June 4, 1954

LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Agreed.

It being six o'clock I do now leave the chair. At eight o'clock the committee will resume the business which was interrupted at five o'clock.

At six o'clock the committee took recess.

Topic:   VETERANS AFFAIRS
Subtopic:   THIRD REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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AFTER RECESS The committee resumed at eight o'clock.



The house in committee of supply, Mr. Robinson (Simcoe East) in the chair.


DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL REVENUE

LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Item 534.

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LIB

Jean-Thomas Richard

Liberal

Mr. Richard (Ottawa East):

Mr. Chairman, when I adjourned the debate at five o'clock I was speaking about the general policy on television in Canada and more particularly as it relates to the capital area. I mentioned, by way of comparison, that in the case of radio broadcasting there were a number of private stations and one C.B.C. outlet in Ottawa, and that one of those private stations was a French language station. There is also another opening for a French language outlet in Ottawa, a licence for which was recently granted to a group from Eastview. The French language radio station CKCH in Hull carries the C.B.C. French programs originating in Montreal. These programs otherwise would not be available to this area. However, the arrangement has worked very well and I think has relieved the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation of a certain responsibility to this French-speaking audience and also has worked very well for the private station in Hull.

I want the committee to bear in mind that this is the capital of Canada, the one place of all places in this country where the dual culture of this nation should be found and reflected in all its spheres of activity. Ottawa, the capital, should be the mirror of the nation. It is here that the bilingual character of the nation should be most highly exemplified. The history of the Ottawa valley area is a recital of the life and work of the energetic Canadians of French and English origin who have toiled together, since Champlain landed here, to make this capital. The French and the English populations of this area are almost equal in number. Our

schools are bilingual or English-speaking. The people of French origin speak French and most of them, of course, speak English fluently. Many people of English origin, including those of Scots and Irish descent, speak the French language very well. Ottawa has the only bilingual university on the continent. We have our French and English theatres, our French and English press, and the proceedings of our parliament are carried on in both languages.

(Translation):

Mr. Chairman, may I say that it is with some emotion and deep pride that I am very happy to bear witness to the existence of the French element in the capital city of Canada. It is truly with pride and emotion that we find that the French-speaking population of the capital city and of the surrounding district is approximately five times the number of Frenchspeaking settlers who stayed on the American continent following the conquest, some three hundred years ago.

But in spite of all the obstacles that we have met, in spite of all the ups and downs of the first settlers and I would even add in spite of the faults in the constitution that have hindered the progress of French education in every province except Quebec, which has respected the constitution by maintaining the two languages, we are still proud and still satisfied to have progressed and to have co-operated with the English-speaking element of our province in making the city of Ottawa and the surrounding area truly representative of the Canadian nation.

We have tried, in co-operation with our fellow citizens of English origin, to give to the rest of the country an example of what our Canadian fatherland should be.

I take the opportunity, tonight, while I am on the subject of radio broadcasting, to extend my congratulations in particular to our Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier), who is also a native son of Ontario, and who has helped us so much to obtain the satisfaction of our just claims at all times. I know that the Minister of Transport is wholeheartedly in favour of the establishment of French television in the Ottawa district, and that with his help this objective will be achieved in the near future.

(Text):

I mention all this, Mr. Chairman, in order to demonstrate that-not by reason of a legal claim nor by reason of necessity but rather on account of the understanding and respect which we have for the traditions and the claims of this national capital-all cultural activities carried on in this area should bear the character of the two great races.

Supply-National Revenue

When television was introduced into Canada, and particularly into this area, it was quite understandable that the number of the programs would not be great, that they would not be too wonderful in quality and of course that they could not be perfectly bilingual. Like the hon. member for Hull, I am pleased to say that, because of the immediate service given by the C.B.C. with respect to a certain number of French programs, the reaction was very good. In the short time after the station was introduced into Ottawa we had quite a satisfactory number of programs in the French language. As a matter of fact, as hon. members doubtless know from experience now that they have been listening in room 16, it is quite pleasing not only for French-speaking people but also for those who are English-speaking but also speak French to see some of the very good French programs coming from Montreal. There are very good programs in French coming from Montreal. On the other hand, the number is limited because this station in Ottawa serves the English population, a great number of whom, of course, do not speak French.

