July 3, 1956

LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

Mr. Chairman, I certainly do not recall having said that I did not intend to give information to the house. The whole purpose of my remarks was just the opposite. I would be most surprised to find that I used those words.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

Mr. Chairman, I would draw the minister's attention to the fact that he specifically used those words.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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?

An hon. Member:

No.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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LIB

George James McIlraith

Liberal

Mr. Mcllraiih:

Put them in context.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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PC

William McLean Hamilton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

The

minister left us very specifically with the feeling-

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Postmaster General; Minister of Veterans Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Lapointe:

Mr. Chairman, may I move that the committee rise and report progress?

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

And ask leave to sit again when?

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Later this day.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Mr. Lapointe moves that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again later this day.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Carried.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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PC

J.-Wilfrid Dufresne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dufresne:

Does that mean that the minister will give us the information we asked for this afternoon?

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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?

An hon. Member:

Sit down.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

I am sorry to intervene. The motion having been put, I am afraid it is not debatable. It is, of course, votable. Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the motion?

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Carried.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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Motion agreed to. Progress reported.


LIB

Edward Turney Applewhaite (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Applewhaite):

When shall the committee have leave to sit again? Later this day.

Topic:   POST OFFICE ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT WITH RESPECT TO TRANSFER OF CONTRACT
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TELEGRAPHS ACT

AMENDMENT CONCERNING CONTROL OF SUBMARINE CABLE INSTALLATIONS

LIB

George Carlyle Marler (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. George C. Marler (Minister of Transport) moved

the second reading of Bill No. 212, to amend the Telegraphs Act.

He said: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the present bill, as is said in the explanatory note, is to provide for the control of submarine cables terminating in or passing through

Canadian territory, excluding, however, submarine cables wholly under fresh water. My remarks, Mr. Speaker, will bear only on those that are affected by the bill, although I fully understand that in ordinary parlance the word "cable" would have a very extensive meaning.

I think it would facilitate the discussion of this measure if I were to set forth the pertinent facts so that the purposes the government has in mind may be clearly understood.

The part of the Telegraphs Act which deals with what the act calls "marine electric telegraph companies" and which prescribes the formalities to be followed by a company that desires to construct a telegraph wire or cable to connect any province with any other province of Canada or to extend beyond the limits of any province, was originally enacted in 1875. Section II of the original enactment- 38 Victoria, chapter 26-provided that until (a) the company had submitted to the governor in council a plan and survey of the proposed site and location of the cable and its approaches at the shore and of its stations, offices and accommodations on land and of all the intended works thereto appertaining; and until (b) such plan, site and location had been approved by the governor in council; and until (c) such conditions as he thought fit for the public good to impose touching the said telegraph and works had been complied with, the company might not exercise any of the powers conferred upon it by the act.

Though more than 75 years have elapsed since the Telegraphs Act was first enacted by parliament, there has been no substantial change in the language of the section to which I have just referred, and consequently no change in the formalities that must be observed by a company which wishes to lay and operate a submarine cable. I think hon. members will agree that it does not often happen that an enactment remains unchanged in substance for such a long time. The fact that there has been no change in the formalities to be followed is, I believe, explained by the way in which improvements in the general field of communications have developed.

When the act was passed originally in 1875 a submarine cable had a very limited capacity. In fact, it seems that at that time a cable usually carried two simplex circuits, each capable of transmitting about 26 words per minute. As the years passed improvements were made in the quality of cable construction and it was found possible gradually to increase the capacity of cables, but I should like to point out that the increase was not extraordinary if judged by present-day standards. In fact, the ultimate appeared to have been reached in 1923 with the installation of what is called a nonloaded cable

which, with the adding of repeaters, carried six circuits with a total speed of 252 words per minute. This is equal to 42 words per minute per circuit.

I think I should add that the older cables also were improved by various means so that their capacity with two circuits is now about 84 words per minute. Loaded cables were first introduced across the Atlantic in the mid-1920's and they made it possible to increase the number of circuits in the cable and also the total speed of the cable to as much as 500 words per minute. I mention these facts in order to point out that despite the improvements which have been developed the capacity of a cable was such that, of itself, it imposed an economic limitation on the number of cables that might be laid and consequently upon the number of additional circuits that might be established to compete with those which had been previously laid.

A further limitation upon the laying of new cables resulted from the development of wireless telegraphy or radio. As hon. members know, improvements in this field of radio have made it possible, in a relatively recent period, to use radio both for the transmission of telegraph signals and also for telephone conversations. In fact, since the expansion of this form of communication began in earnest only two new trans-Atlantic cables have been laid.

About 1950 a new technique was adopted to increase cable capacity and in that year the first submerged repeater to be placed in operation on a trans-Atlantic cable was installed at a distance of about 170 miles from Newfoundland in a cable laid in 1881. There is no unanimity apparently among technical men as to the extent to which repeaters will increase the speed of a cable. Some believe they will double the speed and others that they will treble it. No doubt the rate of increase depends upon a number of factors such as the nature of the cable, the distance from the shore, the kind of repeater, and so on.

I regret that it has seemed necessary to deal with these somewhat technical matters which, at first sight, seem perhaps not to be entirely relevant to the bill in order to stress one point in particular, and that is through improvements, installed in the cable itself or elsewhere, the capacity of most if not all of the trans-Atlantic cables has been increased over that which they originally had when the formalities prescribed by the Telegraphs Act were accomplished and when the requested approval of the governor in council was given. In stressing this point, I express no criticism of 67509-357J

Telegraphs Act

the action of any company in increasing the capacity of one or more of its cables, because the Telegraphs Act does not seem to prohibit it from doing so.

However, I must admit some concern that as the act now stands, once the requested permission to land the cable has been granted its capacity may be changed, perhaps quite substantially, without either the knowledge or consent of the government. Perhaps if the change in the capacity of a cable were to remain within the range I have indicated there might not be cause for great concern or for legislative action. However, the progress of science has gone much further and the development of coaxial cables with built-in repeaters, and their use for trans-oceanic communication, have completely changed the whole situation.

Hon. members will appreciate the significance of this development from the fact that the new trans-Atlantic telephone cable which is now being laid between Newfoundland and Scotland, and which is expected to come into operation later this year, will have a capacity equal to about 40 times the capacity of all existing trans-Atlantic cables. In this project two cables are being laid, one in each direction, and the transmission of each of these cables is at present expected to have a capacity of at least 800 telegraph circuits at 60 words per minute each. I say that the new cable is at present expected to have a capacity of 800 telegraph circuits, but the estimated total number has increased over the original figure and it is possible that at a later date it may be increased further.

I would point out, Mr. Speaker, that in speaking of the capacity of the trans-Atlantic telephone cable, and expessing it in terms of the number of circuits as I have just done, I want to make it clear that its primary purpose is for telephone and not for telegraphic purposes. I have merely used the number of telegraph circuits in order to emphasize the word-carrying capacity, so to speak, of these modern coaxial cables in relation to those that have already been laid and are now in operation. But I think the most important point to be stressed in that connection is that the introduction of the coaxial cable with the built-in repeaters has completely revolutionized the whole picture of trans-oceanic communications. I hope that hon. members have appreciated the fact that this trans-Atlantic telephone project, in effect, involves the laying of two cables that have 40 times the capacity of all the other cables that are already in existence. I think that in those circumstances hon. members will appreciate the necessity of amending the Telegraphs Act in order to meet the situation.

Telegraphs Act

At first sight, it might appear as if section 22-

Topic:   TELEGRAPHS ACT
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT CONCERNING CONTROL OF SUBMARINE CABLE INSTALLATIONS
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July 3, 1956