August 24, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. A. L. SMITH (Calgary WTest):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to discuss this bill, I wish to say this, that on the occasions I have been privileged to speak in the house I have each time found it possible and convenient gladly to commend some parts of the legislation then offered by the government. I am not in that position to-day.
I disagree with this report, in toto. I disagree with every page, every paragraph, every line, every word of it; I disagree even with the title. The title says that it is a report from the radio committee. It is nothing of the kind; it is a report from a few people, advocating everything suggested by the C.B.C.
[DOT]-and that under the leadership of the new leader of the Liberal party, who is not in the house at the present time, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell).
Before approaching the various suggestions made in the report, I want to say that I have now been in Ottawa for two sessions and I have become acquainted with the man by the name of Bennett. It does not matter that I lived in the same town with him for thirty years, practised the same profession he practised, and that I have partaken of his bread and wine, and he has partaken of my bread-but not my wine. I have livedi in hotels with him; I have travelled with him, and I thought I knew something about him.
But I find I was all wrong. I come here to Ottawa, and I find that in almost ever}' debate, be the subject agriculture, the C.B.C., mining, or some other subject, our hon. friends opposite have always found something to quote from Mr. Bennett. The socialists to my left have always had something to say

Radio Broadcasting
and I have learned that he is not the man that I thought I knew, that he is a sort of ogre who has a baby as an appetizer before his dinner, who washes his hands in the red, warm blood of innocent children, and all that kind of thing. But when it comes to something like this they go back fourteen years and they quote Mr. Bennett. He is then Viscount Bennett, the great statesman. Frankly I am just a little bit fed up with it. If it had not been for the fact that Mr. Bennett was there from 1930 to 1935 many of them would have been mentally deficient in the contributions they have sought to make on many occasions to the debates.
Coming to this business of broadcasting, I want to begin by saying that during the sittings of this committee I had the pleasure of meeting a number of men connected with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Personally, of them and to them I say that I have never met finer people; I have never met men who were more seeking to do a good job of work in Canadian broadcasting. But it is the system under which they are acting that I express definite opposition to at the present time. Before the last sitting of the committee we were asked by the chairman to make suggestions, and I replied almost immediately with the following: First, that the committee should report against taking over the larger wave lengths in Manitoba, Ontario and Alberta and, second, that I was in favour of the committee, recommending that an independent tribunal should be set up to determine matters between the C.B.C. and the private broadcasters, the present regulations to govern such body with the right in that body to revoke or alter them.
I realize that this has been discussed already by a number of members. I am glad to see the Minister of Justice (Mr. St. Laurent) in the house, and I see a couple more lawyers over there at the present time. I want to ask him this question: It is admitted, even in the report, that the C.B.C. is in competition with private broadcasting; that is true and no one seeks to deny it; no one can deny it. What do we find? We find that that same body, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, with respect to its opponent is at once the policeman, the judge and the gaoler. That is a simple statement of fact which no one can and which no one dare refute.
To the hon. gentlemen opposite who practise the same profession as I do, or to the lay brethren over there like the hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) who is one of the best barbershop lawyers I know of, I put this simple question: Will some one
over there rise in his place and justify that
sort of thing? Will they, before this debate is over, please stand up and, on their honour as members of this profession, make some attempt to justify that terrible state of affairs, because I can use no other word?
I realize that, in an endeavour to make a distinction between broadcasting and railroading, Mr. Dunton said that broadcasting [DOT] was cultural; that is the only distinction he made. However, it is also commercial. The C.B.C. now seeks to take advertising revenue from the private stations, because that is the purpose of this new business. There is no other purpose; that is what it is seeking to do. Will someone justify to me that sort of thing? Will he merely say that it is just? It is so contrary to natural justice and every other kind of justice that I am anxious to see someone justify it.
I know it will be said that this report has not found against the contention that I make. What the report says is that it should be given further study by the C.B.C., further study by the Department of Transport, and that some other committee should deal with it. Never in any report of any committee of this house will you find such a straight dodging of duty. That is all it is. What further investigation can there be of the necessity for the removal of a great and complete injustice in this country. I want someone over there or over here to answer that.
I turn now to something else. The basis upon which these wave lengths are to be taken from these people is that somebody said so some years ago that and subsequent committees have confirmed that position. I asked Mr. Dunton if he thought the creation of this new network and the taking over of these stations would create one extra advertising dollar and his answer was "no". The net result and the sole purpose must be to take from the private stations advertising dollars already in existence. Then we have the hypocrisy of its being said that the C.B.C. intends to encourage private broadcasting. Not only is that nonsensical; it is an utterly dishonest statement to make in the report.
For a short time I intend to deal with my part of the country. This was done quite well by the hon. member for Macleod, (Mr. Hansell), and I am going to be quite brief. Hon. members will be glad to know I am going to be brief in anything else I may say. Out there we have station CFCN which puts out the best news broadcast I have listened to and which is sponsored by the Alberta wheat pool. That station is to lose its wave length. I would remind hon. members who were not members of the radio committee that to that committee came a friend of mine,
Radio Broadcasting

Mr. Marshall Porter. With him came three men, the heads of the largest agricultural organization there. They had held meetings with the heads of practically every agricultural or stock organization in Alberta, seeking to obtain a membership of 15,000 or 20,000 farmers to take over this station. They said they had their own. problems to discuss and they wanted to speak in their own language and be spoken to by persons who understood them. Talk about remote control! 'It is suggested that this control lie 2,000 miles away in Toronto or Montreal. That is what is to be done about the problems of people in Alberta who want to talk their own language and discuss their own problems. That is just silly beyond words.
Will someone over there tell me why the government want another 50,000 watt station in the city of Toronto when they already have one? What possible excuse-there is no reason, of course-can be given for the erection of a second 50,000 watt station in Toronto? What other coverage is there that they are seeking? They have another 5,000 watt station now, and they have the 50,000 watt station. The Elliott-Haynes report was referred to a while ago by the hon. member for New Westminster, and that shows clearly that CFRB is easily the most popular station there. Its record of public service is unsurpassed by any other station in the Dominion of Canada. That was proven beyond question. The record of our own station CFCN is a model of public service, and no one has been able to deny that.

Full View