February 25, 1944

NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Mr. Speaker, may I add, with the consent of the house, one word to what I have already said because of the Prime Minister's reply? Under the terms of reference as incorporated in this motion it is open to any hon. member to discuss each of the substantive matters referred to, that is to say, the report of the corporation; to review the policies and aims of the corporation; its regulations, revenues-and under that I suggest I could discuss soap-expenditures and development, and so on. Surely it cannot be held under the Prime Minister's suggestion that we cannot discuss those matters. If so, we might as well fold up again. The mere setting up of the committee does not confer any opportunity for discussion that is worth while for the country. What we want to discuss are the terms of reference and the subject matters to which they refer.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

Mr. Speaker, may I suggest that confusion has arisen in the minds of some hon. members, particularly the hon. member for Macleod, who said that if we are to confine our remarks to the setting up of the committee some dire result-I did not catch just what it was-would follow. He seemed to think we ought not to confine our remarks to the question whether or not we should set up a committee, and I apprehend that the hon. member for Lake Centre is oursting with a magnificent speech on the problems to come before the committee. But is not this the point? This house could take unto itself by an appropriate resolution the consideration of the annual report and a review of the policies and aims and regulations of the corporation, and so on and so on, or it could follow the established procedure and refer these problems to a committee. I find on that committee the hon. member for Lake Centre, the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson)-

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

No, I am not on it.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

Pardon me. That is my

colleague who represents the distinguished constituency of Skeena.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

A good

name, you know, but-

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

It is. I can understand the urge in the minds of many hon. members to discuss this matter, and at the appropriate time I want to discuss it as well. But after all we are facing to-day, with reference to the problems involved in this resolution, the simple question, shall we have a committee set up? What for? To hear witnesses, receive evidence, delve into the facte regarding the

Radio Broadcasting Committee

matters which will ultimately be dealt with? Or shall we do all that in the House of Commons? Now, surely it was never intended under our rules that you should turn a resolution on the question of a committee or no committee to consider a given project like this, into a matter for a round debate on all the problems on which the committee itself will have to take evidence and ultimately report back to the house.

I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that your ruling should be that hon. members confine themselves to the question whether the personnel of the committee is or is not satisfactory. I understand, although I do not know definitely, that it has been usually chosen after conference with the whips; that gentlemen who have special knowledge of the subject are placed on the committees. Or are we to have a debate here and now for a day or more or less on the very problems as to which the committee is appointed to take evidence? You do not ask juries to bring in their verdicts before they have heard the evidence. I suggest to hon. members that if they stifle their appetite to talk, as the hon. member for York-East (Mr. McGregor) described it the other night-I do not agree with him-

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

The minister did.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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LIB

Arthur Graeme Slaght

Liberal

Mr. SLAGHT:

-we shall have an opportunity of rendering a considered judgment after they get all the facts which the committee will seek to obtain during its operations. You can multiply debate in this house; you can discuss it now and discuss it all over again in committee and again on the report. May I point out that any hon. member has a right to move concurrence in a report. In this case the complaining members have never so moved; any of the hon. members who have spoken could have placed upon the order paper a resolution asking a review of the policies of the corporation, and so could have got a debate on them. This has not been done. I suggest the rule is plain, the situation is clear, and we should not delay the many important war measures to come before this house by an auxiliary or preliminary and supplementary debate, when the evidence and the facts can all be investigated in the committee and the matter debated at the proper time.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Let us come back to fundamentals. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation committee will be composed of twenty-three members. The membership of the house is 245. Is it right to say that 222 members will be prevented from expressing their views on the motion to appoint this committee in

order that the committee may have the advantage of the wisdom of the 221 members?- excluding myself; that is why I say 221 instead of 222. But I have listened carefully to what has been said. It is true that we have important war problems to discuss, but public information is one of them, and if hon. members are precluded from expressing their views at the time of an appointment of a committee which is to supervise the work of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, there is no use in' members of parliament expressing their opinions in these matters. Naturally, the report of the committee may be discussed in this chamber when it is brought up. But when is that? As a rule it is at the last stage of the session, when everything is railroaded, when hon. members are told that it is time to go home, that it is very warm in Ottawa, that everybody is sick of the session and has had enough of it. Besides that, sir, what is the use of appointing the committee without discussion when the committee's report, naturally,

[DOT]-for it cannot be done otherwise-is not discussed until after it is brought before the house?

Besides this, sir, I am a traditionalist. From time immemorial when hon. members had anything to say about the appointment of a committee they had the right to say it, and unless the rules of the house are changed I do not see how such a practice could be changed.

