Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak about CBC/Radio-Canada, for very important reasons. Our public broadcaster has been a stalwart for this country in building its culture from coast to coast to coast. I have always said that people say CBC is vital for regional programming, where it has served for many years.
We have parallel situations, of course. We have the private sector and we have the public sector, meaning the CBC. When we look at many of the smaller markets where the private sector could not survive on its own, the CBC provided that vital service. I speak specifically of CBC North as a prime example. In my province of Newfoundland and Labrador, it provided a service in Labrador in places where it was not obtainable through the private sector.
As I look back at both Radio-Canada and the CBC, I look at how they provided a national conversation and a national understanding. Before the days when we could talk to each other with a small mobile device, our way of communicating with each other was through a public broadcaster.
I remember as a child growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s watching the CBC. There was no thousand-channel universe at that point, and we did not have a computer or the Internet to use; television and radio were the only ways. Therefore, our conversation took place through the viewing of television and the making of documentaries and information programming, primarily provided by the CBC. There were no specialty channels back then, so we had our main broadcast channels, such as CTV, Global, and the affiliate, and we had the CBC and its regional station in addition to the American broadcasters, which came over the border and through cable.
At the time, I remember watching the traditions of organ-making for churches in Quebec. I had never really known about it. I remember writing about it in high school. I wrote about how Quebec was famous worldwide for developing these large pipe organs in churches. I had not known that. Here I was, a young child in Newfoundland and Labrador, learning about what was a tradition in the province of Quebec. I learned about Bonhomme and the Carnaval de Québec through CBC. I was not in Quebec, but I learned about it.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, I learned about the majestic mountains of British Columbia through the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I also learned about Canada's north and the 24-hour sun, the 24-hour daylight, through the CBC.
In the course of growing up in a small province on the eastern coast of this country, on a small island, in the days when communications were not as prolific as they are now and certainly not prevalent by any stretch, all we had were three or four channels. The CBC was my window to my country. Not only was it the ability to see the country; it was the ability to converse with the rest of the country.
Later, when I grew up, I joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. I joined the air cadets and got to see the country that I had seen on television. I travelled to Alberta. I travelled to Nova Scotia and these areas. I had a genuine interest in doing that because I had seen the country laid out in front of me on a small television screen. I got to see the majestic mountains of both western Alberta and British Columbia in person, and I was astounded by them. If it had not been for our national public broadcaster, I never would have really appreciated what I was about to see, and I never would have had a genuine interest to see it.
This is what our public broadcaster has done. Through the years, it has provided us with a yearning to be Canadian in all facets of this country.
Let us not forget one of the greatest institutions alive in this country. That is Hockey Night in Canada. It was formerly La Soirée du hockey.
For a child growing up in Newfoundland and Labrador, the upbringing was not that much different from growing up in Trois-Rivières. I grew up in the small town of Bishop's Falls. On Saturday, I would go and play hockey at the local arena, but I certainly would not miss Hockey Night in Canada. I am sure for kids growing up in Trois-Rivières, Saint-Jean, or other small towns in Quebec, it certainly would not have been dissimilar.
Our public broadcaster united us in what we had a passion for, whether we were children, teenagers, or adults, as we are today. However, the public broadcaster has had challenges. It has had budgetary challenges through the years, as the Government of Canada has had budgetary challenges over the years. I could say the same for the National Film Board, given what it is going through.
What we must not forget is the genuine understanding that our public broadcaster, CBC/Radio-Canada, is still vital to us today to make sure we share these conversations across this country. We want to know what is happening in Canada's north. We want to see what is happening in Canada's north. We want to hear what is happening in Canada's north.
Let us not forget another element of CBC/Radio-Canada. We pushed Canada out to the world through short wave radio service for many years. We were a pillar for shortwave radio, with our ability to communicate around the world and spread our message to billions of people in China or India and throughout the United States of America. We had a service similar to its public radio, NPR, but ours was more challenging because we only have 30 million people right now, and in those days we had about 20 million people, trying to support this service that went from coast to coast to coast.
Let me go back to my original point. It is not just about having local stations, which are very vital and important, but what the CBC did, secondly and just as importantly, was allow a small child in Newfoundland and Labrador to experience the country through French Canadians in Quebec, French Canadians in New Brunswick, English Canadians in British Columbia and Alberta, and of course through many aboriginal groups across this country. The conversation was shared.
There are institutions in this country that are famous, and not just by themselves. Let me use an example I used previously, the Carnaval in Quebec City. It is a fantastic event. Its mascot, Bonhomme, is famous. It is not just a Quebec phenomenon. I always wanted to meet Bonhomme, and I had never been to Quebec at that point.
Many citizens in this country want to meet Bonhomme, and they know Bonhomme because of our public broadcaster. That is why. It is because we had a conversation between French Canada and English Canada. In doing so, we got to share its triumphs, such as last night, when the Montreal Canadiens won game seven. That is not a bad admission, given the fact that I am Boston Bruins fan.