September 5, 1917

LIB
CON
LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

Unlimited party line

.service. In some of the towns we get the service down as low as $15. To show you the difference between a properly operated company-owned line and a government-owned line, I will give you an illustration. There are about 1,000 telephones in the town in which I live, about one-half in the town and one-half in the country-the country subscribers get the service for $15 a year, and I thin^ the lowest rate in the town is $15 or $18.

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CON
LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

Yes, $18 for a business telephone. I simply mention this to show what can be done when a company operates a public utility under proper conditions.

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LIB
LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

Because of the service given. The larger the exchange the higher the price, on the theory that they are getting more service from the telephones. So far as I know, the New Brunswick Telephone Company has never refused to grant a service, even though it be not upon a paying basis. No doubt there have been

many applications for service which have not been granted, and you will find that everywhere. My hon. friend says that if the people will erect the poles the company will agree to string the wires. That is- true in many cases, and it has frequently been taken advantage of. I presume the same thing applies all over Canada. I would like to ask my hon. friend from Kent (Mr. Robidoux) whether the New Brunswick Telephone Company was ever asked to construct the line in question under this vote.

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CON

Ferdinand Joseph Robidoux

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROBIDOUX:

I cannot give my hon. friend the information, but I believe the matter was broached when Mr. Richard O'Leary was a member of the board of directors of the New Brunswick Telephone Company, and my information is that the company could not consider the question of establishing a telephone line in that district, 'because the line would have to be built through about ten miles of uninhabited country, from which no revenue would 'be derived. From a business standpoint the proposition could not be considered at all, and the New Brunswick Telephone Company would not consider it. The company is not in business for the good of the health of its members; it is in business for dollars and cents, and that is the policy it followed ever since it has had the monopoly. Before the New Brunswick Telephone Company had obtained a practical monopoly in the province we could get certain privileges and certain advantages from the rival companies, but evidently the competition was not satisfactory to the shareholders of the New Brunswick Telephone Company, so they absorbed these other companies. This was good business. Although it is permissible for any man or any body of men to start a telephone company in the province of New Brunswick, it is a difficult matter to carry on a business of that kind with competition as strong as the competition of the New Brunswick Telephone Company. For that reason there are no rival companies. In many instances the rates of the New Brunswick Telephone Company are fair, but in many others which I could enumerate if this were the time and place, they are unfair.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

If the Government persists in spending $272,000 to instal new lines, when $50,000 or $60,000 would 'be sufficient to repair the old lines, when they go to the people and ask them to economize, they need not be surprised if the people laugh at them and have no confidence in their sincerity. If they propose to build

new lines to the extent of at least $200,000 which could be done without until the war is over, and then ask the people to contribute for war purposes, they need not be surprised if the people ask them why they did not save $200,000 when they had an opportunity. I protest strongly against a dollar being expended for new lines at the present time. Old lines should be repaired and kept in as good conditions as possible, but the people of Canada can until after the war join in the sacrifice which is being made, by doing without telephone lines which they never before had. If the Government persists in spending this money at the present time, they are not keeping faith with the people, and they are not using their best endeavours to conserve the finances of the country in order that the war may be prosecuted.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Liberal

Mr. OOPP:

I do not rise for the purpose of objecting to or criticising the particular item under discussion. I would like to ask the acting Minister of Public Works upon what basis he makes the estimate to give aid to certain sections of the province and not to the others? I quite understand the argument made by my hon. friend from Kent (Mr. Robidoux) that it would be a very great advantage if the Government owned the telephone service in that section of the province of New Brunswick which is sparsely populated. But there are other portions of New Brunswick to which the like argument would apply. Will the same consideration be granted to other portions of New Brunswick as is being granted to this section?