I ask you, sir, kindly to weigh the pro and con in your wisdom, upon which we rely, in order that the best national use shall be made of the C.B.C. No one will deny the importance of that organization to keep the home front well informed and in good spirit. For all these considerations, sir, I hope you will give a ruling which will be in accordance with the jurisprudence that you have established during your occupancy of the Chair.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

Speaking to the point of order raised by the Prime Minister, I should like to refer for a moment to Hansard of 1943, pages 931-937. At that time there was before the house a similar motion, one for the setting up of a select committee to examine and report on a plan relating to social security. The Prime Minister, who moved the motion, made a speech covering six pages dealing with the speech from the throne, which we had already debated; the war effort, dominion-provincial relations, the Atlantic charter, and quite a number of other matters. I felt at the time that they did pertain to the matter of setting up a committee on social security, and did not, nor did anyone else, raise a point of order, feeling that he was perfectly in order in debating the whole subject of social security at that time. There followed a debate which

Radio Broadcasting Committee

lasted two or three days, because of the precedent set by the Prime Minister, and I feel

that the precedent he set at that time is one that we should be right in following to-daj-.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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LIB

Thomas Vien (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I could wish that I had

more time for deliberation on a point, which is so important, which has been raised as tc the procedure of the house. It has been the practice in the past in the setting-up of these committees that a debate ensue, in some cases with wide latitude; in others, more restricted I find in May, 13th edition, page 307, that:

On a motion for the appointment of a select committee or for determining the number of its members, the merits of the matter referred to the committee have not been allowed, to be debated. [DOT]

In the motion before the house both the appointment of the committee and the order of reference are included. The terms of that motion almost invite discussion:

That a select committee be appointed on radio broadcasting to consider the annual report of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and to review' the policies and aims of the corporation and its regulations, revenues, expenditures and development, with power to examine and inquire into the matters and things herein referred to and to report from time to time their observations and opinions thereon, and to send for persons, papers and records. . . .

As I say, the terms of the motion almost invite discussion, but I do not think it would be well for the discussion to take the latitude that has been allowed in the past, in similar proceedings, especially if a report, the property of the house, tabled in a previous session, should now be made the subject of discussion. I may feel disposed later on, after further consideration, to reconsider the view I am now stating, but at the moment my inclination is to allow hon. members freedom to discuss the motion, for the purpose not of dealing with matters that belong to the past, arising out of the report of the committee of last year, but of considering exclusively the aims and objects of the committee now to be set up. I realize, of course, how difficult it will be for hon. members to make the distinction between what is actually past and what pertains to the moment; nevertheless I hope that hon. members will confine their remarks as precisely, as simply and as briefly as possible, to the purposes of the motion, which is to set up the committee. The hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) intimated that he was referring to the recommendations of the report of last year in order to lay the foundation for a discussion of the aims and objects of the committee that is to be formed, and on that ground I would rule that he may proceed.

[Mr. Knowles.1

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

The point I was

endeavouring to make, Mr. Speaker, is that there are certain salient principles which we all accept, irrespective of party in this house, in connection with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. One of these is the coordination of all broadcasting in Canada through the vesting of exclusive control in a nationally-owned system, and the independence of the corporation from partisan control, to be ensured by its constitution. We Hrge that the independence and flexibility of the national broadcasting authority be thus established.

I wish now to refer to these cardinal principles, to apply them to the situation as it exists to-day, and to ask whether or not the policies and aims and regulations of the corporation, to use the words of the motion, have actually been carried into effect.

First, the general manager, according to the by-laws of the corporation, is the chief executive officer, and is responsible for the carrying out of the provisions of the Canadian Broadcasting Act. For a long time this important corporation, which can contribute so much to the war effort of the nation, has had no general .manager, no executive head. In recent months, owing to failure on the part of the government to appoint a general manager and administrative head, chaos has resulted. One of the greatest dangers facing this corporation is the possibility that it may become a political football. Many are apprehensive that because of the lack of directive in the last few months, their fears regarding the corporation may be justified.

In my opinion the present board of governors as such has lost the confidence of the people. On that board there are men of ability, and I compliment the government on its recent appointments giving representation to labour and agriculture. But in order that the confidence of the people in the corporation and. in its members may be restored, all the members of the board of governors should put their resignations in the hands of the government, and the government should reappoint- such of them as it believes will carry out the great principles of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as enunciated in the reports of the committees of the house in successive years. To do otherwise at this time is to endanger the future of the corporation.

When I look at the situation that has obtained during recent months, I ask myself this question: Why has not the government acted? , President Thomson of the university of Saskatchewan has long since returned to the university. Months have passed by and

Radio Broadcasting Committee

the corporation moves without direction, without the controlling influence of a man of the calibre necessary to fill the position of chairman of the board.

