January 16, 1939

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Then if my hon. friend knew, he evidently forgot some things. The committee reported, and its report was accepted unanimously by this house. One feature was approval of the policies of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, because it was into those very matters that the committee was obliged to look. As I said this

54 - COMMONS

The Address-Mr. Mackenzie King

afternoon, in order to remove the possibility of any control on the part of the government over radio broadcasting in this country, this parliament passed an act establishing the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. There was appointed to govern the affairs of that corporation a board of nine governors. These members were selected from different parts of Canada, covering pretty much the entire dominion. Every member of the board of. governors is recognized as a person well qualified to hold such a position. And the board of governors was given power to lay down regulations with respect to radio broadcasting. The board has laid down certain regulations, not within the last twenty-four hours, or the last two months, but regulations that have been in force for the last year or two. Among these regulations is one to the effect that the national network cannot be bought up by any individual or any corporation except under certain conditions for the purpose of giving his or its views to the nation at large over the national network.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

What about George Drew?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Did he have the national broadcasting network?

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

He had a broadcast across Ontario, and George McCullagh could not get that.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

This was an application for the entire national network.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I appreciate that, but later he tried for less and could not get anything.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Well, I think he succeeded in getting something, because my hon. friend heard him. But may I point out, as far as the application is concerned, that it was not rejected because it came from one individual; it was rejected because the rules and regulations of the broadcasting corporation which set forth the conditions under which the use of the entire network may be acquired by any person apparently did not permit of the application being granted. The point, as I understand it, is this, that the governors of the corporation have provided that there shall be round table conferences, debates, a forum, where there shall be opportunities given from time to time for discussion of different questions of importance, and that subject to the existing rules and regulations facilities will be provided alike to all parties who take part in these discussions when they wish to put forward particular views. I understand that the publisher in question made application and was told by the corporation that he might appear in connection with any

of these opportunities which are given to all persons alike, and make his statement there. But the rule of the corporation, as I understand, is-

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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

If the right hon. gentleman will permit me, he was told that he could make his statement on the forum, but he would be given his subject.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Well, the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Massey) seems to know more about the details than I do. However the letter explaining the situation, written by the manager of the broadcasting corporation, will make perfectly clear what the reason was. This afternoon I placed that communication on the table and the house having given its consent, it will appear in Hansard to-morrow. I should be very much surprised if in any particular there has been an exception made to any rule, either by way of refusing such an application or by way of granting a special privilege to others. If any such thing has occurred of course the manager and governor will quite properly be liable to be taken to task for it. But may I again draw the attention of hon. members to the fact that all members of this house had full opportunity last year to consider or take exception to the policies of the radio broadcasting corporation. Having done this, I wish now to read one or two paragraphs from the report of the radio broadcasting committee which was submitted to this house and carried unanimously, which report approved the very policies designed to see that radio broadcasting, as carried on by this corporation, should be so conducted that there would be equal opportunity for all concerned, regardless of their particular circumstances one way or the other. I quote now from page 194 of-the proceedings of the committee on radio broadcasting, under date of May 20, 1938:

Your committee held seven meetings and had as principal witnesses the chairman and vicechairman of the board of governors and the general manager. During seven sittings an exhaustive examination was conducted. All information required by the committee to carry out its terms of reference was supplied, confidential information not susceptible of publication in the public interest being made available privately. The committee was impressed by the ability and frankness of the principal witnesses.

The bulk of the evidence concerned the program. technical and financial policies of the corporation. Your committee is of the opinion that these policies are well designed to carry out the purpose for which the corporation was created. Your committee is also of the opinion that the policies of the corporation are being executed in a businesslike fashion.

The Address-Mr. Mackenzie King

And further:

Your committee believes that the constitution of the corporation, ensuring a proper division between policy and management and a degree of flexibility and independence essential to the medium of broadcasting, together with ultimate parliamentary control, is well suited to the purpose for which it was created. Public service broadcasting in Canada must necessarily continue to be free from partisan control, and your committee is gratified to report that the activities of the CBC have been free from any nature of partisanship whatsoever. Your committee also wished to pay its tribute to the governors of the corporation for their vision, public spirit and efficient conduct of the trust imposed upon them by parliament.

That was after an examination of the corporation's policies, and I think I am right when I say that the regulations referred to by the manager of the broadcasting corporation, which govern in the matter, were in existence at the time this report was made. I think the hon. member for Greenwood, who interrupted me a moment ago, was a member of one of the committees of this house which investigated radio broadcasting.

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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

The first committee.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

And I believe those regulations were in existence at that time.

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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

I hesitate to interrupt the right hon. gentleman, but it is the interpretation of the regulations which is causing the difficulty at the present time. I do not wish to attempt to make a speech at the moment; I expect to speak on this matter later on; but if the Prime Minister will permit me, he will recall that at the time the committee sat two members of the committee withdrew because they were not permitted to call witnesses to go into just such a matter as has arisen at the present time.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

May I say

that as far as the government is concerned we would welcome the appointment of a committee again this year, and every opportunity will be given hon. gentlemen opposite to name their members of that committee. Opportunity will be given the committee to call the general manager, the governors and any others connected with the corporation, and they may go very fully into all the rules and regulations that have been drawn up.