The programs in English are very attractive. They are not all good but I must say that some of them are very attractive, and they are followed closely by the people of this district. However, I think we have reached the point where we can say that the situation is not satisfactory to everyone. Indeed, it cannot be satisfactory to everyone because the 40 per cent of the programs, say, which are French programs coming from Montreal do not provide a wide selection for the French audience; and on the other hand, the 60 per cent of the programs which are English programs coming from Toronto or Montreal do not provide what you would call a wide selection either for the people who want to listen to English programs.

I am not speaking of the quality of the programs. I said before that some of them are very good. I think the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is doing a very good job in rearing this very young child and we cannot expect it to run before it has started to walk.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell:

Would the hon. member permit a question?

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LIB
PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell:

Would he be a little more specific as to what he means-and I hope this will not be regarded as Toronto patriotism- by saying that he feels that the programs emanating from Ontario are not very satisfactory in the province of Quebec? Could he make that more specific?

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LIB

Jean-Thomas Richard

Liberal

Mr. Richard (Ottawa East):

I did not say that.

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Supply-National Revenue

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell:

Then I misunderstood the hon. member.

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LIB

Jean-Thomas Richard

Liberal

Mr. Richard (Ottawa East):

I did not say

anything like that. What I did say was that a proportion of 50 per cent to 60 per cent of English programs in an evening is not sufficient fare for the English-speaking audience and a proportion of 40 per cent to 45 per cent of French programs is not satisfactory for the French-speaking audience. There is not sufficient listening time for either one and there is not a sufficient selection in either language. At this time in this district we have an audience which is in some respects satisfied, because after all this is a new development, but there are a great many who feel that they should not buy sets at all because there are too few programs to watch in any one evening.

In Montreal the problem was tackled from a bilingual point of view. Montreal was given a French station and an English station. But Montreal is not as bilingual as the city of Ottawa and the surrounding area. This is the most bilingual area in any part of Canada. In any event, as I said before, it is more than that. It is the capital of Canada and surely it is here, if anywhere in Canada, that we should find stations providing programs in the French and English languages.

There is another aspect of the question. French programs produced in Montreal are just as costly as programs produced in English, but at the present time they are being used through one outlet only. They could very well be used in Ottawa without in any way increasing the cost of production. There is a relay system between Montreal and Ottawa, and I understand that all that would be required in Ottawa would be a transmitter which would probably use the same antenna. Therefore the matter of cost is not a big factor, and much greater use could be made of the programs already being produced in Montreal if they were not limited to that city and the partial use now being made of them in Ottawa.

My suggestion is that the C.B.C. should announce at an early date, perhaps not immediately but at an early date, whether it is its intention to instal a transmitter to televise the French programs coming from Montreal. We should have a statement of policy from the C.B.C. as to whether it intends to have its own French outlet in Ottawa or whether it does not intend to do so. That is why I have not raised the question of a private station up to this point. I do not think it arises until an answer is given to that question by the C.B.C. I do not know whether the minister will be in a position to make a statement today or on another occasion, but

I say the whole problem is whether or not the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation intends to have a French outlet in Ottawa. If it does not intend to do so then I say it is up to the government to reach a decision as soon as possible to permit whoever applies-if he is a responsible party and undertakes to carry C.B.C. programs emanating from Montreal- to have a station in Ottawa.

But I am confident that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, knowing the situation in this area much better than I do, must have plans, and I regard it as quite possible that in the near future there will be an answer from that source in the form of a statement that a French C.B.C. transmitter is to be built in Ottawa. But I repeat that if that is not to be done the government should reconsider its policy in respect of a French language private station in this particular area where the situation, so far as permitting private stations is concerned, is much unlike that of areas where the population speaks one language.