I know that members in all parts of the house will demand, as they have a right to do, that this corporation shall not be permitted to become a political instrument; nor must it be permitted to get into such a position that anyone can suspect such a thing as possible. That is why it is so necessary at this time, in the midst of war, when there is no greater institution than the radio for mobilizing public opinion, that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation should have directive leadership.

Radio is one of the great instruments for the mobilization of a nation; it can do'more than any other to arouse public opinion. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and other ministers often speak, and the influence of their addresses is immeasurably enhanced by the dissemination afforded by the facilities of the corporation and of private companies affiliated therewith.

A national radio system must be available to all political parties. It must not be subject in any way to governmental control in that regard. If it is, then the sources of educated public opinion are destroyed. This corporation can carry out its great responsibilities and duties only if it commands the confidence of the people, only if it is free, untrammelled and devoid of any influence exercised by the government either directly or indirectly.

I have referred to the appointment of a representative of agriculture and one of labour. The leader of the opposition, over a period of years, has advocated representation for these two great bodies, and I suggest now for the consideration of the committee, seeing that the radio and the press are complementary, that one of the appointments to be made to the board of governors should be a representative of the press of Canada. I have advocated in the past that there should be a representative of the Canadian Daily Newspapers Association on the board of governors of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Because the press of Canada works so generously in cooperation with the broadcasting corporation, and because the activities of the-corporation should be correlated to bring them in line with the activities of the press, I believe such a step should be taken.

The appointment without further delay, of a general manager and a strong board of governors would restore confidence in the corporation, and the independence of this great instrument as a benefit to the Canadian people would be safeguarded.

I come now to my second point. I believe in the necessity of a government-owned national corporation. I do not need to go into the arguments in support of that. I do not believe in monopoly. The private stations, whose contribution to public and civic service is beyond praise, have also a necessary place in our set-up. When you think of the privately-owned radio stations in this country you think of community effort. In the Prime Minister's constituency of Prince Albert there is a privately-owned radio station, one that has done much, as have all the others across the country, in behalf-of the community and the welfare of the people as a whole. It has made an important contribution to the victory loan campaigns, and to charitable and patriotic drives. The private radio stations give their facilities to the broadcasting corporation for the benefit of the tastes of their own listeners. They represent the epitome of unselfish public and civic service in whatever towns and districts they happen to be located. To-day the position is that all the private radio stations are under the control of the broadcasting corporation.

May I refer to sections 21 and 22 of the Canadian Broadcasting Act in order to place before the house the power that the broadcasting corporation has over the private broadcasting companies in Canada:

21. No private station shall operate in Canada as a part of a chain or network of stations except with the permission of, and in accordance with the regulations made by, the corporation.

22. (1) The corporation may make regulations:

(a) to control the establishment and operation of chains or networks of stations in Canada;

(b) to prescribe the periods to be reserved periodically by any private station for the broadcasting of programmes of the corporation;

(c) to control the character of any and all programmes broadcast by corporation or private stations;

(d) to determine the proportion of time f which may be devoted to advertising in any ' programmes broadcast by the stations of the

corporation or by private stations, and to control the character of such advertising.

(6) In ease of any violation or non-observance by a private station of the regulations made by the corporation under this section, the corporation may order that the licence of such private station be suspended for a period not exceeding three months and any such order shall be forwarded to the minister who shall forthwith communicate the same to the licensee of the station and shall take such steps as may be necessary to carry out the terms of such order.

These provisions may have been fitting and proper when the Act was passed, having regard to the conditions then, in existence, but tre-

Radio Broadcasting Committee

mendous changes have since taken place. The broadcasting corporation has become strongly commercial in its offerings over the radio. There has been a pronounced change in that regard. It was originally intended that advertising should not bring in more than $500,000 a year. In 1940 the commercial revenue of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was $700,000; in 1941, it was $895,000; in 1942 it was $1,019,000; in 1943, $1,204,000. No doubt an equal or a greater amount will be taken from advertising during the current year.

In the interests of all I believe the time has come when some limitation should be placed on the extent of commercial advertising over the facilities of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Altogether too much time is being devoted to the sloppy sentimentality that often characterizes some of the radio advertising. These and other things will not be controlled under the law as it now stands; because the corporation now makes the decisions that affect not only itself but the rights of the private stations. I therefore suggest that the committee should study the question with a view to preventing monopoly, with a view to protecting the rights of all parties, public and private, and in particular the rights and powers of private stations in relation to the public corporation. An independent body should be set up, a body similar in legal standing to the board of transport commissioners, or, as my hon. friend from York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson) suggests, similar to the radio commission in the United States.

The situation to-day is peculiar. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is more and more becoming a commercial corporation, its board of governors enjoying almost monopolistic control over its competitors. The private stations, in competition with the broadcasting corporation, are subject to the provisions I have already mentioned. Where the private stations bring their objections to the corporation to be adjudicated they find that they are bringing them to a competitor. In other words the radio corporation exercises of itself a semi-judicial function. In determining the rights as between private and public corporation, the broadcasting corporation is in the position of being both litigant and judge, both investigator and jury. It is in the position of being, as someone has said, a cop and a competitor. Therefore I suggest that in order to restore confidence it is absolutely necessary that a body such as I have advocated be established.

I come now to the question of censorship. I should like the minister to explain one thing. To what extent is there censorship? To what extent is it applicable to the com-

mentators who use the facilities of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and are in receipt of payment from the corporation for the services they render? I find considerable interest in this matter. Do those who speak as commentators submit verbatim statements of what they intend to say before they use the national facilities? Are they in any different position from political speakers, if you like, representatives of the different parties who utilize the facilities of the corporation from time to time? Must they submit manuscripts? On February 20 an outstanding commentator from Vancouver, Mr. Elmore Philpott, in a broadcast dealt with the case of the former commander in chief of the Canadian Army, Lieutenant-General McNaughton. He made certain suggestions and certain statements. I have not before me the verbatim report of what he said, and in my summary I do not wish to be unfair, but it left the impression with those who heard it that he was stating that Canada had been fighting two wars, not only one with the enemy, but another with the war office over the question of the right of the Canadian Army to operate as a unit. After the government had said it was not in the public interest to discuss the matter, parliamentary leaders refrained from doing so. Yet, after that agreement, based upon the question of public safety, this commentator over the facilities of the corporation was able to discuss matters which by reason of public interest were not considered a proper subject of discussion.

I should like the minister to explain this: Was this broadcast made with the approval of the broadcasting corporation? Was it submitted to any representative of the board? Was it subject to censorship? If it was subject to censorship, by whom was the manuscript censored, and when? These are questions which I believe must be answered by the minister on behalf of the government.

There are various other matters with which I could deal, but they can be discussed later. To sum up, I say that we, all of us, must rebuild the highest confidence in the corporation, first, by the appointment of a board of governors having the confidence of the people of Canada, with representatives as at present of agriculture, labour, the press, and others; second, by thje appointment now of a general manager; third, by the setting up of a semijudicial body to adjudicate upon the claims of the corporation and those of the private operators, and, finally, by giving the people knowledge of the basis upon which broadcasts are made and the degree of censorship applied thereto.

Radio Broadcasting Committee

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, the appointment of this committee affords one the opportunity to review, not the matters discussed by earlier committees, but those which should be considered by the committee about to be set up. For a number of years, the house has annually reiterated certain fundamental principles in relation to our broadcasting system. We have endorsed the paramount necessity of setting up a single authority which will control broadcasting in the public interest. Every year we have supported the public ownership of all high-powered stations, to be operated under that single national authority. We have endorsed also the principle that the local or community stations fulfil a useful function and serve a useful purpose in the Canadian broadcasting picture. We have approved the coordination of broadcasting in Canada through the exclusive control being vested in the nationally owned system. Control of what? Of the character of all the programmes, political or otherwise, broadcast by all stations, and of their advertising content. We have approved the national control of all wire networks used to carry broadcast programmes.

Year after year, ever since the establishment of the corporation, the house has endorsed these principles. Undoubtedly in the country to-day there is a powerful attempt to upset the very basis of the act which established* the corporation, indeed to destroy that corporation itself, a national organization which laboriously this parliament has built up. Sometimes I fear that even hon. members, perhaps unconsciously, lend themselves, to that kind of propaganda. In recent days we have heard accusations in the house that certain people in the corporation favour, we will sa3r, the C.C.F.-

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

On the other hand the C.C.F. believes that, as a matter of fact, we have been discriminated against-

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

-in the dissemination of news. Now, just a moment. The other day certain specific statements were made -in the house. The hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Hansell) rose in his place and made the statement, for example, that in the night bulletin of February 4 undue prominence was given the leader of the C.C.F. over the leader of the opposition (Mr. Graydon). So, as was my right, I sent for the script, and I am 100-50

going to place it on record. This is a copy of the official script from the broadcasting corporation.

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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Did the hon. member hear the broadcast?

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I did not hear the broadcast, but I got the official script from the broadcasting corporation.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

That might not be proof.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER ANNUAL REPORT AND REVIEW POLICIES OF CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
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February 25, 1944