Volume #27 - 331.|
RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES
Minister of Finance|
to Prime Minister
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL||
March 15, 1960|
My dear Prime Minister:
I acknowledge receipt of your memorandum of the 14th instant† together with a copy of the letter dated March 9th which you have received from Mr. Hugh MacLennan concerning the plight of Canadian magazines.
Our colleagues, Mr. Nowlan and Mr. William Hamilton, and I have been engaged in a study of this problem and have been in close contact with representatives of the Periodical Press Association of Canada in regard to it. There is no doubt that the position of the industry has been becoming more precarious. The difficulty has been to find an acceptable means of strengthening it through governmental action.
Since receiving your memorandum, I have today received an important letter from Mr. C.J. Laurin, Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Periodical Press Association, bearing yesterday’s date. I enclose a copy herewith together with a copy of the draft statements which accompanied his letter.
Our colleagues and I hope to be in a position shortly to submit certain proposals to Cabinet in this regard.
CONFIDENTIAL Toronto, March 14, 1960
Dear Mr. Fleming:
You asked me to review with my colleagues the courses of action raised during our discussion on the 9th. This has now been done and I have a definite, unanimous, opinion from the presidents of Periodical Press Association and each of its constituents. These are the Magazine Publishers Association, the Business Newspaper Association, and the Agricultural Press Association. Our thinking follows these lines.
Whether the matter is referred to the Tariff Board or to a Royal Commission, a strong declaration of government feeling is essential. The need to prevent any further foreign encroachment into Canadian publishing is immediate. Such a declaration would almost certainly defer any further moves which may now be planned by foreign publishers.
We have carefully considered the implications of reference to a Royal Commission as against the Tariff Board, and are in favour of the Royal Commission because
(a) Repeated representations by Periodical Press Association to government over almost 50 years have failed to result in any wholly satisfactory or lasting solution. It is hoped that a Royal Commission having heard all sides of the question, would develop the best solution practical in the national interest and that this solution might settle the matter for years to come. Canadian magazines have been in a precarious and deteriorating position for years. It is essential not only that a solution be found to their problems, but that this solution also afford lasting protection to the business and farm periodicals so that the magazine experience is not repeated in these fields — a very real probability under today’s conditions.
(b) No matter how broad the terms of reference given the Tariff Board under Order in Council, it is felt that such a Board must be oriented to dealing with “goods and things.” The implications of our problem go much deeper than this, and must be related to the broader aspect of Canadian ideology, Canadian business and industry, Canadian thought and opinion, and Canadian culture. This is a matter of great significance to Canada.
(c) No matter how strong the recommendations of Tariff Board might be, from a practical point of view and because of firmly stated government policies in relation to interference with the reading preferences of the Canadian public, and interference with the freedom of the press, we feel that government legislation would probably be confined to the implementation of our recommendations in regard to the extension of Tariff item 178. As pointed out in our discussions this only covers a part of the matter. It leaves those publications printed in Canada, but importing editorial content free, still to be dealt with. The only solution we have been able to find for this lies within the Post Office — a department outside the terms of reference of the Tariff Board and not subject to a public enquiry of this nature.
However, a Royal Commission could investigate and report upon this aspect of the matter as well as the suggested tariff action.
(d) Finally, if the government declaration of thinking is strong, we are willing to risk the possible additional delay which might result from the appointment of a Royal Commission.
In conjunction with our last statement above, we believe that it would be very much in the national interest to have a Royal Commission study the whole problem of foreign encroachment on Canadian media of communications, i.e. those media which disseminate information and education from the Canadian viewpoint. We feel that from the government point of view, such a course of action would evoke a very warm response from many thinking Canadians who are alarmed at current trends. It could result in vitally important steps to preserve and strengthen the Canadian identity over the years to come.
The appointment of a Royal Commission under such broad terms of reference might incur a delay even greater than if its instruction related only to the periodicals of Canada. However, in the national interest, Periodical Press Association is prepared to accept that delay provided that the government declaration of its thinking in regard to communications media is stated clearly and strongly.
If you and your colleagues, after considering these points, still feel that a Tariff Board hearing on the Periodical Press Association problem is a better approach, Periodical Press Association would of course give your decision its full support. We would in that case, however, like a further brief discussion with you on the subject before you lay the proposal before Cabinet.
You asked me, if our thinking should be in favour of asking for a Royal Commission, to draft in rough terms suggested instructions to such a Royal Commission. This has been done for both the Periodical Press, and the broader terms of reference, and is attached.†
We have also taken the liberty of drafting a rough approach to the government announcement which might be used for reference to the Tariff Board. This is also attached.†
To sum up, Mr. Fleming, there appear to be three courses of action open at the moment.
(a) Immediate implementation of the tariff and postal suggestions we put in your hands. Government feels that public discussion on this question would be desirable before such abrupt implementation, and is apparently not prepared to take this immediate action. This being the case, two courses of action, designed to bring this matter to the attention of all groups concerned, and to give them the opportunity to comment on it, remain. These are
(b) Reference of the Periodical Press Association representations to Tariff Board, and Post Office, and
(c) Reference of the problem to a Royal Commission.
Of (b) and (c) above, we prefer (c) for the reasons stated and make the suggestion that it might be extended to all communications media. We are, however, willing to support a reference to Tariff Board if in your thinking this is the wiser course of action.
P.S. I am enclosing two extra copies of this letter and attachments in case you wish to pass them to Messrs. Nowlan and Hamilton for their consideration.