GENERAL ARTICLES

The “Morning After” in B. C.

The whys and wherefores of B.C.’s effort to choke the highest per capita tax rate in the Dominion

CHARLES LUGRIN SHAW September 15 1932
GENERAL ARTICLES

The “Morning After” in B. C.

The whys and wherefores of B.C.’s effort to choke the highest per capita tax rate in the Dominion

CHARLES LUGRIN SHAW September 15 1932

The “Morning After” in B. C.

GENERAL ARTICLES

The whys and wherefores of B.C.’s effort to choke the highest per capita tax rate in the Dominion

CHARLES LUGRIN SHAW

WHEN the Hon. Jimmie Jones, British Columbia's minister of finance, rose in the legislature some time ago, adjusted his shell-rimmed glasses and launched into his 1932 budget speech, no one envied him the job in hand.

It was Jimmie Jones’s unpleasant business to announce that the province was facing a financial crisis; that revenues were tumbling, and expenditures, despite desperate efforts to check them, climbing higher and

higher; that British Columbia would have to raise nearly

$25,000,000 to meet the year’s cost of government; that the gross debt had advanced $12,000,000 during the past year and the net debt nearly $9,000,000; that $7,000,000 would have to be borrowed to meet past deficits, and that the province had reached the saturation point for borrowing on that account.

A sad story; and that wasn't all. Jimmie Jones reserved for the last his announcement that in view of all these disturbing facts there would have to lx* more taxation, and he proceeded to specify. A new system of income taxes, an increased tax on gasoline, a fuel oil tax. a supertax on lands, and so on and so forth. He made no aj»logies and his speech caused little surprise, the reason being that deficits and near-deficits and increased taxation have become pretty common occurrences out in our Pacific coast province.

How did British Columbia get that way?

Perhaps it is due in part to the survival of the old free-and-easy spending spirit of the pioneers in a rich, new country. British Columbia lias for many years had the habit of doing things in lavish style. Accomplishment on the grand scale long ago became a fetish. Perhaps proximity to our largest ocean and possession of the continent’s highest mountains had something to do with it. Perhaps the biggest fisheries, the biggest mines, the biggest lumber operations, and so on. have exercised an influence. There is even a legend, possibly mythical, that British Columbia is breeding a race of men and women just a shade bigger in stature than those of the East.

British Columbians are proud of their biggest trees, their biggest game and their biggest this and that, and when statistics

recently showed that Vancouver had become the third biggest city in Canada there was much' jubilation. But in one set of statistics British Columbia’s leadership has caused nothing but heartache and regret among her people, and these figures refer to the cost of government. In this particular category no other province approaches British Columbia. The average cost per capita for all the provinces was $10.67 last year, according to the Citizens’ Research Institute. In British Columbia the cost was $-11.97.

I here is no great mystery in these figures. The average British Columbian is taxed more today because in the past he has demanded more and in many cases has got it. I íe has demanded a railroad and it has cost him more than $60,000,000. He has demanded a university and it has cost him more than $15.000,000. He has demanded reclamation, irrigation and land settlement schemes, and they have cost him more than $10.000.000. lie has demanded the best in education, the most advanced social legislation and they have all been given to him—at a price that seems now’ to be out of all proportion to the benefits obtained.

And then, of course, there are some conditions applicable only to B. C., such as the topography which makes roadbuilding difficult and expensive, and the scattered nature of the population important factors in the cost of administration. "No matter what happens,” remarked an old-time

politician recently, ‘‘the cost of government in B. C. is going to be high. And if you’ve got to blame something, blame your pretty mountains and rivers and forests. You can't open up a country like this just with will power.”

“Too Much of a Hurry”

rTHAT is probably true, and most people will have no -*• quarrel with that argument, so far as it goes. But there is a rising belief that British Columbiaand this probably goes for other provinces—lias been in too much of a hurry to open up the country and that, having opened it, the government has been too eager to make every one comfortable, ultimately at their own bitterly excessive expense.

For the process has been expensive. And British Columbia today is sorrowfully counting the cost, regretting the dissipation of the old reckless days after the manner of the painfully sobering gentleman with ice on his head on ‘‘the morning after.”

British Columbians, stung by high taxes, are giving more serious thought to public economy than ever before. They are beginning to wonder whether everything can with justification be blamed on the natural conditions cited by the old-time politician. They are wondering whether a large share of the blame cannot properly be placed on the politician himself or, more exactly, on the system which makes the politician the too willing servant of those who elected him.

Well, they are now trying to find out. Perhaps it is fitting that British Columbia, which spends per capita on government more than any other province, should be the first to undertake a sweeping investigation not only of its financial circumstances, but also into the underlying conditions that caused them.

Seventy-four per cent of British Columbia’s people— about 175,000—live within eighty miles of Vancouver. In a sense, that is deplorable, and there are a good many authorities who will argue that this distribution is horribly lopsided; that British Columbians would be far happier if they

scattered themselves about the province’s magnificent spaces. Yet those who did ignore the call of the cities and established themselves in far comers of the province have indirectly been the cause of building the province’s staggering burden of debt. For these people have, in accordance with our best political traditions, their representatives in the legislature; and their voice is heard respectfully when they demand roads and bridges and all that sort of thing. To those who live in these small towns and rural communities it may seem sometimes as though the big cities get the better of the deal when it comes to public appropriations, but as a matter of fact the government’s eagerness, due largely to politics, tc cater to the wants of these smaller communities has been responsible for probably the greatest extravagances.

This condition does not apply to British Columbia alone, of course. It is probable

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that every other province has a corresponding situation, where rural communities have to be “fed” by the government because of politics rather than actual need. The chief motive behind a movement to reduce the I size of the legislature is not to save salaries of members, for that would be negligible. The real saving would lie in curtailment of the “pork barrel,’’ the elimination of grants to constituencies simply because they are constituencies and have members who, with one ear cocked to the voice of their constituents, are always out to get all they can from the government for their home bailiwick. The practice is as old as politics itself.

The settler in British Columbia’s remote places may have good grounds for many complaints, but he has not been forgotten by the government. Less than one-half of one per cent of the area of British Columbia is organized into municipalities with local government. The other 99y2 per cent is unorganized territory in which the provincial government must bear the entire expense of government and that, as we shall show, is not an insignificant item. In this unorganized district there are 19.300 miles of road, or about one mile to a family; 15,000 miles of trail, bridges that cost $12,000,000, with annual construction, reconstruction and Í maintenance charges amounting to more j than $1,000,000 a year. The government also pays from 50 to 100 per cent of the cost of construction and maintenance of 450 miles of the most important highways in the unorganized district.

When you figure this out, it will probably occur to you that the government has dealt generously with those 175.CKK) persons who have withstood the lure of the brighter lights. By comparison with a province like Quebec the situation becomes all the clearer -or more obscure, depending on the point of view. Quebec has 33,000 miles of provincial roads for a population of 2,870,000. British Columbia, with her penchant for doing things in a big way, has 22,(XX) miles for 698,(XX). British Columbia, with less than one-fourth the population of Quebec, has two-thirds as much road mileage. And this in face of the fact that Quebec had a long head start on British Columbia in the matter of building roads. British Gtlumbia works fast in these matters. During the last ten years, although the population has been practically stationary outside Greater Vancouver, 4,300 miles of highway have been added to British Columbia’s highway system. Last year, the estimated new construction in British Columbia was double that of Quebec with four times the population.

If the cost of these roads was home only by those who use them it would not be so bad. The gasoline and automobile taxes, which some optimists once thought would lx> sufficient to jiay the highway bill, fall short of the required amount by nearly $1,500,000 a year.

Effect of Party Politics

VXT’HAT’S the reason for it all? If you dig ** very deeply you’ll probably find that ixirty politics lias had its clumsy hand in it somewhere. As a vote catcher the promise of a road or bridge is hard to beat.

“There’s nothing new in this overbuilding of roads and lack of highway planning,” remarked a man who. because of long experience as government engineer and highway expert, is well qualified to give an opinion. Until the whole highway administration is taken out of politics there can be little hope for curtailment of extravagance.”

This expert proceeded to give instances where ix>litics had forced the hand of the government into imprudent expenditure. "Some years ago.” he recalled, “the people of Slocan City and Silverton travelled between those two points by lake steamer. Every one seemed satisfied and there was no need for a road at all, but one party conceived the idea that the road should be built and spent $210,000 on it. The other party spent $20-1,(XX). and the road was only fifteen

miles long. On an extension of the same road, from Rosedale to Box Lake, one partyspent $56,000 and the other $61,000, making a total of $531,000 on a road serving three towns with a combined population of less than 1,000!

“Hazelton is a long way from the beaten track, away up on the Bulkley River—a sort of jumping-off place into the northern wilderness. But the government managed to find $175,000 to spend on a bridge there. If a new bridge had been needed, it could have been built for $75,000, but other little towns were getting big appropriations; why not Hazelton? The $175,000 bridge was built. Just to even things up politically, another administration built a bridge across the Skeena River between a town with a population of about 300 and a tiny settlement of a few dozen transients. Traffic over this bridge averages less than twenty vehicles daily, but the cost was $195,000.

“Prince Rupert has always wanted a road eastward toward the rest of the highway system—a commendable ambition until one examines a map and realizes the wide stretch of uninhabited country through which such a road would pass. Yet two governments have spent half a million dollars on this scheme already, despite the fact that the route of the essential connecting link has not even been surveyed.

“Both parties seem just as anxious to placate the citizens of Nelson in their request for a bridge. The bridge was promised by both candidates at the last election, despite the fact that the prospective traffic depends entirely on the capacity of the ferry across Kootenay Lake on one side and the Castlegar ferry on the other. The cost will be from $500,000 to $1,250,000 depending on the type of bridge.

“When the Hope-Princeton road is completed, about $(5,000,000 will have been spent on the triangle between these two places, and the standard will be no higher than the present Cariboo Highway, where the operation of buses was discontinued on account of its being too dangerous. There was opposition when Vancouver decided to build its new Burrard Bridge across False Creek, but there is more traffic over False Creek in a day than on the Cariboo Highwayin a year.”

Projects like these -many of them devised and carried out purely for political reasons— are partly responsible for that cloud of debt that hangs over British Columbia’s economic horizon. And then there are those other large-scale experiments in governmental enterprise that went blooey—railroad building, reclamation, settlement schemes, and so on.

The best news that British Columbians are likely to hear in many a year will come when and if the premier announces that the Pacific Great Eastern Railway has been sold. After all these years one wonders how British Columbia could get along with the Pacific Great Eastern, no longer her major economic problem. Things just wouldn’t seem natural without it. To be rid of the Pacific Great Eastern would seem too good to be true, but once the fact were established there would be general jubilation. Cabinet ministers would turn handsprings of delight, and all over the province, from Cloverdale to Pouce Coupe, long harassed taxpayers would sing in ecstasy to the kind though tardy stroke of fate that had relieved them of their crushing yoke.

The Burden of Railway Deficits

ORE than twenty years ago the Pacific Great Eastern was conceived. The late Sir Richard McBride, then premier, j • intnxiuced the scheme at the right psychological moment. Not only did he control the legislature, but in 1911-13, a period recalled with mixed sentiments as British Columbia’s txxmi days, the whole spirit of the people was charged with an almost unreasoning optimism. The demand of the hour was expansion. British Columbia had passed the

first pioneer era, the metropolitan areas had pushed forward under the impetus of highpressure real estate development and, despite the fact that three transcontinental railroads were already stretching through to the coast, the desire of the people of British Columbia was for a railroad programme of their own—to open up the remaining empty spaces for the expected hordes of settlers who would in time develop the inexhaustible natural resources in which politicians have since the beginning of time placed such generous store.

Sir Richard and his colleagues were merely yielding to popular feeling when they embarked on their famous railway programme. In the legislature in January, 1912, Premier McBride, when warned by the sole Liberal member that the project was merely a bait to catch voters at the expense of the province’s credit, replied that he would go to the country on his policy, not as a bait but for the judgment of the people before making the move. If Sir Richard had entertained any doubt as to public sentiment, this was removed by the election which resulted in a triumph for him and his railway policy so overwhelming that even the lone Liberal lost his seat.

Forthwith the Pacific Great Eastern was transferred from an idea into a reality. As the years have rolled by, many of those who voted so wholeheartedly for the scheme have often wished that by the same means they could, as if by magic, reverse the process and have merely the idea again, and not the chain of financial difficulties which followed in its tracks. For the Pacific Great Eastern, without yielding any apparent compensation, has cost the taxpayers more than sixty million dollars—almost one hundred dollars for every person in the province.

