Mr. C. N. Barbes (Chapleau):
Mr. Speaker, I have a grievance to put before the house. With your permission I would like to speak about radio and television service more particularly as it concerns the area which I represent in this house the constituency of Chapleau.
A number of listeners in the Abitibi area have expressed the wish to be provided with certain religious broadcasts such as Sunday mass and morning devotions at 7.30 each morning, through the private stations at La Sarre and Amos.
Radio is a social service which should satisfy the tastes and the needs of the public. As the people of Abitibi are 90 per cent French-speaking and Catholic, it would be well for the C.B.C. to insist that the private stations associated with the government network, such as those of the Radio-Nord Inc.
chain, provide their listeners with a good many additional broadcasts originating with the C.B.C. I make that suggestion also on behalf of listeners who are in poor health, old, crippled, or invalids. I know too that a great many people who have to look after numerous small children are unable to attend mass every Sunday because of the distance they live from the churches.
My request is also justified by section 21 of the Canadian Broadcasting Act (chapter 32 RSC). The broadcasting licences are defined as being a temporary and conditional alienation of an important and precious element of public wealth to the benefit of a group or a company.
The C.B.C. is empowered to set the periods during which a private station must carry network programs. Licence holders, especially those in private networks, who are thereby the sole broadcasters in an isolated area such as ours, have a duty to supply to the whole of their listening public the best programs of the French network.
As regards the radio program called "Morning Devotions", it is so varied and of such high quality that our people would like to enjoy it every day. It must not be replaced by songs or by music sometimes of a dubious if not bad taste. Would you agree, Mr. Speaker, to replace the daily prayer in the house by discussions relating to rock'n roll? Certainly not.
Private radio stations should at all times show themselves worthy of the licence that has been granted to them, and of the privilege of the exclusive use of the air, which is part of public property.
An effective way for the government to encourage a better standard of radio service in a given area consists in supplying that area with the additional service of the C.B.C., thereby giving listeners the opportunity to choose whichever program they prefer.
I favour private enterprise as long as it maintains for the benefit of the public a service always worthy of commendation.
I would like to add a few words, if I may, on a related subject. I assure you that, in the Abitibi area, we have long wanted to view the programs which the French television network has been broadcasting for the past five years in Canada. According to official reports supplied to us, 86 p. 100 of this country is now well covered in this field. We should like to have the same treatment in
the Chapleau constituency. We should like the advantages of French television service because this service would only be normal, I believe, in an area where the population is almost 90 p. 100 French-speaking. It is only fair to ask the government to offer us at least the French programs if it is too difficult to give us the benefit of both networks as is already the case for many other areas.
A private station, CKRN - TV in our neighbouring county of Villeneuve, should soon start its TV operations but will not cover the whole of my area. For that reason, I ask the government to supply us with the services of the national network in Chapleau. At Rouyn, in the county of Villeneuve, CKRN - TV will assign 50 p. 100 of its time to French programs. But this is not enough. What we want is a transmitting station for the benefit of the eastern part of Chapleau, Barraute, to Clova and Parent, an area more than 200 miles long which will not be reached by the Rouyn station.
Everywhere in Canada, the population insists on getting numerous programs of an irreproachable quality. People who know have said that C.B.C. compares favourably with other richer and more extensive networks. Canadians may no doubt be proud of the C.B.C., and it is exactly because we are 125,000 Canadians proud of the progress made by our country that we insist and wish to see, in our own homes, with our own eyes, the gigantic growth of Canada through the medium of radio and television. We need a service of this type for our entertainment but still more, no doubt, for education purposes. We need television, for instance, for all our bush workers and our mine workers who live very far from the cities and have no other means than radio to witness the gigantic growth of our country. We must open a window to children and our fellow citizens so that they may know each other better and have more reason to love Canada, a country of more than 16J millions of citizens who should have closer relations in order to achieve their goal, that is to live in good understanding, from one part of the country to the other.