I think that people's minds should be put at rest. The government should relieve the people of their anxiety in this regard. By so doing they would help to foster good will toward the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and would also help industry which would be able to sell a great number of television sets in this area if there were a French television outlet. Television, Mr. Chairman, can be an active agent in the development of our national culture, and I am confident that on those grounds the house will agree that its extension should be in the finest and best traditions of the people who joined hands at confederation to make this a great and united country.

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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

Mr. Chairman, I rise to make a very few remarks. I am not going to deal with policy, administration or programs because this afternoon the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar ably placed before the committee the views of this group in that connection. I will only say that I listen quite frequently to "Stage 54" and I do want to express my appreciation of the magnificent production of "Richard III" some time earlier this year. I have heard a good many people say that it was an excellent piece of work on the part of the C.B.C.

I rise primarily to make my eighth annual plea for improved radio reception in the northern part of my constituency of Kootenay West. There are some 5,000 people residing there who are unable to receive satisfactory radio reception after nightfall and during the greater part of the day. Owing to the weakness of the signals from Nelson and Trail they

have very poor radio reception at times. I want to impress upon the minister that while other people in Canada are getting all the latest in television I have 5,000 people in my constituency who still have to enjoy decent radio reception. I am very glad to know that the corporation is giving serious consideration to the question with a view to ascertaining the possibility of establishing low-power relay transmitters. We are very pleased with that, but I do want to emphasize that these people have been most patient to go on for thirty years without adequate and proper radio reception.

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LIB
CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

I am very pleased to see that I have the support of the hon. member for Charlotte. I think these people are now entitled to some action on the part of the corporation and the government. I want to emphasize that these are very useful people. They are primarily outdoor workers and they have to enjoy their radios largely in the evening hours. They are people who are producing a large quantity of forest, metal and mineral products, and a considerable quantity of agricultural products. I think it is most unfair, Mr. Chairman, that year after year this productive segment of our population should be denied even ordinary radio reception.

In addition to that I am bringing to the minister's attention that the income taxes per capita paid in the constituency of Kootenay West is one of the highest in Canada. Representative organizations in the district have for years been pressing for some action in this respect. I have recently heard from the chamber of commerce, boards of trade, the Canadian Legion, the farmers' organizations and the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire. Everybody is concerned about this. They feel they are entitled by this time to action by way of providing proper radio reception.

I do urge that this question be given every consideration and the needs of these people be met in the very near future. I would suggest that today there is no shortage of funds so far as the C.B.C. is concerned. I do feel that when there are millions being spent for television in other parts of Canada these good people are entitled to adequate radio reception. When the minister replies, I should like to hear his comment on this question that is so important to about 5,000 of my constituents.

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LIB

Joseph-Omer Gour

Liberal

Mr. Gour (Russell):

At the outset, Mr. Chairman, I should like to congratulate the C.B.C. for the good work they have done up to now. I have to extend those congratulations to include the Minister of Transport and the Minister of National Revenue, because they

Supply-National Revenue have done splendid work right from the first and I am sure they will continue to do their usual fine job. I wish to speak tonight on behalf of the television viewers in this district, not only the French viewers but the English viewers as well. I am not raising the question of language at this time, because I have received just as many complaints from the English people as I have from the French people when they have been forced to turn off their television sets because they did not understand what was said in French.

In view of the good administration we have received up to now I know it will not be too long before this situation is remedied. I do not want to make this a question of language. I am sure that this government, in view of the good administration we have received from it, will not delay too long in settling the problem. If it is found that the C.B.C. is unable to establish a second station in Ottawa for the benefit of the French-speaking people, then I hope consideration will be given to the private company that has made application. It is a responsible company, and it will do a good job. I am sure that the Minister of National Revenue, the C.B.C. and this good government we have will see that justice is done in that connection in the near future, just as they have given justice from one end of the country to the other.