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

This is merely an extension of the present line. We are not adopting the policy of starting out in some other place to build an entirely new line. My hon. friend from South Renfrew is protesting against expenditures on account of war conditions. He is absolutely right and we all agree to that and we have curtailed expenditures. But, there are urgent cases like the present where the extension is to give communication to a large fishing industry. We are urging people to catch more fish and that large industry has increased its output for the benefit of the people during the war. No Government can sit still and not do what is necessary in connection with the works that are already established. Some hon. gentleman states that the Government system does not amount to much. We have some 10,000 miles of telegraph service throughout Canada while the Great Northwestern Telegraph Company has 10,000; the Canadian Pacific Railway Telegraph Com-

pany, 14,000 and the Grand Trunk Pacific

5,000. We are in the business in about as large a way as any of them. The only difference is that the Government have to build these lines in sparsely settled districts where a private corporation would not extend their system. Would* the hon. member for Carleton (Mr. Carvell) who is interested in a telephone company say that the Bell Telephone Company are not extending their line one mile during this war; hut that they are taking the money that they might use for extensions and putting it into war bonds?

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

Our company are certainly extending their lines the least possible distance and we are putting every dollar we can get our hands on into war bonds or into contributions to the Patriotic Fund.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

The hon. gentleman has answered my question as I expected he would. He admits that they are extending their lines to the least possible extent and I tell him that the Government are doing the same, as was proved when the hon. member for Inverness complained that he had asked for 7j miles of telegraphic line and that the minister had cut it in two.

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

The minister talks about his great system of 10,000 miles of telegraph and telephone lines. This is a system that was started to reach parts of the country that could not possibly be reached by any ordinary business organization. They had to go to 'the Yukon, twelve or fourteen years ago and that takes in 1,000 miles. They had to go to Labrador to facilitate the navigation of the river St. Lawrence, and that takes in 2,000 or 3,000 miles, and they had to go down the north shore of the St. Lawrence for the same reason. Years ago they constructed a line from Chatham to Point Escuminac, which also was necessitated by the requirements of navigation. But that is a different principle altogether. That does not get you away from the fact that the hon. gentleman, on the eve of an election, is expending over a quarter of a million dollars for telephone lines that are not needed. Do you tell me that it is necessary for the industries of this country, for the carrying on of the war, or for the carrying on of the affairs of the country, that this Government should expend $3,000 to extend a little telephone line in the constituency of my hon. friend from Kent? It is a most wonderful thing how they have got along there for fifty or seventy-five years without a telephone line. It is a

most wonderful thing that any of the telephone companies in New Brunswick have not heard about this. It is a remarkable thing that they have carried on their business down there without a telephone line, and that just on the eve of an election my hon. friend wants to spend $3,000 in order that the hon. member for Kent may obtain a few votes. That is what we object to. Ii the Government telephone system were a real business proposition from which they were expected to pay interest on the investment it would be a different thing. But we know that these are not business propositions. We know that they never expect to get a cent of revenue from the investment. We have the admission that they spend $600,000 or $700,000 a year in getting a revenue amounting to about one-third of that. But what I am saying now is only a bagatelle as compared with what ought to be said with reference to some other items in the estimates. A man would not know very much about what was real loyalty to his country who would stand up without protesting against the proposal of the Government to launch out into the expenditure of this enormous amount of money simply that there might be easy sledding for certain of his friends when the election comes on.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

The acting Minister of Public Works did not answer my question in regard to the policy of the Government. He made the statement that this amount was being expended in that section of the country for the purpose of reaching the fishing establishments and giving the people tele phonic communication with Chatham and elsewhere in Kent and Northumberland. Is it proposed to extend that system to any other localities in New Brunswick?

I know of farmers who have left their places because they could not get telephone connection. It is as important to farmers to have telephone communication as it is to fishermen, and if the policy laid down with regard to this line is right, it would be equally correct to give assistance to agricultural communities in the outlying settlements of the different provinces. If I can say to my constituents that the Government will assist them in establishing telephonic lines of communication with the more populous centres, they will consider it a great advantage. Leaving aside the general question of public ownership, I can see no reason why one section should get this advantage and assistance and other sections be denied it.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

The policy of the Government is only to extend certain lines that are in existence, not to build new lines in new localities.

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LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Liberal

Mr. COPP:

What is the difference between extending an old line ten miles into a new district and building ten miles of line in a new district?

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

The difference is that to adopt such a policy would involve a very large expenditure. These are small amounts to extend some of the present lines a few miles.

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL:

How many phones does the minister anticipate placing on this ten or twelve miles of line, and what will be the estimated cost and the revenue?

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

I shall have to get that information between now and eight o'clock.

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September 5, 1917