Blind hope alone did not set the Pacific Great Eastern scheme in motion. It is not difficult to see, even at this hour, how such a road could be justified under the conditions then prevalent. In 1912 the Canadian Northern Railway and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, both privately owned, were rivals. The Canadian Northern had its terminus at Vancouver, the Grand Trunk Pacific ended at Prince Rupert, 600 miles to the north. The idea was to build the Pacific Great Eastern from Vancouver to Prince George, thus providing the vital link between the Grand Trunk Pacific and the populous southwestern section of the province. One of the original agreements framed by McBride and endorsed in the landslide election of 1912 provided that the Grand Trunk Pacific should have an option to purchase the Pacific Great Eastern line and running rights into Vancouver. So long as the Grand Trunk Pacific and Canadian Northern were competitors the Pacific Great Eastern idea was sound. But like everyone else the statesmen and railroad builders of British Columbia had not foreseen the war which was to result in the merger of the Canadian Northern with the Grand Trunk Pacific. The whole situation was changed now. The Grand Trunk Pacific no longer desired a new connection with Vancouver. By means of the Canadian Northern line running south from Mount Robeson this connection was already available.

Nor was that the only effect on this ambitious project. Financial stringency forced the Pacific Great Eastern out of the hands of the contractors holding the construction charter and into the lap of the provincial government, where it has remained until this day. The government had guaranteed the bonds; there was no one else to take over the road then, and the government has looked in vain for a buyer ever since.

For a province with such a relatively small population the Pacific Great Eastern is a crushing burden. The road hasn’t been finished yet; that’s one of the amazing features of this serio-comic railroad dilemma. If the road ran right into Vancouver there might be some hope for it, but the southern terminus is not Vancouver but Squamish, an obscure village accessible to the metropolis only by steamer. The northern terminus is not Prince George, as planned, but

Quesnel. a quiet little old-fashioned town ! of a few hundred souls. Indeed, the population of the largest town on the whole Pacific Great Eastern route is less than 60! Every year there is talk of extending the road north —even beyond Prince George into the Peace River country, but nothing is ever done. The province simply hasn’t got the money to launch such a scheme on its own, and to interest anyone else in railroadbuilding these days is like looking for new millionaires on the stock exchange. As it stands today, the railroad is a hopeless proposition. “Beginning nowhere and ending nowhere,” it does well if it yields a gross revenue of perhaps $480,000 a year. But the cost to the taxpayers every vear is around $3,000,000.

Directors of the road, under these circumstances. are well pleased with themselves if they can show revenues approaching bare operating expenses. They can never hope to break into the towering mountain of fixed charges against the road. The province has guaranteed bonds of the Pacific Great Eastern to the extent of more than $20,000,000—a direct liability to the province. In addition, direct liabilities incurred by extensions amount to more than $14,000,000. But on top of these the province has assumed large operating and interest deficits. Premier Tolmie recently stated that the total Pacific Great Eastern liabilities were now more than $66,000,000, of which $38,000,000 represented outstanding obligations and the remainder consisted of deficits already paid by the government. A sorrowful picture. Is it any wonder that cabinet ministers and taxpayers are eager for the day when the last chapter can be written?

Financial Bogeys

ARTOONISTS picture the Pacific Great Eastern as a huge white elephant. It is the prize exhibit in the province’s menagerie of financial freaks. Just at present it is eating its head off and doing little to pay for its keep, but some day, perhaps when the clouds of depression roll away, some one will come along, make a bid for the creature and take it away, but there will be no opportunity for recouping the millions of dollars already spent. British Columbia taxpayers are wondering whether they will have any better luck in the disposal of some ! of their other expensive pets. Because there are others, you know. It is a real circus they have been running out in British Columbia —no miniature single-ring affair.

For instance, the Sumas reclamation scheme, and the South Okanagan irrigation project. The Pacific Great Eastern, as we have noted, was a pre-war acquisition. The depressing war years ruined the high hopes originally held for it. But when the war was over, the old whoop-’er-up spirit enthusiasm for expansion, for four years dormant sprang suddenly to life. Politicians again scanned the horizon and envisaged the vast hordes of settlers eager to fill the vacant spaces and make the desert blossom. And so they embarked on the Sumas scheme and the South Okanagan scheme.

The Sumas proposition was not supposed to cost the country anything. The war was over, the boys were coming back from overseas, many of them with a yearning for the land, and optimism was in the air. To reclaim about 20,000 acres of privately owned land and some 10,000 acres of government land at Sumas was the new idea. The theory was that the landowners would pay for their share of the cost and the government would be recouped by the sale of the reclaimed lake bottom. Actually, nothing of the sort occurred. Costs far exceeded expectations; there were charges of inefficient administration, and the landowners failed to meet their share of the bill. The reclamation was a brilliant engineering success and the story of the long war against sand and mud reads like an epic. But it was like the successful operation in which the patient died, because for years the land yielded nothing but debt. The government could not sell it for a price even approaching the cost. Eventually the financial failure was admitted and prices I were trimmed to find purchasers. The total '

cost of the venture, which was to be negligible, turned out to be $5,431,275, including interest charges. The government is now virtually out of Sumas, but the loss is estimated at $4,637,000—this representing the amount, interest included, over and above what the province will secure for its outlay from private owners and the subsequent purchasers.

