April 19, 1974

PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

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.

Broadcasting Act

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up across the country in support of the bill, the House agreed to a compromise at that time whereby the bill would be withdrawn in exchange for which the subject matter of the bill would be referred to the Standing Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts.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

Broadcasting Act

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.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
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LIB

Ralph Wesley Stewart

Liberal

Mr. Ralph Stewart (Cochrane):

Mr. Speaker, my remarks will be very brief. It is a pleasure for me to second the bill of the hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath) because I think he had no other choice but to bring it back into the House. He should not have had to bring it back. We should not have to discuss it today, because the House has already dealt with it. The committee dealt with it at length. Many witnesses were called before the committee and the committee came up with a

April 19, 1974

report which I think was a satisfactory one because it reached a conclusion that satisfied the majority of the people in this House. That became obvious when we asked for concurrence and the House unanimously gave concurrence.

It would seem to me that once this happens, a corporation of the Crown has a very grave obligation to follow the recommendation contained in a committee report which has been concurred in. I note that in October the chairman of the CRTC stated that parliament would have to pass a law if it wanted the commission to ban children's advertising. I believe the chairman of the CRTC stated that mere endorsement of the committee report is not sufficient. When the CRTC brought out its regulation in respect of the CBC a couple of weeks ago and spoke about not renewing the licence unless certain things came about, it seems to me the commission did not wait for a law of parliament to do that.

In addition, although legally speaking a corporation such as the CRTC does not have to go along with the committee report, it would seem that once concurrence has taken place in the House of Commons and 264 representatives of the people of Canada have endorsed the committee's report, a Crown corporation that would fly in the face of that kind of representation is taking an awful chance indeed if it refuses to comply with the wishes of parliament.

The question before us today, in my view, basically is not the bill itself. The committee recommended that a regulation be passed by the CRTC in order to prevent advertising aimed directly at children. This is essentially what the committee said. So the question is not on the pros and cons of advertising for children but, in my view, whether or not this parliament has the kind of authority that I always thought it had, which most of us feel it has and which the people of Canada expect it to have. Is it the right of a corporation of the Crown to unilaterally decide, against the advice of this House, to do such-and-such or not to do such-and-such? It seems to me this problem is far deeper than the question of children's advertising and that it goes to the very root of the authority in this country, an authority which is being removed from parliament as a result of the power held within Crown corporations.

I think that is the question to which we should be addressing ourselves in the weeks ahead, because certainly if the CRTC can ignore this House on a matter such as this and simply say it will not pass a regulation which the House says it wants passed, then it would seem that the Crown corporations can do much more which is against the will of the people of Canada. That, to me, is the essential situation with which we are faced. This is the reason I feel it is my duty to endorse this bill proposed by the hon. member for St. John's East. It is my duty to say a few words on this subject today because I feel that this House must accept the bill in order to let the CRTC know they are not running the show in Canada but that the parliament of Canada has the last word.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I join the hon. member for Cochrane (Mr. Stewart) in commending our colleague, the hon. member for St.

Broadcasting Act

John's East (Mr. McGrath), for bringing this bill before us today. Although we are dealing with a technical question, namely, how to get our will translated into practice, perhaps it is appropriate to take at least a few seconds to say that we in this party thoroughly support the substance of the proposition which is that commercial advertising should be eliminated completely from television programs directed at children. As the two previous speakers have made clear, this point has been well established and well accepted by this House and by organizations that are interested in the welfare of our children. On that point I suggest there is no serious argument. Commercial advertising should be banned completely f: n television programs directed at children.

However, we come to the question as to how we are going to achieve this, and I have to say that in listening to my friend the hon. member for Cochrane I found myself in a strange position. Let me digress for a moment and say that I read with a good deal of interest again today the ruling Your Honour made on October 24, 1973, with respect to the petition which the hon. member for St. John's East had tabled. In that ruling Your Honour pointed out that the House had not been able to effect its will by approving certain recommendations. In other words, that course was not effective. But you also made the point that because parliament had delegated control of broadcasting to the CRTC, we could not get around the statute that had been passed and give them direction on the basis of a petition.