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CCF

Colin Cameron

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

Mr. Cameron (Nanaimo):

I was interested this afternoon, Mr. Chairman, in listening to the hon. member for Macleod express his fears about thought control by the C.B.C. I suppose it is possible, but if so then all I can say is that they are exercising it in a most inefficient manner. I would commend to the minister that he tighten up his control of C.B.C. because I, myself, on the invitation of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, have participated in programs on many occasions. I do not believe the C.B.C. or the minister have ever had any reason to suspect that I was a devout admirer of the present government.

I believe we have to look at this thing a little more reasonably than that. I would suggest that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is, in itself, an example of something new perhaps in our society in its administrative set-up. I do not believe anyone can really level a charge at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that it has been the agent or the propagandist for any particular political or economic group in the country. In fact, one of the things of which we, as Canadians, should be extremely proud is the record of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

This afternoon the hon. member for Macleod spoke of the further danger of

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Supply-National Revenue imposing a rigid, uniform pattern of culture upon Canadians. I find culture a rather repugnant word, as a matter of fact. However, it is perhaps the only one we can use.

I wonder whether there is not something to be considered here apart merely from the people's uninformed taste. Now, I myself lay no claims whatever to having a particularly sophisticated cultural taste. But I have this, shall I say, degree of development, that I do recognize there are people in our society who have that particularly well informed and well developed cultural taste. We should be wise if we give them every opportunity to present their ideas to us in as effective a manner as possible.

Certainly I think the C.B.C. has been giving that opportunity. My colleague, the hon. member for Kootenay West, just mentioned the performance of "Richard III" by "Stage 54". Now, that was only one of a series. Anyone who has listened to this series will realize that throughout the last considerable period of time the C.B.C. has been presenting all the Shakespearean chronicle plays, and presenting them most effectively in an adapted form from the pen of some of their extremely gifted writers. I often think of an incident that took place in my home two or three years ago when the C.B.C. was presenting Lister Sinclair's adaptation of "Oedipus Rex", probably the most dramatic psychological play in existence. Lister Sinclair's adaptation of it was superb, in my opinion. My opinion in that regard was reinforced by a curious incident that took place. At that time we had a young native coast Indian living with us who was going to the university. He came into the living room when the play "Oedipus Rex" was on. He sat down and stayed there for the whole performance almost motionless beside the radio. It occurred to me at that time, Mr. Chairman, that any artistic power that could bring the beauty of Greek culture across the period of time of about 2,500 years and eons of time culturally to a product of the primitive culture of the B.C. coast Indian and hold that lad glued to the radio, is something we would do well to be very proud of.

The hon. member for Macleod was somewhat sceptical about the development of talent by means of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It may be that he has a different definition of talent from the one to which I am accustomed. But I think most of us would agree that unless talents are given the opportunity to develop, to be refined to their fullest extent, then they are going to be largely useless. Certainly the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation if it has

done nothing else has provided the opportunity of developing the artistic and dramatic talents of Canadian people. This is true to such an extent that there are many of our friends and neighbours across the line who openly envy us the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the opportunities it gives for precisely that talent development.

Not long after the session opened I had occasion to write a short article for a United States periodical. I received quite a lot of correspondence about it from across the line because it dealt with a United States problem. One of the letters I received was from a farmer in the state of New York who said he was writing to me, not merely to commend the article I had written but also as some expression of gratitude toward Canada and Canadians for the continued pleasure he has received from tuning in to the C.B.C. broadcasts every day. It may be that at some future date the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation might establish itself as a monopoly of culture and of thought control. But to speak today as though there were no other broadcasting organization in the field is to present a completely false picture. And it is equally false to suggest that those private radio outlets are even in the same category or class as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, when it comes to intellectual, cultural or artistic standards-because they just are not.

Anyone who has spoken over the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation facilities and also over private radio station facilities need not be told about the vast difference in efficiency and care exercised by the employees of the two types of organizations. On every occasion I have spoken over a C.B.C. outlet I have been afforded every possible help with regard to the organization of my material for the address, advice as to how to present it, advice as to what parts to stress-endless and limitless patience and time taken to make sure that I got the best out of the opportunity afforded to me.

