tween British Columbia and New Zealand and Australia. The management of that cable, or of the business connected with it, was entrusted to what is known as the Pacific Cable Board. That board leased from the Canadian Pacific railway a wire from British Columbia to Montreal at a cost of $55,000, so that now we have communication established between the two sister colonies, New Zealand and Australia, and Vancouver, and from Vancouver over this leased wire to Montreal. Between Montreal and the Atlantic coast, and be-ween the Atlantic coast of Canada and the Mother Country, there is a gap whieh has not been filled so far, but which has several times occupied the attention of this country and of the other countries mentioned. To fill that gap we have to use the cables of the cable companies to which 1 have just referred. It costs, in proportion, much more than the. part which we own, and Canada has the lean part of the business going over the cable. The reduction brought about by the Pacific cable benefits mainly Australia and New Zealand. I am not here to blame or to criticise what has been done in this matter, because it may have been properly considered as part of an Imperial duty, but we certainly did not get as much return from the cable as the three other partners.
This was the state of things when I had the pleasure and advantage of meeting the Eight Hon. Mr. Samuel, the British Postmaster General, last summer. I put before him the proposition of filling that gap toy laying an Atlantic cable, and I had reason to believe that to some extent I was speaking also for New Zealand and Australia. This Government had adopted no policy in regard to that. I simply put the proposition before him for the .purposes of discussion. I found that Mr. Samuel was, for the present at ,least, opposed to an Atlantic state-owned cable proposition. He was quite prepared to listen with an open mind to all the suggestions and arguments put before him; but, with all the facts and figures before him, and these he had pretty well at his fingers' ends, he thought the time had not come for a state-owned Atlantic cable. After several conferences, at which we went thoroughly into the whole matter, he came to the conclusion that for the moment our best course was to try to obtain more favourable conditions from the cable companies, reserving the state-owned cable as a means of last resort. The reasons which he gave then certainly appealed to me. His chief reason was the rapid strides and. extraordinary progress of wireless telegraphy. To put it in a nutshell, the proposition was this: why make extraordinary and costly outlays at the present moment for a cable when the cable is about to have a competitor whose possibilities are
immense and which may turn out to be as good if not a better means of communication? Speaking for myself, I would not be surprised if, in a few years, wireless should become the equal if not the superior of the cable. Cable companies have fought one another in the past, and have lowered their rates, but now they have merged into what I think may properly be called a combination. While there are a great many cables, there are practically only two companies now, they having absorbed all the others. One is the Commercial Cable Company, and the other the Western Union. Their rates are practically the same, and are pretty high at that. Cables are much more expensive than wireless organizations, and consequently the wireless organizations can charge lesser rates and these rates may be more remunerative to them than the charges made toy the cable companies. Another reason which was fully discussed at that time, and about which all the experts seemed to agree, was that whilst one cable in the Pacific ocean has sufficed, and may suffice for a long term of years, a different condition of affairs existed, so far as the Atlantic ocean is concerned. If ever a state-owned cable is laid in the Atlantic ocean, the conditions will necessitate duplication in order to give a good and efficient service. The expense of laying two cables would be in the vicinity of $5,000,000, whilst the laying of a proper system of wireless telegraphy would not probably amount to more than $300,000 or $400,000. Therefore, the British Postmaster General was not ready to consider a state-owned proposition, and, as I said a moment ago, I agreed pretty much with him.
Consequently, we entered into negotiations with the cable companies with the view of obtaining some reduction in the rates charged by them. The companies expressed surprise to find us renewing our demands for a reduction of the rates so soon, they said, after the reduction granted in December, 1911. They told us they were going to be ruined, and that there were no hopes of sajvation for them if steps were taken by the Mother Country and the overseas dominions to bring about a better state of affairs. At all events, one of the companies consented to negotiate; with the other one the negotiations were not protracted. We had some difficulty in finding anybody responsible for that company or anyone' willing to enter into any pourparlers. We had one meeting in the office of the British Postmaster General, and the representative expressed very great surprise and seemed to think we were trespassing on sacred ground. He told us that we need not expect much from him. At ah events he promised consideration and said he would give an answer later. His answer
has yet to come, but the other company, the Western Union Company consented to negotiate with us. Those negotiations were veTy long and wearisome. At each conference the gentlemen with whom we were dealing had to send a cablegram to New York, because, as you know, Mr. Speaker, the rates between Canada and England are decided at New York. New York apparently was not very well disposed towards us. One day we would think we were pretty near the object in view, and then another cable would come from New York putting us far apart again. Finally, it became perfectly clear that, whilst we were sure to get something, we could not. expect anything like what we considered fair and reasonable.
These negotiations were so prolonged and so unsuccessful that they were brought to a close. Meanwhile I had given a good deal of attention to what was going on in England as far as wireless telegraphy was concerned. Having informed the representative of the Western Union Company that I was directing my efforts in another channel, I continued my negotiations with the British Postmaster General. Mr. Samuel kept me advised of what was going on and the result of the whole thing was that, the cable companies having refused terms that we thought fair and reasonable, submitted a certain scale of reduction to the British Postmaster General who communicated the same to me and my suggestion was that if they desired to themselves adopt that policy, and experiment with these reduced rates, Canada would not refuse the benefit of this reduction but that we wanted to be understood as not accepting those rates and as not being bound by them. The reductions which then obtained have already been given to this House and I shall not refer to them at length. I said a moment ago that the first reduction, granted in December, 1911, gave a slight measure of relief. The reduction given last summer, and which went into force on the 1st of January, 1913, is a little more satisfactory but it is far from giving Canada the rates to which, I think, she is entitled. There is one rate which it has been absolutely impossible to have reduced and that is the regular business rate. A first reduction was obtained on deferred cablegrams, cable-letters and week-end letters and that reduction went into effect on January 1, 1911. The reduction which went into force on the 1st of January last was on the same lines. They all applied to deferred cablegrams, cable letters and week-end letters, but no reduction of any kind has so far been obtained on the regular cablegrams, the business man's cablegram, whether in code or in plain language. It remains as it has been for years at twenty-five cents a word.
The Bill which I have the honour of presenting to this House provides, to a certain
extent at least, a remedy for that condition of affairs. We have entered into a contract which the Bill proposes to confirm and ratify, if it is agreeable to Parliament. I shall briefly explain it. A number of very wealthy persons in the Mother Country have formed themselves into a syndicate, incorporated as the Universal Radiotelegraph Syndicate, Limited. They will bring to this country the most effective and promising system of wireless telegraphy known as Poulsen's Arc System. It was tried and gave good results. The syndicate undertake and guarantee, first, to establish wireless stations and to establish wireless communication between Canada and the Mother Country. The central point to which they shall come in Canada is Montreal. This will fill the gap of Which I spoke a moment ago. Then, in the second place, the syndicate guarantee that they will give an excellent service at a speed of four hundred letters per minute. This is very important. Four hundred letters per minute means one hundred per cent better on the average than the cable companies can do at the present time.