It puts the independent company in the position in the town, of competing with the Bell Telephone Company, or any other company that is in a similar position, and offering to their subscribers their phones at a lesser rate, with all the privileges of the established line.
I was before the committee and listened to the arguments, and my judgment is that that is the position they are in, and if we refuse to put those words in, you are putting the independent company in a position to use the other man's capital for the purpose of competing with him, because the independent company has no overhead charges, and no investment in the long distance line, and therefore can sell a cheaper service to the public in the same territory that these people are in.
It is only fair and right that the Board of Railway Commissioners, when these matters are put before them, would be in a position to judge of them as they find them.
If they find that in competitive fields the Bell Telephone Company or any other com-
pany are entitled to compensation, that compensation should be given.
I cannot understand my hon. friend's argument. He says that this provision will place an independent company in a position to do rural business cheaper than the Bell Telephone Company could do it, owing to the fact that the Bell Telephone Company have overhead charges to meet in connection with their long distance service. The hon. gentleman will surely admit that the Bell Telephone Company charge enough for their long distance service to cover all overhead charges and to pay dividends.
Suppose a municipal telephone system having four or five hundred subscribers wants to be connected with the Bell Telephone Company at Peterborough. The Bell Telephone Company say: Even though you agree to pay long distance charge, we are not willing that you should use our lines unless you pay a surcharge or an overhead charge in proportion to the number of subscribers you have on your rural route. If this amendment goes through, instead of having a surcharge you will have this compensation. There is in my own riding a large township that could not get any telephone service until the municipality took hold of the matter; now they have a service. Of course, they made amicable arrangements with the Bell Telephone Company.
Do I understand the hon. gentleman to argue that the local company should be entitled to use the Bell Company's long distance line at the same rate as that which the Bell Telephone Company charges to its own customers?
Not exactly. I am a subscriber of the Bell Telephone Company. They ask me, as one of their subscribers, to pay a certain charge for long distance service. Why ask the independent company to pay an extra charge?
Exactly; the man who has not a telephone walks into a city telephone office and uses the long distance service; he pays the same as I do. The same may be said in respect to the independent companies. A man who has not a telephone walks into the telephone office at Peterborough, talks over the long distance wire, and pays the same amount for the service as the rural subscriber. The independent people are willing that that be done; I do not see that there is anything wrong about that.
The compensation that the rural companies object to is for the right to use the long distance lines. For instance, the Ingersoll Telephone Company has to pay $300 a year for the right to connect with the Bell Telephone Company. But an additional charge is- made for each conversation, the amount being divided between the rural company and the Bell Telephone Company. I have a connection on my farm with a rural telephone company. We pay an additional ten cents to the Bell Company for long distance conversation; half of that goes to the rural company with which I am connected and half to the Bell Company. The Ingersoll company and the other companies that appeared before the committee did not object to that, but they did object to paying compensation for the right of having conversation over their lines that were connected with the Bell Telephone Company's lines.
long distance telephone office in Ottawa and ask to be connected with Montreal. I inquire as to the charge and am told that it is fifty cents. Suppose, then, somebody living outside the city and being served by an independent company ask the Bell Telephone Company to allow him to use their phone to Montreal. They say: We
want you to pay fifty cents., the usual charge; but, because you are on an independent line, we ask you to pay an additional ten cents.
proposal of the member for Kootenay (Mr. Green) is that it will be taken advantage of to prevent competition. The wording
of the law as it exists to-day is: "upon such terms as to compensation and otherwise as the board may direct." When there is no competition, the rural company connects with the other and you get your message through at the same rate as the general public pay. If there is competition in the locality, then the extra charge ie put on.
If an independent company aekis for the right to send long distance messages, the Bell Telephone Company says: Are you
going to compete with us for local business? If they answer yee, the Bell Telephone Company says: In that case, you
must pay an additional charge. If you agree not to compete with us for local business, we will let you connect with our lines and send your long distance messages at the same rate as the general public pay. That is the difficulty I find in supporting my hon. friend; the present section will be used for the indirect purpose of preventing competition.