Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all my gracious colleagues, both the ones who will vote in favour of the bill and those who will not be, for providing their insights, their viewpoints, and for being of assistance in this debate.
Let me very quickly go through a few of the major points I have made and then close with an appeal, particularly for my fellow Conservative MPs.
The bill does not propose to do away with the CBC. We need to understand that the CBC will exist. It will just not exist as a government subsidized corporation. The CBC can exist. Other broadcasters exist as do other radio networks. This would privatize it and would relieve the taxpayers of the burden of subsidizing it.
The bill does not seek to deprive Canadians of necessary services. In fact, as my hon. colleague has pointed out, most of these necessary services can be provided in other ways. As one of my colleagues pointed out earlier, the development of Canadian content can be done in a myriad of different ways. The bill would not eliminate the development of Canadian content. Many of the things, the most beloved program in CBC history, Hockey Night in Canada, are done through other ways.
What the bill would do, however, is change the CBC from an entity that is supported by the taxpayers and not responsible to the taxpayers to one of many diverse Canadian voices. I have taken measures in the legislation to provide protection to ensure this would still be a Canadian corporation. Future governments, future parliamentarians may wish to change that, but I have done that to try to calm and assuage some of the concerns.
In summary, I would point out a few reasons why I have done this.
I am very much aware that the legislation is unlikely to pass through the House for a variety of reasons. When the original debate kicked off on the Wheat Board, it was not passed through with one government. Conservative MPs, philosophically free enterprise members of Parliament, became involved and began to talk about it. The Mulroney administration philosophically should have done it, just as the previous Harper administration philosophically should have been prepared to privatize the CBC. However, someone needed to take the first steps to get things going. Someone needed to take the first steps to open the debate, to break the taboo around discussing this subject. That is one of reasons I am trying to do this.
People talk about how CBC brings up together, how it does various things across the country. That may be, but I do not share this view. However, for those who argue this, that was back in the two or three channel universe with one national radio program. That has completely changed. It has moved on and it is gone. We need as members of the House of Commons is discuss what the essential and useful function of government is. If we are to argue as Conservative MPs for tax cuts and for limited government, we cannot spend $1 billion on things like this.
I understand there may be issues, particular things, small things that people may want for the CBC, but that should not prevent members from actually voting for this at second reading. If members believe the radio portion of CBC should continue, move amendments at committee to sever the two. That can be done. Today I am asking members to endorse the bill, to have a vote so we can discuss the principle of restructuring the CBC and make it private. My preference is private across the board, but if we do not move and support it on this in principle, we will not be able to go forth.
Again, I do not see the CBC as representative of all Canadians. I do not see it as good for the taxpayers. That is why I call on members of Parliament to support my the bill to open the debate, to move forward, and to move into the modern era. I thank all members for their support and I appreciate their votes and input in the future.