In fact, I might say this-and it bears to some extent on the question of the C.B.C. being an organ of propaganda-that on more than one occasion employees of the C.B.C. in Vancouver have complained to me that the worst offenders from their point of view as radio-technical experts, and the most completely determined not to take advantage of the facilities offered by the C.B.C., have been cabinet ministers who, according to many of the radio technicians in Vancouver, seem to feel that because they are cabinet ministers they have, by some mysterious means, mastered the technique of radio and do not

require advice or help. Many times I have seen employees of the C.B.C. station in Vancouver tearing their hair because some cabinet minister came in and insisted upon pontificating on the radio, thus lowering their general level of technical efficiency. I am not saying that all C.B.C. programs are admirable. They are not; some of them are lousy.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

The cabinet minister broadcasts?

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CCF

Colin Cameron

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

Mr. Cameron (Nanaimo):

And the lousiest ones are the ones to which I think the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has resort because this parliament is so niggardly and stingy. I refer to the foul soap operas that they take from the American networks- private enterprise programs which pay very well for the privilege of poisoning the whole well of Canadian culture, with all due deference to my hon. friend from Macleod.

I think that these soap operas are a far greater moral and intellectual danger to the Canadian people than many of those things about which hon. members in this house tear their hair; because they present a foul, sentimental, saccharine picture of life that, at certain points, has sufficient similarity to real life to influence unintelligent, or not very intelligent, unsophisticated people. So that you have, of course, the result of a silly husband or a silly wife getting very fed up with their spouses because they do not behave in the impossibly inane and noble manner of the product of Aunt Lucy's mind.

So what I would like to see is that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation be given a sufficient fund so that they can thumb their noses at every soap manufacturer who wishes to poison the minds of the Canadian people.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Mr. Chairman, I wish to ask the minister some questions which will be of a different kind. In spite of the sanguinity of the hon. member for Nanaimo, I still think, with the member for Macleod, that there is considerable cause for anxiety in Canada, lest the minds of Canadian people be controlled by forces that Canadians would never wish to have control their minds. I would like to ask the minister a few questions which he will be able to answer at his leisure. Probably he will not have the material with him tonight, but if we can have the answers to these questions in detail, those answers ought to go a long way to reassure us.

First, who decides policy of the C.B.C.?

Second, what means of screening has the minister, to make sure C.B.C. personnel are all pro-Canadian, and not pinkos in some respects, if not positively pro-Russian?

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Third, Canada beams broadcasts into how many European countries? We have never had a detailed report on that matter. To what countries are those broadcasts beamed?

Fourth, in which languages are these broadcasts beamed into European countries?

Fifth, what is the general purpose of these broadcasts? Indications are, from the estimates, that more and more money is being spent on such broadcasts into, let us say, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia and other countries behind the iron curtain. I would like to know what the purpose of such broadcasts might be. What is the general purpose of doing it, anyway?

Sixth, in the main, is the general purpose to encourage peoples in iron curtain countries to hope for deliverance, or is it to encourage them to be satisfied with their communist rulers? I would like to have that answered pretty thoroughly, and to have it adequately documented.

Seventh, during the year 1953 how many Canadian broadcasts were directed to Czechoslovakia, for example?

Eighth, how many of these could be classified as having political significance?

Ninth, how many have had pro-communist leanings?

Tenth, how many have had anti-communist leanings?

Eleventh, on what grounds would the minister justify the expenditure of Canadian taxpayers' money upon broadcasts into Europe that are neither pro-communist nor anti-communist?

I have had the privilege of reading some of the broadcasts that have been sent into some of those countries. As I recall it, one of them told about Canadian wildlife. What would be the purpose of spending Canadian money on telling Czechoslovakia or Poland about the wildlife of Canada?

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June 4, 1954