What I want to point out, Mr. Speaker, is that as far as radio broadcasting in Canada is concerned, when this parliament has put the whole business into the hands of a broadcasting corporation it seems to me that we as members of this house in our public capacity ought to be prepared to support the corporation in seeking to make rules which will

cause radio broadcasting throughout this country to show favours to none but equal privileges and opportunities to all. I believe it was in that spirit that the regulations at present in existence were laid down.

I hope I am making it clear that as far as censorship is concerned this government has no desire whatever to effect any censorship with respect to anything excepting what may be distinctly contrary to the public interest; but that so far as the broadcasting corporation is concerned such censorship as is exercised there is not the censorship of the government but of the corporation which parliament itself has established and to which has been given certain rights and powers.

Now I come to the question of the trade treaties, and here first of all, may I remind the house of the sequence of events, because it is only in the light of such that one can properly appreciate the significance and effects of any government policy. May I recall that from the time of confederation until the late administration went out of office there had been repeated efforts-not excluding those of the last administration- to bring about a reciprocal trade agreement with the United States, an agreement which, as between our two countries, would have mutuality of benefit and which would be reciprocally helpful. Every effort towards that end failed until the present administration came into office after the general election of 1935. The first task undertaken by this administration was that of bringing about an agreement with the United States if such was at all possible. We succeeded in getting that agreement, which was approved by this parliament and was to remain in force for three years, to continue thereafter subject to cancellation on six months notice. We have had three years of experience with that agreement, and I ask hon. members of this house: Are there those here who think this country would have been better off if an agreement had never been effected?

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

We certainly

would.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I hear very

little in the way of rejection. I am certain the people of Canada generally whole-heartedly approve that agreement. They know there is not a single part of this country that has not benefited under the provisions of that trade agreement during the last few years. At the time this agreement was negotiated there had to be certain concessions on our part which affected certain interests here and there. Equally there had to be concessions on the part of the United States which

The Address-Mr. Mackenzie King

affected interests in that country. But so far as Canada is concerned, during the last three years the benefits of that agreement have been so apparent that the country has altogether forgotten the concessions that had to be made here and there in order to bring the agreement into effect.

We know that the increased trade resulting from the agreement has helped materially in keeping conditions better than they could possibly otherwise have been. A great deal has been said to-day about there still being numbers of unemployed. I wonder what the present position would have been if it had not been for some of the measures that have been brought in by this government. We would have had not the mere question of the numbers unemployed to-day; we would have had unemployment to four, five or perhaps ten times the extent it exists at the present time, with what consequences. having regard to world conditions no one can say.

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LIB

James Houston Spence

Liberal

Mr. SPENCE:

Better explain.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Better explain? The improved condition has been due to the fact that under these trade agreements we have had wider markets for our primary products. These wider markets secured to those engaged in the primary industries of Canada have brought to this country a quantity of purchasing power which has gone towards the purchase of manufactured and other goods; a purchasing power which but for those agreements would not have existed. That purchasing power has helped to give employment to men in industry, in agriculture and in all the branches of our economic activity.

We came to the point where we had to consider where we would be when the three years were up. When the 1935 agreement was negotiated it was to a certain extent an experiment. The United States was then within a short space of a presidential election. There were concessions which at the time that country was hesitant about making, until they saw how the agreement was likely to work out. We were in the same position in regard to some things we should have liked to have done. At the time it was distinctly understood that the three years would be a testing period and that if after a trial the agreement proved to be mutually beneficial an effort would be made anew to extend and expand its provisions. Not only would the effort be made to extend and expand the provisions but to secure them for a further period of time. I want hon. members to keep that factor in mind.

When this government began its negotiations to have the agreement enlarged and extended

it was facing the possibility of the then existing agreement ending at the expiration of the three year period, if we should not be able to secure the goodwill of our neighbours to the south, as we had before, when we began to negotiate. We began early, knowing how difficult these negotiations are, and how many considerations there are of which account has to be taken. We found that the governments of Great Britain and the United States were considering the making of a trade agreement between those two countries. When some of us were present at the imperial conference in England it was made quite clear to us that an agreement between the United States and Great Britain in matters of trade not only would be beneficial to those two countries but might help to point the way to a method of dealing with international affairs better than that which was existing in some other parts of the world.

May I say at once to my hon. friend that when we discuss trade matters we are almost certain to differ diametrically because we view matters in an entirely different light. I believe the way to help to improve economic conditions, employment and the like is to encourage trade and to obtain as much in the way of trade as we possibly can. My hon. friend opposite believes in the policy of economic nationalism.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Nothing of the sort.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Oh, yes.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Nothing of the sort.

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January 16, 1939