The hon. member had
the privilege, just the same.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION' OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
The hon. member had
the privilege, just the same.
Wait a minute, now. The order was already on the order paper. The order which had already been made by this house was as wide in its terms as it was possible to be. There were no limitations on it. If we had come back to this house we should have been met with the declaration that the order was as wide as it could be and there was no necessity of amending it.
When I was interrupted I was saying that I was amazed at the effrontery of the Minister of Transport when, speaking on the subject of radio in the house this session, he intimated by his words that any committee appointed by this house this session would be, as in the past, unanimous in making its recommendations and supporting the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
On a point of order, may I
ask the hon. gentleman to read what I said?
I was just going to do
that. The Minister of Transport has not been here long enough to learn that I never make a statement without backing it up with a quotation. The minister, dealing with the appointment of the committee, said that the committee would be appointed and that-
A committee of this parliament will at this session examine the policies of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and report on their wisdom. I have no personal doubt that, as in the past, the report of that committee will be unanimous and an endorsement of the present Canadian Broadcasting Corporation policies including those now under discussion.
Well, Mr. Speaker, the committee's reports were not unanimous in the past. It was
The Address-Mr. Lawson
not unanimous last year; and one of the policies then under discussion was that of preventing a responsible citizen of this country from having access to the air to express his views.
I observe that the other evening the hon. member for Victoria (Mr. McNevin) stated that I had retired from the radio committee last year for political purposes. I reply to him, we shall take good care that in the next election the facts and circumstances which I have to-day recorded in this house will be brought to the attention of his constituents, and we will let them decide who has been playing with the radio committee in this house for political purposes.
The minister indicated to the house that one of the reasons for refusing chain broadcasting to an individual who was willing to pay therefor was that to do so gave a preference to wealth to express its views as against one who had views to express and who, being poor, had not the same opportunity. So the people believe that the government and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in view of their present performance, are sincere in that demagogic declaration of policy? Let me call your attention to some facts. Mr. McCullagh, having been refused a chain of stations over which to broadcast his views, because of wealth, has been able to circumvent the principles laid down by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and this government, by the use of more wealth, by having recorded each week on separate individual records what he proposes to say the following Sunday and then shipping them all over the country, paying the customary shipping charges, to separate individual broadcasting stations where they are run the following Sunday afternoon.
That defeats the hon. member's argument.
Oh yes, it does.
Not a bit of it. I am testing the sincerity of the government in their declaration.
Will my hon. friend explain what the government has to do with it?
Well, yes; I will try. And again I am being thrown off my argument. I was going to deal with it in due course. In the first place the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was created by this government.
By the house.
Mr. LAWSON; Oh, that is an old song, an old story. Every time anything happens it is done by parliament. How is it possible to put anything through this house that has not the approval of the government, with its one hundred and seventy-odd members out of a total of two hundred and forty-five-
It had the unanimous approval of parliament.
-which the people of this country returned in 1935; and they have been regretting it ever since. I should like to come back to this point a little later.
What about the pension commission?
Mr. Speaker, I only wish I had your assurance that you would extend my time. I should like to deal with these gentlemen who are interrupting.
To come back to my point: Mr. McCullagh desires to broadcast his opinions to the people of Canada. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the government-I will come later to why the government is in it- in effect say to Mr. McCullagh: "You cannot do it, because we will not allow you to broadcast over more than one station at a time by means of a connecting wire running from one station to another across the country." The truth of the matter is that Mr. McCullagh has made a farce of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation regulations-and these regulations and by-laws must be approved by this government-and a farce of the government, because it lacks the courage and the backbone to stand for that which it declared to be a sound principle; it fails to take any action to prevent those regulations from being circumvented. The government has awakened to a realization of the fact that the people of this country will no longer tolerate the curtailment of free speech, and the government has neither the courage to carry out its declared principle and intention, nor the grace to admit its mistakes.
I for one am not grieving about Mr. McCullagh making a monkey out of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and this government, because I think that for the first time since 1935 they have been put in the exact category to which they belong. But I tell you what I do object to. One of the fundamental principles of any democratic system is that if you have a law you enforce that law irrespective of whether the one who is evading it is a newspaper publisher or the poorest man on the street. And when this government and the Canadian Broadcasting
The Address-Mr. Lawson
Corporation permit an evasion of any principle which they have laid down in rules and regulations, they are inculcating in the mind of the public a disrespect for the laws of democracy and destroying a fundamental principle of that democracy.
But the issue between Mr. McCullagh and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is by no means an isolated instance of the discriminatory, bureaucratic and indefensible attitude of the corporation. Let me give you one or two others.
In 1937 I had occasion to rise in my place in this house and to protest against a Protestant minister being put off the air because of sermons which he was preaching, and in some parts of the country I was accused of bigotry and prejudice. Well, by a strange turn of the wheel of fortune I rise on this occasion in defence of a Roman Catholic priest, because the same principle applies. Father Lanphier in Toronto was recently banned from the air because he delivered a sermon against communism on a Sunday when a communist candidate was running for election on the following day, Monday.
That was not the reason.
That was the reason set out by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Read the reason.