The South Okanagan project was another experiment which the government expected would pay its way. It was thought that open ditches would be sufficient to effect the desired irrigation, but instead elaborate concrete trenches had to be built. The government was obliged to put more than $3,400,(XX) into the scheme, most of which it will never get back. Even when irrigated it has been found that much of the area will be unsuitable for high-yield orchards. Most of the tracts were sold far below cost.

In addition to its own schemes of this nature the government has been big-hearted toward several independent irrigation projects and has loaned about $2,300,000 to them, and about $750,000 of that has already been written off the books as a loss. However, the government has consoled itself with the knowledge that it has rescued the fruit industry of the region affected. A couple of other settlement schemes that did not involve irrigation or reclamation were also failures. On paper, the Merville and Crestón colonization programmes were extremely attractive, but only a few permanent settlers were coaxed into these areas, and at a cost to the government of about half a million dollars.

Remembering these bitter experiences, the government is not likely to embark on any more railway or reclamation or settlement enterprises for some time. But the instinctive demand for large-scale undertakings still bubbles to the surface occasionally. Each succeeding government seems to think that it should make a showing of some kind, regardless of the risk, but times are tough just now and the building of a highway to Alaska, one of the pets of the present administration, which might have been launched with a blare of trumpets a few years ago, has received only lukewarm support. Money is needed for these things, and just now British Columbia simply hasn’t got it. With the memory of those other costly projects still fresh, British Columbia taxpayers are ; wondering whether there is not some com] pensation in lack of funds, after all.

The Hon. Jimmie Jones, from the Okanagan orchard country, whose present job it is to untangle British Columbia’s financial snarl, wishes sometimes that the big spenders in public life a few’ years ago had paused a little longer before committing so many obligations to the mythical prosperity of posterity. He w’ishes sometimes that his predecessors in office hadn’t been quite so optimistic, hadn’t been quite so willing to yield to the entreaties of their constituents.

“The past cannot be recalled,’’ says Mr. j Jones, with a sigh. “But the future can be ] controlled. Our borrowings for the past two decades have been far too lavish, many of them non-remunerative. Our main sources of revenue, such as income tax and j receipts from our natural resources, are S practically swallowed up in meeting the 1 annual debt charges. There must be a j revolutionary change in the fiscal habits of the province. I think that we are all, every one of us, repentant. A balanced budget and cessation of borrowing by loans are the real essential. The continued process 1 of borrowing to meet revenue shortages is primarily the cause of our present condition.’’

But can Mr. Jones balance the budget?

I Can any one balance it under present conditions? Mr. Jones has put through legislation authorizing treasury control of expenditures; that is to say. he and a small committee of government officials have been clothed with power to check on all departmental appro' priations during the year, and reduce them wherever they believe reduction is justified. But will this control be sufficient? Can it be made to beat the political system which in British Columbia, as well as in almost every i other province, has invariably resulted in

excessive services and multiplied costs? A lot of people are wondering.

The Taxpayer’s Bitter Pill

TJTSTORY’S JUDGMENT on the tactics Jof Mr. Jones and his colleagues in the present crisis is the only one worth while and that, unfortunately, will not be available until it is too late for practical use. Meanwhile Mr. Jones, in common with men in office throughout the land, is finding few flowers and many brickbats in his morning’s mail. Mr. Jones unhappily entered the Cabinet at a time when revenues were at a low’ ebb, owing to the depression, and expenditure was near its all-time high. He applied himself to his task with characteristic tenacity and he discovered—and this was the discovery that brought most of the brickbats—that British Columbia’s taxation system would have to be revised upward rather drastically. He imposed the now somewhat celebrated Jones one per cent tax, applicable to practically every one with any kind of an income in the province. The chorus of protest that dinned in his ears merely encouraged him. Aside from any other merit his tax might possess, it was certainly making every one conscious of the province’s economic plight and encouraging thrift. He hit right out in his 1932 budget, too; increased the tax on gasoline and amusements and racetrack betting, levied on fuel oil and increased auto drivers’ licenses, drafted a supertax on land for school purposes, advanced the tax on liquor, and took away from the municipalities a large share of their usual grants.

