August 7, 1903

INTERCOLONIAL CONFERENCE.

CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey).

Mr. Speaker, before the Orders of the Day are called, I desire to ask a question with regard to the correspondence which took place on the subject of the inter-imperial conference. I am informed that the question was put to the right hon. the Premier (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) a few days ago whether he would endeavour to have this correspondence laid on the Table at an early day, and he replied that he hoped to be able to lay it on the Table in a few days. Might I ask, in the absence of the leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax), if the Prime Minister has any further information to give us on the subject ?

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The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier).

I told my hon. friend the leader of the opposition that I would have to communicate with His Excellency the Governor General before making any statement. This I have done. The information I have to convey to the House is that the despatch which came from the Colonial Office was a secret despatch, which we have not the right to lay upon the Table. His Excellency has communicated with the Colonial Office asking for permission, and no answer has been received.

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NATIONAL TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILWAY-OLD SURVEYS.

CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. J. G. HAGGART (South Lanark).

I would like to call the attention of the act-

ing Minister of Railways (Hon. Mr. Fielding) to tFe necessity of furnishing the House either to-day or on Monday with all possible information that is in the department in reference to surveys that were made for a contemplated railway at the time when the Canadian Pacific was building, from Lake Temiscamingue north of the height of land, north of Lake Nepigon towards Lake Winnipeg. One of the surveys west of Lake Nepigon and to twenty-five or thirty miles north was made by a Mr. Bailey. The one on this side was by Mr. Secretan, and Mr. Gansby made another survey. I do not want the actual surveys, but the reports of the engineers as to the nature of the country would be very interesting and helpful in the debate on Tuesday next.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE (Hon. W. S. Fielding).

I have been informed that there are no reports of the character referred to in the department other than those which have been published and that may be found in the library. I made inquiry with reference to what the hon. gentleman (Hon. Mr. Haggart) said on a previous occasion, and this is the information that was given me in the department. Perhaps, with the details that the hon. gentleman has given, we may be able to find them.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

I can give the names of the engineers who have charge of the different surveys. There can be no doubt about it. The reports must be there.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

All these reports, I think, were published at the time, and are to be found in the library. But I understood the hon. gentleman to say that there was something later.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

No ; they are not published. They are reports made for the purpose of an alternative route for the Canadian '[DOT] Pacific Railway. The surveys were made under the direction of Sir Sandford Fleming (then Mr. Sanford Fleming), who was then the deputy head of the department.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

I think that what my hon. friend (Hon. Mr. Haggart) refers to will be found in the different reports of the department that are on file in the library. I understand he has reference to some that were not published. I will make further inquiry about the matter.

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BRITISH CABLE NEWS SERVICE.


House went into committee to consider the following proposed resolution : That it is expedient to enact as follows:- 1. The Governor in Council may authorize the payment of the following sums, in the respective fiscal years mentioned, for the purpose of assisting in establishing and maintaining an independent and efficient service of telegraphic news from Great Britain, for publication in the Canadian press :-


CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

(a.) For the fiscal year 1903-4, a sum not exceeding fifteen thousand dollars, or at the rate of fifteen thousand dollars per annum for any period less than a year.

(b. )* For the fiscal year 1904-5, a sum not exceeding fifteen thousand dollars.

(c.) For the fiscal year 1905-6, a sum not exceeding fifteen thousand dollars.

(d.) For the fiscal year 1906-7, a sum not exceeding ten thousand dollars.

(e.) For the fiscal year 1907-8, a sum not exceeding five thousand dollars.

2. The said sums may be paid at such times and in such manner as the Minister of Finance may determine, to any association or committee representing the proprietors of such newspapers as may associate themselves for the purpose of establishing and maintaining such service.

Provided, however, that no payment shall be made under authority of this Act until the Minister of Finance shall have satisfied himself that the benefits of the service are open, on fair and reasonable terms to all newspapers published in Canada; and that not less than one-half the cost of establishing and maintaining such service is paid by the proprietors of the newspapers participating in the benefits thereof.

3. The Governor in Council may make regulations for carrying out the purposes of this Act.-The Minister of Finance.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE (Hon. W. S. Fielding).

