Surely this is one private member's bill whose time has come. This is the last vestige of child exploitation in Canada. To support that contention I will just very briefly fill the House in on the background to this bill. It was first introduced in the House on April 7, 1971. I might say that since the bill received first reading, considerable progress has been made in this area of long overdue reform. For example, following the introduction of the bill on October 13, 1971, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters drew up a voluntary code of conduct for advertising directed to children, and following the drafting and publication of that code the bill received second reading. At that time, I am sad to say, it was talked out. However, the germ of the idea had been planted and the box had been opened.
Following second reading of the bill, the Quebec government, in November 1972 under the limited jurisdiction it has in this area, brought in regulations under one of its existing statutes making it all but impossible for advertisers within the province of Quebec to direct their sale messages to children or, indeed, to produce commercials directed to children. That certainly was one of the major steps forward in this direction.
The bill was again introduced in the form of Bill C-22 at the next session on January 15, 1973. To give you an idea of how much progress had been made up to that time, as a result of the initial introduction of the bill and the coming into play of public opinion and various groups that sprang up across the country in support of the bill, the House agreed to a compromise at that time whereby the bill would be withdrawn in exchange for which the subject matter of the bill would be referred to the Standing Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts.
The committee met, and after nine sittings and hearing 32 witnesses under the distinguished chairmanship of the hon. member for Cochrane it made its report to parliament in the form of five recommendations, which I might say are very interesting and with a very worth-while preamble. I will not go into that preamble but I think the record should show what the committee recommended in its report. The recommendations are as follows:
1. that the CRTC pass regulations which would provide that advertising must not be directed exclusively to children;
2. that the CRTC limit further the number of commercial minutes per hour during children's programs;
3. that the CRTC require the deletion of advertising directed to children from American programming distributed on the Canadian cable systems;
4. that the Income Tax Act be amended so that advertising directed at Canada on foreign television stations would no longer be considered deductible for income tax purposes;
5. that ways and means be found to expand the Canadian program production industry with particular emphasis on the creation of children's programs.
We should determine exactly what is the position of this bill in relation to those five recommendations put forward by the committee. For example, during the course of the committee hearings the CAB and the CAAB announced that they would bring in further amendments in order to strengthen the broadcast code for advertising directed to children to take effect October 1, 1973, and still further amendments were to be brought in to be effective January 1, 1974. At the same time as the committee was meeting, the Consumers' Association of Canada, at its annual meeting in June 1973, in Ottawa passed a resolution urging the government to ban all advertising on television directed toward children.
The report of the committee containing the five recommendations was concurred in unanimously by the House of Commons on July 24, 1973. At that time the CRTC took some time to consider the impact of the concurrence in the committee's report by the House and did not issue its statement until October 16, 1973. At that time the CRTC responded by saying it would enforce the voluntary code but it would not subscribe to the principal recommendation of the committee, namely, the implementation of a regulation. It is rather interesting to see what the commit-
April 19, 1974
tee said about the voluntary code and its effectiveness. It said:
The Canadian Association of Broadcasters and the Canadian Advertising Advisory Board presented a good case for self-regulation through the new broadcast code. However, it is the opinion of your committee that any code, regardless how excellent in itself, would need a much tougher enforcement system.
Therein lies the argument in support of putting this bill forward today. Mr. Juneau at that time was quoted as saying, and I read from the Toronto Star of October 17, 1973:
But CRTC chairman Pierre Juneau said in an interview that parliament will have to pass a law if it wants the commission to ban advertising aimed at children.
Just endorsing a committee report is not enough.
It is in compliance with that wish of the CRTC contained in that interview, notwithstanding the procedural or constitutional argument that is involved here and which I hope will be advanced by other members, that the bill has been reintroduced in a slightly revised form, with a new clause (1) added to cover any difficulties with the present law, because it has been argued with a great deal of force that the present broadcasting law does not in fact, in section 16, give the CRTC the power to implement this kind of regulation to regulate broadcasting in Canada. The bill in its present form would certainly meet the requirement put forward by the chairman of the CRTC in his statement of October last.
As I say, considerable progress has been made and I think it is worthy of noting for the record, but the fact is that parliament was frustrated in its efforts to pass a directive in the form of a recommendation to a body that had been given broad delegative authority by this House. I would refer to what Your Honour said in this House on October 24 last year, as reported at page 7174 of Hansard, in ruling on a petition I had presented to the House the previous day. I adopted this infrequently used parliamentary device to bring to the attention of the House, through Your Honour, the fact that recommendations of the House were not being implemented by a body which derives its authority from this House. Your Honour stated:
I appreciate the position of the hon. member and his suggestion that this is a matter which ought to be considered either by the House or by a committee of the House. I respectfully suggest to him, however, that the procedure which should be adopted should be some procedure other than a petititon. [DOT]
I sought the advice of the learned counsel of the House and others, and came to the conclusion that perhaps the only avenue left open to me was to proceed again with the introduction of this bill in revised form, in the hope that the House would be disposed, having already passed judgment on the bill in the previous session, to adopt it, get on with second reading, into committee of the whole-since we have been through the standing committee stage-and give it third reading so it could go on to the other place.
1 said at the commencement of my remarks that I feel that surely here is one private members' bill whose time has come. To bring the situation up to date, further progress can still be reported. The CRTC, in its decision of March 31, 1974, concerning the application for licence renewal of the CBC, laid down certain conditions in respect of renewal of the CBC licence. Commercials were to be eliminated from children's television programs by
the end of 1974. I say that is commendable.
The CRTC has gone a long way toward meeting the wishes of this House, and indeed in meeting the wishes of the majority of the people in this country. Gallup conducted a poll in Canada early this year, in January, which was released last month. That nationwide survey was a major survey coast to coast. There were 1,037 adults included, which in the opinion of Gallup constitutes a major poll. The poll showed that 57 per cent of the people of Canada favoured a direct ban on all children's advertising in Canada.
It is very interesting to note the figures in this regard in the various areas of Canada. The Atlantic provinces favoured the plan by a margin of 65 per cent. The percentage in the province of Quebec was 55 and the Ontario percentage was 59. In the prairie provinces the percentage went down to 49, and went back up to 64 in British Columbia. So there is no question that the people of Canada obviously want the last vestige of child exploitation eliminated from Canadian society
I do not know the position of the House in respect of this bill. Certainly it must be without precedent to have the CRTC ignore a bill which has been disposed of by the House and which has had its subject matter referred to the committee-because I agree to withdraw the bill subject to its subject matter being referred to the committee-a subject matter in respect of which the committee carried on an exhaustive examination of over 30 witnesses and then laboured to bring forward what I think is a fairly exact report, notwithstanding some of the criticisms, in which the House unanimously concurred.
This is the situation at the present time. Having consulted learned counsel of the House, in accordance with your ruling on my petition last year, Mr. Speaker, I came to the conclusion that the only opportunity open to me was to bring forward this bill and take advantage of the situation to state for the record the progress that has been made in this matter. I shall not take up the time of the House by going through the evidence, because it is here. It is well documented in these nine reports of the Standing Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts.
In addition to that, on two previous occasions this bill was presented to the House, when all the evidence and statistical data was brought forward. It is all a matter of record. We have made considerable progress in Canada, but the fact is that we feel we are right in respect of this matter and that the people of Canada support us. Surely in this regard we should not to have to ask for half a loaf, because if we are right that the situation is reprehensible and unacceptable to the people of Canada, then we can only settle for this bill in its totality. That is the position I put forward to this honourable House at this time.
Subtopic: BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic: ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS