THEY say that J. J. Hill has been attending to his own business too well. This is the talk in some of the eastern clubs, especially those that succor the Protectionists in these days of reciprocity treaties. The chief allegation against Mr. Hill is that he has been prompting the western farmer to demand free trade or free-er trade, because, and only because, such trade would benefit Mr. Hill by diverting some of the east and west traffic of the Dominion into north and south channels, to the benefit of Mr. Hill’s railroads.
One story goes that J. J. Hill paid the expenses of the western farmers to Ottawa. Another story is that he paid $50,000 “bribe money in various ways”—in Canada. Other stories, a trifle less foolish, have it that Mr. Hill’s agents have been busy tainting the news supplies of the west, giving the items, wherever possible, a free trade and reciprocity tincture. The same people that tell these stories allege that American lecturers traveled through the west, addressing the Grain Growers’ Associations on “Direct Legislation,” and charging nothing for their services, the inference being that Hill paid them.
We cannot undertake to deny or to affirm these stories. But they make one stop to think. For the picture of J. J. Hid making speeches, and giving interviews in which he advises closer relations be-
tween Canada and the United States, is quite natural, and these things are undoubtedly the naive revelation of what Mr. Hill would like, because it would benefit his purse.
Observe the railway map of North America. Observe how the Hill lines, running north toward Canada, seem to stop timidly at the Canadian boundary, m though they were diffident and Waited for an invitation before entering, or, rather, as though thej were hungry porters Outside the gate of a city anxiously waiting for the traffic, originating in Canada, or going into Canada from the States, .to employ their services. These “porters” jaafè Mr. Hill’s. The more they carry the more money Mr. Hill makes. It is, therefore, not impossible that Mr. Hill has been doing his level best to bring about Canadian reciprocity.
But it is not probable.
Many people may disagree with out •view. But we would still submit that the thing is very improbable. Our first reason for so supposing is that we would be casting a serious reflection on the bona fides of the Canadian west, by believing that its free-er trade demand was not the cry of the people themselves. The western Canadian would be insulted if you told him that he had been bought, or bribed, to “holler for reciprocity.” As for the tainting of the news sources, we fancy that
that would be a task larger than even Hill could undertake, and get efficient results from. He may have subsidized lecturers to lecture for free trade, but, again, we doubt it. We believe that the western farmers thought of free trade all by themselves—that the more they thought of it the more they wanted it—and that they went to Ottawa of their own accord, and not because Jim Hill pulled any strings. We are not defending Mr. Hill—because we think that if he could have done these things he would have done them. We are not standing in defence of the west’s free trade policy.
But these stories of Hill and the west are a peculiar comment on ourselves—the Canadian people. They are indeed a reflection on the eastern Canadian, just as the entire reciprocity discussion is a reflection on all Canadians. The eastern Canadian really cannot bring himself to believe that westerners honestly mean what
they say. In turn, the westerners think there is something crooked in the manufacturer’s case. The westerner is always hinting at “red drawing-rooms,” or the campaign fund; and he firmly believes that the big manufacturers are bribing the Government to “protect” them from American competition.
In short, the various sections of this large piece of earth which is called Canada, don’t understand one another. When one man speaks, he speaks only from the point of view of his own local interests. The man who has a truly Canadian viewpoint, who can understand how the western farmer feels and how the eastern manufacturer feels, is indeed a rare specimen.
The men who believe that it took Jim Hill to stir the west to demand free trade may perhaps be revealing their own inabilitv to see two sides and to believe in the sincerity of “the other fellow.”
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