William Alfred ROBINSON

ROBINSON, William Alfred, Q.C., B.A.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Simcoe East (Ontario)
Birth Date
July 12, 1905
Deceased Date
November 15, 1957
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Alfred_Robinson
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=3ada6e3a-9fea-4e2f-a739-b461030a41c3&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
barrister

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
LIB
  Simcoe East (Ontario)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
LIB
  Simcoe East (Ontario)
  • Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole (May 23, 1952 - May 14, 1953)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
LIB
  Simcoe East (Ontario)
  • Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons (November 12, 1953 - April 12, 1957)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 699 of 700)


August 24, 1946

Mr. W. A. ROBINSON (Simcoe East):

Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy listening to the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) even when I disagree with him in some respects. I would, however, like to associate myself with some remarks which he made, and those were the remarks in appreciation of Mr. Allard and his work in connection with our reports from parliament hill. I think that has been appreciated by all hon. members, and I am very glad to mention it at this time.

I have listened with a great deal of interest to the previous speakers on this measure, mostly, I am afraid, in criticism, and I feel impelled to rise at this time to say a few words in support of the measure.

The expansion plans of the C.B.C. are not by a~ny means an innovation. They are merely part of a well settled principle which has had the approval of successive governments and successive parliamentary committees. I think most. Canadians, including most members of this house, approve the idea of a nationally owned broadcasting system, and I think it has always been contemplated that this system should be expanded and enlarged to serve the needs of the listening public.

Perhaps it will not be out of place at this time if I review briefly some of the major steps in the development of our thinking on this subject of radio broadcasting.- I do so, not with the idea of suggesting that we should be bound by the past, but rather to show a certain continuity of development.

Following the haphazard development of radio in the early twenties, the Aird commission was appointed in 1928. This valuable body established, amongst other things, three facts of major importance. They were: that broadcasting was tending to concentrate in more densely populated areas, leaving more lightly populated areas ineffectively served; also, that the majority of programmes heard was from sources outside Canada; again, that there was a great demand and need for the development of Canadian broadcasting in the

Radio Broadcasting

interests of Canadian listeners and in the national interests of Canada. The commission came to the conclusion that the interests of the listening public and of the nation could be served adequately only-

... by some form of public ownership, operation and control behind which is the national power and prestige of the whole public of Canada.

This conclusion of the Aird commission became the keynote of the subsequent develop^ ment of radio in this country.

In later years, committees of this house reaffirmed and enlarged this basic principle. The first parliamentary committee met, I think, in 1932 and recommended in part as follows:

. . . that a nationally owned system of radio broadcasting be instituted and that all stations required for its proper organization be eventually acquired.

Following some years of operation, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was brought into being in 1936 by act of this parliament. Subsequent committees reaffirmed that basic principle, and I should like particularly to refer to the report of the committee of 1942-43:

Your committee now desires to reaffirm these principles as stated in the reports of the committees for the years mentioned in brackets:

(a) The paramount importance of a single national authority to control all broadcasting in the public interest; (4932)

(b) The public ownership of all high power stations under a national system of broadcasting. with low power stations individually operated or coordinated in relation to the dominant system; (1932)

(c) The coordination of all broadcasting in Canada through exclusive control being vested in the nationally owned system of:

(i) The character of all programmes, political or otherwise, broadcast by all stations

and of the advertising content thereof; and

(ii) All wire-line networks used for carrying broadcast programmes; (4936)

I think it is clear that the broad principles behind the development of the C.B.C. have been plainly enunciated. We must realize, however, that the corporation is only in its infancy. It was created in 1936, and is now only at its tenth or tin anniversary. If we have any pride in our national system, surely we can cooperate now to put it on a gold, or, at least, on a silver basis. Its development, its approach to maturity has been retarded for two very good reasons. First, it has been feeling its way in a rapidly developing art where the premature expenditure of money might prove unwise. Secondly, of course, the war has naturally restricted its orderly expansion. Surely, now that the war Is over and the corporation has an experience

of ten years behind it, we can allow it to develop in the manner which has always been contemplated.

It is inevitable but at the same time, in some respects, I think, regrettable that the expansion of the national system foreshadows the allocation of new wave lengths to certain private stations which had previously used clear channels allotted to Canada under the Havana agreement. I think I can say without. fear of contradiction that all members who sat on the recent committee were very much impressed by the able representations, made on behalf of two of the stations affected, and I refer to CFCN, Calgary and CFRB, Toronto.

We could not fail to recognize, and have recognized in the report, the good community service which has been rendered by these and other private stations. Nevertheless I cannot agree, as has been suggested by one hon. member opposite, that the private stations are not receiving "fair play" or that insecurity of their tenure of a particular wave length constitutes a "sword of Damocles" hanging over their heads. As a matter of fact, the two private stations I have mentioned, in their representations to the committee, attempted to show that they were taken by surprise to some extent by the present proposals, and I think it can be fairly said that they failed in this, and for three reasons. First, the statute law is perfectly clear that a proprietary interest in a wave length cannot be obtained. Secondly, since 1941, endorsements have been placed on the licences issued to these stations by the Department of Transport, which endorsements the department intended to operate as notice of a possible change in the future. I quite agree that the endorsements were not phrased as clearly as they might have been to indicate such an intention. That was made quite clear in the committee. But at the very least, these endorsements should have had the effect of giving to the affected stations good cause to weigh carefully the insecurity of their occupancy of these channels. Third, and I think possibly most importantly, the principle of public ownership of high-power stations was enunciated in parliamentary committees as far back as 1932. The committee of 1942 was particularly clear on this point, and I should like to refer to some of the proceedings of that committee.

