« PreviousContinue »
advance leading to the next, each hard-won position closing a new position within easier grasp. If a Farm Company could sell grain on commission to millers exporters at Winnipeg, what was there to preven from selling this grain to the ultimate British import If it could dispense with one set of middlemen wb charges were comparatively small, why not dispe with another set of middlemen whose charges w comparatively high? For the margin between the pa at which the exporter bought in Winnipeg and the pi at which he sold in Liverpool was, even after deduct ocean freights, the heaviest charge on the whole gr trade. It is true that the business was speculative e complicated, and called for large capital. The Gr Growers' Grain Company launched into the export tra and eventually placed it on a paying basis.
Since the life-blood of co-operation is propagan and the enemies of the Grain Growers' Company w well supplied with newspapers and magazines, institution of a farmers' paper, owned exclusively farmers and devoted solely to their interests, was highly advisable measure. Accordingly, the Gr Growers' Guide' was founded, with the effervesce Partridge as its first editor (1908). To-day, with a cire lation of 70,000 copies weekly, it is the most pote political force in the West. As a factor in emancipati the farmers, as a distinct economic group, from t guidance of other people, the importance of the 'Grå Growers' Guide' can scarcely be exaggerated. The were plenty of rural papers before the Guide,' but th were controlled and subsidised by, and edited in t interests of, governments or railway companies Manufacturers' Associations who wished to fill t country with settlers, and were anxious that the settlers should produce as much as possible, but so anxious that they should thrive to the extent acquiring mental and financial independence.
Accordingly, while such papers were often full excellent matter on the side of farming technique, th closed their eyes resolutely to the economic aspect farming. Their backers laboured under the strang delusion that they could succeed for ever in attractir settlers to the West from the four corners of the glo
on the plea that farming in Canada was a money-making business, and yet reconcile these men, once safely fixed on Canadian soil, to a condition of permanent economic serfage. The man on the land was to produce for a bare living, or less than a bare living, the raw materials of industry. To the traders, manufacturers, and financiers were to belong all the profits of the industry. The aim of all immigration propaganda was to create in one-half of Canada a race of peasants subservient to a
race of business men in the other half. Such was the * real reason for the flood of Ukrainians, Galicians,
Mennonites, Doukhobors, with which the country was deluged during the Laurier régime. These people, at all events, would prove docile; starved and beaten in the countries they came from, they would not kick over the traces in their new country, where they were not beaten
and only half starved. As for politics, they did not - understand the English language; they were absolutely 1 devoid of democratic instincts; and their votes were
as cheap as dirt. Fifteen years ago, the British were not wanted as immigrants. They were too stiff-necked, too obstinate; their economic standards were too high; they would never fit in with the plan. And indeed, had none but aliens from Russia and Austria invaded Western Canada, there would be to-day no co-operation, no farmers' economic movement.
If it were possible to eliminate middlemen on the GE grain-selling side of the farming business, why should it The not be possible to eliminate middlemen on the purchasing
side? Many of the things needed were handled in great quantities by a host of small traders all over the country.
But lumber, coal, flour, apples, agricultural implements 고 could all be bought in large quantities, and distributed La co-operatively through the farmers' elevators. This was & logical step, and it was the next to be taken. Timber limits were purchased in British Columbia, and saw-mills installed, supplying the grain-growers with lumber for their barns, their grain-bins, their houses, without the intervention of half-a-dozen middlemen. Apples were purchased by the train-load in Ontario or British Columbia and distributed direct to the consumer, at an enormous saving. Other staples were gradually added
to the list-cement, sashes and doors, hardware and e ?
builders' supplies, oil, salt, sewing-machines, type-writ and so on. Anything for which there is a unive demand, and which is more or less standardised, can and before long will be distributed through the Farm Companies in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Albe Still greater economies and higher efficiency were bor to result if, instead of acting separately, they were amalgamated into a single body. The final step taken in 1917, when the Grain Growers' Grain Compa the Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company, a the Alberta Co-operative Elevator Company were merged in a new body under the name of United Gr Growers, Ltd.,' with a paid-up capital of $5,000,000.
