March 18, 1953

PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Is the minister in a position to relieve my mind further by telling me now that a licence will be considered for Victoria?

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

James Joseph McCann (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. McCann:

One relief at a time is sufficient, I think.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. J. W. Noseworthy (York South):

Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the setting up of this committee. I want to express my approval of the government's decision to abolish the radio licence fee, and also my approval of the decision that there will be no licence fee charged for television. I think the government is to be congratulated for setting aside a stable annual revenue for the use of the C.B.C. While I do not support the excise tax, yet if we are to have an excise tax then I think the government, in making a portion of it available for the support of the C.B.C., is following a wise course.

I am certainly in favour of the public control of radio and television. Unlike the hon. member for Lethbridge (Mr. Blackmore), I do not believe for one moment that there

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Special Committee on Broadcasting are hidden hands guided by evil forces now directing the C.B.C. I hope the hon. member will devote a forty minute period in the house to telling us just what are these evil forces and evil hands.

I must admit that his challenge that I take a six weeks' course is rather intriguing, but if the result of my taking such a course were the same as the result of listening to the hon. member in the house for what must amount to a total of close to six weeks, I am afraid I would not gain much by it. I doubt if any member of the bouse who has listened to the hon. member over the years for a time that would approximate six weeks is any better informed now about what the hon. member is talking about than he was when the hon. member made his first speech.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Did they want to learn?

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Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. Noseworthy:

I am not a believer in the statement that the officials of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation live in an ivory tower while the Canadian Association of Broadcasters has its roots deep down among the people, and that they know what is good for broadcasting any more than the C.B.C. does. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters certainly has its roots deep down among the people, and I would say that its roots are well watered by the profits which some of these private stations make from the public.

Certainly in a democracy, as the hon. member said, the people must tell the government what to do. We try to do that under our present system, and I have much more confidence in an organization such as the C.B.C., responsible to parliament through a minister, providing the Canadian people with the kind of broadcasting they want than I have in strong privately-owned radio stations whose first and primary interest must be profits from advertising.

How long will these privately-owned radio stations remain independent? How long will it be before they become a part of a chain owned by some group of commercial interests? I think the government, and particularly the department of the government responsible for the administration of the C.B.C., deserve a great deal of credit for the way in which they have stood by the principles and policies laid down by the public-spirited founders of the C.B.C. The extent to which the government has refrained from yielding to pressure campaigns carried on by private enterprise groups and private enterprise politicians will remain for posterity as one of the contributions which the government has made to the people of Canada.

There has been some surrender over the years, but I would say that on the whole the compromise between the publicly-owned system and the privately-owned stations which the C.B.C. has worked out is giving the Canadian public good service. Under C.B.C. control the private stations are rendering good, useful service. I for one would not want to see the private stations under any other control than that of the publicly-owned C.B.C.

Public control of television will be even more important than public control of radio. Television contains much greater potentialities for good or evil than radio. There has been no opportunity yet to measure the influence of television upon children of preschool and public school age. Investigations in the United States have shown that children of lower grade public school age spend more time before television screens than they do in public schools. What will be the effect upon children of long hours spent viewing a television screen? Certainly the influence of television upon our youth, as upon our people generally, is such that we dare not entrust the responsibility for that great medium of instruction and influence to any private group of people whose interest is first and foremost that of private commercial enterprise.

I deplore some of the methods being used by the private interests in their efforts to break down the C.B.C. They say they are doing this in the interests of freedom, and it has been reported in the press that United States commercial interests have indicated that they are ready to back the fight for the freedom of the air waves in Canada.

I wonder just what these commercial interests, American or Canadian, mean by the freedom of the air waves. What is the freedom they want? They want freedom to bring commercial advertising, Canadian and American, into our homes and to charge the cost of that advertising to the consumer or deduct it from their income tax.

In my opinion these groups confuse private ownership of radio and television with freedom. We can have freedom of expression over the air waves, freedom of listening, only so long as we have control vested in the hands of a group that is directly or indirectly responsible to the people of Canada through their parliament. The moment that control passes from some such organization as the C.B.C. into the hands of privately-owned radio stations or into the hands of any commercial group, then at that moment we shall cease to have freedom to listen or freedom of expression over the, air waves.

One of the first things such a group would do, were they to obtain control of radio, would be to keep off the air those who expressed opinions with which they differed. Today they smear anything of which they disapprove, and many of the things which they do not understand, with the charge of being communist. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that is a very dangerous technique. Are we to permit advertising agencies, whether Canadian or American, to determine public policy regarding radio and television by frightening the Canadian public with the communist smear?

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Will the hon. member permit a question?

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. Noseworihy:

I am not supporting an extremist view-all right; yes.

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Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

I just wondered if the hon. member had the impression that anyone in this house had advocated control of radio by private concerns. Have those who have spoken against the present policy of the C.B.C. not advocated the setting up of a government agency to control both the C.B.C. and the private stations?

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Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

Joseph William Noseworthy

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

Mr. Noseworihy:

I shall refer to that later. If the hon. member is not satisfied with my answer I give him exactly the same reply he gave me a few moments ago, that he can come to my room and spend some time there and I shall explain the matter to him at greater length.

I am not supporting extremist views one way or the other, nor am I advocating any particular programs. I do assert, however, that it is important to us in this parliament that we maintain our freedom of speech and freedom to listen over the air. We want to hear more than one side of a question. While I do not think any small group of five or six men is capable of telling the people of Canada what they should receive over the radio, I still believe that those who are in charge of the C.B.C. are just as capable and much more likely to provide the kind of radio programs that Canadians want than would any other organization set up by privately-owned stations which would be, as I have said, interested first and foremost in commercial advertising.

