September 5, 1917

LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

But in other places they make a pretense of secrecy. Not so in Cape Breton Island. Does the department rent telephones to subscribers or simply put an instrument in some person's house and call that a station from which the people may telephone? I had an idea that there was no such thing there as rental to subscribers. People simply use sufficient political influence to have a telephone put in somebody's kitchen and then the neighbours go and talk over the instrument in the kitchen while the family carry on their conversation.

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

It cannot be that way unless it is a thing inherited in 1911 by my hon. friend.

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LIB
LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

These listening boards seem to have been established since 1911. I want to ask the minister if he thinks it right, under present conditions, to put in the estimates $272,000 for telephone in British Columbia?

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

That is not all for telephones, seme of it is for repairs to present lines.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

There is $272,000 for telephone and telegraph systems, and a great portion of that is for new lines. For repairs to existing lines, provision should be made, because otherwise these lines would go out of use, and the people who now have the accommodation should not be deprived of it; we should keep up our property. But when the minister starts out on

the wholesale construction of new lines, it is not fair to the country. Of this $272,000, I imagine $50,000 or $60,000 would repair all his lines, and to that extent no person could object to the vote. But the people of Canada, in their present temper, with our taxation and the financial pressure now upon us, no matter what their politics may be, will wonder how the Government can justify the plunging into an expenditure of more than a quarter of a million dollars where perhaps $50,000 or $60,000 would do. Every person is making some sacrifice, and if the people who will be accommodated by this large new expenditure were asked, I have no doubt that 95 per cent of them would say: Let it stand until after the war is over. That is the spirit of the Canadian people. We heard this afternoon about a request made by Lieutenant-Colonel Merritt. We have all received that request. One of the great needs of the Allies to-day is greater strength in the air. We read to-day, yesterday, and the day before, of attacks made on London and other parts of England by air raiders. Colonel Merritt asks that a large number of air fighting machines be procured, and so necessary does he think they are that he is soliciting private aid. With this vote of $272,000, thirty-eight air fighting machines could be procured. If we took $60,000 out of this $272,000 for repairs, and I submit that would be enough, we could send the Allies thirty of these air fighting machines. I leave it to the minister to say to which purpose we ought to devote this money.

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CON

Avard Longley Davidson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DAVIDSON:

I am not surprised that the hon. member for Carleton (Mr. Carvell) should oppose publie ownership. I understand that he is a director and shareholder in a very profitable electric light company and also in a very profitable telephone company, a privately owned corporation; and it is not uncommon for men in those positions to resist any advance along the line of public ownership. But if I have observed the attitude of the public correctly, the whole trend is towards the public ownership- of these public utilities, and although these big financiers, who are looking for big profits, may resist and protest, this wave of public ownership is coming over this country. The hon. member for Carleton and all the other vested interests in the country notwithstanding, public ownership is going to prevail in this country, and the people are going to be served well.

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

That is the first time

I was ever called a big financier. I do not rMr. Graham.]

know whether to take that as complimentary or otherwise.

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CON

Avard Longley Davidson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DAVIDSON:

I think my hon. friend is fast approaching that class, and if his company is allowed to operate these concerns, which I believe are very successful, he will approach that class, if he is not in it already.

I am a little surprised that hon. gentlemen representing Nova Scotia constituencies have not arisen to defend the maintenance by the Government of telephone and telegraph lines in Cape Breton. I am not particularly acquainted with the locality but I have been there several times, and my observation has been that the telephone and telegraph services there are of great convenience to the people. I refer particularly to North Cape Breton -and Victoria. There are in that county large sections where the people are very much isolated and would be almost out of the world if they were not kept in touch with other parts of the province by means of the telegraph. Without it they would never get news or be able to summon a doctor, as no private company would think of establishing a telephone or telegraph line there for profit. Such a line must be run at a loss. But the people are a deserving people; they are doing a good work; they are engaged in fishing and producing wealth for the country, and I think it is only just that- the Government should spend money in their behalf.

