2006 Report on CBC Restructuring and CBC Funding

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, this is a question that I think Senator Tkachuk really would like to ask. In June 2006, the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications issued Volumes I and II of its Final Report on the Canadian News Media. I was pleased to work with Senator Fraser on the committee, with Senator Tkachuk as the deputy chair.

There were several recommendations. Among them was recommendation 12, with which Senator Tkachuk agreed, that the government establish a more coherent system for refining the mandate of the CBC. This system should include commitment to a long-term planning horizon, a 10-year licence renewal and a long-term budget providing appropriate stable funding.

This exceptional report, written by Senator Tkachuk and Senator Fraser, along with several other senators, was the result of the hard work of senators on all sides who worked under the careful leadership of Senator Tkachuk and Senator Fraser dealing with this particular issue. Of course, Senator Bacon also played an important role. Where is that long-term budget with appropriate stable funding for the CBC?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)):Honourable senators, it is certainly in much better shape than it was under the previous government.

I made reference to this report last week in answer to questions. I indicated to Minister Moore that I would be happy to obtain a copy and provide it, to my delight. I should not be surprised that Minister Moore has a copy of the report and was well aware of it.

With regard to the funding of the CBC, I indicated clearly that the government made a commitment that we would not cut the CBC’s budget. We did not cut its budget; we provided them with $1.1 billion of Canadian taxpayers’ dollars. This is more money than they have ever had. As I just said, there was a question of bridge financing. Even the head of the CBC said that would not have helped in terms of what they have to do.

We should all have confidence in the board of directors of the CBC. They are making tough and difficult decisions, but that is their responsibility. They have a significant amount of money with which to work. As they go about the country looking at their various programs, services and assets, they will be mindful of their obligation to provide Canadians with service in the North, in our remote communities and in our two official languages.