Defending Radio Canada International - Canada's Voice to the World
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Time has come to revive both CBC and RCI
with transfusions of funds

Dear Mr. [Paul] Martin [Finance Minister],

I have watched for over a decade as successive cuts have been made to the CBC and to Radio Canada International. I feel that the time has come to revive both these services with transfusions of funds.

Let me begin with CBC. I watch little television but confess to liking the scientific and nature programs as well as programs which contribute to showing Canadians what their country is like in areas which they may never visit. We must face the reality that travel is still possible for those with money to spare and many Canadians do not have this luxury.

They do, however have the CBC to let them understand the broader nation which exists beyond their own restricted existence. Those Canadians will choose representatives in Parliament and will need to understand national issues in order to make proper choices. I am confident that you can look beyond the narrow confines of the race to get elected and see the welfare of the nation, including the ability of Canadians to choose good representatives.

CBC radio has been a constant companion for me for 50 years. I was lucky enough to have been given a radio at a very early age.

Much of my understanding of Canada has been given me by the CBC and I find that travel confirms the validity of the information I have been lucky enough to have gathered. I rely on CBC to supply such radio treats as the "Ideas" series, classical programs, jazz specials, new music, folk and rock music and many other treats for the mind. I like to think that my tolerance for many diverse musical forms is due to the exposure which came from a broadcaster which did not have to worry about the ratings. We all know that the most popular items are not necessarily the most worthy intellectually. CBC gave me the rest.

CBC has more than a mission to explain Canada to Canadians. It also has a role to play in helping them understand scientific achievements, literature, music and the many other facets of a culture. It is essential to preserve what Canadian culture exists. I believe that we do think and behave differently from our neighbours to the south. CBC is one of the few ways to demonstrate that separateness.

As for Radio Canada International, it performs relatively the same function for both Canadians abroad and for citizens of countries all over the globe. If we are truly different, then RCI can tell the world. I am convinced that informing the world about Canada will have effects beyond what can be immediately measured and which are beneficial to Canada in terms of trade, good-will and respect. To lose this service is unthinkable. To scale it back is really losing it, let us not imagine that anything else is true.

In a world where phone companies are going broke because they poorly defined the need for and impact of services, we know that the experts have definitely gone wrong in judging what comes next. Please do not let the Government of Canada show such poor judgement. Above all else remember that most Canadians want medical services, education protection from poverty and other things which we have come to identify as Canadian (if not unique then at least among world leaders in caring). The role of the CBC must not be underestimated.

One last point is that shortwave radios have never been cheaper or better than right now. While sales are not as brisk as they are for CD players, the radios still appear on shelves and seem to enjoy demand. If I were to travel tomorrow, I would be taking one with me to monitor Canadian news. Millions more worldwide can now afford these radios. The demand exists for RCI. Please do not let errant fools try to tell you that they predict the demise of international broadcasting.

Your sincerely,
Peter Henry, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada