March 3, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise a question of general importance, and I crave the indulgence of the house and ask it to bear with me for a few minutes while I elaborate what I have in mind' as briefly as possible.
Yesterday the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon) asked the Minister of National War Services (Mr. Thorson) if the annual report of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation would be referred to a special committee which might investigate all questions relating to the policy and management of that corporation and the minister promised that consideration would be given by the government to that suggestion. While the government is giving such consideration, I should like to have an associated but more general situation considered.
Each year the annual report of the Canadian National Railways is referred to a select special committee of this house and the affairs of that railway are investigated, but this house does not give annual consideration to the problems of other government corporations which stand in the same relationship to this house as the Canadian National Railways. My suggestion is that it become the annual and automatic practice that the reports of the Bank of Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation be referred to committees of this house in the same manner as the report of the Canadian National Railways. The report of the Bank of Canada falls naturally under the jurisdiction of the standing committee on banking and commerce and I suggest to the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King))) and the house that we establish a rule
[Mr. Usley.) .
that that report shall each year be automatically referred to that committee, so that the committee may review the policy and management of the bank.
There is no standing committee to which the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is nhturally appurtenant. We have a standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines, which formerly did a great deal of work, but which to-day has practically nothing to do. In addition, each year we appoint a select special committee on Canadian National Railways accounts. My suggestion is that we abandon the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines and also the select special committee on the Canadian National Railways and create a new standing committee to be called the standing committee on communications and that each year the annual reports of the Canadian National Railways and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation be automatically referred to such committee, so that the policy and management of these corporations may be subject to parliamentary review.
The creation of these government corporations in the past few years has raised an important problem of parliamentary control. In the recent past we have not exercised in respect of them the immediate and' direct control which we have over government departments whose estimates must come before us. I believe it is time that we assumed that measure of control which is necessary in *the public interest and I make these suggestions to the house, that the reports be automatically referred to the committees to which I have alluded, believing that it. is the best means of reasserting our right to control of policy and management and the best means of assuring that the public interest is appropriately safeguarded.
These corporations are government-owned and are operated for the government. They operate on the taxpayers' money. The day-to-day management is removed from government control, but the policies of each must of necessity reflect government policy. That I think is true. Therefore it follows that the peoples' elected representatives should 'be afforded the opportunity of reviewing their operations and policies. I urge the government to conform to this view and refer the annual reports of these corporations to appropriate committees.
There is another aspect of this matter which is worthy of consideration. The reference of these annual reports to the suggested appropriate committees would afford to the membership of this house a useful outlet for their abilities. There is, I think, a sense of frustra-

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tion in the minds of the members. They are not given under present conditions an opportunity to take the part in the national effort which their position, their abilities and their desires warrant.

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