May 11, 1933

?

Edward Hackett

Mr. HAOKETT:

He goes further and says that this man has added to the crime by having been a Conservative organizer. I believe that the hon. gentleman is accurate in stating as a fact that the vice-president of the commission did at some time have something to do with politics. I should hate to think however that every member of this chamber is unfitted for any honourable post

Radio Broadcasting Act

because at some time he had sought and been found worthy of the confidence of the electorate of some constituency. I consider it most unfortunate that a distinguished member of this chamber should wish to point to every man in this house and say that because he has at some time been a partisan he is unworthy of high office. If he is going to apply that rule to this and other countries, what esteem can he have for the bench, what esteem can he have for the incumbent of any office that is worth holding?-because in democratic countries positions of high trust are invariably given to those who seek, and show themselves worthy of, the confidence of the people. I reiterate therefore that to say, without substantiating the statement, without bringing forth anything to justify such a charge, that this body which has recently come into office is unworthy of public confidence, designates, I fear, a type of mind and a partisanship which detract from the value of the judgment uttered in those words of condemnation. The hon. member says that Bill Murray should go home- and I speak of Bill Murray because he was at McGill with me, a boy from British Columbia, an active, energetic lad who has made his way in the world and is welcomed not only to Canada but to other countries where expert radio advice is sought; he is called in because he is supposed to know more about the technique of radio development than anyone else. When the hon. member refers to that gentleman as a stranger, and harks back to .that cry that is sometimes heard in the back ranges, that he is a foreigner-

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I never said that. Be fair; I never said that.

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?

Edward Hackett

Mr. BLACKETT:

I am perfectly willing to retract.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

You are carried away by your own eloquence.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Take your medicine.

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CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HACKETT:

The hon. gentleman said that we did not require any assistance or guidance from outside.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

That is not saying he is a foreigner.

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CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HACKETT:

If this government has fallen into that evil habit it has only fallen a victim to the bad example set by its predecessor. I will ask hon. gentlemen opposite where they went to get that lamented man who recently passed from us and who for some years headed our national railway system. Where did he come from? Then, if I remember well, there was a gentleman who came, not from Vancouver, not from

Montreal or Toronto, a gentleman who had something to do with the investigation of conditions in the maritimes and whose name I believe was Sir Andrew Rae Duncan. Where did he come from? Who summoned him here from Scotland? If I remember well, there was also a report made with regard to the Hudson Bay terminal, a vast and costly report which was made by a most skilled and able man. He did not come from Toronto or Montreal, he came from England; his name was Sir Frederick Palmer.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I think that was a mistake.

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CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HACKETT:

It may have been a mistake but I am willing to do the hon. gentleman and his friends justice by saying that they went where they thought they were able to get the best man they could. Now that is all that this government has done. Let us therefore be fair to the radio commission and realize that it is trying to become something of which we shall all be proud. Let us give it a fair chance.

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CON

Onésime Gagnon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GAGNON:

I will not detain the committee very long, but I want to say a few words with respect to this small station in Quebec which seems to have incurred the displeasure of my hon. friend from Montmagny A few minutes ago my hon. friend from Quebec East, when speaking about the radio broadcasting commission, reproached me for having quoted the report which was made last year by the committee that sat on radio broadcasting matters. I shall quote not only the report of the radio committee but also the law. I refer my hon. friend to chapter 51 of the statutes of 1932. Subsection (g) of section 8 of the act reads:

The commission may, subject to the approval of the minister, assist and encourage the construction of small private stations.

But it is known that these small private stations of 100 watts and under remain the property of the owners. They may not be taken into the national scheme of radio broadcasting and will not be subject to the control of the Minister of Marine or the broadcasting commission except so far as programs and licences are concerned. It is a well known fact that the two small stations in Quebec city have not been taken over by the commission. In fact, no station in Canada has been taken over to form part of the national scheme of radio broadcasting. The commission contends that they cannot do this unless the law is changed.

