February 24, 1961

VETERANS AFFAIRS


Third report of standing committee on veterans affairs-Mr. Montgomery.



The house in committee of supply, Mr. Flynn in the chair. National film board- 251. Administration. Production and distribution of films and other visual material, $4,988,112.


NEW

Walter George Pitman

New Party

Mr. Pitman:

I just want to say a few words about the national film board from a particular point of view. I think we in North America have a somewhat peculiar view of public agencies. We tend to regard them as likely to be havens of inefficiency, waste and mediocrity, filled with time servers. Indeed, one hears it suggested that they are the last harbour of retreat for incompetence.

In the national film board we have a government agency which derives its revenue, certainly in part, from the government, and which is responsible to parliament and therefore to the people of Canada. We know that its work could never be carried on by a commercial company, yet it is amazing to what extent this agency pays for itself. It sells its services to the extent of nearly $1,500,000, and its rentals amount to well over $500,000. Thus we must remember, when we consider the work of this agency, that parliament is not paying the whole shot.

Part of the work of the film board is to provide services for other departments of government. For example, if the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Trade and Commerce want a film made, the film board is asked to make it. I think one of the most heartening aspects about this government agency is the extent to which it has gained the confidence and won the enthusiasm of the people of Canada. One thing to be noted is that this is an example of a government agency which is not cold and impersonal, as we in North America tend to think government agencies should be. I think it is significant that this agency has gained an unique place in Canadian life, and because of this it has been able to distribute its films at only a fraction of the cost which a commercial

company would have incurred, since there are a large body of people who are willing to give their services to the board simply because they regard its work as being important to the community.

As a result of the wide distribution of the films made by the board, over 15 million people in this country have seen them either through school programs or community programs. The importance of the work of the film board to the departments of education can, in fact, hardly be rated too highly. If we include those people who have seen national film board productions by means of television, then of course the number would run into almost countless millions.

Another legend which seems to persist in North America is that the work of government agencies seldom rises above mediocrity. But, as was pointed out last night, perhaps the people of Canada do not realize the number of awards which the national film board has won by reason of the excellent quality of its work. The fact that the board has won seven of these awards throughout the world is something to be noted. It might seem that with regard to this aspect of our national life we just do not know how well our agencies are doing. We have discovered how to make films with a distinctive Canadian style. Canadian films are known because of the way they are made, and I think this shows that the flavour of Canadian life can be expressed through the medium of films. Through the films of the national film board developments in Canada have been made known in other parts of the world. This would indicate that the expenditure parliament is making on behalf of the board is worth while. I hope this will be an indication of what the role of government enterprise can be. Here is a public enterprise that is not competing with private enterprise but is giving business to and supporting private enterprise, and at the same time is making a tremendous contribution to Canadian life.

Here we have an example which shows that we can have an esprit de corps, a justifiable pride, in a public agency. Certainly the films of the board are produced with the highest degree of technical excellence. To the extent that the board changes the public image of government agencies, it is performing a remarkable service in Canada.

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PC

George Robson Muir

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Muir (Lisgar):

Mr. Chairman, the minister will recall that when parliament was opened by the Queen in 1957 the national film board filmed the proceedings. I am wondering in how many places throughout Canada this film has been shown and if it is still being shown throughout the country.

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

Mr. Chairman, while we are locating those figures for the hon. member, perhaps I may be permitted to make a brief statement. Hon. members will notice that for the fiscal year 1961-62 the national film board estimates show an increase of $287,258. The major factor is an increase of $166,395 for salary revisions and merit increases to the board's personnel. Other increases in the operational vote are $50,000 to provide for an extension of the board's production activities, and an increase in Canadian distribution costs of $14,848 resulting from the appointment of two additional district representatives, one in British Columbia and one in Saskatchewan. The sum of $17,254 will be required for additional service and wage increases to members of the Canadian corps of commissionaires. The acquisition of equipment vote shows an increase of $18,416. The balance of $20,345 covers a number of small items.

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Item agreed to. 252. Acquisition of equipment, $172,380.


PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

I still have an answer coming for the hon. member for Lisgar. The reply to the hon. member is that there were 464 bookings in moving picture theatres in Canada. The picture is being shown in the schools of Canada; it is shown in every part of Canada.