I should be sorry if the Government curtailed a public service of- this kind. I was amazed at the assertion made by the -member for Inverness (Mr. Chisholm) in regard to the partisan manner in which, as he alleges, the system i.s conducted. I would not doubt the word of my hon. friend;

I do not believe that he would deliberately deceive the people, but I am inclined to think that he has been victimized; he has been wrongly informed. I should be surprised, indeed, if, in a certain village where there was a telephone line, a man would be refused a telephone because he was a Liberal and another man would be given one because he was a Conservative.

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LIB
CON

Avard Longley Davidson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mf. DAVIDSON:

I would like the hon. gentleman to give the chapter and verse;

I would like him to give the names. The hon. gentleman would not dare go into the county of Inverness and make the statements that he has made here to-day.

I do not believe that anything of the kind

is done. It is true that a man living remote from the main line might make application for a telephone and the authorities, upon consideration, might decide that it was not practicable to grant his request. But that is what private corporations are doing. The company of the member for Carleton (Mr. Carvell) does not put in at the regular rate a telephone for every person who asks for it; it does not run private wires six or seven miles for the sake of giving service to one person. So that quite as much complaint could be made about the operation of telephones and telegraphs by private corporations in Nova Scotia as could be made respecting the operation of lines by the Government. The hon. gentleman speaks about the lack of a public telephone. In every rural community in Nova Scotia the same method is followed as that which is followed by the Government in Cape Breton county. Perhaps in a certain locality a public telephone will be placed in somebody's kitchen. A man comes in and uses the phone; somebody on the line may hear his message. But you cannot expect in a rural community all the facilities and accommodations that are afforded in cities. The Government telephones are operated in Nova Scotia just as other privately owned telephone systems are operated under similar circumstances. There is a regular scale of rates; the public are served much in the same way, but with this difference: the private corporation could not be induced to serve some of the territories that are served by Government telephone systems. Through the extension of the (government phones to these remote districts, great convenience is 5 p.m. enjoyed by the people. I think the people would resent the suggestion that the Government should withdraw from this business and allow privately owned and operated telephone systems to serve the country. So far from suggesting that government ownership of telephones be curtailed, I would say that we ought to enlarge and extend the operation of such government owned public utilities.

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LIB

Alexander William Chisholm

Liberal

Mr. CHISHOLM:

I do not know why my hon. friend is so lavish with his challenges. He does not know the first thing about the matter; he does not know any more about the district that I have in mind than a babe unborn.

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CON

Avard Longley Davidson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DAVIDSON:

May I ask the hon. gentleman to be good enough to give the names and the places where, as he states, such discrimination occurred?

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LIB

Alexander William Chisholm

Liberal

Mr. CHISHOLM:

I wish the hon. gentleman would be good enough to sit down until I have finished. I called the attention of the Minister of Public Works to this matter two years ago. At that time, if my memory serves me correctly, the minister said that it was his policy not to rent phones to anybody. [DOT]

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CON
LIB

Alexander William Chisholm

Liberal

Mr. CHISHOLM:

Yes, but not in this particular section where the lines are to be built. My hon. friend challenged me to give instances of cases where Liberals were refused phones. I could give him a dozen instances. I challenge the-hon. gentleman to name one person in the district of North Inverness who is a Liberal and who has a phone. There is not one instance. I would no more use one of those phones if I had a political message to send than I would hang myself.

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CON

Avard Longley Davidson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DAVIDSON:

I challenge the hon.

gentleman to give names and places and to inform the committee where any Liberal has been discriminated against.

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LIB

Alexander William Chisholm

Liberal

Mr. CHISHOLM:

I will satisfy my hon. friend: North East Mairgaree and South West Margaree.

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CON
LIB

Alexander William Chisholm

Liberal

Mr. CHISHOLM:

I refuse to be catechised by my hon. friend to that extent. I will not answer all his petty questions.

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September 5, 1917