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for several years past.
general must always remain comparatively insignificant. Apart from a few which are to-day quite able to hold their own against outside competition, the remainder never can hope for an outlet beyond the home market. Excluded from the export market in normal times by their lack of coal, their bad strategic position, and the inferior quality of their products, they cannot expand except inside the Tariff wall; and the Tariff wall prevents any large increase in their home clientèle. It is not along that blind alley that Canada, as a whole, can hope to extend her material prosperity. Her real wealth lies in her untilled fields, in her vast stretches of virgin land, in the development of her almost limitless agricultural resources; and these must remain untapped for many years unless the Tariff handicap is removed.
With such or similar arguments, the Council of Agriculture has been approaching the Federal Legislature
Persuasion fell on deaf ears. The Tariff was sacrosanct; it was out of politics altogether; Conservatives and Liberals were alike wedded to it. The only Free-Trade members of the Lower House were the half-dozen farmer members from the West. Clearly the Tariff had to be dragged into politics again. Logic failing, there was no choice left but a recourse to the force of votes. Thus the Council of Agriculture, mouthpiece of the co-operative associations, after remaining aloof from politics for many years, was forced at last to enter the political field in opposition to both the old parties, as well as to the fusion of the two old parties, and to appeal to the electorate with a comprehensive National Platform.
Let us now pass to a short examination of that Platform, in such a way as to give the English reader some idea of the complex and divergent forces at work in Canadian political thought to-day. The first and foremost plank refers, of course, to the Tariff, and the farmers' demands are formulated as follows: (a) An immediate and substantial all-round reduction of
the customs tariff. (b) Reduction of the customs duty on goods imported
from Great Britain to one-half the rates charged under the general tariff; then gradual reduction so
as to ensure complete free trade between Gre
Britain and Canada in five years. (c) Reciprocity with the United States. (d) Abolition of import duties on agricultural machiner
vehicles, fertilisers-in a word, all the implemen and raw materials of agriculture—and also upon tl raw materials used in the manufacture of
goods. (e) All tariff concessions granted to other countries to
immediately extended to Great Britain. The Reciprocity Agreement negotiated by the Liber Government in 1911 was rejected on political ground The same Agreement would be rejected again to-da unless combined with clauses (6) and (€). Free Trad with Great Britain would be a sufficient safeguard agains Americanisation, in the two respects of economic influenc and voting strength. Offshoots of British factorie would rapidly be established in Canada, instead of th field being left in the undisturbed possession of American British goods would be on view in every shop-windov to the general delight of all Englishmen in Canada, whe if they want English boots or clothes, must send thei orders to a London shop. British immigrants woul pour into the vacant country, would regard it as thei permanent home, and stay there, infusing into the whol heterogeneous mass that love and respect of Britis institutions, of toleration and personal freedom whic is the most precious as well as the exclusive inheritanc of the sons of Britain. If combined with Imperial Fre Trade, Reciprocity would probably receive the suppor of the British-born. When it is remembered that a ver large proportion of the C.E.F. was British-born, that th returned soldiers, through their Great War Veterans Associations, are a political influence of no mean strengtb that these men are not fervent worshippers of democracy à l'américaine, it may be safely surmised that they would consent to reciprocity only on condition of simultaneous Free Trade with Great Britain.
The next planks of the new Platform deal with Taxation matters, some of them not contentious, others contentious in the highest degree. They advocate: (a) A direct tax on unimproved land values, including al
(b) A graduated personal income tax.
Crown, but brought into use only under short-term
leases. The income tax was late in gaining a foothold in Canada. It was regretfully and after much hesitation introduced by Sir Thomas White as a war measure. Himself a high protectionist, he no doubt foresaw that to inaugurate a system of direct taxation was to sap the foundations of the indirect system. But it is easier to put on a tax than to take it off. The income tax has come to stay. It is no longer a political question. The only thing that remains to be done, in Canada, is to collect it. The graduated income tax on the profits of corporations may be passed over as not worth discussion. It is a mere piece of corporation-baiting, a clumsy attempt at vote-catching. There is no sound economic reason why the shareholders of corporations should be taxed twice over, if that is the object.