Then, in what I thought was a sympathetic reference on Your Honour's part, you suggested that the hon. member for St. John's East should find some other procedure. Well,

I do not know what learned counsel my friend consulted, but it would seem to me that any counsel, learned or otherwise, would come up with the obvious answer that if recommendations of the committee do not do the trick, if a petition cannot be approved, then there is no other course but to bring in a bill amending the statute that gives the CRTC its authority. Therefore, I support what the hon. member for St. John's East has done, and I shall try to keep my remarks brief in the hope that we can pass this bill within the hour.

When I said a moment ago that I find myself in a strange position, especially after listening to the hon. member for Cochrane, I had in mind that about three days ago I introduced in the House a bill to abolish the Senate. I did not get along very well with it: it was talked out. That has happened before. I have been at it for 30 years. However, I have almost succeeded; there are only two or three of Their Honours who were here when I came left in the other place. But here I am having to stand and say to the hon. member for Cochrane, I, the proponent of the abolition of the Senate: but the place exists-and since the CRTC operates under a statute that was passed not just by the House of Commons but by parliament, in other words, all three branches of this institution, we cannot, as one branch of the institution, say to that commission that it must do what we say. The authority we gave the CRTC by a statute of parliament can only be altered by amending that statute.

I do not like it that way; I would rather that my bill to abolish the Senate were carried and that the will of the elected members would prevail. But at the moment we

April 19, 1974

Broadcasting Act

still have this antiquated system under which we bow to the opinion of non-elected persons, and since that is the situation I think Your Honour was right in your ruling that the only way we can give a direction to a commission established by parliament is for parliament to amend the statute that gave that commission its authority.

Therefore, I believe that the hon. member for St. John's East is doing the right thing. Perhaps some day we will get rid of the Senate and we will be able to do this in some other way; but at the moment we have to do it this way. Therefore, I commend the hon. member for bringing in this bill, I commend him for making it so brief and so much to the point, and I commend him for drawing it up in a way that even meets the wishes of the chairman of the CRTC. I hope, therefore, that we will pass this bill and thus do our part in making it possible for parliament as a whole to say what we want done. When parliament as a whole has said it, it will be done.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
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LIB

Roderick Blaker

Liberal

Mr. Rod Blaker (Lachine-Lakeshore):

Mr. Speaker, I will not pursue the subject taken up by the hon. member for Cochrane (Mr. Stewart) and the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), but would possibly refer to Bill C-112 itself and make an effort to see whether or not the feeling of the House is such at the moment that an alternative concept or arrangement might be satisfactory to all members present.

As the explanatory note in the bill points out, children are a captive audience. That is the evil that we are attempting to do away with, in the sense that as a captive audience they are subjected on some occasions to the abuse of a very unsatisfactory type of advertising. Alternatively, again as the explanatory note points out, the content of many of these programs directed at children is quite good, quite commendable, and it should be pointed out in all realism that the cost of producing those programs is very often borne by the revenues earned from advertising.

So we have a black and white situation in that we can call for the complete abolition of advertising and see some substantial damage done to the type of program production we would like to have, or we can look to a middle ground which over the course of six months or a year or so might prove to be more satisfactory and, I would suggest, would be worthy of our consideration.

The CRTC, in its public announcement on television advertising to children dated October 16, 1973, expressly indicated that the commission would bring its full influence to bear on broadcasters to ensure compliance with the provisions of the broadcast code on children's advertising. It was indicated that "all broadcasters would be required to provide the commission with specific individual commitments that they would abide by the code". However, it appears to be the view of members, some of whom have already spoken this afternoon, that even though the self-regulatory procedures of the broadcast code have proven somewhat effective, further assurances are required to ensure continuous, strict adherence to the code through legally enforceable procedures. The broadcasting committee, of which I had the honour and pleasure to be a member, when it presented its report in July, 1973, indicated that regardless of how excellent the procedures of self-regulation through the broadcast code might be, we

need a tougher enforcement system. That was the essence of what we proposed to the House.

