Mr. Mac T. McCuicheon (Lamblon-Kenl):
Mr. Speaker, in your experience you have heard a multitude of reasons for members participating in debate in this house so I might as well give you mine. My reason is simple. We are discussing Bill C-163 in respect of the C.B.C., but I do not believe we are talking about what the public really wants to know. I hope to be able to explain this statement a little later.
I have listened carefully to the minister's detailed and helpful explanation. Let me congratulate her on her stamina and perseverance. She kept going through all 10,000 words of it. Since then I have listened and read attentively expressions from all corners of this house. I have listened to C.B.C. apologists as well as those who would open up the treasury for five years and those who would curtail expenditures. We have all heard some wonderful legal arguments and opinions that the C.B.C. will now be directed by cabinet. We have heard pious hopes that the ugly spectre of politics will be forever erased from any connection with the C.B.C. There have been other arguments and suggestions that control will now be more political than the
B. B.G. ever considered. The more I have heard the more confused the issue has become.
I have formed one opinion with which I am sure the majority of Canadian taxpayers will agree. This debate is missing the target and is skirting the most important consideration in respect of the whole ugly C.B.C. mess. Up to the present time I have discerned no real attempt to come to grips with this important consideration. In the past issues have been clouded by insinuations that any criticism of the C.B.C. is an attempt to direct broadcasting and that parliament must not interfere with the creative elements of the
C. B.C., with which I agree. There are those who say the C.B.C. is doing a magnificent job. I cannot agree with them. It has been suggested that we should give the C.B.C. enough money to operate for four or five years at a time with no strings attached, but I suggest that the wisdom of this proposal has been challenged by at least four or five programs carried by the C.B.C. network. The Canadian taxpayer would like parliament to make sure that the C.B.C. is financially responsible. I do not believe for one moment that the people are as overly concerned about programming as we have been led to believe. They still have control of the on and off button. What they want parliament to find out is the value we are receiving from this expenditure.
The hon. member who has just taken his seat spoke about the terrible programming on the C.B.C. With all respect I suggest to him that no one has to watch any program. They can shut it off. I have heard public indignation about the expenditure of in excess of $100 million per year on this giant. This is understandable when one considers the other segments of our society which are suffering for lack of money. For example, what might an extra $100 million have done in respect of housing in Canada this year?
Let me say again that this debate is missing the target by a country mile with few exceptions. Last night the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra (Mr. Deachman) got close to the point, but I fear he is not prepared to vote the way he talks.
[DOT] (4:10 p.m.)
You see, Mr. Speaker, we are taking off in all directions simultaneously even though the basic issue must be: How can we control and, yes, cut down on the woeful extravagances of this juggernaut? I submit, respectfully, that nothing in the bill and not much said in the
November 7, 1967
debate so far has shown the way to reduce
costs or to really improve programming- nothing.
As things stand now, the minister accepts no responsibility. The stock answer is always that she is not responsible, that she only reports for the C.B.C. Most of us have had experience with the complaint of a constituent about C.B.C. service-and what a laugh this is. What these constituents have received in the mail from a highly paid public relations expert is a snow job beyond compare, so that the poor constituent really does not know what his question was in the first place. I understand that all this is to be changed, but I get the inference from the debate that the final answer to most disputes will now rest with cabinet.
Most politicians, indeed all politicians, need a certain amount of publicity, so I suggest that a politician who dares to criticize the C.B.C. is certainly leaving himself or herself subject to blacklisting. It seems to me that the bigger the apologist for the C.B.C., the more coverage he may receive. It is, therefore, indeed a brave front bench member of parliament who has the temerity to say anything critical of this monopolistic creature. Some have tried in the past but they have been immediately charged with trying to control programming and other sinister behaviour. It has been said that no one should criticize this sacred cow. But now the minister has and she has been criticized for her actions. I do not agree too often with the minister on other things but in this regard I have to give her full marks.