February 7, 1956

CBA, CBH, CBI-


And so on. Mr. Speaker, that television program never was carried out. The sound broadcasting program was never carried out. Why neither of these programs, notwithstanding that announcement, was never carried out has not yet been explained.


PC
PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Mr. Ostry sought from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, through its responsible officers, to be informed as to why that program, in which he had been asked to participate and in which he had already participated in the film recording and the sound recording, was not to proceed. He was met with the statement on the part of those officials of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that the programs were not going to be broadcast because of a decision taken at Ottawa. When he pursued his question as to who at Ottawa made the decision, he was given the cryptic answer, "It was done by the directorate". When he asked what the

directorate was or who were the members of the so-called directorate, he was refused an answer.

I have been a member of the house committee on radio broadcasting since the year 1945. In that time I think there have been six or seven of those committees. I may say that never previously had I heard of such a thing as the directorate. That was the reason why I today asked the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. McCann) about the directorate. He indicated that he was aware of the existence of the directorate but that, at the moment of the asking of the question this afternoon, he was not in a position to tell me who constitute the personnel of the directorate.

I simply mention that on the frequent occasions when Mr. Dunton, the chairman of the board of governors of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, has been asked in the committee who makes decisions with regard to programs, and as to who are to go on and who are to be kept off and kindred questions, he has declined to answer. He has always said, "I take the responsibility", and he will not submit to further questioning as to who carry out the function of making these decisions. But now at long last we are told that there is a directorate, apparently functioning at Ottawa, which decides what programs shall go on the air or what shall not. In this case we are told that it was by decision of this directorate that these two arranged programs did not proceed.

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Humboldt-Melfort (Mr. Bryson) asked of the minister a question which it would have been my intention to ask concerning the reason why this program or these programs had been cancelled. As reported at page 881 of Hansard, the answer of the Minister of National Revenue was as follows. Perhaps I should read the question. The question was:

I should like to direct a question to the Minister of National Revenue. Why was the discussion on the book "The Age of Mackenzie King" cancelled by the C.B.C.?

Then the minister's answer was as follows:

Mr. Speaker, I have asked the C.B.C. about this matter and I am informed that it was not a case of cancelling a program. The C.B.C. reports that, while some consideration was given to the book as a possible subject for a national television network discussion, on consideration it was not thought to be a good basis for such a discussion.

There you will observe that the minister is saying that the program was not cancelled. That is an amazing statement in view of the fact that responsible officials of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had already informed Mr. Ostry that the program had been

cancelled. Even in the face of the arrangements which had been made, even in the face of the publication by the C.B.C. in the C.B.C. Times of its intention to broadcast that program on the television network on the evening of December 20, the minister has the audacity to say that the program was not cancelled. Mr. Speaker, we have here another example of these inaccurate answers from the government. You cannot get away from that kind of statement by mere quibbling, by saying that "session" just means "sitting", for instance, as we heard today. No, Mr. Speaker, you cannot get around a statement of that kind by any such quibbling.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Defence Production; Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe (Port Arthur):

You are still annoyed, are you?

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Here is a minister saying that it was not cancelled. But the fact is that it was cancelled after it had been announced. Why was it cancelled? Who reached the decision to cancel it? Mr. Ostry has been told that the directorate-whoever they may be- made the decision to cancel it. On what grounds did they make their decision? With what information before them and with what communications before them did they reach that decision?

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

They probably read the

book.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

That is an interesting comment from the minister. I think this time the minister is right: they read the book; and thereby, Mr. Speaker, hangs the tale and no doubt the explanation.

Looking about for the source of this idea to cancel an announced program concerning a book which, as I have indicated, to say the least is not complimentary to the late Mr. King or the record of the Liberal party, is it not fair to ask this question: Where does the advantage accrue from such a cancellation? To even the most untutored in the tortuous ways of this government it is perfectly obvious that the only advantage that could accrue from the cancellation of that program was an advantage to the Liberal party and the government opposite. Hence, Mr. Speaker, we are left with two alternative explanations.

The first one is that this program must have been cancelled by request of the government. I am not so naive as to suggest tbait the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) wrote a letter to Mr. Dunton and asked that this program should be cancelled. Oh, no; I do not make that suggestion. I do not even suggest that the Minister of National Revenue necessarily picked up the telephone and called Mr. Dunton or spoke with anyone- representing the so-called directorate. I am not

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation even suggesting that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Pickersgill) necessarily communicated, perhaps by artful stratagem or hint, the feelings of the government in this matter or his personal feelings which would be the same thing. But, Mr. Speaker, by whatever method the view was conveyed or the hint, it is quite obvious that the feelings of the government were not offended by the cancellation. That is one of the two possible explanations.

The other alternative explanation is that the directorate, in proceeding to cancel this program, was acting in the interests of the government and the Liberal party even without direct government intervention.