The resolution which is before the committee, as will be seen, has reference to the granting of a sum of public money to assist in making a better cable service for the benefit of the Canadian press and, through the Canadian press, for fhe benefit of the Canadian people. I am sure that members of the committee will agree with me when I say that the manner in which our Canadian press is served with cable news from Europe, except as respects a few special despatches which they are receiving, and which are unobjectionable, is eminently unsatisfactory. I am sure that every hon. member when reading in the public press the report of something of imperial concern which has been before the British House of Commons, or in some way has engaged the attention of the people, has had reason to feel aggrieved at the tone and temper of the whole report. This arises from the fact that our Canadian newspapers -though I am glad to say they are making gratifying progress, and are making an excellent place in the journalistic world-are not, many of them, endowed sufficiently with wealth to be able to establish an independent cable service. Some two or three of the more enterprising have recently obtained special cable reports of their own, but the majority are still obliged to use the reports received by way of the United States and prepared chiefly for the United States people1. The consequence is that many things that are of interest to us in Canada are not reported at all, and many that are reported are coloured in a way that is far from agreeable to us. Several years ago I was so impressed with this fact that I asked the consent of my colleagues to make

a proposition to parliament for a public grant to assist a movement of tbis kind toward the establishing of a better service for the Canadian press. X thought then, as I think now, that the service should not be entirely supported by government, but that the newspapers themselves should bear a proper share of the expense. I had negotiations with a number of gentlemen connected with the Canadian press, in the hope that I might then be able to prepare a scheme of this character, but, as it involved a considerable outlay by the Canadian newspapers, they were not prepared at the time to respond to the suggestions we made. The proposition received their sympathy, but the financial part imposed 'too serious a burden upon the newspaper proprietors, and, for the time being, the movement was not successful.

Quite recently however some gentleman connected with the press who have been aware that the government entertained such an idea in time jiast, have approached us again and asked if we would still be disposed to carry out what was then in our minds, and I have been glad to be able to assure them on behalf of the government that if they were prepared to form an organization for giving an efficient service to the Canadian press and bear a reasonable proportion of the expense, we would be glad to make a contribution to the system. A committee composed of representatives of the press, irrespective of political parties, came here some time ago and stated that if we would agree to give a moderate degree of assistance they would themselves undertake to raise a considerable sum of money. We have come to the conclusion to ask the House to approve of the grant of the sums which we have mentioned in these resolutions $15,000 for the first, second and third years, $10,000 for the fourth year, and $5,000 for the fifth year. We are assuming that the press will develop considerably, and that while at the beginning they cannot aid as much as we would like them to do, and they would like to do for themselves, we expect that after several years they will be able to gather in the subscriptions of a larger number of newspapers and be able to carry on the service effectively after the expiration of the five years. We leave the scheme largely to the newspapers. The government do not assume to exercise any control over it. We propose to deal,' as the resolution says, with an association or committee representing the press generally.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROTTLE.

Have they not outlined any scheme yet ? [DOT]

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

Not further than this, that we have intimated to them that for a time at least they should undertake to provide a service, to employ correspondents, to pay for cable bills and do all that is necessary to create an efficient service, and they have agreed to secure the co-operation of as many newspapers in

Canada as are able to contract for the service. The newspapers in the large cities will have to pay a much larger amount than the newspapers in the smaller centres, although all will receive the service alike ; those in the large communities; will have to pay more, those in the smaller communities will pay less, though they all get the same news. We leave the gentlemen of the press to work out all the details for themselves. The conditions which we impose are, first, that they raise and spend for the service at least as much money as the government does. The second condition is that they must hold the service open to every newspaper in Canada on fair and reasonable terms ; and unless they can show us that everybody in Canada who wants to contract has all the privileges which this scheme offers them they are not entitled to receive the money. We leave the working out of the details entirely to the newspaper people, and we accept the assurance which the representatives that the leading papers have given us that they will work it out on an entirely non-partisan basis, and with the co-operation of the press generally throughout the Dominion.

