfortunately we think faith has not been kept so far as that promise and that pledge are concerned.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   PURCHASE OF STATIONS-APPOINTMENTS TO STAFF
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

We say that politics has not entered into it.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I cannot understand my right hon. friend when he says that politics did not enter, when he has put there to represent a large section of the community a man who not only was his candidate in the last election but who has been the organizer of his party for three or four elections. So far as I am concerned I do not believe that man can administer radio affairs in my district impartially. I do not trust the radio commission, as it is now constituted, for the next general election or for any other matter in my district. It is a sad condition in which to find myself; I should prefer to have confidence in that board. I agree with my right hon. friend that confidence is necessary for the success of radio broadcasting in Canada, but if confidence is lacking we are not responsible; the government is responsible, and I am sorry to say that until that condition is corrected it will be impossible for the people of Canada to get along well with the board which is in control of radio broadcasting, and until that condition is created we shall not have success or harmony.

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): Mr. Chairman, the 'hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe) lias no objection to an exclusively conservative or liberal station, and he is quite right; however, there are people who are in a more unfortunate position than that; some have no station. I wish to apprise the hon. Minister of Marine (Mr. Duranleau) of what happened to me. As Coppee would say: My story, gentlemen on the bench will be brief. Once, for my good or ill fortune, I delivered a speech, at Montmagny, on the Imperial

economic agreements, and some enthusiastic person-there are always some-requested me to repeat it in Quebec. During two months, I received from station CHRC dilatory replies, followed by an absolute refusal; they gave no excuse or reason. I wish to inquire from the hon Minister of Marine, whether persons holding government licences to operate broadcasting stations have a right to refuse a private individual the use of their station, providing he does not offend public decency or order-I felt that I had offended neither the one nor the other-and providing that, in requesting the use of the station for half an hour, he gives them sufficient notice, such as a week, two weeks or even two months. My notice covered two months. I am totally at a loss to know why the gentleman refused me. I put a question on the order paper, two weeks ago, to ascertain the names of the owners of that station.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Translation):

Was it station CHRC that refused?

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): It was

station CHRC. The hon. member for Quebec East was more fortunate than I was because I listened to a splendid speech of his, broadcasted from station CHRC. I was unable to even put in a word. I wish to inquire whether these stations are under the government's control and whether they have a right, proprio moter, to prevent a citizen or even a representative of the people, as, for instance, the hon. member for Temiseouata (Mr. Pouliot), from addressing a larger audience than the usual one. Friends of the Conservative cause had requested me to repeat that speech in Quebec. You will always come across people that are more Catholic than the Pope. Evidently, in the eyes of these gentlemen of the CHRC station, I was guilty of heresy, if not in fact at least potentially. That is, I presume, the only reason which can be advanced for this refusal. So far as the merit of the ideas expounded, my speech was delivered in Montmagny before a highly intellectual and select audience, comprising representatives of the State and Clergy. Nobody was Shocked. What I wish to know is whether these stations have a right to refuse, proprio moter, the use of their broadcasting stations, according to their whiffs and whims.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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LIB

Joseph-Alexandre Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (St. Henri) (Translation):

May I put a question to the hon. member? According to rumour, was not the vice-president of the Radio Commission, in the past-previous to his appointment-one of the directors of the CHRC broadcasting station?

Radio Broadcasting Act

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): I am

aware that he was. That, perhaps, may throw some light on the CHRC station's refusal to grant my request, because it is no secret, I have no reason to conceal it, I did not recommend the appointment of the present vicepresident. I considered that there were persons, such as Notary Montreuil, of Quebec, and many others eminently qualified to fill that post. The appointment having been made, I do not intend to discuss it, I have no reason to approve or champion it. I simply expressed my views, at the time.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   PURCHASE OF STATIONS-APPOINTMENTS TO STAFF
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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

There is

another broadcasting station at Quebec; the CKCV station.

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): I had

applied to the CHRC.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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CON

Charles Napoléon Dorion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DORION (Translation):

That is, to

the "Soleil"!

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): That was

bad enough; I had, first, applied to friends of the hon. member for Quebec Montmorency (Mr. Dorion), I was certainly not going to apply to a broadcasting station belonging to gentlemen who are really no friends of the hon. member for, Quelbec-Montmorency. There must be at this station persons very broad-minded as regards the distribution of patronage, but very narrow-minded as regards individuals who are conceited enough to honour the broadcasting station with their presence.

I have put a question to the hon. Minister of Marine....

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   PURCHASE OF STATIONS-APPOINTMENTS TO STAFF
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LIB

Joseph-Alexandre Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (St. Henri) (Translation):

Did you apply to -the Canadian Broadcasting Commission to obtain redress?

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): Certainly.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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LIB

Joseph-Alexandre Mercier

Liberal

Mr. MERCIER (St. Henri) (Translation):

Did they refuse you?

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): They

replied that it was none of their business.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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CON

Alfred Duranleau (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of Marine)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DURANLEAU (Translation):

I understand that the hon. member for Mont-magny (Mr. LaVergne), wants an answer. This is the first time that I hear about the refusal of this station to broadcast my hon. friend's speech.