I come now to the speech of the hon. member for Montmagny. He does not seem to

Radio Broadcasting Act

like station CHRC, but I do not think this station can be accused of narrow partisanship. I think that is demonstrated by the fact that the hon. member for Quebec East broadcast a speech over that station about a month ago. This was the speech which the hon. member for Montmagny referred to as being wonderful. I will call it a seditious speech. I think one is entitled to his own views in this regard. The hon. member for Montmagny may have his own views, the hon. member for Quebec East may have his and I may have mine. I think it was absolutely unfair to insinuate that that station has been unfair or unjust to any particular party. One of the small stations in Quebec is the property of Mr. Vandry, a well known Liberal, while the other is owned by a company. There happened to be some Conservatives acting as directors of this company, but I do not think that that would be sufficient to prove that the company was unfair. My hon. friend saw fit to overlook Mr. Vandry's station and broadcast over CHRC. That is his business.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I did not refer to any

of these stations. My hon. friend is addressing me but I did not say a word about these stations.

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CON

Onésime Gagnon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GAGNON:

I hope my hon. friend

will not be offended if I refer to his conduct. L'heure Provinciate is not a Conservative matter. It was organized by the provincial government, which has decided to use CHRC. That is further evidence that CHRC does not play politics; although the directors are Conservatives they have the patronage of the provincial government. The hon. member for Montmagny put a question on the order paper in connection with the directors of this company. He is a very distinguished lawyer and he knows that he could obtain this information from the provincial secretary, whose duty it is to disclose the names of directors of any provincial company. CHRC is carrying on under a provincial charter. The hon. member for Montmagny may have cause to complain about CHRC but he should not complain in this house or insinuate that the Minister of Marine has been unfair. That is not the case. CHRC is a provincially owned station and if for one reason or another-perhaps for unjust * reasons-the hon. member was not treated courteously, why did he not use the station of Mr. Vandry? The latter would have been much pleased to broadcast my hon. friend's speech. I think it is absolutely unfair to insinuate that station CHRC in Quebec city has been playing politics. If the hon. member for Montmagny has not been treated courteously by CHRC, this government cannot be

IMr. Gagnon.]

blamed. It is only the directors of that station that could be blamed. When the hon. member for Montmagny insinuates that the vice-chairman of the radio commission was connected with that station, I think he was unfair. He knows very well that when taking his oath of office the vice-chairman swore he had no interest in any station, and he has no interest in any to-day.

Mr. LaVERGNE : Mr. Chairman, I had no intention of treading on the corns of the hon. member for Dorchester; I am exceedingly sorry if he thinks I have done so, because I did not want to arouse his ire. However, I thank him personally although I do not know whether he has done such a good service for the Minister of Marine. I do not know whether the hon. member for Dorchester was speaking for the government, but he forces me to again get up to say a few words. My quarrel with station CHRC was settled absolutely and I was satisfied with the explanations given by the Minister of Marine. I understand he was not to blame and I have no quarrel with him. However, I thought that I should put this matter before the committee as in my opinion the situation created was absolutely unfair. In saying that I do not refer to my own personal feeling. When the hon. member for Dorchester has been in parliament as long as I have he will know that it is more of a pleasure than a sorrow to put speeches on the shelf. Apparently the hon. member is acting as an advocate for station CHRC and I must tell him that he seems to be better informed about that station than the minister. He accuses me of having attacked the vice-president of the commission, but I did not do anything of the kind. The hon. member for Quebec East asked me if he was an owner of that station before his appointment and I simply answered "yes". Whether or not he is now an owner, I do not know, but I suppose he is not.

I may say to the hon. member for Dorchester that in this affair station CHRC acted without courtesy, without honesty and without courage. For two months they gave me dilatory answers. They were going to be paid and paid with the money of good friends of the hon. member for Dorchester. These people were anxious to have the speech which had been given in Montmagny broadcast in Quebec, and they were willing to pay the station. The action of this station constituted a slur either on the Conservative party or on myself. If it was only on myself, I am none the worse off; I can stand these things, but I think they have acted most unfairly. This is a public utility, to serve the public, and if

Radio Broadcasting Act

no one had been concerned but myself I would not have mentioned the matter. They have been granted a franchise and 1 claim that they are there to serve the public.

If they have a right to refuse to serve the public then it is time the law was changed. They are not there to gratify their affections or their hatreds. They are there to put that station to the service of the public of Canada, that and nothing else, and if the law does not give the commission those powers, the law should be amended. If the law does give the commission those powers, that station should be reprimanded immediately because certainly we should be missing the aim in nationalizing radio if we allowed it to become a tool in the hands of those with influence or money enough to buy or rent a station. I do not care how many stations there are, and I do not care whether it is Liberals or Conservatives or Tories or Grits or anybody else that runs them; that is a matter of indifference to me, but I say that the people of this country have a right to the radio when they wish to hear it, and nobody can make me believe that station CHRC did not have half an hour to give to the hon. member for Montmagny, especially when people have told me that they received permission to broadcast for a whole hour the next day on only one day's notice. I have no hatred or love for that particular station; I am quite indifferent; I do not know who owns it, but I want to know who owns it if it is going to continue to be operated in that way. I want to know who got the licence and through what influence, and I want to see that they do not get a licence next year if they do not act differently.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

If I may presume,

Mr. Chairman, to talk a second time before the ninth hour is up on a subject I do not know a great deal about, I should like to take just five or ten minutes more-and do no.t be too harsh, Mr. Chairman, on my homely illustrations because that is the way I talk.

While I do not know much about radio I should know a lot, without presumption, about Tory-o, and that is what I am talking about, if I may; and I think the chairman is going ,to let me. I should like to give another illustration of what can be done by a government that wants to do it, and apparently this is that kind of government. I want to point out how easy it is for the government to do it, and I am going to tell the Minister that I had it worked on me once 53719-310

not by means of the radio but by monopolizing the press for advertising purposes. I will tell that story first.

When I ran a federal election campaign against a Progressive candidate for the first time in 1919 in Assiniboia in southern Saskatchewan, I found w'hen I got into the constituency that every square inch of advertising space had been taken up in advance right through the election by my enterprising friends then called the Progressives. Imagine the helplessness of one going into a contest like that! Now if our innocent friends the Progressives will do that towards a brother farmer opponent, what won't the less innocent gentlemen now occupying the treasury benches do towards an opponent by means of the radio? The hon. member for Dorchester has talked about engaging a period of time on the air over a certain radio line or wave or whatever is the technical term, but we might find that the Liberals could not get on the air for six months to come. This government will know when an election is coming on six or four or two months before the writs are issued, and .they can have every wave and everything else that goes with it engaged right through the election.

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CON

George Spotton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPOTTON:

They will have a wave of public opinion.

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LIB

William Richard Motherwell

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

Yes, over the left.

I know what my friends the Progressives worked on me in Assiniboia. I am not unduly suspicious when I suggest that the government might engage the radio in advance right through the election. A man would be worse than a fool who, having been burnt once, did not fight shy of fire a second time. So I say that I am not unduly suspicious. I am taking things as I find them and as 7 have found them for a half century, and they have not changed very much for the better during the last two or three years.

Here is something I cannot get over. I do not want to be too much at loggerheads with the Prime Minister, but he interjected a little time ago that what I was saying was nonsense. Well, let us see if what he was saying was not nonsense and actual bunk, and it is my business to debunk the right hon. gentleman. This radio commission had its foundations laid on party appointments. This commission is admittedly Conservative, and I am not finding fault with that as such. But good as it may be, and I know nothing about the gentlemen composing it, although I hear the chairman well spoken of-I understand that for a long number of years he was editor of Toronto Saturday Night, which I read occasionally because I rather like to

