May 28, 1948

PC

Joseph Henry Harris

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HARRIS (Danforth):

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Broadview was on his feet.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Broadview):

Mr. Speaker, I shall occupy but a very few minutes of the time of the house. I simply wish to draw attention to one thing about this bill, and that is that those who oppose it have had no opportunity in the public press of the country to have the case put before the people. I bring to your attention, Mr. Speaker, the statement that appears in one report, that Mr. Church said the utility should be made a part of the Post Office Department. I never used that phrase. I was referring to 1928 when the capital sought was 875,000,000, and at that time I thought it was a good opportunity for our province to take over the system. But that was twenty years ago, in 1928, and I gave my reasons for opposing the bill both in the house and on many other

occasions. I am not one of those who change their vote, who go uphill politically one day and downhill the next day, those who are on again, off again and on again. When I take a stand I maintain it.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Shall the motion carry?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

On division.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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?

The CLERK:

Third reading of this bill; troisieme lecture de ce bill.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Mr. Rinfret moves that this bill do now pass and that the title be as on the order paper.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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PC

Joseph Henry Harris

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. H. HARRIS (Danforth):

Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Carried.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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PC

Joseph Henry Harris

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HARRIS (Danforth):

I have been three times on my feet, Mr. Speaker. On the third reading of the bill I should like to make one or two observations. Many of us are public ownership minded and at the same time we are private enterprise individuals. I do not see anything contradictory in those two positions. Public ownership has done a great deal not only for the province of Ontario but for the dominion and I am in favour of it. At the same time, I am one of those who admire and respect individuals who exercise private enterprise, initiative and industry.

My objection to this particular bill is this. This company went ahead from S75 million to $100 million odd, and then they stepped aside at a time when Canada had to finance a war effort. For that I pay them homage and respect. But when they suddenly jump from $150 million to $500 million, that is rather too much. I woidd have been happier to see them take two bites at the cherry, moving along in an orderly sort of way, so that generations to come could look back and say that they had made steady progress. This sudden jump from $150 million to $500 million is too great to ask of the Canadian people, and in the same sentence may I say that it savours of taking advantage of the investing public, the Canadian people.

The Canadian people during the war subscribed to victory loans and what not and received a substantial return for their money, and now that it is no longer necessary to raise victory loans the Bell Telephone Company find a good open market from those who must of necessity invest funds, namely, life insurance companies and other companies, followed by many private individuals who have to invest some of their funds so that they will not remain dormant.

Bell Telephone Company

Fortunately perhaps for the Bell Telephone Company, they struck a period in Canada's history when interest rates were low. Whether or not they should be privileged, by those of us who are charged with the responsibility of administering Canada's affairs, to step into the money market with very low interest rates, is a matter of concern to the Canadian people. Perhaps I should compliment them on being smart enough to do that. At the same time I think of many persons in Canada who are imbued with the idea of public ownership of public utilities, and they are perhaps distressed to see a great public utility enterprise walking into the market and picking up low interest rate moneys to further their own great enterprise.

I do not for a moment detract from the greatness of the telephone enterprise. They are doing a wonderful job on behalf of Canada, setting an example perhaps for the entire world, since we have more telephones per capita in Canada than any other nation. We are highly privileged to be in Canada and to enjoy this convenience; but let us be honest with the public whom we represent here and say to them: Yes; this great enterprise has

entered the low money market and taken full advantage of it-too great an advantage of it. They should have crawled a little before starting to gallop. They should have moved up to double what they had before; but when they treble that sum, some of us in this house who are private enterprise men, men who are anxious that our fellowmen should receive the rewards that are due them for their enterprise, initiative and industry, cannot stand by and allow the people to be trampled by big interests. And this savours of big interests.

This bill will pass with reservations on the part of many of us who are convinced that we are not a people who will tamper with public industries that are in need for the benefit of a few. This is a great and necessary public utility; it is expanding, and we want it to expand. There are half a million telephones required and they will make life much easier for our people and raise our standard of living. We appreciate that. At the same time I want hon. members to know that some of us who, so far as private enterprise is concerned, may be called 100 per centers, are convinced that private enterprise, with its initiative and industry, s the best thing that Canada can have, not only in our generation but for many generations to come.

