The resolution passed the House early in the session.
The resolution passed the House early in the session.
I have no doubt the matter is being attended to.
I am in the same position as the hon. member for Halton (Mr. Henderson).
I would like to have an answer from the Minister of Interior (Hon. Mr. Sifton) as to the return relating to immigration.
The POSTMASTER GENERAL (Hon. Wm. Mulock) moved that the House go into Sir WILFRID LAURTER. committee to consider the following resolutions : That whereas by ' The Pacific Cable Act, 1899,' His Excellency in Council is authorized to guarantee payment of five-eighteenths of the principal sum of £1,700,000 sterling, to be applied in establishing direct submarine telegraphic communication between Canada and Australasia ; And whereas in lieu of said sum of £1,700,000 it is estimated that for the purpose aforesaid there will be required a sum not exceeding £2,000,000 sterling, which sum of £2,000,000 the government of the United Kingdom is willing to advance ; 1 * That the Governor in Council is authorized to guarantee payment of five-eighteenth parts of the principal and interest of and upon the securities to be issued by the government of the United Kingdom for raising the said sum, namely, £2,000,000 so to be advanced. 2. That section 3 of said Act be repealed. Mr. Mulock. Motion agreed to, and House went into committee.
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
There is also a press clipping which has been placed in my hands, the meaning of which I do not quite understand. Possibly the hon. gentleman will be able to make perfectly clear to me what it does mean, if it is authentic. In the Canadian Gazette of the 22nd February, 1901, there is this reference to the scheme :
The Melbourne Argus says that the Victorian government is communicating with the governments of Queensland and New Zealand with a view of forwarding a combined message to the Pacific cable board suggesting a joint purse undertaking with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company.
I will pass this clipping across so that the hon. gentleman may read it and may inform us what is the exact meaning and bearing of that reference, if it is authentic.
Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (East York).
Mr. Speaker, I thought, in connection with the motion that is now before the committee, that we would have had some statement from the hon. Postmaster General (Mr. Mulock) in regard to the general policy of the government in connection with the telegraph system of this country. I thought he would have come forward here to-day and made a proposal to nationalize the telegraph system of Canada, in connection with this cable scheme. It has been shown that a system of cables, even when state-owned, unless the land lines are controlled by the state, will accomplish very little good, and the proof of that is instanced in the case of the Mackay-Bennett cable across the Atlantic ocean. A company was organized with a large capital, and it succeeded in establishing a first-class cable system across the Atlantic, between Great Britain and the United States, but the men interested in it found that in order to make that cable system an effective one, they had to own and control land lines, and the ally of the Mackay-Bennett cable is the Postal Telegraph system of the United States, which had to be organized and capitalized and a great deal of money spent in connection with it. I would like to see this Pacific cable scheme go through. I am quite prepared, and I know my constituents are quite prepared, to vote our portion of the money, but while we are doing that, I think the announcement ought to be made that in order to realize the benefit of that cable system, we should have a nationalized telegraph system in Canada, and make one the complement of the other A very important deliverance on that line was contained in a letter which Sir Sandford Fleming read the other day in this city, at the meeting ot' the British Empire League. Sir Sandford Fleming, after a most careful study of the question, and no man either in the old land or in America, has given more consideration to this question, makes this statement :
In my open letters which have been published in England, Canada and Australia addressed to the Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, the Hon. Wm. Mulock and the Rt. Hon. Lord Hopetoun, it is pointed out that by nationalizing our telegraph service by land and sea the charges on messages to 'and fi'om the most distant parts of the empire can be reduced to one-eighth or one-tenth the rates at present exacted.
