The minister at first says the revenue is small; now he suggests that it will be a very good revenue. I do not know whether he is going to leave it small or big, or whether he will hit a happy medium, but I would like to get something definite.
I am sorry I have not with me the information as to the revenue. At present the tariff cannot be very great because the government section is merely a connecting link and their share of the tolls will be small. But with the metallic circuit that will give them a larger field and there will be an increase. I do not say it will pay; in fact, very few of these government lines do pay, but they give a service which could not otherwise be afforded, because private companies will not go into these districts. I will ascertain just what is anticipated in revenue and be glad to advise my hon. friend.
I would like to know what the policy of the department is with respect to bonusing telephone systems in different parts of the country and just where this is done. Is it done only in British Columbia, or in other provinces as well? We have parts of Ontario, in my own constituency, for example where we could not persuade the Bell Telephone Company under any conditions to build a line, but the settlers themselves
got together and built a line. They did not expect to get a revenue from it; it was built just for their own service, and without any government assistance.
largely applicable to Nova Scotia, more especially Cape Breton, which is sparsely settled and a rugged and difficult country, also to one or two portions of New Brunswick, some portions of Quebec, and then going west, it is applicable largely in Saskatchewan, northern Alberta, and the province of British Columbia.
Just what justification is there in this particular district more than, for example, in the case cited by my hon. friend from Victoria (Mr. Thurston)? Why step in in British Columbia, and not in this case? Why is it not done all over? Possibly it is, but I want to know upon what basis will the federal government step in and construct telephone lines which are customarily constructed by the settlers themselves if they cannot get a corporation to come in and do it?
I think my hon. friend, coining from the great west, knows that there are a great many isolated sections in northern Alberta where even the provincial government will not go in, but where it is necessary that there shall be some means of communication. The Dominion government have maintained that service to the advantage not only of the local people but probably of the people of Canada as a whole. Take the service in the Yukon, for example. No one will say that service was not necessary at the time it was constructed, or that it is not serving a useful purpose to-day. It does not pay a revenue sufficient to take care of the expenditure, but it is a service that has to be maintained.
May I point out that in my own district many years ago we could not get a telephone service at all. We could not get the provincial government to build a line or a private company to go in, so we formed ourselves into a co-operative telephone construction (company and built our own line, put up our own poles and insulators, and bought our own machines and installed them. We did not have to appeal to any government, and I cannot for the life of me see why these people cannot do the same thing. Is there a national need for this line? If there is not, it is unjustifiable.
lines, and some trunk. The line under discussion a moment ago would probably be considered a trunk line, or at least a connecting link with a trunk line. I was asked a few moments ago as to (he costs of telephone operation. I have here a statement showing the cost of operation and maintenance and the revenue of the government telegraph service from 1920-1921 to March 31, 1925:
Operation and Maintenance Revenue
$1,005,494 90 $330,470 431921- 1922
947,341 11 290.131 341922- 1923
908,840 51 289.252 661923- 1924
867,887 30 284.328 301924- 1925
834,140 80 293,924 27
That shows a decreased cost of maintenance and operation, with the revenue slightly higher this last year than during the two preceding years.
I think my hon. friend will agree that his first figures are entirely illusory for the simple reason that the dollar was of much greater value then than it is now. We have been getting rid of mileage, which largely accounts for the decrease in operation costs. We are now starting to increase the mileage here. Does my hon. friend think that is a good thing?