I am now informed by the commission that in conformity with its previous undertaking to ensure the effectiveness of the code and to meet the agreed objectives of all members of the House, the commission would undertake, first, to notify all holders of broadcasting licences in Canada and all applicants that adherence to the provisions of the broadcast code on children's advertising would be made a specific condition of each broadcasting licence. Second, the commission would require that a representative of the CRTC should formally represent the commission at all deliberations of the children's sections of the advertising standards council which have the responsibility for pre-clearing all children's commercials. In this way the commission would participate in and have full knowledge of all advertising that was being approved for children for broadcasting in Canada.

If I may summarize, broadcasters would be warned that the very existence of their licence and the possibility of its renewal depends upon their co-operation with the CRTC in clearing up abuses in advertising. The CRTC, as mentioned, has undertaken to sit in on the meetings of the council to assure this House and the public that only the most acceptable form of advertising will be permitted.

I realize that many people are of the opinion we should do away altogether with advertising directed toward children. I suggest to the House and to the hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath), to whom I pay a personal compliment for pursuing this subject for so long, that an alternative to his private member's bill might well be the regulations to which I have just referred which emanate from the CRTC. Mr. Speaker, as other members wish to speak I will cede the floor to them.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
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PC

David James Walker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Walker:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, as the undertakings of the commission, as repeated by the hon. member for Lachine-Lakeshore (Mr. Blaker), are most important, and as I have no copy of the statement in which the undertakings are included, I wonder if it would be possible to ask the hon. member to repeat again the particular commitments of the CRTC as outlined in his speech.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Permalink
NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

I do not think there is any objection to that, although I remind hon. members that all that was said by the hon. member for Lachine-Lakeshore (Mr. Blaker) will appear in Hansard on Monday. However, if hon. members wish to hear the hon. member for Lachine-Lakeshore repeat part of his speech a second time, I have no objection. Is this agreed?

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Permalink
NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

I gather the hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath) rises on the question.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Permalink
PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

however, that it is not necessary to repeat the undertakings as they will appear in the record.

I ask the hon. member if the position he has put forward represents the position of the Minister of Communications (Mr. Pelletier) who is the only one with authority to speak for the CRTC in this House. I think it is important to establish that. Secondly, as the hon. member referred to the fact that the CRTC would make adherence to the code a condition for obtaining a licence, and that it would insist on being represented on the committee of the advertising standards council, would the commission be prepared to help that council which I understand is underfinanced, overworked and understaffed? In other words, the council does not receive the kind of financial support it should receive from member companies and member stations.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Permalink
LIB

Roderick Blaker

Liberal

Mr. Blaker:

Mr. Speaker, answering the hon. member for St. John's East, I suggest that the CRTC, like any other government agency, answers to the minister. In that sense I suggest the hon. member ought to draw his own conclusions as to whether this constitutes an undertaking. In ordinary circumstances he would draw the obvious conclusion that if the CRTC makes such an undertaking, it would do so with the approval and understanding of the minister. With respect to financial support, I would have to disappoint the hon. member and suggest it is not relevant to the subject before us. I could not answer that question.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Permalink
PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McGrath:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I listened with great attention to the suggestion put forward by the hon. member. I understand he was speaking for the minister. If that is the case, to save the House the embarrassment of having to talk out this bill, and as we have made some progress, I am prepared, with the consent of the House, to withdraw the bill and to see exactly how this new enforcement of the voluntary code will work over the next year. Perhaps we will make our decision one year from now.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Permalink
NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

Before recognizing the hon. member for Argenteuil-Deux-Montagnes (Mr. Fox) may I say that I understand the hon. member for St. John's East suggests that his bill might be withdrawn. Perhaps before inquiring whether there is consent for this we might allow the hon. member for Argenteuil-Deux-Montagnes, who appears to have words of wisdom for the benefit and guidance of hon. members, to speak. Is the hon. member for Madawaska-Victoria (Mr. Corbin) rising on a point of order?