We want to hear more than one side of every question. Having heard that full and free discussion, then I submit that our intellect should be free to make our own choice. We respect minority rights of opinion in matters of religion in this country; we respect it in matters of education and we respect it in matters of language. We must, I submit, respect minority rights to the freedom of speech and freedom of listening to the radio,

Special Committee on Broadcasting and allow the intellect to form its own judgment having listened to both sides of the question. I do not think that any small group of people is necessarily capable or should attempt to tell the people of Canada what they should receive over the radio, but as I have said I still have more confidence in the ability of those who control the C.B.C. to give the Canadian people the kind of programs that will raise our cultural level, than I have in any privately-owned stations.

In answer to the question the hon. member raised a moment ago, I fail to see how any independent or so-called independent committee, designed to control both the C.B.C. and private radio, would long remain independent. In my opinion any such committee set-up would, in time, come under the control of the big business that television and radio is now becoming and would become if left under private enterprise.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):

The proposal to set up a committee to study radio, Mr. Speaker, is something that has been advocated by this party ever since this house met in the present session. We have regretted very much that for seven weeks the motion to set up the committee has remained in suspense. This motion would have passed with little or no debate when it was again brought before us yesterday if it had not been for the fact that the government put forward a statement of the case which was so completely contrary to all the known facts, and which sought to arouse racial prejudice and other feelings of prejudice in relation to a subject which justifies no such appeal and which could and should be dealt with upon the basis of the real needs and the best advantage of the Canadian people.

To have left the statement of the government as it stood yesterday, and to have permitted the committee to be set up without dealing with that statement, would have been to leave on the Hansard record of the proceedings of this house a statement so remote from the facts, so prejudiced in its appeal, and so completely devoid of any real consideration of the issues before us, that it became necessary for hon. members in this house to deal with certain of the points that were put forward.

The attempt that was made by the government to mislead the people of Canada was clearly indicated by a headline appearing this morning in the Ottawa Citizen as follows: "Fight Move for Private TV Control". That was the interpretation placed upon the statement by the government yesterday. That was the thought the government sought to

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Special Committee on Broadcasting leave with the people of Canada, namely that an attempt was being made to place the control of television broadcasting in private hands. That interpretation of the views that have been put forward in this house does violence to the truth and is directly opposed to every argument that has been put forward in this house by the members of every party in it.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

James Joseph McCann (Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. McCann:

We do not write the headlines.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

In this case I think that the headline correctly interpreted the impression the government was seeking to convey by the chosen mouthpiece through which their statement was presented yesterday.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. Croll:

The bon. gentleman said that the headline did violence to the truth.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

No, that was not what I said.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. Croll:

I thought it was, and I was listening carefully.

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Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I would ask the hon. member to recall how much more accurate his statements are when he makes his own speeches instead of interrupting, and I would commend that course to him. What 1 said was that the impression which the government sought to convey, and which was in this case correctly interpreted by that headline, does violence to the truth.

But there were certain statements made on behalf of the government yesterday which were a refreshing breeze in this house, which has become accustomed to an entirely different attitude. It was really a pleasant surprise to hear the review of the stages by which the development of this 'country has taken place. In this case the government placed before the house the great pageant of Canadian development. At first it may have seemed to some hon. members that the government was departing from the subject under consideration when reference was made to the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Canadian National Railways, Trans-Canada Air Lines and other great public developments which have played their part in the expanding growth and unity of Canada. But in this case the position taken by the government related clearly to what we have before us.

It was refreshing to see this recognition of what has taken place in Canada. The government reminded the house that without the Canadian Pacific Railway the unity of this country would hardly have been a possibility. Was that the achievement of the party which this government on other occasions has told us was the author of all good in this

country? No. That was the achievement of the Conservative party, with men with the vision of national unity which was interpreted in those lines of steel that crossed a continent and bound this country together.

Then we were reminded of the Canadian National Railways and the vitally important part they played in the development of Canada. Was that the achievement of a government. formed from the party which we have been told over and over again was the author of all real development and expansion in Canada? No. That also was the result of the vision, decision and action of a Conservative government. That fact should not be forgotten at any time. In spite of the assertions they make outside about their exclusive contribution to the development of Canada, it is refreshing to have the government reminding this house that the two great rail lines, one private and the other public, which have played their vital part in developing and uniting Canada were the achievement, in both cases, of governments formed from the Conservative party.

The government might also have reminded us of the Bell Telephone Company which has given us such efficient communications in Canada. Was that company organized under a Liberal government? Oh, no. That company was organized under a Conservative government, and it was placed under those appropriate measures of supervision and control which, in the case of a monopoly or nearmonopoly of that kind, assure to the private individual, to Canadians living in every part of Canada, protection from any abuse there might be through monopoly either private or public.

Then the government also reminded us of Trans-Canada Air Lines and the part it played. Has the government forgotten that the decision to proceed with a trans-Canada air line was the decision of a Conservative government?

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

Ha, ha, ha!

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Apparently it has. But let it go back to the record; let it examine the statements of a man who has been adopted by this government, General McNaughton, as to the decision which had been made and as to the airports which were being constructed across Canada for the purpose of a trans-Canada air line, decided upon by a Conservative government, for which he was building these airports across Canada.

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Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

He was trying to get rid of some starving young men.

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

No. Even though they have adopted this man at a time when his views

have changed so greatly as to the political party which can best serve Canada-

Topic:   BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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March 18, 1953