Sir, of the two alternatives the second would be the worse for Canada because it would mean that the directorate, the responsible body in the Canadian Broadcasting organization, was anticipating government desires in this matter and was showing such a tender solicitude for the partisan interests of the government as would serve the desires of the government. Take your choice, Mr. Speaker, of those two alternative explanations.

Suspicion could not fail to be aroused by the method in which this matter has been handled, the secrecy of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the way it went about the ugly task of the interment of the plans for this broadcast. There was no frank, straightforward statement coming from them. No, it is quite obvious that they felt they had something to hide; they had something to hold back and therefore the interment must be secret.

In addition, we have what has become the so familiar pattern in this house of another inaccurate answer from a minister. This, sir, has been an ugly act of suppression. It underlines again the dangers of monopoly in reference to an important medium for the communication of ideas. It underlines again the rank peril of government interference, direct or indirect, with this means of communication of ideas. It should not be forgotten that by the statement of responsible officials of the broadcasting corporation the decision to cancel this program, which amounts to a ban and therefore I say decision to ban the panel discussion of this controversial book, was taken at Ottawa. It was a decision to cancel a program already announced.

Where is freedom if this sort of thing can be done? There is only one T.V. network permitted in this country, and here was a program that had been arranged for the network, with all the preparations made sc far as the principal figure was concerned.

948 HOUSE OF

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

One thing remains and one alone out of the announced plan of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Gone are the plans for the panel which would have assured a variety of qualified participants in reference to a controversial subject. You will bear in mind, sir, I am not suggesting that the participants in such a panel would be men favourable to the book. The whole purpose of panel discussion, as I understand it in reference to a controversial question, is that you have a variety of points of view and the public hears all sides of the issue.

But gone are the plans for a panel discussion in reference to this controversial volume. All that remains is a plan for a review a little later on by one person, in this case by a gentleman who no doubt would have been suitable as one of the participants in a panel discussion of the book and what it has disclosed, but who now being the sole selected individual to put on a one-man review of the book, happens to be a gentleman employed by the executors of the estate of the late Mr. King as one of his literary editors. We will still recognize that the book is important enough and of sufficient public interest to have warranted the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation last autumn undertaking a sound broadcast and a panel discussion on a television network.

Is this the government's idea of fair play? Is this the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's conception of its duty to the Canadian public? Rather, sir, this is one particularly igly example of the grip that the Liberal party has laid hold upon the channels of communication and its use of them or abuse of ;hem for its own partisan advantage. We have seen the same thing in reference to television iroadcasts. We were reminded not long ago hat when the corporation, feeling very un-somfortable in the face of the present situa-ion, desired that the use of the television >anels should be opened up to the political larties of this country, the objection made o the use of the channel came from the -liberal party. We shall not forget that it vas in this house on January 12 that the 'rime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), with no loubt commendable frankness, appeared to ake personal responsibility in the matter.

Let the Canadian public well realize it has ieen the Liberal party that has been denying he fair use of the television channels to the 'olitical parties. They have all the advantage iow. Anything is an excuse for putting a linister on television, but nothing is sufficient ustification for putting a representative of nother party on the television channels. The dvantage is all with the government today, nd they mean to keep that advantage just as mg as they can.

One further thing, sir; let it not be forgotten that when the representatives of the political parties were called into session to discuss the inauguration of such a service in which the various political parties of this country would be afforded an opportunity to participate, from the lips of the representative of the Liberal party at that conference there came the question as to who was going to censor the program. Here is an act of censorship. Here has been an act of banning, regardless of what the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. McCann) says. It was an act of cancellation and this has been done in a way that has accrued, so they think and undoubtedly so they hope, to the partisan advantage of the Liberal party and this government.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I wonder if the hon. gentleman would permit me to ask him a question?

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PC
LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

If I understood him correctly, I understood him to say that at a meeting between the C.B.C. and the various representatives of the political parties a representative of the Liberal party asked the question, who was going to censor the program. I wonder if the hon. gentleman was present at that meeting or what his source of information was? I think we are entitled to be told because I understood this was a private meeting. I think we are entitled to be told what the authority is for that statement because I do not believe, sir, that it is true.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Whether or not the minister thinks it is true does not alter the fact it is true. I was not present at that meeting, and I believe he was not either, so I do not know why he arrogates that kind of authority to himself, but I will tell him I have heard it from several sources, and in every case a reputable and dependable source. There can be no doubt the remark was made.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

If I may be permitted I would say that I have had the privilege of reading the minutes of that meeting.

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PC
LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

And there is nothing of the kind in the minutes.

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PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fleming:

Apparently it did not get on the minutes. Did the minister have anything to do with suppressing the minutes of the meeting he was talking about that was so secret?

