THIS MONTH’S VITAL QUESTION

WILL the FARMERS CONTROL CANADA?

December 1 1919
THIS MONTH’S VITAL QUESTION

WILL the FARMERS CONTROL CANADA?

December 1 1919

WILL the FARMERS CONTROL CANADA?

THIS MONTH’S VITAL QUESTION

THE ownership of “three acres and a cow" ought hereafter to be the basis of the electoral franchise in Ontario, suggests the Brantford Expositor, but the advent of the United Farmers into Provincial and Federal arenas is treated in anything but a facetious manner by Canadian newspapers. Government by the “United Farmers of Canada” is foreshadowed as the fate which Ottawa has in store, by leading editorial writers, in both Liberal and Conservative “organs.” The Vancouver Province says: “No one can say how far the Farmer political movement will go. There is little doubt that it will be promoted throughout the country, and that there are further triumphs ahead.”

This is one of the most moderate of prophecies. The Sydney (N.S.) Record feels that the results in Toronto sound the death-knell of Unionism:

“Nor is it difficult to understand the apprehension with which they regard the possibility of a Federal contest. When the Conservatives are unable to hold Tor®nto what chance would Sir Robert Borden have of carrying the country as a whole?”

A most direct suggestion of Agrarian supremacy in the next Federal House is supplied by the Toronto Globe. It predicts that “the next House of Commons will be elected on the group principle, and that at Ottawa, as at Toronto, the Farmers are likely to constitute the largest of the three principal groups.”

The Saskatoon Star, referring to the election of O. R. Gould in the Assiniboia bye-election, speaks of “the strength and solidarity of the new party,” and prophesies:

“It is not at all an impossibility or even an improbability that the farmers will be the majority party in the next Parliament, as they are in Ontario.”

The Montreal Gazette calls for an election, preferably with the G. T. R. purchase question as the prime issue, professing to believe that the Borden Government would be returned with a further lease of power. Several papers think the Gazette is out of touch with conditions, and fails to feel the Dominion’s pulse correctly. The Toronto Globe feels certain there would be a Farmer Government, and says:

“No unprejudiced observer, in the light of recent balloting in all parts of the Dominion, doubts what would happen. Government and Opposition would be hopelessly submerged by the great revolutionary political wave which is sweeping the country. A vast majority of Canadian electors would summon Hon. T. A. Crerar—the man who assisted in drawing up the policy of the Canadian Council of Agriculture, and who frankly told Parliament: “I thought it a good policy

then, and still think so now”—to the Premiership and to the direction of the National Government. He would have the support of a great majority of the new Commoners, largely the direct representatives of Agriculture and Labor.”

In some quarters it is suggested that if the agriculturist party gains too much strength and momentum there may be a combination of the two old-time parties in the cities. The Financial Post, Toronto suggests that “If the farmers’ political movement continues to gain strength, the Liberal-Conservative party may become a fact, rather than a name.”

The Border Cities Star expects the Agrarian party to gain considerable support in the cities, saying:

“The farmers’ movement and its success constitute a Canadian political revolution. Plenty of city voters will welcome the movement if for nothing more than the fact that it brings a change from the old hidebound, two-party system of which so many were thoroughly tired. Anything new is bound to attract interest. The next Ontario Legislature will have the U.F.O. members as its strongest party, ¡indication* are that the next Federal Parliament will show similar ¿f not greater strength for the farmers."

To maintain the supreme governing power—wheq the¿T ««quire it—mapy writers foreshadow a combim ation betten Labor United Farmers. The Va/j.

couver Province doesn’t think that the farmers and urban workingmen are likely to be permanent allies. “They have few sentiments in common,” it believes, “to hold them together in conti-ol of a Government.”

The Financial Post is also doubtful that the Labor Lion and Agrarian Lamb can long lie down together:

“The picture of Agriculture and Labor working together to reduce the cost of living may be drawn for optimists but the average man will regard it as one of those ‘impossible’ productions of political artists of the extreme school.”

This view is also expressed by the Montreal Herald, which asserts that “it cannot be readily believed that two groups so widely divergent can work out a policy harmoniously. The advanced radicalism of the Labor Party would suit neither the views nor the interests of the farmers.”

The Toronto Star, which has been the supporter and sponsor for two decades of the sporadic political activity the U.F.O.-Labor candidate, James Simpson, thinks the two parties have much in common. Members of both, being chiefly “horny-handed sons of toil,” the Star believes, would make an ideal and homogeneous government, and it suggests that “Those who expect the alliance between the new forces in politics to be a brief one are likely to meet with disappointment.” With this the Regina Post agrees: “The alliance between Labor and the United Farmers in Ontario is a perfectly natural one and will endure, and moreover will spread and widen.”

The Calgary Herald views Ontario’ fate without enthusiasm, saying:

“It is just as well that the experiment shall take place elsewhere than in Alberta. We have made a good many experiments, not always successful, in government, local and provincial, and it will be a relief to sit back and let the other fellow take his turn at the game.”

But, far different is Quebec’s attitude as expressed by one its leading newspapers.