Radio Broadcasting Act

read it and find out what my opponents are saying. The foundations of the commission, then are admittedly Conservative and political; and how can you conceive that anything with a strictly Conservative foundation will be anything but Conservative? In other words, how can the superstructure be anything but political when the foundation is absolutely political? Is there a cackle over there? Did my hon. friends never hear about the principle of like begetting like? If the root be bad, what will the branches be? Unless something better is grafted on to the old root, the branches will be the same as the root; so I say that what the Prime Minister said about our criticisms was not only nonsense but it was absolutely asinine, the biggest bunk that I ever heard-to say that the foundation could be one thing and the superstructure something else absolutely opposite-neutral, non-political, with a Tory foundation. In saying that I do not want to be supercritical about the gentleman who occupies the position of chairman. The government has chosen that course, and it must not now pretend to be astonished because we expect the superstructure to be no better than the foundation. I think my conclusions are sound. I have not heard anybody get up since I spoke before and try to show that my other illustrations were not also sound. I invite anybody now to say how any government that wants to do it can be prevented from tying up the radio service in the way I have described, and just mark if it is not done.

It is only quite recently, Mr. Chairman, that the Conservative party in Canada has been noted to be friendly towards the nationalization of any utility. Everybody knows that the Canadian National was taken on by the government of that day because they did not know what else to do with it. Everybody knows that the present national radio system was taken over by this government because it was left in their lap by the preceding government. A commission had been appointed by the Liberal government to inquire into radio, headed by Sir John Aird, and the commission made a unanimous report prior to the retirement of the former government. Public sentiment was so strongly behind that report that when this government came into office it could not do otherwise than carry out the recommendations of the commission. The government made the most of it and accepted that report, and put its recommendations into operation with a magnificent speech on the general subject of nationalized air sendee by the right hon.

the Prime Minister. They did not like it particularly, because they are really only the foster parents. That is all they can claim to be of any of these great national utilities. Then why not turn the radio service to some further useful account, so that it could be used during an election? That is what they are going to do, do not make any mistake about it. They have not been slow in making use of other things, as I have ahead}"- described. The leopard, as a rule, does not change his spots, or the Ethiopian his skin, just over night. I promised to take only five minutes- six minutes, possibly-and that time has now expired. I do not believe I shall speak longer, Mr. Chairman.

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Section agreed to. On section 3-Expenditure of moneys.


UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

Before the section carries I should like to say that I had not the privilege of being in the house during the whole discussion of this bill. I did hear part of the Prime Minister's speech and it was because of what he said that I voted for the second reading of the bill. After what the Prime Minister said I thought the bill should have second reading and be allowed to go before committee of the whole so we could find out what need there might be for section 1 of the bill. It seemed to me that the Prime Minister made a very good case, and that while we could not question him on the second reading of the bill we could do so in committee. If the broadcasting commission in Canada is to carry on properly it seems to me that at least some of the sections in the bill are necessary.

In my opinion the present unsatisfactory conditions in connection with our national radio are due largely to the personnel of the commission, and I make that statement with a great deal of regret. I do not object to the government appointing men on commissions who may have been Conservatives in the past. Of course, when picking men, they should not pick those who have been preeminently Conservative, or have taken an active part in political life. It is important that the men chosen for these positions should be chosen because of their qualifications for the job. Our Civil Service Commission does not bear the reputation it should because we have never been careful enough in choosing the commissioners. It may be that the government was careful in choosing the radio commissioners, but I do not think the personnel of the commission is what i't should be.

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490V

If half the reports I hear are true, I believe they are going too far in their censorship. Since the house adjourned at six o'clock, I have been told that certain people cannot have the use of the radio dn Canada unless they first submit their manuscripts to the chairman of the commission, or some official of the commission, so that the commissioners may know exactly what is going to be said before the program is broadcast. That is going much too far. I do not believe the nationalization of radio twill ever become popular if that practice is followed.

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CON

Alfred Duranleau (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of Marine)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DURANLEAU:

Would (the hon. member allow a question? In what instance was that done?

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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

All I said was that since

the house adjourned at six o'clock I was told that that happened in one case. I cannot give the particulars.

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May 11, 1933