March 10, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. R. MacNICOL (Davenport):

This afternoon when the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) was speaking, I asked a question as to the probability of the revocation of licences for power export. I have had some experience in companies that required considerable electrical horsepower with which to operate. When I asked my question I had in mind the Niagara-Hudson Company of New York state, which imports a large volume of power from Canada and has for many years. The right to export that power has not been revoked and I doubt very much if it could be. As has been said by several hon. members, the revocation of the right to import power that has been imported by an importer in the United States for any length of time would cause trouble between the two countries. That is the opinion I hold. I did not get any reply to the question I asked as to what course would be followed in revoking this right. I do not believe it could be done without causing trouble between the two countries.
There is another point to be considered. As the Prime Minister and other hon. members who have made an investigation of the matter know, there has been put into operation in Great Britain a plan whereby there will be a tremendous increase in the amount of power required in that country, and I believe the very same thing will happen here. As the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe (Mr. Rowe) predicted, before two or three years a large amount of additional horsepower will be required in Canada. That has been the result in the old land. As hon. members who were in Great Britain last summer know, all the great railroads adjacent to London are being rehabilitated for the use of electric power. The same thing may happen in this country. If it does, and we have exported large amounts of horsepower which cannot be revoked without causing trouble, where will this country be so far as the supply of power is concerned?
One thing about this whole proposal that I do not like is that in renewing the contracts for power with certain companies, the Ontario government, finding it has more power now than apparently it requires, is asking us to permit that government to export it. Once it is exported there will not be enough power left, and if the same consequences as regards increase in demand follow in this country as have occurred in the old land, we shall find ourselves in great difficulties.
What happened in the old country as a result of the vast increase there in the demand for power? I have in my hand a book which I got last summer from one of the government offices; it is a report on electricity distribution. The result of what they have been doing over there-and the same can be done here- shows that a very large increase in the amount of power consumed reduces the cost to the consumers. Sales of electricity to consumers for all purposes increased from 3,512 million units in 1920-21 to 11,467 million units in 1933-34. The same thing would happen here if efforts were made to carry out the policy outlined by the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe and the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens), to give the farming community of this country electrical power at reasonable cost, thereby reducing the drudgery. Why is it that throughout this country to-day men are leaving the farms? Why is it that the number of women on the farms has been so greatly reduced? In a part of the country with which I am quite familiar, on 1,400 acres there is just one woman. There are numbers of bachelors, but no women for them to marry, because the drudgery is so great on the farms that the women cannot be induced to stay there. The hon. members for Dufferin-Simcoe and Kootenay East
Electric Power Export

suggested, what is quite true, that this country can use every horsepower that can be produced, if it is properly disposed of, without necessity for exportation. There is a lot behind this proposed exportation of power which I do not believe the Canadian people will favour.
To return to the figures of production in the old country, illustrating the increase in the consumption of power as a result of what they are doing over there: for lighting, heating and cooking the increase has been from 582 million units in 1920-21 to 3,916 million units in 1933-34; and for power supplies-that is one of the things which has been spoken of this evening-the increase has been from 2,499 million units in 1920-21 to 6,392 million units in 1933-34.
What has been the result of these large increases in the demand for power so far as costs are concerned? The charges for electricity in the old land, as measured by the average revenue received per unit of electricity sold, decreased in the case of lighting, heating, cooking and shop and office purposes, from 5-75d. in 1921-22 to 2 [DOT] 28d. in 1933-34, and in the case of power, from l-69d. in 1921-22 to 0-73d. in 1933-34. These figures show very clearly that an increase in power consumption will give a large decrease in the selling price.
We have been told that if we do not permit the export of power from this country the Ontario consumer will pay more for his electricity. That has not been the result in the old land. There, through the great efforts made to increase power production and power distribution, the price to the consumer and the manufacturer has gone down. We can do the same thing here.

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