Le Soleil, commenting on returns just published of a shrinkage in the rural population of Ontario since 1911, a shrinkage which is characterized as “alarming,” sees in this fact reason for the formation of the United Farmers into a political party. “It will be a matter for rejoicing,” Le Soleil says, “if the entry of the farmers into aggressive politics\ will compel the Governments to modify their present policy and pay more attentio« to the needs of the agricultural classes, instead of reserving all their attention on industrial, commercial and financial enterprises. Let the example serve as a lesson to us in the Province of Quebec.”

Turning to the extreme East, we see that the Charlottetown Examiner “notes with satisfaction” that the farmers of Ontario—an agricultural province—have elected “the largest number of representatives of all the various groups or parties begotten of the political unrest that is rampant.” This it feels, is as it should be, and Ontario has led the way.

The London Advertiser, quite naturally, finds that the Borden Government arouses no enthusiasm in its breast, and, referring to the Federal bye-elections of November 3, says:

“The elections of Monday dispel any doubt that may yet have lingered as to the nationwide extension of dissatisfaction with Tory Government. Ontario was the last of the provinces to buck off the fossil riders, but she did it with a vengeance.”

And, perhaps just as naturally, the Advertiser sees hope for Liberals in the U. F. movement:

“It is plain as daylight that Canada is not disposed to slumber or reaction. The meaning of the U. F. movement everywhere is the return to rock-bottom Liberalism, the interest of the masses before that of the classes, economical administration as against public provision for favorites and hangers-on, nepotism and Family Compact, a revenue tariff supplemented by adequate taxation of wealth and measures to secure equalization of opportunity to all.”

The Winnipeg Telegram infers that the “permanent fusion” of the old-time parties in Unionism may successfully combat Agrarian progress. It calls the Agrarian movement distinctly a “class” movement, and says the farmers’ success in the past has been mainly due to their opposition to “class” government. The Halifax Chronicle ascribes the U.F. success to the fact that “fundamental issues dividing the old parties have long been settled, or have disappeared.”

“Ottawa politicians,” says the Regina Post, “according to dispatches from the capital, have concocted a plan to beat the farmers’ movement. A redistribution of seats, giving the urban dwellers full representation based upon population, is the new idea. Worked out, it would give half the seats in Quebec, for instance, to the cities of that province, leaving only half the members to be elected from the rural districts.

“Both parties know perfectly well now that the majority party in the next Parliament is likely to be that supporting the New National Policy, if the arrangement of seats is upon any such basis as prevails at present.”

What will the result be? The Mail and Empire, Toronto, hopes for continuation of Unionist Government, and says:

“A truly National Government, made up of and supported by the mass of the elected nembers of both the old political parties will have itself to blame if it does, not succeed in keeping the nation behind it.”

The Vancouver World is of the opinion that “political chaos” was Ontario’s choice. “The greatest danger in elections,” it thinks, “in the next year or two, is the development of many parties, and government bycompromise. And those .strong party men who decry Union Government may yet find themselves supporting a Union Government brought together by the selfish motives of self-preservation and expediency instead of a LTnion Government such as this paper has; for years advocated and supported, where parties ancf members voluntarily and patriotically combined to wirr both war and peace.”

The Victoria Times thinks there is essentially more in common between the policy of the U.F.O. and fundamental Liberalism than between the policies of any two other parties. “This is particularly true,” it says, “in respect of Dominion problems, the attitude of the U.F.O., especially on fiscal questions, being very si mi-, lar to that of the farmers of the Prairie Provinces, whose political organization will be immensely stimulated and encouraged by the result of this election.”

The Montreal La Presse views the prospect with rosy spectacles, and sees in the Canadian movement but a reflection of world-wide action :

“The organization of the farmers into a political party is not going on in Canada alone. It is reported that the Agricultural Federation and the National Union of Farmers of France have appealed to their members to take an active part in the coming general elections. The pain and horrors of the war have stirred everywhere the ‘men of the fields’ to exercise the pacific influences whhh are necessary to their industry. The more farmers there are in the parliaments of men tha greater chance will the League of Nations have to become efficacious.”

If it remains a “class” organization it is predoomed to failure, asserts the Vancouver Province:

“Unless the United Farmers in some way broaden out their movement, so that it may represent certain principles of universal application, their party may have a brilliant political career, but not a long one.

“But in a country like Canada, with many interests and classes, no single

class can attain and long hold authority over all others. As a class organization the Farmer party must fall.”

And the Toronto Telegram holds that “If the Grain Grower-United Farmer movement fails Canadians will be thrown back upon a choice between the evils of two old parties. The United Farmers of Ontario have only to fall short of their opportunities, and their failure will do much to discredit the greatest independent movements in Canadian politics.”

But the Telegram has little hope, apparently, that the Drury cohorts will succeed when it indulges in the following characteristic admonition:

“The United Farmers cannot be hurried along the pathway to true success by Peter McArthur and other flatterers, who tell the United Farmers that they are not a party of human beings, subject to the human infirmities of ambition and office-hunger, but an ‘apiary of • angels and archangels,’ whose king bee is the Laurier-first Farmer, Hon. E. C. Drury, and others. “Creatures all too bright and good. For human nature’s daily food.”