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Permalink
LIB

Eymard G. Corbin

Liberal

Mr. Corbin:

Yes, Mr. Speaker. I too would have liked to say a few words on the bill, but I certainly agree with its proposed withdrawal, or passage, not knowing the exact terms of the agreement. However, I would like to have some comments recorded in Hansard.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Permalink
NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

I gather there is no translation. The hon. member is claiming the same right that the hon. member for Argenteuil-Deux-Montagnes claims. He does not object to the bill being withdrawn, subject to his right to say a few words.

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Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Permalink
LIB

Francis Fox

Liberal

Mr. Francis Fox (Argenteuil-Deux-Montagnes):

Mr. Speaker, I followed with much interest the speeches delivered this afternoon in the course of this debate. Personally, I am against advertising aimed at children. I also listened with considerable interest to the statistics given by the hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath) with regard to Gallup polls. I have also had the opportunity of conducting my own miniature Gallup poll in my riding through a parliamentary report, and my statistics are even more eloquent than those we have heard. Out of 1,500 replies from my constituents, almost 99 per cent were opposed to that type of advertising.

I feel the proposal ot the hon. member for Lachine-Lakeshore (Mr. Blaker) made on behalf of CRTC shows real progress. However, I must say that this is not quite enough. I would be willing to agree to the withdrawal of the bill, but I feel we should go further. In my opinion, the conditions for the renewal of the licence recently granted to the CBC by the CRTC required that the CBC discontinue all advertising meant for children at the end of 1974. I really think that we should follow such direction.

As a temporary solution, I am ready to agree that the CRTC should closely administer the voluntary code already mentioned by the hon. member for St. John's East but I do not intend to give you again an historical account of the debate as the hon. member did.

In short, this is not only a problem of advertising for children but is also related to the production of children's programs. But there are other means to ensure the production of first-rate programs. I know that all members are aware of that problem and that it is a problem which is of concern to us all. The fact remains that with its own resources the CBC can produce first-rate children's programs. We also have in Canada the National Film Board as well as the Canadian Film Development Corporation. It might be time that the latter, which has already done a lot for film development in Canada, paid more attention to the development of good TV programs for children.

Moreover, provincial Departments of Education, like some educational TV organizations in the U.S., should allocate more funds for the development of quality children's programs.

Mr. Speaker, I think in principle that we should see to it in the future to prohibit all advertising directed at children under 13, as suggested in the bill put forward by the hon. member. As a temporary measure, it might be possible to instruct the CRTC to carefully review the present system with a view to abolishing eventually all advertising, while asking other concerned organizations that come under the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada to allocate a larger share of their financial resources for the development of children's programs of high quality.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS
Subtopic:   BROADCASTING ACT
Sub-subtopic:   ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS
Permalink

C (1640)

LIB

James Sydney Clark Fleming

Liberal

Mr. Jim Fleming (York West):

Mr. Speaker, I, too, will be very brief. I agree with the suggestion to withdraw this bill in order that it is not talked out and we can make some progress on the matter. I commend the hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath). I do not often find

April 19, 1974

Broadcasting Act

myself agreeing with him, but in this matter I certainly do. I think the intent of his bill is very good.

There are several problems related to the situation were this bill accepted and passed today that I wish to mention. While I very much approve of the intent of the bill and hope that its withdrawal and the action pledged by the CRTC will improve the situation, I want to express my own very real concern. United States penetration of a great part of the Canadian market will remain a very real problem i less we find a way to fight it. In areas of Canada where U.S. television is received, children will still be able to watch programs which contain the kind of advertising we are trying to eliminate.

There is also the great danger that if a means is not found by the government or the CRTC to develop Canadian programming for children, such as animation, cartoons and other types of children's films in the private sector, it will place in jeopardy Canadian programming for Canadian youngsters. If advertising is simply removed from children's programming in Canada and some sort of pressure is not put on private broadcasters to continue children's programming, there will be not only the danger of the removal of programming for children but the aspect of driving our youngsters to watching American programming with the advertising it contains.