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PC

George Robson Muir

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Muir (Lisgar):

I want to thank the hon. lady for giving me the answer. The reason I asked is that I have had many inquiries from the schools regarding the procedure of opening parliament. I would hope that this film would be shown extensively throughout the schools in Canada.

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

I might add it is available on request.

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PC

John Russell Taylor

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Taylor:

Has the national film board ever attended any international sporting event in which Canada has participated, and taken pictures of some of our Canadian athletes participating in those games?

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

I am told that the film board has never taken actual pictures of international competitions in which Canadian athletes participated abroad because they have never purchased the right to take those pictures, but the board does have pictures of sporting events in Canada. There is a

film which is in course of preparation-it is on the program for this year-which will deal with preparation for competition in the Olympic games.

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PC

John Russell Taylor

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Taylor:

Just by way of further comment, I know that throughout the country there is keen interest in getting copies of films of such events as the skiing championships at Squaw Valley in which Anne Heg-gtveit participated. These films, if readily available, could be shown in schools throughout the country and I am sure they would be much appreciated. My point is, can consideration be given to the national film board at least making an effort to take pictures of some of our stars at some of these future international events in order that in due course those films may be shown here and thereby encourage other amateurs to participate as well?

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

The film board will be very glad to consider this suggestion.

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Item agreed to. Public archives- 319. General administration and technical services, $716,268.


PC

Edwin William Brunsden

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brunsden:

Mr. Chairman, last evening your predecessor in the chair very properly suggested, since I had included books with art, that I should defer my remarks until this particular vote was reached. I should like to say, sir, that last evening's discussion on art was most illuminating to those of us who have had little opportunity to become more than casual observers in that particular field. Some excellent addresses were made; it is not my intention to single out any one in particular, but it was a cultural evening and was well worth while.

Under this particular vote I should like to speak very briefly on the national library. One of the compensations of being a new member of parliament is the access one has to the parliamentary library, the national library, if he so wishes, and the librarians. To those of us who come from far places the contacts we make are most valuable. As an aside I should like to pay a brief tribute to the parliamentary librarian and his staff. They are always most helpful. Like the rose, I am afraid they blush unseen; nevertheless we appreciate them.

I tried to say last night that my previous knowledge of the national library was very fragmentary. I was told at one time that there were two countries in the world without national libraries, Canada and Ghana. I have learned since that Ghana now has an admirable national library and I have also

learned-one learns constantly in Ottawa- that we have the nucleus of a very promising national library in Canada.

My plea is that the promise may be fulfilled. I think it was John Ruskin who once said that books are divisible in two classes, books of the hour and books of all time. Our national library and our archives are concerned with the books of all time. We have made a start, but we need a great deal of development if the national library is to come into full fruition. My information is that there are approximately 400,000 volumes under the control of the national library. It is interesting to note that this represents one book for every 45 Canadians. To me this is pitiful when we think of the tremendous sums of money we spend in other departments which have nothing to do with the development of the Canadian mind.

The national librarian has a very difficult task. He and his staff are working in cramped quarters. They are handicapped in their endeavour to expand the facilities of their organization by not having sufficient room in which to operate. We talk and have talked in the house for the last few years about the creation of a physical green belt. We are building a glorious national capital. My plea is for the creation of a green belt of the Canadian mind, and I hope the day is not far distant when parliament will see to it that in our physical green belt there is built a national library capable of housing the tremendous store of wisdom that has come down to us through the ages and which will enrich not only our own lives but the lives of future generations. Incidentally, I note that the next generation is well represented in the galleries this morning. Generations yet unborn will profit if we establish our national library on the basis on which some of us conceive it should be established.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Mr. Chairman, I was only too happy on this occasion to defer to the hon. member for Medicine Hat who began the remarks he has made this morning on another item in the estimates, and who has made what I think is one of the most useful contributions that have been made to our debates in this session of parliament. Without any reservation whatsoever I should like to congratulate the hon. member both for what he has said and for the way in which he has said it.

It does seem to me that we are taking altogether too long to provide the building which will house the national library. It is a very fortunate thing that for the past few years, since the National Library Act was passed by parliament, we have at least been accumulating some of the books that we

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration ought to be accumulating. I must say that I never before thought of the statistic the hon. member for Medicine Hat gave us this morning when he said that the 400,000 volumes belonging to the national library would represent one book for every 45 people in Canada. I must say I do not think that is one of the statistics I would be proud of, and I doubt if it will be put in that blue book of facts which has been published recently and which is probably not in the national library.

The plain fact is, of course, that until the national library has a real physical home it cannot expand in the way we would like to see it expand and the way it ought to expand. Until it has a proper physical home there cannot be the proper differentiation between the functions of the national library and the functions of the parliamentary library which it would be desirable to make both in the interests of efficiency and economy as between the two institutions. I do feel that it was desirable to let one of the supporters of the government have the initiative that is usually taken by the opposition on the estimates, in the hope that the observations made from this part of this side of the house might not fall on deaf ears but, coming from a supporter of the government, be received a little more sympathetically than otherwise would have been the case. I only wish that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance were not otherwise engaged at the federal-provincial conference so they could have been here to listen to what was said by the hon. member for Medicine Hat.

We do know, of course, that the site for the new national library is now occupied by No. 1 temporary building on Wellington street, which ought to have been torn down by this time. By doing so this energetic Minister of Public Works, who does a lot of talking about providing winter work, might provide a little more work this winter so the government could then proceed at once with the building of the national library. This should be done. I know the hon. lady can only use her influence with her other colleagues, that the decision will be made by the government as a whole, and particularly those members of the treasury board, on the initiative of the Minister of Public Works. At least we have the opportunity here of saying something about it, and I do hope, when the estimates of the Department of Public Works come up, the hon. member for Medicine Hat will urge the Minister of Public Works to get on with the job. From the way the hon. lady is nodding her head I think he will have her support in the cabinet, where there are secrets which she cannot reveal to us except by the expression on her face.

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PC

Ellen Louks Fairclough (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Fairclough:

Possibly I might say a word about this subject. I agree with that which has been said and I thank the hon. members for their support. I too am disappointed that we have not been able to get ahead with the building before this, but possibly now that spokesmen in the house have expressed themselves I will have a little more support.

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CCF

Douglas Mason Fisher

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

Mr. Fisher:

Mr. Chairman, I would like to take a somewhat different approach to that which has been taken in this debate so far. I feel that one should always be careful when speaking from a position of special knowledge, though I hardly claim as a librarian to have particularly special knowledge, but one of the points I would like to bring to the minister's attention is something I have noticed while making certain contacts with people. That is that when we have encountered historians and other people who work at the public archives, we find unstinted praise for the administration in the steps that have been taken and where expansion has taken place. Dr. Lamb, the national archivist, also happens to be the national librarian.

I cannot say I get the same reaction as I go around and encounter librarians and other people dealing with books. By this I do not mean that the criticism is nasty or vicious. I think everyone in the library profession appreciates Dr. Lamb's stature as a scholar, but there is a very definite feeling among librarians that the great ability which he brings to his role as archivist detracts from the part he might play as national librarian.

I was very appreciative, as I know were many people in the library profession, of the fact that the Prime Minister saw fit to appoint a trained librarian for the library of parliament. I have no comments to make about the person appointed, but the fact that we now have this recognition would, it seems to me, lead to the next step of the library profession in its move for recognition, and that is to have a national librarian whose training, background and interest is in libraries.

I cannot emphasize too much the favourable reaction to the work of the public archivist in the way he has expanded the types of service offered both in the library and in the manuscript sections. The microfilm facilities and that sort of thing are excellent. I think the scholarity community, especially in the fields of history and associated subjects, are very fortunate.

I would not like to suggest that the reason we have not a national library building on the way is that we have a man at the head of the public archives and national library who is in a dual function. I do not think

this is a factor, but I think librarians and people who are interested in books and the creation of a national library centre would feel somewhat happier if we had a national librarian separate from the archives.

I know this is possible. I can imagine the hon. member for Greenwood being prepared to argue that the main thing is to have a man who is a good administrator and yet has a sense of cultural values and an over all good education. I agree that this summation would apply very much to Dr. Lamb. The fact is that today there is no antithesis in library work respecting a person of a high education or intellectual status or scholarly attainments, but it is also a fact that more and more the whole organization of things in library work, as it tends towards increasing documentation, is a very specialized administrative field.

