Mrs. Simma Holt (Vancouver-Kingsway):
Mr. Speaker, on March 6, I questioned the Minister of Communications (Mrs. Sauve) with regard to a published admission by her departmental officials that six of the nine members of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission came from Quebec, two from the prairies, and one from Belfast, Ireland. I asked her whether she would replace this member from overseas with one from the Canadian province of British Columbia which has no representation. The minister's answer was no answer. She said:
The Commissioners of the CRTC are not nominated to represent regions. They are nominated for their knowledge of the matters with which they have to deal.
A remarkable answer, Mr. Speaker. British Columbians, who have watched the insensitive, if not vindictive actions of the CRTC in British Columbia, did not need to be told the CRTC is not only unrepresentative of the region but it imposes its narrow nationalism, its own preferences, on our province. Seven times they have improvised vindictive policies, virtually bullying lower mainland citizens and totally ignoring their wishes.
Every Canadian, especially one who, like myself, has worked in the journalistic, creative and broadcasting professions, wants to nurture Canadian stations, Canadian content, and Canadian culture. So concerned was I with helping western Canadian talent grow that shortly before I came here I created a registered B.C. company with two divisions called "Contemporary Content" and "Canadian Content". But no good creative person wants to wallow in the mediocrity that follows when competition is shut out and we are so protected that we work in sheltered cultural workshops.
In Vancouver and the lower mainland we have six Canadian stations on the primary dial-three Canadian network stations, one joint network, one private station, and the community station. We have four American stations including two unimpaired channels and one engaged in "public broadcasting". Now the CRTC has authorized an expenditure of $6 million 20 miles away in Victoria for a second, redundant, CBC station and a second, redundant, CTV outlet, CHEK TV, which carries both CBC and CTV, Victoria.
The minister admits the CRTC commissioners do not represent the region. One has to ask if the "expertise" and knowledge she discusses, from Belfast, Ireland, is better for Canadians and Canadiana than would be the case if the commissioners came from nine regions of Canada rather than two-thirds from one province and one from Ireland.
March 19, 1979
One must also ask if the commissioner, who said her original home was Ireland-no one asked for her birthplace-was seeking the same thing as a member of parliament in the late nineteenth century, that is, General Laurie, the member for Shelbourne, Nova Scotia, from 1888 to 1891, who returned to the Isle of Wight upon retirement but demanded that his passage between the British Isles and Ottawa be paid by the Government of Canada. When one looks at these expenses of the CRTC, one wonders whether she, the commissioner, got her travel expenses. I do not think she did, but it is a good question, one that I have not asked yet.
Whether the designation of original home as Belfast, Ireland, was the actual home before she came to Ottawa, or whether this was an attempt to be cute, this response to a question from a member of parliament is good reason why she should be replaced by someone from British Columbia, or even from the maritimes which have no representation. No doubt the replacement of her colleague, Roy Faibish, whose record is well known in the House and was reported by me on October 31, would enhance rather than diminish the CRTC.
Both the east and west coast regions have an absolute right to membership in this exclusive club, a club which, in the past two and a half years, has spent more than $350,000 in tax dollars that we can trace on travel to B.C. hotels and that does not include the salaries which range from a minimum of $35,000 to $67,700, also paid by the taxpayers who earn one sixth of the salary for which they pay.
Members of the regulatory board of communications should be broad in intellectual and communication experience, should have competence, a sense of justice and wisdom to serve the diverse and complex needs of this great land. They must possess the highest level of experience and a reputation for success in communication and contemporary technology. They should not be disabled intellectually, or warped to the extent of the male member who demonstrated his great prowess in Vancouver on October 24 in a rather perverse way, with an expertise which seemed to concentrate on the nether regions of the human anatomy.
There is an intellectual disability which has manifested itself, in at least the lower mainland of British Columbia, in the form of a nationalistic bigotry, a bigotry and narrowness which would impose their centre-Canada ego and consequent mediocrity on the rest of this nation, which demands and yearns for richness and understanding of the whole colour and pageantry of the real Canada. Lower mainland British Columbia has had to accept-for too long-the output of cliques in Toronto and Montreal.
In saying that the commissioners are not nominated to represent regions but are nominated for their knowledge, the minister begs the question: What knowledge? What were the criteria on which these people were selected, if not on a representative basis? The chairman is a geographer from Montreal who earns between $51,900 and $67,700. The deputy chairman is a lawyer from Montreal. That is hardly a necessary qualification for communications. The other deputy
chairman is a mathematician. Mr. Faibish, to whom reference has been made, was a broadcasting executive. There are lawyers, law professors and engineers. These are hardly qualifications that enhance this important assignment.
In conclusion I would just like to paraphrase Arnold Toynbee, in reference to the non-reply by the minister to my question, when the former said before the UN in 1979, "We will not accept annihilation of freedom of choice without representation."
Topic: PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic: CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION-REPRESENTATION ON COMMISSION