These were simply the points I wanted to make. I hope the government and the CRTC will be cognizant of these very real problems. We need a Canadian industry producing films for children. We need children's programming and good Canadian programming in the private broadcasting sector of Canada. One of the recommendations in the committee's report-and I am sure the hon. member for St. John's East agrees with it-is that action must be taken by the government to remove the advertising deductibility from tax for Canadian companies advertising in Canada through American channels.

Topic:   C (1640)
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LIB

Eymard G. Corbin

Liberal

Mr. Eymard Corbin (Madawaska-Victoria):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to say that the two commitments made by the CRTC, or its chairman, do not cover a situation which seems to be covered in the bill introduced by the hon. member for St. John's East (Mr. McGrath).

I congratulate him and I want to say to him that he has my full support, because I have been concerned about this problem for quite a while. I was concerned about it even before he introduced his bill in this House. I think he deserves credit for publicly bringing that question to the attention of this House.

The two CRTC commitments apply specifically to advertising directed at children on children's programs, but there are identification periods for local stations between programs, commonly called station breaks, and private stations use that period for advertising that is obviously not intended for children, but that children watch nevertheless. That has been brought to my attention, and I found out myself that some television stations used that period on children's programs to advertise pornographic movies, for example.

The people in the area I represent are deeply concerned about that, all the more as they have no local television

station. They have no local production so they depend on a satellite station in the province of Quebec and cannot therefore intervene effectively.

A mother sent me a letter on December 7 along with a copy of an article she sent to a local newspaper about the station using identification periods to advertise pornographic movies for local cinemas.

I immediately brought that serious problem to the attention of the CRTC and it took a while before I received a reply but, practically speaking, Mr. J. H. McKernin, regional representative for the Atlantic provinces wrote the following to CJBR-TV station manager, Mr. Walter Ruest:

You will find herewith copy of a letter from the hon. member for Madawaska-Victoria, Mr. Eymard Corbin,-

The complaint can be divided specifically into three components:

They object to the promotion of violence and pornographic movies;

They object to the showing of such advertisements at a time when children are normally watching TV;

They object to "practically any advertisement directed to young children".

These are questions which, as you know, are of great concern to the Commission. We feel that this is a serious complaint and would you please send us your comments as well as a copy of your answer to Mr. Corbin.

They complied with this request on February 12 and, for all practical purposes, made apologies. They claimed they had lost the recording tape of this flash and that they generally keep a close watch over all material promoting pornographic movies.

And yet, Mr. Speaker, the situation is not improving. On April 4, a Madawaska newspaperman from Le Madawaska wrote to me about this situation which, instead of improving, is deteriorating. He concluded his letter with the following remark, and I quote:

By the way, please do not believe that I am a scrupulous man of the colonial era; quite the contrary, I am a 34 year old father who feels that it is ridiculous and inconceivable that someone should pollute the TV screen before the eyes of our young children.

The problem which concerns me most, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that advertising flashes before and after the station identification does not appear to be covered by the promise made today to the House by the CRTC. I therefore strongly urge the CRTC to consider also the question of advertising between programs for children.

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LIB

Marcel Prud'homme (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Regional Economic Expansion)

Liberal

Mr. Marcel Prud'homme (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Regional Economic Expansion):

Mr. Speaker, I would simply join my colleagues in saying that I agree that this bill be withdrawn. For quite some time, I have been concerned with this important matter because of the many representations I have received on the subject. I would simply say that it is high time that a stop be put to the creation of needs in the minds of youth, especially of young children. If those in the know would watch commercial advertising on television-and I think that the hon. member who brought forward the bill is in a better position than we to know-they will find, very often with great sorrow, how this amazingly intelligent publicity is aimed directly at children. We should consider all the unhappiness that can be brought in a great number of

April 19, 1974

homes. I refer in particular to large families in dire need of money, where the children ask incessantly for everything they see on television. It is therefore high time and most healthy that such a bill be implemented as soon as possible. So I am pleased to agree that the bill be withdrawn and I join with the hon. members who preceded me.

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NONE

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

No affiliation

Mr. Speaker:

Is it agreed that the hon. member shall have leave to withdraw his bill and that the order be discharged?

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April 19, 1974