I think one of the greatest problems our society is running into lies right in this field of documentation and library work, how we are going to handle the great many records that are piling up in so many fields. I am afraid the national library is going to have a rather narrow collection, say in the field of natural science or applied science, but I am sure we can count on the national research council to provide us with a national library service in those fields. This raises the question as to what the fields the national library is going to cover and whether it is going to be primarily a documentation centre or will attempt to be the kind of large institution that has a basic collection of books in all the various fields.

I suggest that we might be 10 or 15 years behind the times if we aim to erect a huge institution built around a massive book collection. I think in Canada the emphasis should be upon keeping control of the records and books, building up a service of interchange of books, a cracker jack reference service and, through documentary control, keeping on top of all the flow of information that is pulsing into this country or in the country or about the country from anywhere in the world. That is perhaps the main challenge.

I suggest that it is into this field of specialization that librarians are moving more and more. There tends to be a picture in people's minds of a librarian as a man who reads books and book reviews and who can talk knowingly about general books that may be in a collection. As a matter of fact the best librarians-and I think we must acknowledge that the best librarians are mostly Americans -are in one sense extreme specialists in understanding techniques. I refer to punch-card techniques, I.B.M. machine techniques, the

whole business of control and making available information. The institutional kind of national library that is envisaged by many people could, I suppose, be built by a collection of one million or one and a half million volumes.

I wonder what the direction would actually be. We have a collection in Washington today of around the 15 million mark. There is a collection of between eight million and ten million books at the British museum. I have been in the Bodleian library in Oxford. At the time I was there they thought they had between five million and six million books, but they had fairly well lost control of this collection in terms of having it really available to users. The collection at Oxford that was actually available to users through catalogues and ready reference was at that time in the neighbourhood of only one million volumes. I am speaking of ten years ago.

The problem in these larger libraries is quite often, how do you get the service? I know at the Bodleian library you sometimes had to wait an hour or more for a book after you had discovered whether they had the book you wanted and where it was. The British museum is another case in point. I made inquiries there and found they had a magnificent collection and a wonderful service for scholars. They go out of their way, especially in reading room privileges, to help anyone who has a serious scholarly intent. Yet so little of their massive collection is really available. When you see the size of the collection that is available, you understand why this is so, because it is so massive.

The hon. member for Medicine Hat raised the point that we have 400,000 books within the scope of the national library. I do not know too much about the details, but I would doubt whether the national library has available in its present quarters more than 50,000 books catalogued and available. It would seem to me the main thing the national library has done, and we must give credit to the people who originated this, is that it has built up in effect a union catalogue of holdings of most of the academic libraries in Canada. This is what I mean by a type of documentation service, in other words the library acting primarily as a clearing house.

It seems to me that one of the things we are not really crystal clear about when the new building is launched is the range of the collection within the building, how big it is going to be. I think anyone in library work realizes that the initial cost of a book is really nothing in the long run if you have an institutional library. There is a changing pattern as to when the costs of storing a book match up with the costs of

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration buying the book, classifying it, cataloguing it and putting it on the shelf.

In recent years, with the cost of heating and staffing institutions, this point has crept down and down until I think it is recognized by most people in university library circles that within ten years after you put a book on the shelf it has cost you as much to keep it there as it did to buy it and make the preparations to keep it. In other words the space and storage problem is a gigantic one.

If anyone thinks the flow of books is a constant thing they should go and look at some of the books available at the library. They should look at the national library Canadiana, and they will see that in the field of publishing, as in almost every other field, we have a growth potential that has been almost constant. One of the other difficulties about this growth potential and the growth rate has been the fact that publications have tended to vary so much in their format. There is all the mimeographed and other material with which hon. members are familiar. We are moving further and further away from the conventional idea of the book as a hard covered thing, and this raises great problems with regard to storage. It is easy enough to perpetuate the life of a hard covered book, but what do you do about mimeographed briefs, paperbacks, pamphlets and other things which are accumulating so rapidly today and which take so much time to catalogue?

For these reasons I think the concept of our national library needs to be reiterated in terms of the job that library is going to do, and I would suggest that the almost ceremonious conception which many people have of the national library may be already out of date in terms of the use we may possibly have for it. I know it would be very stirring to have the kind of building to which you could take a class and go into a marble hall something like the printing bureau in Hull and see illuminated manuscripts on display. Perhaps we could get Magna Carta and some of the other exhibits of that kind which are on view in the British museum in London and display them.

A service of this kind is one which reminds children of their heritage, but does it really do anything for the serious person who wants to read and study? Does it really do anything when people are able to say we have that big pile of a building filled with a collection that is worth up to a million dollars and still growing, but we are not too sure what that collection is going to be used for and what direction it is going to take. I cannot emphasize too strongly the proliferation of material and the specialization in the field

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Archives, on the other hand, seem to me to be a much simpler proposition in terms of their use both by scholars and by ordinary people. They seem much closer to our history, our traditions and also to our future. The question here that interests and intrigues me, of course, is, for example, the length of time which must expire before records become free and open. For example, I am very much interested in the former member for Port Arthur. If I am ever in a position in the next decade or two to undertake the work, and if I have some available time, I would like to tackle a book or biography of this man. What about the records that he has turned over to the national archives? I quote this as an example. When are these documents to be available?

I think there is another problem which this government, particularly, has not faced; that is, giving some indication of what the members of this government plan to do with their records when their administration ends. We have never had a real definition of what is privy to a minister of the crown and what becomes, eventually, part of the public record and how long documents must form part of the public record before they are open to the scholars. I know that in Britain generally they have a 50-year rule. Sometimes this is waived, and at other times the material is held for longer than 50 years. Again, this is something in the field of public archives I should like to know something about as, I imagine, other scholars would.

There is an increasing interest which I encounter, and which I am sure other members encounter, in genealogy in this country, and here the national archives offers a service especially in connection with earlier census records. I wonder whether the archives or the national library or the national library reference centre should have this chore. I myself, again through personal interest, would like to know more of what could be done through a government agency, either the archives or the national library, toward building up an ability to trace descent not only here but in liaison with other countries. I know a problem which one of my relatives had was that of trying to trace relatives in England because of the variation in the records as between parish records before 1826 and records of births after 1826, which are usually kept in Somerset house, London. One day the Minister of Finance and I were talking and we discovered we probably had certain relationships in common two or three generations ago through families located in southern Ontario.

It seems to me that as we get older as a nation this type of tracing will attract more and more interest. I know the United States in this respect is far ahead of us in its feeling for history and looking back on family records of the past. This is an extremely important phase of reference work in the United States, and I think it is going to become much more so here. I should like to know what plans either the national archives or the national library may have to provide this particular service. I am not suggesting they are not doing a good job now, but it seems to me one can be quite positive that the demand is going to increase and that is going to mean more cost to the government. I should like to know what plans are being made for setting up a permanent service, with perhaps some definite central authority and some publications which explain how to go about the study of genealogy in Canada.

I had some specific questions I wished to ask, but in case other members may want to make some general remarks on this vote I will conclude and come back to the specific questions later.

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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell:

I have a few brief comments 1 should like to make on this item. I should like to associate myself with what the hon. member for Bonavista-Twil-lingate has said about what we owe to the hon. member for Medicine Hat for bringing this question up. I do not think we have taken this seriously enough in the past. I have listened to the speech of the hon. member for Port Arthur, who obviously has a considerable knowledge of these things and has devoted careful thought to them. From my own experience I can say something about the dominion archivist. I know something of the extent to which he has diligently pursued historical documents and private documents which are known to be of historical interest.

My particular reason for rising is to say that I know the minister is sympathetic, and I feel that as a result of this sympathy we may be able to get this matter advanced. I understand there is no committee which is seriously considering this question now. I was greatly struck the other day on reading a book by Dr. Cyril James, president of McGill University, on a recent visit he made to Russia, and it almost frightened me to learn from his report that education in Russia is being taken much more seriously than it is here.

I asked myself some very serious questions. It was interesting to read that in Moscow, Shakespearian plays are often produced and are very well attended. Reading the other things Dr. James had to say, I was led to wonder if we are still continuing the pioneer instinct which built up this country but which

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did not make us feel that libraries are one of the practical or more important things in life. I am wondering if we have reached a stage where we have to do a lot of rethinking.

We have found that part of the reason for our present unemployment situation is that we have not trained our people well enough. That to me raises the whole question of broadening education. Therefore I wanted to make my small contribution this morning in the hope that those who know more about this matter than I do may be enabled to deal with this question, which has come to have an urgency and practical importance which we have not been inclined to attribute to it in the past.

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February 24, 1961