Now, there is a most important statement, and I wish to call the attention of this House to the fact that a gentleman who is an expert in regard to telegraphic service, says that if you nationalize the cables and nationalize the land service telegraphs you will cut down the cost of cabling and of telegraphing to one-tenth of the rates we pay now. Just think of it ! It is practically saying that if you pay 25 cents for a message now, you will get a similar message transmitted for 21 cents. I do not know that we will come to such a low point as
that, but we will get a much better service than we have to-day at very much less money, if the cable and telegraph lines are nationalized. Sir Sandford Fleming has said it, and reports have been presented in Congress of the United States, and they all go to show that to be the fact. The land lines are nationalized in Great Britain and all over Europe ; we ought to be prepared to go at least as far as they have gone, and the hon. Postmaster General (Mr. Mulock) ought to tell the country now that he has under consideration a proposition to nationalize the telegraph system of this country. What will be the cost of nationalizing the telegraph system of Canada and running it in connection with the post office, as is the case in Great Britain and in the Australian colonies ? It will cost a comparatively small amount of money, and what will be the result of it ? Cheap telegraphy removes a great deal of the trouble and inconvenience that are experienced by trade, by reason of distance and other conditions of that character, and if you have a national telegraph system in connection with the post office, you can run it cheaper than in any other way. In every little village you will he in a position to establish a post office and to pay a decent wage to a man who will conduct the post office, who will he an operator, and who will, if necessary, take charge of the telephone lines in that village. That will form a grand service, namely, the public will have the telephone, the telegraph and the post office, all in one building, and combining all those services under one man, to whom you will be able to pay a good salary and who will give good service. What can the telegraph lines do in the way of supplementing the service of the post office ? Trade will he largely increased and men will be able to do business in a country like Canada by telegraph instead of through the mails. If you can transmit twenty-live words for ten cents, look at the impetus that will be given to trade when a man can do all his correspondence, for instance, between Montreal and Vancouver, by telegraph. You cannot imagine how that will help business in this country. Take out of the way places, where there are only two or three mails in the week ; if you have a national telegraph system, bringing every little liamlet in the country into touch with the business centres, see what a convenience every business man in that hamlet will have People so situated will be in touch with everything outside and at a nominal cost The telegraph service of this country is the easiest thing of all to nationalize. We have heard a great deal about nationalizing the railways. That is a very expensive proposition, I have been told, but it is not sucli an expensive proposition to nationalize the telegraph lines.
How much would it cost ?
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax.)
There are two ways in which you could do it. You could do it by duplicating the lines we have in Canada at probably less than $5,000,000-I am not speaking exactly as to that-or you could take over the lines that are in existence to-day, and there is a special provision in the Telegraph Act for that purpose.
There is another thing which I wish to urge as one of the great benefits that a national land and sea telegraph service renders to the public. We in this country, and all over the British Empire, are trying to build up an Imperial public opinion. We wish in Canada to think on all great public questions the same as they think in England or in Australia. There is only one way to create that great Imperial public opinion from one end of the empire to the other, and that is to have a national telegraph and cable system which will enable us to have the freest exchange of public opinion from oue end of the British dominions to the other. The news that we get in Canada from England comes to-day through American channels. The Canadian press at this moment is hardly able to pay the present toll rates, and to give that quality of news to the Canadian public which they desire, and which the Canadian public ought to get. But, if we had a national cable system with a nominal rate for press messages at night, when the cable is not busy, our people would know in the morning exactly what they think in England, exactly what they think in Australasia and South Africa, and that news would be transmitted daily at almost a nominal cost. At all events, it would come to us independent of the United States. I have watched this thing very closely. I have seen the class of news that comes to the Canadian papers by way of New York. It is not British opinion, it is not Imperial opinion, but it is British opinion changed, modified and distorted in order to suit the people of the United States. The Postmaster General (Hon. Mr. Mulock) proposes to do what the other colonies have done ; he proposes to supplement what they have done, but he fails to do what they have done by nationalizing our land telegraph service in connection with this cable system. The hon. gentleman could well afford to take us into his confidence to-day and to, at least, tell us whether he is considering that proposition or not. Like everything else, when a national proposition comes before this country, we, unfortunately, take the worst end to begin with. I am in favour of this Pacific cable scheme, but I cannot help thinking that if we wanted to strike a first-class business proposition, it would be for Canada and Great Britain to lay down an Atlantic cable. There is any amount of business there, not for one but for five cables owned by Great Britain and Canada ; a cable that would pay a big dividend, and probably cut the present rates down to one-quarter. That is the 29J
