January 31, 1912 (12th Parliament, 1st Session)


Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARMSTRONG (E. Lambton).

Now, I think it worth while to call to the attention of the House to the position taken by the Postmaster General of the LTnited States within the last few days. The Postmaster General lias announced, so far as he is personally concerned, a policy of taking over the telegraph lines in the United States, stating at the same time that these lines would cost $250,000,000. Assuming that practically all the telegraph lines in Canada could be taken over at the price I named some time ago, this means that the Postmaster General of the United States is prepared to pay $12 per head more to acquire the lines in the United States than would be necessary for us to pay to acquire the lines in Canada. The Po(stmastefr 'General of th|e United States distinctly states that he will be able to cut one-third off the rates in that country, even though paying so large a sum for the lines. If he can do that with the tremendous amount of water in the investment how much better off we shall be in comparison. The United States rates are practically the same as those in Canada, the rates in their west and in our west being particularly much alike. The rate of 25 cents from Windsor to Quebec was established some years ago by statute. In the United States they have a law under which government messages are sent at 1 cent a word up to 1,000 miles with a minimum of 20 words. Canada has not any government rate arrangement with the large companies. At the rate I have just quoted, the government of the United States would be able to send a message from New York to California for 40 cents for 20 words, and from Washington to Florida at 40 cents for 20 words.
We are too apt to think that the companies interested in our telephones are Canadian companies. But you will find that the bulk of the stock of each of the principal companies is held in the United States and that the companies are operated from New York. There is not a British owned cable between the motherland and Canada, every one of the cables being owned and operated by men in New York. The Mackay company is not an operating company; it is only a holding company for the postal Telegraph and Commercial Cable and many others. In 1907, they had a controlling interest in the Bell Telephone Company of the United States, and over 38 per cent of the stock of the Bell Telephone Company of Canada is owned by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company of the United States. Heretofore, on complaint of a particular body, these monopolies, such as the telegraph, telephone and express companies, would sometimes make reductions gratuitously; but now that they are compelled to go before the commission, no reductions are made in

their rates without the public appearing before the Railway Commission and fighting for their rights to the bitter end. When the people of Canada appointed the Railway Commission, they did a just and wise thing. But we must remember that from the time of its establishment, any individual or body wishing to have rates lowered on telegraphs, telephones or railways has had to go before the commission and claim this redress. Not one of these public utilities will grant concessions to the public gratuitously.
The purely domestic business of the Canadian Pacific Railway telegraphs increased to from about $575,000 in 1906, to over $1,200,000 in 1910, or 110 per cent in four years. The estimates of last year's business is over $1,400,000, being an increase in five years of over 143 per cent on domestic business alone.

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