Do not think, Mr. Speaker, that we divorce ourselves from the interests of the ordinary individual and give carte blanche to what the man in the street may call big interests. We

do not want big interests. In fact, "big interests" is a misnomer. I have been privileged to be part and parcel of private enterprise having the objective of improving conditions in Canada and not profiting at all therefrom. While we are privileged to be in a category which handles funds and helps the industry of Canada, at the same time we are thinking of what our duty is to our fellowman in the street. I decry the matter of this increase in capitalization. I am sorry that this organization saw fit to gallop before it started to walk, and to jump away up into this high category. I feel disposed to charge it with taking advantage of a situation which developed through no fault of its own, of this house, or of anyone whatsoever, but as a result of a set of conditions in which you, Mr. Speaker, I, and the rest of the hon. members in this chamber did everything in our power to encourage investment in war loans.

The war is now over. That war bond field is gone. But a great public utility comes in and gets that field while that money is around. That is all right. It is perhaps better that it should be this company rather than some great private enterprise; because in the final analysis, what it is planning to do in its developments will, to my mind, be for the general advantage of Canada; I hope and pray that it will be. Being for the general advantage of Canada, I am ready and willing to sit down and say nothing more about it.

At the same time, on the third reading of this bill, I did not think it should be allowed to pass without some of us who are interested in private enterprise and the development of our great institutions in Canada, criticizing those charged with the responsibility of conducting the affairs of this great enterprise for being just a little bit too hungry at this time, and for being just a little bit too anxious at this time to take advantage of a condition which was not of their own making but which developed on account of a world war tragedy which you, Mr. Speaker, and I have sat in this chamber and studied and talked about during the last decade. They are taking advantage of that world tragedy, in my opinion, to get a maximum of cheap money from the investing public of the Dominion of Canada for the furthering of their enterprise.

I thank God that their enterprise is an enterprise of public utility. If it had not been that, it would have been my privilege to have fought tooth and nail against this legislation from the very inception of it, even though in the same sentence I say to you that I am a private enterprise man. I feel that way about it, never for a moment setting aside in

Private Bills

my own mind the fact that, being a private enterprise man, I am also one of those who believe that public utilities for the general welfare of our fellowman are something that should receive the support of all of us, but at the same time all of us should be left free to develop private enterprise, initiative and industry as it moves forward, as it is bred in the heart and soul of the average Canadian to do, and as you and I like to do.

As to public ownership across the board, I say "No"; but as to public ownership for the great and necessary public utility enterprises,

I say "Of course." Let us have private enterprise for all the possible enterprises there are in this great country of natural resources; and fortunately for you and me, and for our fellow Canadians, there are thousands of them, perhaps scores of thousands of them, ready and waiting for the hand of your sons and mine to develop in this great country of ours.

I will close by saying this. I am sorry that this great public utility enterprise saw fit to grab off from the Canadian economy this tremendous sum of money when perhaps two or three bites of the same cherry might, m the course of a decade, accomplish the same purpose.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. A. M. NICHOLSON (Mackenzie):

I had not planned, Mr. Speaker, on speaking further at length on .this legislation.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Why do so?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

But having objected to the granting of third reading last week, I am happy that this opportunity was given for the hon. member for Danforth (Mr. Harris) to voice his objections to the passage of this legislation.

Our position has been clearly presented in previous sittings, but I think one final word should be said to express the hope that the company will not wait until they require an extra billion or billion and a half dollars before again coming to parliament. I think it would be in the best interests of this important utility if, should the need develop, the requirements were placed before parliament periodically; and if a satisfactory explanation can be given for the plans for development, I am sure that parliament will grant reasonable concessions without such prolonged debate. I wish to speak on behalf of our group, expressing our continued resistance to the passage of legislation of this type.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Golding):

[s it the pleasure of the house to adopt the motion?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

On division.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CHURCH:

How can they pay eight per cent? It means an increase in rates almost immediately.

Motion agreed to on division and bill read the third time.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Golding):

Mr. B infret, moves that this bill do now pass and that the title be as on the order paper.

Is it the pleasure of the house to adopt the motion,?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

On division.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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PC

Thomas Langton Church

Progressive Conservative

Mr. CHURCH:

On division. I am for 100

per cent increase.

Motion agreed to on division.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS
Subtopic:   BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF CANADA
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THIRD READING


Bill No. 205. respecting the Canadian Marconi Company-Mr. Whitman.


May 28, 1948