cable I would like to see first laid and operated by the mother country and Canada. But, unfortunately, as I have said, when anything national is to be done, the hardest end, and the most expensive end, is first experimented on. In the ease of the Intercolonial Kailway, we commenced to build it at the end, and through the northern portion of New Brunswick, and in the province of Quebec, where there was very little traffic, and when we got it just to the point where the traffic originated we stopped there. That was an extravagant railway proposition for Canada. Sir, I want to see state ownership applied to railways and to telegraphs, at that point where there is lots of traffic for the line, whether it be a cable, a telegraph, or a railway. In' the present case we are asserting the principle of government ownership just where the conditions are least favourable. I am satisfied to take this meausre as it is to-day placed before us, but I hope the minister and the government will act in the light of the experience of the Mackay-Bennett cable, where they found their whole expense realized nothing until they established at great expense a system of land lines throughout the states. I say the government ought to tell us now whether they are going to have a really national system, which can only be achieved by their ownership of the land telegraph lines in Canada and a cable across the Atlantic. Let us have a state-owned cable from Great Britain to Canada ; a state telegraph system in Canada, across the continent to the Pacific ocean, and a state-owned cable across the Pacific ocean to Australasia with the land lines in Australia also forming a link, and then you will have a really national system. We would then have an Imperial telegraph system that will give to the public, according to Sir Sandford Fleming, a service costing about one-tenth of what it costs at present. I believe the statement of Sir Sandford Fleming is correct in that respect. I believe that the Postmaster General thinks it is correct, and if he does believe it, I hope he will move on these lines. I want to tell the hon. gentleman that in this proposition he is up against the greatest monopoly almost in the world to-day, viz., the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company. This monopoly will cut the throat of this scheme if it can possibly do it. It may be a competitor with the Postmaster General in getting hold of the land telegraph lines in Canada. If that great company in London thought they could block this scheme, that is one of the first things they would try to accomplish. I do not say they can do so, but. at all events, at every point the Postmaster General will be met by that great corporation trying to block this proposition. In this proposal the Postmaster General (Hon. Mr. Mulock) has my entire sympathy, and I believe he has the sympathy of the whole of Canada. The government here is moving
on the same lines as the Imperial authorities and as the Australian authorities, but in one sense they are lacking, and that is, that they are not making provision for the nationalization of the land telegraph lines in Canada, and they are not making provision for a state-owned Atlantic cable between the mother land and Canada in connection with which there is the most money to be earned.
My hon. friend the leader of the opposition called my attention to an item which appeared in the Canada Gazette, of February 21 last, containing a suggestion from the Melbourne Argus, that there was some idea afloat for the constitution of a joint court as between the Pacific cable commission and the Eastern Extension Company. There is no danger whatever of any such agreement as that. It can only be carried out with the consent of the Pacific Cable Commission and of the various governments concerned. I am quite satisfied that the commission which is sitting in London, and which is entrusted by the various governments with the carrying out of this scheme, would never dream of being parties to such an agreement except on the authority of their principals, the respective governments that have appointed them. You may be sure that the people of Canada will be taken into full confidence and consulted before any such arrangement as that is made.
My hon. friend the leader of the opposition also asked me how this increase from $1,700,000 to $2,000,000 was arrived at. Since the Act of 1899 tenders were invited, but, as we know, it is one thing to estimate the cost and another to find out what the contractor will do the work for. in 1899, we proceeded upon the report of the Pacific Cable Commission, which, in 1894 and 1897, furnished the various governments with estimates.
Hon. Mr. HAGGART.
Were not tenders asked ?
Yes, tenders were invited, and I have a list of the tenders here, if my hon. friend desires to see them. It was all done through the commission in England, and the various governments were consulted, and on the advice of all parties concerned, a contract was entered into which it was thought was the best to make, having reference to all the tenders. I will place that contract on the table.
Hon. Mr. HAGGART.
You misunderstand me. I believe the estimate of $1,700,000 was based on tenders received at that time.