Hon. RODOLPHE LEMIEUX (Postmaster General).
I have listened with great attention to the remarks of the hon. mem-
ber for Durham (Mr. Thornton), and even though I do not share his views I must congratulate him on the manner in which they were expressed by him. I am sure the hon. gentleman will be quite an addition to the House and especially to His Majesty's loyal opposition. I have taken note of his suggestions for improvements in our postal system, and will give them attention. As regards the number of post offices in the country districts I may tell the hon. gentleman that since I have been Postmaster General it has been my aim and my pleasure to increase as much as possible the postal facilities by adding to the number of postoffices and thereby reducing the distance between those previously existing. In the olden times when the population of this country was sparser the distances between the post-offices ranged from 10 miles to 20 miles, but of course that system got out of date and in view of our buoyant revenues I decided some years ago that we should reduce the distances between post offices to from 3 miles to 6 miles which is about the present average. As regards better remuneration for Postmasters I would remind the hon. gentleman that under the regime of the Conservative government postmasters were paid $12 a year, and that when Sir William Mulock took office he increased that to $25 a year and when I became Postmaster General three years ago I came to the conclusion that the surplus we had in the department entitled us to increase the remuneration of our rural postmasters so as to give them $35 a year. I also increased the percentage on rental, fuel, and light and to-day, generally speaking, our postmasters derive quite a nice revenue from their offices and there are no complaints. As to rearranging our postal routes I may inform the hon. gentleman that that rearrangement is going on quietly throughout the country. As new settlers go into New Ontario and New Quebec, and the west, we are naturally forced to rearrange the postal facilities and to give to outside settlements the facilities which the travelled routes enjoyed for many years. The inspectors in these new districts have received special instructions in that regard and I can assure the hon. gentleman that the good work will be continued in the future. I now come to the question of rural mail delivery and I hope my remarks will be brief. My hon. friend from Lamb-ton (Mr. Armstrong) referred to my right about face on that question but I can assure him that I made no right about face at all. I acted in perfect consistency with the views expressed by me on previous occasions in this House. I said that in view of our area, of our scattered population, and of our revenue, I could not favor for Canada the same system of rural free de-88
livery which had been adopted in the United States. But at the same time I said I was in favour of the system known in the United States as the star route system, and that I would be glad to be able to adopt it as an experiment in Canada.