To reach that goal, Mr. Speaker, it would be as necessary to supply all our fellow citizens with adequate radio and television services as to defend ourselves from external enemies who sometimes spread subversive propaganda.
We recognize that our radar systems of warning, those for example of Parent and Senneterre, which have been set up at great cost, are useful even if one day we find that guided missiles could fall on us before the signal is given by telephone to the prime minister's office.
And as far as we are concerned, Mr. Speaker, we believe that the requested radio and TV service is as urgent and more important, for several reasons, than the broadcast of numerous international programs in sixteen or seventeen foreign languages to serve the Norwegians, the Swedes, the Danes, the Finns, the Dutch, the Italians, the Germans, the Austrians, the Czechs, the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Poles or others. It would be more urgent to offer this service to the French Canadians of northwestern Quebec who have none at all than to the peoples of Europe or Latin America who do not pay any taxes in Canada. Canadians have to pay for that. May the government then give, without any more delay, complete broadcast service in French or in the two languages so recently spoken by our very gracious sovereign, Her Majesty the Queen, when she visited Ottawa.
Admittedly the government finances an important part of television. Such being the case we would like the C.B.C. to set aside a part of the money it receives to create a system of relay towers which would bring T.V., by microwave over the Laurentians, beginning at Ottawa or Montreal, and reaching northward as far as the constituency of Chapleau. This should be done even at the expense of reducing broadcasts beamed towards Europe.
Let the C.B.C. create a high power station to serve Canadians in Chapleau. Some of the larger centres enjoy the two networks at the same time, which is all to the good. But, Mr. Speaker, we would at least like to have French language television service throughout our home area. I could add at this point that my constituents have already begun, in large numbers, to pay towards the cost of establishing such a telecommunication service by buying receiving sets which are liable to a special 15 per cent sales' tax the proceeds of which are handed over to the C.B.C. which uses them to establish new services.
If the government were to decide that the development in question would cost the C.B.C. too much at this time, do not forget that it would be in a better position to justify the maintenance costs of the radar system passing through Parent, Senneterre, and along the "Pinetree" line, if a picture transmission service were added to the latter. If the government really wishes to economize as claimed,
it would be easy for the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Pearkes), the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Nowlan) who has the C.B.C. in his care, and the other members of the government, to direct that the "Pine-tree" radar line be modified to transmit television pictures as far as Parent and Senne-terre, where radar stations are located and enable our people to receive the telecasts thus relayed. Some say that our defence and radio and television services are more or less kept in watertight compartments. Well, those are the very compartments which the government must open. Let us therefore hold a conference at the Parent station or, if it is preferable, at Senneterre, where the Gordian knot could easily be cut.
On behalf of all the people of my constituency, I therefore urge the federal government to take immediate action to achieve in the near future the two improvement and development suggestions which I have explained too rapidly here concerning radio and television broadcasting, particularly in the eastern part of my constituency.
After witnessing several days ago all that was done in order that our royal visitors could appear at the same time on the Canadian and American television networks, I am sure that, if the government will only give favourable consideration to our requests, everything will be in operation very shortly.
In a few weeks the C.B.C. has done wonders, and I commend those who have directly or indirectly taken part in this gigantic operation, which made it possible for us to see Her Majesty the Queen of Canada, and thus admire and respect her the more.
Unfortunately, the children of my district have, generally speaking, not been able to see Queen Elizabeth. We should not wait any longer; it is time to act and the whole population of Chapleau is anxious to see this project carried out.
It is true that the networks have cost many million dollars last year; five million people have seen live broadcasts of our great hockey games. And, as soon as the winter season begins, we, in my riding of Chapleau and elsewhere, also want to see all the hockey games and all the educational programs, which the C.B.C. may broadcast every day. The project is feasible, if the government really wants to give us the improvements I request and which the people of my county of Chapleau entirely approve.