Mr. Speaker, what a privilege it is to be able to rise on this very important, significant day. As members can see, I am wearing something a bit different, a turban. Today is turban day on the Hill. If I may, I would provide a very brief comment and then show how it is actually relevant to what we are talking about today.
The Prime Minister, and many others, would ultimately argue that Canada's greatest strength is our diversity. We should be very proud of the diversity Canada has. I really do believe that the CBC, whether it is radio or television, is one of the ways in which we can talk about that diversity.
I started by talking about today being turban day. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to get a great appreciation of Sikhism and, in particular, members from the Punjabi community and our Indo-Canadian community as a whole. We get a better appreciation once we attend the many different events, whether it is at the gurdwaras or at special occasions. That allows us to have a better appreciation of Canada's heritage and that very rich diversity we have. Over the years, I have seen first-hand the CBC, for example, getting engaged in issues surrounding the ethnic and religious makeup of our country, promoting tolerance and diversity, and raising issues surrounding that.
I must thank Baltej Singh Gill, who is in the parliamentary precinct today providing the opportunity for members of Parliament to put on a turban. The turban is very important to Sikhism. It is part of the five Ks, which were established hundreds of years ago. It helps identify and gives strength to Sikhism as a faith.
I can appreciate that the debate today is about the CBC. I want to provide my comments in regard to why I do not support what the Conservative Party has put forward. We can see a significant difference between political parties on this issue. There is a certain element within the Conservative Party that genuinely believes that the CBC should virtually not exist, or at least not exist in terms of receiving public finances.
I disagree with that. I believe the majority of individuals inside this House recognize the true value of the CBC, not only in the past and in the present, but also into the future. I have had the opportunity, over the years, to provide comments and to get engaged with the CBC, both radio and television. I believe I have a fairly good understanding and appreciation of the role that our public broadcaster, both in radio and TV, plays in society. I would not want to see us minimize that. In fact, I would suggest that we should be looking at ways in which we can continue to see the CBC playing a strong role going into the future. For example, I look at what has taken place with the Internet over the last decade-plus, and I see that there is a very robust attitude from all forms of media that look at the Internet as a way in which they can communicate with Canadians in Canada and beyond.
When I think of the CBC, I do think of the preservation and promotion of issues such as our heritage. When I was in the military, I would often hear of individuals from around the globe who listened to CBC Radio, for example, and saw CBC Radio as one of the ways to keep in touch with what was taking place here in Canada. I suspect that if members had the opportunity to talk to the many Canadians who, for a wide variety of reasons, are not living in Canada today, they would see that these individuals in fact go to the CBC in order to keep in touch with what is happening here in Canada. I think that this is a very important contribution in itself.
We have seen numerous documentaries. We will find that public broadcasting documentaries continue to grow and they have a great future. Canada is not alone. There are other countries. In fact, the U.K. has the BBC, and the BBC is fairly well known around the world. The CBC has a very strong, positive recognition. It has demonstrated leadership on the issue of public relations and broadcasting, and it has played that leading role for decades.
Millions of Canadians tune in to CBC Radio and TV, because they understand the benefits, not only of news broadcasting but other programming. The member across the way made reference to other programs that the CBC has had over the years. Not necessarily to highlight any specific programs, but there have been very successful programs that the CBC has made, a part of who we are in identifying parts of Canada's history. Different regions of our country have played an important role in CBC's development. For one, Manitoba is a better and healthier province because of the local attention that is given through the CBC.
Most important, when Stephen Harper was prime minister, he was sending a message to Canadians, if not directly then indirectly, by the cutbacks that he was putting in place and the unwillingness to have members of the Conservative government stand in their place and recognize the valuable role that the CBC has played in our society here in Canada. That is why I was very pleased when this government, in addressing its budget, committed to more than $500 million over the next five years in terms of investment into CBC broadcasts, both in radio and in television.
I believe that we have a government today that recognizes the valuable role the CBC plays, and we want to be able to support that. I have had the opportunity in the past to have discussions with Conservative members regarding the CBC, and I do not know whether it is unanimous on the other side of the chamber within the Conservative Party; I suspect we might find a couple of individuals who would recognize it.
I have heard commentaries from other broadcast associations, from individuals who are involved in media outlets that many would suggest are in competition with the CBC, compliment and provide assurances that the CBC is in fact a very important aspect of the broadcast industry as a whole. I would not want to diminish in any way CBC's role in the broadcast industry, and it concerns me that more and more Conservatives are feeling bolder on the issue of the demise of this public broadcasting station, predicting or wanting to see its demise.
Most Canadians recognize the intrinsic value of the CBC. Most Canadians would acknowledge that, whether in radio or TV broadcast, or, more and more, in its stronger presence on the Internet, the CBC has a very important role to play and there is an obligation to support the CBC. We do that with budgetary measures. With that, I believe the government is back on the right track in dealing with our public broadcaster.
I look forward to having for many years into the future a broadcaster that takes into consideration and supports the industry as a whole, showing just how important our culture and heritage are and ensuring that we have good-quality programming. It complements the broadcasting industry as a whole by having a strong and healthy public broadcasting system.