It is the direct tax on unimproved values which is the pièce de résistance of the new Platform. How such a proposal came to be introduced in a programme supposed to be drawn up by farmers, in the interests of farmers, it is almost impossible to understand. Rent is the result of any differential advantage in production. Even supposing that the farmers, the largest land-owners in Canada, have not enjoyed in the past, and do not yet enjoy to-day, any differential advantage in production, eren supposing that they are not to-day in receipt of rent
, they will not always remain in this condition. Indeed, all their economic and political efforts are directed to the removal of this condition. In so far as they become really prosperous, it can only be from the realisation of rent. Do they actually propose that the State should absorb all rent in taxation? The question answers itself. But it is not merely actual rents that are aimed at by this measure, it is potential rents; that is to say, the speculative value of land that is idle. But no land would be idle in Canada if it were possible to turn it to beneficial use. Moreover, a tax on the supposed Falue of idle land is the worst possible form of tax; it is a direct tax on capital, a direct confiscation of capit since, if the land held speculatively does not increase value at least to the extent of the tax plus interest, t tax comes out of the capital of the present holder; a if it does increase in value, the tax comes out of t capital of the next holder.
There are two classes of speculators in landsmall man and the large capitalist. The latter always hold out and finally collect interest, tax, a profit out of the future settler. The small man, w has bought on margin, and whose resources are slend will not be able to pay the tax for many years succession, and will be crushed. If the object, then, to force large land-owners like the railway compani and the Hudson's Bay Company to part with the holdings, the tax would have to be so large as to wi every weak holder out of existence. The disastro experience of all municipalities throughout the We should have been a sufficient warning. Practically the only source of revenue is this very tax; and precisely this account they draw nearer to the inevitable ban ruptcy year by year. Most of them carry on their bool as assets uncollected taxes to the tune of 30 per cen 40 per cent., or 50 per cent. of the total revenue. The: taxes are uncollectible. The land owners have falle into arrears ; they cannot pay; the land reverts to ti municipality, but it cannot be sold, for the tax he destroyed its capital-value. It is an economic axio that a tax on capital is self-destructive in the long run.
How, then, did such a tax find a place in a Farmer Political Platform ? How long will it stay there? TH answers to these enigmas are purely conjectural; the is no documentary evidence to guide us; the hidde hand of Socialist Labour may be guessed at, but it nowhere manifest. Indeed, if it is there, it dare no manifest itself, since farmers as a body are anythin but Socialists. They are individualists to the marro of their bones, perhaps the only real individualists lef Socialism, in order to capture the farmers' vote, mus adopt the methods of Pussyfoot,' tread softly and mak no noise. Thus it is that we find in another section this Platform the demand put forward for State owner ship of all Public Utilities, of water-power, and a
coal-mines; but the demand suddenly stops at coal-mines, and does not proceed to include, as logically bound, all other natural resources, including land; for, if the demand had gone so far, the farmer would have taken alarm! And again, the unimproved land-values tax, borrowed from Henry George by muddle-headed demagogues, tends towards the confiscation of all rent, actual and potential; but not a word is said about landnationalisation, which is its only logical and just consummation. For, again, the farmer would have taken alarm!
For a good many years past, there has been a kind of tacit alliance between some of the earlier farmers' leaders and the Socialist Labour wing. Partridge, the first editor of the 'Grain Growers' Guide,' was a Radical Socialist; and the Grain Growers' Guide' has carried on the tradition to this day, in spite of the fact that the United Grain Growers' Company has come to be one of the most powerful aggregations of capital in the country. But the truth is that there is no natural connexion, there can be no abiding connexion, between the Canadian farmer and Labour, for he is both capitalist and labourer, and occupies for the moment an intermediate position between two warring forces. And, considering that all his efforts are directed towards lifting him out of the inferior into the superior position, it is not difficult to guess on which side his sympathies and his interests will ultimately lie. It would, therefore, be premature for English readers to take it for granted that, because the taxation of unimproved land-values occupies an important place in the Farmers' Platform to-day, it would necessarily become Federal law if the Farmers' Party triumphed at the polls.
Two obvious and grave instances of the contagion of American ideas are the demand for the establishment of measures of direct legislation through the initiative, referendum, and recall,' and the demand for a bone-dry Canada.' In both these we
can trace the insidious methods of American penetration. Prohibition, indeed, which has swept like a plague all over North America (with the exception of Quebec) is primâ facie repugnant to the spirit of British institutions. It is an outrage on