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): I am not

criticizing the minister.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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CON

Alfred Duranleau (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of Marine)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DURANLEAU (Translation):

I am amazed at this refusal, because usually stations are delighted to broadcast the always interesting speeches of the hon. member. However, it must be noted that the station referred to, the CHRC, is owned by a private company, it is a private broadcasting station-

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): Quite so.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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CON

Alfred Duranleau (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of Marine)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DURANLEAU (Translation):

-which was granted its licence for the period of twelve months, last year; and, 6, months this year, that is, since the new regulations are in force. Broadcasting stations must be operated according to the regulations of the Radio Commission. With this exception, the stations are independent of the Minister of Marine and the Radio Commission.

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): That is what I wished to find out.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   PURCHASE OF STATIONS-APPOINTMENTS TO STAFF
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CON

Alfred Duranleau (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of Marine)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DURANLEAU (Translation):

I hope that my hon. friend will be more fairly dealt with in the future, not only by that station but by all stations, because Canadians, as a rule, are always delighted to listen to the always very interesting remarks of the hon. member for Montmagny.

My hon. friend inquired as to the directors of the company which owned that broadcasting station. I have not yet this information. The hon. member recently put that question on the order paper and I immediately requested that this station furnish me with the facts of the case. As soon as I get a reply, I shall be pleased to get in touch with my hon. friend.

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): That is what I wished to know. I have no reproach to make to the hon. Minister. I am aware that the Radio Commission is practically independent. I want to find out whether the broadcasting stations are independent of the Commission or whether they come under its jurisdiction. It seems to me extraordinary that the Radio Commission would grant a licence to a public station, which has a public franchise, and that this station would simply be the organization of one group or one party, or two parties-not of three or four. I would think that having obtained a franchise from the people, they are there to cater to the public, therefore, the Radio Commission should have over these stations a more efficient and complete control. If not, the commission would not serve the purpose for which it was created.

A broadcasting station-the hon. Minister stated-is owned by an independent corporation, and I understand, aocording to his remarks, that a station has absolute control of its program and the broadcasting hours placed at the disposal of the public.

Radio Broadcasting Act

Mr. DURANI/EAU (Translation): Absolutely, providing it observes the regulations of the commission. For instance, an advertisement must not occupy more than 5 per cent of the time allotted to the program.

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): In this case, it might, perhaps, be necessary to amend the Radio Broadcasting Act, in this respect.

I am very much of the opinion expressed by the hon. member for Quebec East, because in fact, that might lead to tyranny or partiality and this would totally fall short of the aim which we had in view when creating the commission. The radio broadcasting stations are established to cater to the public, the moment they observe our constitution, our laws-

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Translation):

Peace and good order.

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): -public peace, good order and decency; they are there to serve the public and to be at its disposal.

I wish to state that we have, at Montmagny, a small station owned by Mr. Marquis, a Liberal, who takes an active part against me during electoral campaigns, however, he is a loyal opponent who is always pleased to put his station at the disposal of any one, of any party, among others, ,of the member for Montmagny. The latter does not always help him, however, he understands the reason, the purpose for which he has this station and that it is the government which grants him his licence.

An hon. MEMBER (Translation): Hear!

Hear!

Mr. LaVERGNE (Translation): I wish to

draw the attention of the minister and the commission to this fact in order that it may help him to obtain a more powerful broadcasting station, because he often broadcasts to the whole of lower Quebec, while the Quebec station is unable to reach that section of the country.

I suggest to the minister that there is ground to amend the act. The owners of broadcasting stations are public servants, because radio is almost a public utility-they hold a franchise-therefore, they are there to serve the public, and not to satisfy their petty spites, their personal views-

An hon. MEMBER (Translation): Hear!

Hear!

Mr. LaVERGNE. (Translation): -their

preferences. I, for one, strongly criticize the CHRC station of Quebec, not because it affects me but because it affects others. I

[Mr LaVergne.]

often had the occasion of broadcasting my speeches, speaking both in front and behind the broadcasting mouthpiece. What does one speec-h more or less-I would gladly dispense making them. I think it most unfair of this station and a renewal of its licence should be refused to them. That is why I wish to find out who are the owners, because, when I have their names, I shall have quite a lot to say as regards having this intolerable state of things redressed.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Translation):

I wish, sir, to support the attitude taken by the hon. member for Montmagny. If the government has full control of radio in Canada, then the commission, the authorities in charge must see that everybody has fair play, so far as radio service is concerned. The moment that a public man does not express subversive views against public order or peace, I think he is entitled to obtain from radio stations, holding a government licence and under the control of the commission, that his speech or utterances be broadcasted by Canadian public Stations. The reason we established government control over radio, was so that everybody would be dealt fairly and justly, and I entirely agree with the hon. member for Montmagny in his remarks to the house.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HACKETT:

The hon. member for Quebec East has told the house that the radio commission does not possess his confidence.

I think it rather unfortunate that a body occupying as important a post as that confided to this commission should, before it has really entered upon its duties, be accused by a man of the high position of the former Minister of justice of being entirely unworthy of the confidence of the country, and I think also it is extremely unfortunate that no allegation is made in support of the charge. It is true that the hon. gentleman singled out for his own personal charge the vice-president, and forsooth he said, "I cannot have any confidence in this man nor can anyone else have confidence in him because-heinous offence- he was on some occasion a Conservative candidate."

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

The only reason.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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May 11, 1933