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POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT

LABOUR RELATIONS

CCF

Alfred Claude Ellis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Claude Ellis (Regina City):

I wish at this time to draw to the attention of the house some of the unfair labour practices engaged

in by the government of Canada. I do so as a result of several questions asked with regard to the post office department since this session commenced, and which were asked by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) and myself with respect to the liquidation of overtime accumulated during the Christmas rush. As a result of the answers given by the Postmaster General at that time I am wondering whether we realize the seriousness of the government's attitude towards the problem of the 40-hour week and the whole question of overtime. At the time the bill to increase postal rates was before the house we were told it would be necessary to increase the postal rates in order to take care of the additional costs of instituting the 40-hour week and the wage increases involved.

During the course of that debate many of us wondered just how clear the government was in its understanding of the 40-hour week. I recall asking the Postmaster General at that time if he was aware of the fact that the normal practice for a 40-hour week was to pay time and a half for all time worked in excess of the 40 hours. At that time he replied that the government policy was to give the workers a 40-hour week and if they worked over 40 hours they would then be paid at their regular rates of pay. As a matter of fact, it was much worse than that at the time. We were told that the regular postmen who agreed to work a sixth day would be paid at the rate offered to temporary or casual help, which would mean in effect that they would be working at a rate less than their regular rate of pay. Then, after a great deal of confusion on the part of the minister, we did get the impression that the government policy in this regard was to require that the employees work 40 hours and then to ask them if they would work a sixth day. They went much further than that, too. There were complaints coming to hon. members from postal groups throughout the country referring to the efforts made on the part of the postmasters to get personnel to work six days; and mark this, while they were supposed to be working a 40-hour week they were asked to go back and work six days at their regular rates of pay. The government could see nothing wrong with that at the time. I think that is a clear indication that this government has no concept of what the 40-hour week really is.

There were several other matters which entered into the discussion at this time and these matters were brought up at a later time when the estimates of the Postmaster General were before the house. I am not going to refer to them except to state that the pattern indicates the lamentable record

Post Office Department-Labour Relations of the government in its relations with its employees. We were happy that the government backed down in connection with the question of the priority of holidays which would have been destroyed to a large extent by a change in regulations.

Not long ago the government proposed to introduce penalties for those who were late in arriving at work, and we remember the tremendous outcry which quite naturally arose from those who were affected. Hon. members in this house indicated the folly of that plan, an insult to a loyal group of public servants.

A short while ago the hon. member for Peterborough (Mr. Fraser) brought up the question of the installation of television in the post office in Peterborough. It is quite true that the government has not talked about putting television in any other post office but we are led to believe that this is more or less an experiment and if the government is satisfied with it then I presume there will be a movement to instal television in other post offices across Canada.

Each of these instances is serious enough in itself but when you see the over-all pattern indicating the callous disregard on the part of the government for the rights of public servants in this country we realize that the government should undertake a revision of their entire attitude.

While we are talking about the dismal record and maladministration on the part of the Post Office Department we must mention the latest instance, which has to do with the liquidation of Christmas overtime. I received, Mr. Speaker, a copy of a resolution passed at the January meeting of the Regina branch of the Canadian postal employees association and I should like to read the resolution because I think it clearly outlines the legitimate complaints of these postal workers:

Whereas-

During the Christmas rush, postal workers are called on to work 14 hours per diem (less lunch periods) in order to process the tremendous amount of extra mail to ensure delivery before the holiday.

And whereas-

Workers are put to additional expense for extra meals and for taxies.

And whereas-

Four extra hours are worked per week before time and one half is paid,

Therefore we of the Regina Branch of the Canadian Postal Employees Association do unanimously protest the recent ruling of the Post Office Department to liquidate some of this overtime during the month of January.

When this question was raised in the house the Postmaster General made the most amazing statement. He said that there is nothing wrong with this because this is the practice throughout the civil service. In other words,

Post Office Department-Labour Relations crime is not important if it has become compounded. The fact that this is the practice throughout the civil service is a poor excuse for treating the post office employees in this shameful manner.

The minister made another amazing statement when he said there is an order in council which covers the question of overtime. Well, who passed the order in council? How can the government hide behind an order in council on a matter of this kind? The government passed the order in council stipulating that overtime would not be paid under certain circumstances but instead this time would be liquidated during the month of January.

My contention is simple: If the government could pass an order in council restricting and impeding rights of postal workers, then the same government can rescind that order, in council and treat the postal workers properly. If the minister considers that because this is common practice throughout the civil service it is an excuse for the poor treatment of one group of civil servants, then I suggest it is time the government reviewed the system. I should state, Mr. Speaker, that while I am giving a specific instance concerning the Post Office Department I am by no means suggesting that the Postmaster General is more at fault than is any other member of the government. This is a decision which has been made by this government and the Postmaster General is apparently carrying out the government's policy in this regard. It is that government policy which I am protesting at this time.