Mr. BORDEN" (Halifax.) I heartily and cordially support the proposal of the Minister of Finance In this regard. I am satisfied that the people of this country have not had fair play in the way of getting news from England during the past, and on the other hand the people of England perhaps have not been any better supplied with Canadian news. We have had to get a great deal of our news through sources which are coloured, not certainly from a Canadian or an English standpoint. While I am not disposed to make any reflection in that direction, nevertheless I feel satisfied from what information I have obtained, and that I have had placed before me in connection with this very matter, that certain events of great public consequence in the mother country have sometimes come to us with a certain colour which is not desirable either in the interest of the empire or in the interest of Canada. If it is possible by aid of this kind to ensure that the press of Canada shall have fair and accurate reports of events of public importance in the mother country, and that the people of the mother country shall have accurate and adequate means of knowing what is being done and published in Canada, I think a great service will be rendered to the country. I do not know how it is in Great Britain at the present time, I have not had the pleasure of visiting that country for six or seven years ; but I know that during my previous visits I have often been intensely disappointed, I might even use a stronger word, at the very great dearth of news of my country that appeared in the English papers. In many of them there was not a word regarding Canada for a considerable time, and in the more import-

ant journals only a line or two and perhaps not that. If this grant will contribute to any better result, and I have every reason to believe that it will, I think there is no person in this country who would not heartily join in supporting the proposition of my hon. friend the Minister of Finance.

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LIB

Joseph Israël Tarte

Liberal

Hon. Mr. TARTE.

Some time, either in the month of June or July, I attended a meeting of gentlemen connected with this project in the city of Montreal. At that time they did not appear to have any clearly defined scheme in their minds, I hope it has been made clearer since. At the meeting to which I allude there were, besides newspaper men, some business men. Similar meetings I understand had been held in Toronto and elsewhere. If I understood what was in their minds, their idea was to form a kind of a joint stock company to-, gether and send news. It was in my capa-citj' of a newspaper man that I was invited to attend the meeting ; there were only a few newspaper men present for the city of Montreal. I would like to know from the Minister of Finance on what conditions he proposes to pay that pretty large sum of money. So far as I understood the idea of the newspaper men, it was to act in opposition to the existing cable, or at any rate to the existing state of affairs. The object was not very clear, and that is the reason why I inquire. Let me say before taking my seat that, being no more Minister of Public Works, I am more free to fight for the rights of my former department. I think my hon. friend the Minister of Finance is invading the realm of the minister of telegraph. If it were in my days I would kick. I make that remark in a very friendly spirit, but all the same I claim that when a department has direct charge of business-like telegraphs the hon. Minister of Finance should at least agree that the minister of telegraphs should make a report jointly with him. That is only fair. I have no personal ends to serve and I make these observations in all friendship.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

In regard to the statement of my hon. friend (Hon. Mr. Tarte) that it is an invasion of the Public Works Department, I may say that it is not an invasion of any department for the Minister of Finance to provide the money. I have never found that any department had the least objection to the Minister of Finance providing money. 1 am not clear that any particular department has charge of this business, but 1 may say that when the Minister of Public Works required money for the Harbour Commissioners of Montreal, a matter coming within the purview of his department, as far as expenditure is concerned, it was always the Minister of Finance who brought up the appropriation and gave him the money, so that we are simply following the same rule in this case as in Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

other cases. My hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax), whose commendation and co-operation I am glad to welcome, I am afraid connected this resolution with a matter which is a little beyond its scope when he suggested that we might make provision not only for news coming from Great Britain, but also for a supply of news from Canada to Great Britain. That is very desirable indeed.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

Yes, this scheme may lead to it. You have to make arrangements with the English papers to publish your news and this is not a matter that can be directed from this side of the Atlantic. If we could do anything to induce English papers to give more prominence to Canadian affairs it would be well worth our pains to attempt to do something in that direction. I am glad to know that of late years there has been a vastly increased interest taken in colonial affairs, and particularly in Canadian affairs, and we find that the English newspapers are to-day disposed to publish much more matter from Canada than formerly. They have a number of special correspondents in Ottawa. I have had the pleasure of meeting three of four gentlemen representing the British press within a few days who have come out to visit Canada, not only those with the British press party, but others who have come out individually. I think if anything could be done to arouse an increased interest in London, and to bring about the publication of Canadian events in the British papers it would be very desirable.

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August 7, 1903