If my hon. friend wants a categorical answer to his question I shall have to ask him to elucidate a little more. What does he mean by an aeroplane operating on a round-the-world basis and one operating on a regional basis?
Well, Mr. Chairman, all I have to say is this, that the Canadian government has decided on a system of the chosen instrument and intends to operate international air services. My question is are these international air services to be operated on a regional basis?
This is one question on which I am going to get a categorical answer. Are these international air services to be operated on a regional basis whereby certain areas will be allocated to Canada under international agreement, or does Canada intend to operate air services in all parts of the world on a transoceanic system? Under present conditions the situation in Great Britain is that she has a chosen instrument. Canada has taken a stand in favour of that policy. The United States has not a chosen instrument policy. The importance of this question arises in connection with the question whether we in Canada can operate international air services on a transoceanic basis, whether we have the necessary ability to do it unless we operate within an empire or some other international system.
I am endeavouring to ascertain from the minister what the plans are with respect to air transport on a world basis.
I may be overoptimistic, but I think Canada has the ability to do whatever any other country can do. We are operating across the Atlantic at the present time. I do not know whether that is on a regional or on a round-the-world basis. I am still
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mystified by my hon. friend's terms. Would he say that across the Atlantic would be on a round-the-world or on a regional basis?
We hope to, yes, and we hope to operate into the south Atlantic. I do not know whether such operations would be round-the-world or regional. Perhaps my hon. friend would know. Perhaps he will be satisfied with that explanation.
I believe it is the feeling of the committee that there should be a general discussion first.
Hon. L. R. LaFLECHE (Minister of National War Services): The same question was put to me last year, and I then said that I did not intend to make a general statement but that I would give any information required as we came to the particular votes. The Department of National War Services is not organized to do any one particular thing but to do a considerable number of different things. I suggest to hon. members that they can obtain information more readily by dealing with each item separately. The item that you have just called, sir, is a normal item. It is slightly lower than it was last year. It is a few hundred dollars less than the equivalent vote for the fiscal year ending March 1, 1944.
I do not know whether the minister expects us to discuss the work of the department eo-mi-ally under this item
or to take each item as we come to it. I think it would be more satisfactory if we had a discussion of the work of the department as we usually have at this particular stage. It is unfortunate that the minister is not prepared to make a general statement regarding the work of his department. Can he tell us just what the organization of the department is, how it is organized as compared with other new departments? It is a war department. Last year we did not get a general statement nor did we have a general discussion, and I would appreciate it if we knew what this department comprises, what its functions are, and if we could get some general information about it before going into the items.
Mr. LaFLECHE: Yes, but I would repeat that I had thought of doing this year as was done last year. I may remind the committee that lengthy statements about the department were made in previous years. During the last fiscal year the department has grown to some extent, there being now nearly 300 more employees in it than in the previous year.
Mr. LaFLECHE: About 1,300. There are a number of departmental activities, and they are very well set out under the separate votes given in Hansard of February 11, 1944-War Charities Act, salvage, the civilian Canadian fire-fighters overseas, the committee on cooperation in Canadian citizenship, censorship with its subheadings, information and records branch, postal censorship, censorship of publications, telegraph and cable. There is an item here for the short-wave station of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation which is under construction at Sackville, New Brunswick. This is nothing new; it is merely to carry on.
When does the minister expect that to be finished?
Mr. LaFLECHE: I replied to a question in the house about a month ago. The officials of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation then told me that the buildings would be completed next month as a matter of fact, in May, and also that they hoped to be able to use the new short-wave station at Sackville late in this coming fall. There had been a delay, but it was an anticipated delay, the trouble being in getting the required equipment from the manufacturers. The delay itself was caused by the difficulty in getting favourable priorities over other war requirements. On that point I am quite satisfied that the officials of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have done excellent work in going after priorities. There will still be a delay of
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perhaps four months over the opening date as originally anticipated, or as anticipated last year at least. I think they have cut that by two or even three months. Then there is the national film board, and we have the women's voluntary services, the government economies control, and the next-of-kin of prisoners of war branch of my department. I am only too happy to meet the pleasure of hon. members in attempting to give information, but I shall take the liberty of saying again that I think the best way to get information concerning my department is to take it up by sections such as represented in Hansard, pages 397 and 398, because we deal with such a large variety of matters between which there is no possible similarity.