Mr. Jones, one of Canada’s most seriously conscientious public servants, has shown an ingenuity in the conception and enforcement of taxes that has never been paralleled in British Columbia. He refuses to be discouraged. He regards himself as a doctor forcing a bitter pill down the throat of a patient w’ho some day will thank him for the unpalatable remedy; and. being a sensitive man, he sometimes adopts the good old woodshed apology, “This hurts me more than it does you.”

But, just at the moment, British Columbia’s struggling taxpayers are not in the mood to be gentle with Mr. Jones or any one else in political life. Partly this is because they are still an optimistic people and despise the bearers of bad news. When Mr. Jones appeared at a recent luncheon meeting of Vancouver business men to describe the financial situation he received only a few faint handclaps. The cheers were reserved for Major Harold Browm, who came in later. The curious paradox here, however, is that Major Browm has been the bearer of worse new’s than Mr. Jones. For Major Brown has stepped to the front of those in British Columbia w-ho “view with alarm.”

And just who is Major Browm? Until a few weeks ago his name seldom appeared in the headlines. He was the general manager of a steamship company and knowm as a sound business executive, but his activities, true to the nature of the man, were unspectacular. If he had strong opinions on the course of government he kept them to himself or his business associates. But w’hen he was elected president of the Vancouver board of trade recently he felt it his duty to become suddenly articulate. Major Browm attacked the provincial government’s unemployment relief programme, declared there should be an end to deficits and party politics, and censured official extravagance. An angry legislature summoned the major to the floor of the house, asked for an apology which was refused, and passed a resolution condemning his utterances.

But instead of cowering in disgrace at this rebuke, Major Browm became a bigger figure than before in the eyes of tax-harassed business men, and to the general public he became a sort of economic hero. Whether he liked it or not, he was in the headlines now. The major, in his attack on party politics, seemed to have sounded the rallying cry which the taxpayers had been waiting for. He would be the first to deny that he had originated the idea of retrenchment. Why, even Mr. Jones in his budget speech pledged the province to three years of

drastic economy. But the question still in the minds of the taxpayers is whether the government can economize enough.

One of the doubters is Mr. George Kidd, who for many years headed the British Columbia Electric Railway Company, one of the largest corporations in Western Canada. Like Major Brown, he too has come out of the shadows to express himself on the subject of politics and economy. Mr. Kidd recalls that many finance ministers in British Columbia have presented so-called "balanced budgets." But they have balanced only theoretically.

“Since 1911 there have been only four years when the government showed a surplus,” says Mr. Kidd. "In 1911-12 a surplus of nearly $3,000,000 was shown. The next year of the surplus was 1917-18 when it was $809,280. Again in 1919-20 there was a surplus of $351,330. Then there was a period of six more years when the province was ‘in the red.’ until 1925-26 when a surplus of $100,000 was shown. From then on there has been nothing but deficits. Last year's deficit was the greatest since the beginning of the war. In ten years the net debt has more than doubled.”

This revolt of the business men, followed by a barrage of newspaper support, paved the way for an event which may have farreaching effect. The business men suggested that the government appoint an independent, strictly non-political commission, serving without pay, to make an independent enquiry into the province’s affairs and bring

down a set of recommendations. The I commission would function along the lines J of the May Commission in Great Britain.

"Very well.” said Premier Tolmie. and j without any hesitation he appointed the ¡ commission and at its head placed Mr. Kidd. Well known business and professional men, with records of accomplishment in their own spheres of influence, joined Mr. Kidd in what subsequently became the most exhaustive examination of the province’s financial condition ever made.

What these men found and what they recommended may have an important bear-j ing not alone on British Columbia but on every province; for, as we have noted, the conditions that have brought British Columbia to its present position have been duplicated elsewhere. The system has not operated in British Columbia alone.

“Most business men,” said Mr. Kidd before accepting appointment to the commission, "are convinced that the provincial governments of Canada are too ponderous, cumbersome and expensive for the population to support. We have in British Columbia and in other provinces a machinery of government far too extensive and j costly for their size and financial condition.”

Is it too much to hope that British Columbia may in the near future furnish to all Canadian provinces an example of economical and effective administration designed to meet the unusual conditions of our time, and a formula and pattern for genuine efficiency in government?