A few years earlier, the Canadian Council of Agrio ture had come into existence. It did not spring into imr diate spectacular prominence. Hardly any one foresaw weight that would come to be attached to its pronoun ments. Most people have only become aware of it in course of the last two or three years. It was an ou growth of the various Territorial Farmers' Associatio a committee formed from among their officers, f the purpose of sifting, discussing, and codifying a resolutions passed by local conventions concerni desired reforms which could only be brought about Federal legislation. It was a new form of lobbying method long known and brought to a fine art at Ottaw but it was lobbying by the pressure of opinion, not bribery. The Council acted as political spokesman behalf of the Grain Growers, standing strictly aloof fro any ties with either of the old political parties. Farmer
a class, were practically unrepresented in tl Legislature. If we accept Mr Charles W. Peterson's da in his Wake up, Canada !', while farmers in 1918 ma up 46-5 per cent. of the total adult population, their pe centage of total representation (Provincial and Federa was but 18.3.
Business and professional classes, on th other hand, making up but 16.7 per cent. of the adu population, engrossed no less than 81.2 per cent. of th total representation. The lawyers alone, numbering le than 5000, monopolised 25 per cent. of the total represent tion. It is clear then that the Council of Agricultur performed a very necessary service in counterbalancin the inadequate representation of farmers in Parliamen
In the third year of the war, its influence had already become so considerable that Sir Robert Borden, when forming the Unionist ministry, found it advisable to include some of its leaders. Mr Crerar took the portfolio of Agriculture ; Mr Dunning joined the Board of Food Control.
The most contentious issue, then as now, was of course the Tariff. By their own efforts, along the lines "
of business co-operation, the United Farmers had removed many a handicap; but the most serious of all could only be removed by Federal legislation, by a complete reform of the fiscal system. No impartial student has ever come forward to defend or even to excuse the Canadian Tariff. It transgresses every known canon of sound taxation. It has signally failed to accomplish the purpose for which it was supposed to be created. It was an economic blunder from the first; it has become a serious political danger. Introduced by the Conservative Party under Sir John A. Macdonald as å national policy of protection for infant industries, perpetuated by the Liberal Party under Sir Wilfrid Laurier as a revenue-producer, this hybrid system, which only produces revenue by accident in so far as it does not protect, and protects only, in so far as it fails to produce a revenue, has succeeded in dividing the country into two sharply-opposed camps, of which Winnipeg is the dividing point, and has succeeded in nothing else. The infant industries of fifty years ago claim to be infant industries to-day and clamour for still higher protection. The possible benefits of protection, supposing there were any, are purely local in character and extent, for the object of the system is to secure the home market, that is to say, the farmer-consumers; while the farmers' market is not in Canada but overseas. One-half of the total population is thus taxed, with no counterbalancing advantage, in order to bolster up the prosperity of a few towns in the East. And as the general cost of living is artificially increased to the extent of 40 per cent. all round, the advantage to mechanics and labourers who form 37 per cent. of the total population is illusory. Their real wages would be higher in the United States. Regarded as a system of taxation, it will not bear discussion. It strikes with blind in difference alike at implements Vol. 235.—No. 466.
of production, and at articles of consumption; and eve dollar it brings into the State Treasury from a limit proportion of the population, costs the general body consumers at least two dollars and a half.
But its greatest failure from a business point of vi lies in its effect on the development of western farmir The aim and hope of the protected interests has alwa been to create a large clientèle west of the Great Lak This aim was illusory from the first. For, if a lar clientèle did come into existence, if the prairies filled to even 20 per cent. of their capacity, the western vote being in a majority, would quickly seize the reins power, and consign the robber tariff' to the limbo hated tyrannies. And, if the prairies have failed to f up as was expected, it is largely on account of ti Protective system. For its effect has been, and mu clearly be, to destroy any differential advantage in t production of food-stuffs that virgin soil possesses ov the soil of older countries. Whatever part of the wor the settler might come from, he found that, while tl price obtained for his products in Canada was fro 30 per cent. to 50 per cent. less than the price he wou have obtained at home, every tool that he used production, every article that he and his family consum in the course of the year, cost him from 40 per cent. 60 per cent.
Small wonder, then, that t prairie populations are still largely nomadic, `tha almost as fast as new people come, old-timers go, ar that, while in the last ten years 1,250,000 immigran came in from the United States, during the same peric there were nearly 1,000,000 emigrants from Canada the United States.
Here, then, is a pretty dilemma: if the West fills u the Tariff will go, and if the Tariff does not go, the We will not fill up. The country, as a whole, will have make a choice before long. The mind of the West fully made up. Partly from interested motives, easy understand, partly from a wide survey of all the facts the case, the West is solidly in favour of a lower tari and will presently be in favour of no tariff at all, reciprocity with the United States, and of Free Trade wit Great Britain. For indeed, if, owing to the Tariff hand cap, the West fails to fill up, Canadian manufactures i