I think we have to be quite clear that a 40-hour week means that the workers work 40 hours and every hour worked in addition to the 40 hours is overtime and must be paid for at overtime rates of pay. I think we have to recognize that the payment of overtime rates is not a question of incentive to the employee. In reality, overtime rates of pay are a penalty against the employer. A great many unions forbid their members to work overtime because they realize that many employers use overtime as a means of keeping their labour force at the irreducible minimum and that if overtime were not paid the labour force would have to be increased.

Moreover, if there are employees who are not averse to working overtime I suggest it is because their rates of pay are so low they are compelled to accept overtime as a means of supplementing their income and the answer to that is simply not working more overtime but paying more adequate rates of wages.

I have stated before in this house that the government of this country ought to be setting an example to all other employers in Canada

but instead of that we find departments of this government which have established the reputation of being the worst employers in Canada as far as treatment of their employees is concerned.

I ask this question: How many employers in this country could get away with what the Post Office Department apparently got away with this year? I wonder how many packing houses or how many factories could say to their men around Christmas, "We are awfully busy this year and are going to require you to work many hours in excess of the regular work week; if you work you can take time off in January." They would not get away with it; there is not a trade union in this country which would put up with it for a moment, and yet civil servants of this government are being obliged to put up with that sort of thing.

I make the plea to the government at this time that they give serious consideration to this matter and recognize their responsibility to the people of this country and that they ought to be setting a good example to other employers rather than setting a bad example. They can set a good example by taking into consideration all the aspects of the 40-hour week and doing away with unfair labour practices which have given the government a black eye as far as their relationship with their employees is concerned.

I say to the Postmaster General (Mr. Lapointe) and through him to the government: Now is the time to pay heed to the

representations that have been made. I do not know what the Postmaster General and other ministers of the crown do when representations are received. I have read the resolution passed by the branch in my constituency and I think it indicates to hon. members the reasonableness of the request these people are making. They are not asking for anything which any employee in this country has not the right to get.

What is the government going to do about it instead of getting up and saying they are not going to do anything in connection with this department because it would affect other departments. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Pickersgill) stood up in this house last year when the post office estimates were being considered and said that they did not want to discuss this matter at that time because it had to do with the civil service commission and the civil service as a whole.

I am not levelling my criticism at the Postmaster General alone. I ask him and his colleagues in the government to give active consideration to the request made by these

public servants and usher in a new and better concept of labour relations in the government service.

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Subtopic:   LABOUR RELATIONS
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Angus Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kingsway):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words on the subject raised by the hon. member for Regina City (Mr. Ellis). I have had occasion before to speak in regard to this matter for certain civil servants. I think the time is long past when any branch of the government of Canada should adhere to the old method of asking workers to work overtime for the privilege of taking time off a little later. As far as the post office employees are concerned they are glad to do this and are ready to work overtime at a time of the year when most people like to have time with their families. But when they do this they are asked to take time off at a period in the year when there is not much else they can do except to sit at home. Surely this government is advanced enough to get away from that old way of treating employees.

I am not going to say much more in this connection. I think all that needs to be done is to draw to the attention of the government how obsolete this sort of treatment is and to ask the government to treat the civil service on the same basis as the employees of private industry are treated. Times have changed in the last few years as far as the relations of workers and employers in industry are concerned. The workers are no longer standing in daily fear of what may happen to them in their employment. They have developed organizations and are thus able to demand consideration from their employers which they never would get without such organizations.

I have not the press clipping with me but since coming down here I read an article in a paper published in Quebec-I think the incident occurred in that province-dealing with the prosecution of some employers in the lumbering industry for cruelty to the horses used in their operations. The judge was quite scathing in his remarks and he said something like this: The workers in industry have organized and can demand proper working conditions, but the horses are not in a position where they can organize, and when cases of this kind are brought before them the courts should see that animals are treated properly. I intended to bring that clipping down with me and I probably should have it, but I left it on my desk.

That brought home to me the fact that only a few years ago the workers in this industry had just as little to say about the conditions under which they had to work as the horses had. But things have changed. I suggest

Post Office Department-Labour Relations to the Postmaster General (Mr. Lapointe) that he discuss this matter with his administrative staff and I think they will soon realize how old-fashioned it is to say to an employee, "The circumstances are such that we want you to work overtime for the next two or three weeks and then a few weeks later you can take time off as we will not need your services then".

A worker should be paid for his services. If he works overtime he should receive a higher income. When he receives that higher income he should be able to do with it what he likes and in his own time and not be at the beck and call of his employer, whether that employer be the government of Canada or private industry.

Topic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Subtopic:   LABOUR RELATIONS
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February 7, 1956