In the committee of 1942, Doctor Frigon of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was examined at some length by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell). I will read a portion of that examination as reported in the proceedings of the committee.

Radio Broadcasting

First, I might explain that the hon. member for, Rosetown-Biggar was referring to the three stations CFCN, Calgary; CFRB, Toronto, and CKY, Winnipeg, which were not owned by the corporation. I quote:

Q. These are not all corporation stations?

A. No. There are two that are not corporation stations.

Q. What two are they?

A. CFRB, Toronto and CFCN, Calgarj.

Q. I understood there was another.

A. CKY, Winnipeg; that is owned by the Manitoba government.

Q. That is three stations that have been allotted clear channels.

A. Yes.

Q. That can be occupied up to fifty kilowatts?

A. Right.

Q. Have they an understanding with you that they will be required to vacate these channels?

A. First of all, the frequencies are allocated annually and the Minister of Transport has always the right to make a transfer in each year.

Q. And there is no possibility of any misunderstanding that these stations have a vested interest in those channels?

A. No.

Q. None whatever?

A. No.

Q. So that they can be renewed at any time that the corporation needs those channels?

A. They can be turned over to the C.B.C.

Q. For its own purposes?

A. Yes.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   CORPORATION TO RECEIVE LICENCE FEES- ADVANCES ON ACCOUNT OF CAPITAL EXPENDITURES
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August 24, 1946

Mr. ROBINSON (Simeoe East):

Coming now to the report of the committee of 1942, it reaffirms the principle of-

. . . the public ownership of all high power stations under a national system of broadcasting, with low power stations individually operated or coordinated in relation to the dominant system.

The report goes on to say, at page 1095:

The private broadcasting stations have no vested interest in the sound-waves they are allowed to use. The government and the .corporation should not hesitate to terminate any licence when it is in the public interest to do so. Any increase in power considered necessary and desirable to occupy the channels allowed under the Havana agreement should be made in stations owned or taken over by the corporation.

I do not think anything could be much clearer than the proceedings from which I have quoted, and these phrases from the final report of that committee, and I think it will be seen that the C.B.C. is only proposing to do now that which it had in contemplation some years ago and which has been delayed by reason of the war. At the same time I urge the C.B.C. and the government to give every assistance to the affected stations in allocating the best possible alternative wave lengths to them and to allow them to develop sufficient power on their new wave lengths to maintain and continue their present fine position as community stations.

In conclusion, I should like to say a few words as to the committee itself. I personally found the work extremely interesting. It was the first time that I had had the privilege of sitting on the radio committee. As the various statements were made, the witnesses were examined and the representations were given to us, I am sure that every new member of the committee, including myself, obtained an entirely new, and in most respects satisfying, picture of the present position of radio in Canada and of its future development.

I heartily concur in the recommendation that a similar committee be appointed each year. I should like to emphasize that it should commence its work early in the session.

I would go farther and say a few words about the personnel of the committee. Radio is a fascinating, but an extremely technical, subject. In the committee we were tremendously assisted by hon. members who had had the opportunity of sitting on previous committees and who had a good grounding in the subject. Perhaps I should not mention names particularly, but I should like to make some mention of the good work done by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell), the hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Hansell) and the hon. member for St. Paul's (Mr. Ross). I should also like to pay a tribute

Radio Broadcasting

to the able chairmanship of the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Maybank). Therefore I think any committee which is appointed in future should have a good proportion of old hands and a fairly generous sprinkling of new blood, so that a good many members of the house may be given an opportunity to study our radio problems.

I believe that a yearly committee is essential if parliament is to exercise the close scrutiny which should be exercised over such a powerful instrument, if we are to be assured that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is carrying out its declared functions, for instance, that it is giving coverage to remote and sparsely populated areas and equality of opportunity of discussion of public questions.

One of the questions which should certainly have the attention of any future radio committee was that raised by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and touched on by the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker), namely, the matter of appeal from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation decisions. It seems to me that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as a regulatory as well as an operative body, must at times be placed in a somewhat anomalous position. The present committee did not have the time to study this question carefully, but it has left the door wide open to future study. I agree that such study should be made.

I do not think I can be accused of taking up too much of the time of the house, but I feel that I have spoken sufficiently long at this late hour of the session on the general aspects of the measure before us. There are a few particular points which I should like to refer to later but I can do that when the bill is in committee.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   CORPORATION TO RECEIVE LICENCE FEES- ADVANCES ON ACCOUNT OF CAPITAL EXPENDITURES
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August 24, 1946

Mr. ROBINSON (Simeoe East):

I am not suggesting that this is a direct notice to the people involved; but I will say that representatives of at least CFRB appeared later on in that committee, as will be seen by the proceedings; 'and, as the hon. member knows, the private stations took an active part and a great interest in the sittings of the radio committee. This is a matter of public record, and I think it is at least constructive notice. Following that-

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING ACT
Subtopic:   CORPORATION TO RECEIVE LICENCE FEES- ADVANCES ON ACCOUNT OF CAPITAL EXPENDITURES
Full View Permalink

August 9, 1946

Mr. ROBINSON (Simcoe East):

Please do.

Topic:   END OF VOLUME IV
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August 9, 1946

Mr. ROBINSON (Simcoe East):

Will the hon. member please name them?

Topic:   END OF VOLUME IV
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