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No. 3269 March 2, 1907.
1. Canada, Under What Flag? By "C."
WESTMINSTER REVIEW 524 . EDINBURGH REVIEW 534
The State of Russia. (Concluded)
CORNHILL MAGAZINE 551
The Bad Luck of Kaptan Holar. By J. J. Bell
The Coming Hague Conference
Noscitur A Sociis"
CHAMBERS's JOURNAL 557
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CANADA, UNDER WHAT FLAG?
At a meeting of the Royal Colonial Institute, held on November 13, Mr. Richard Jebb read an extraordinarily able paper entitled "Notes on Imperial Organization." During the discussion which followed, Mr. C. Waley Cohen made a remark which, judging by the printed report, appears hardly to have attracted the attention it deserves. He said:
I do not think sufficient importance has been attached to the voters who are behind the representatives of the Colonies, and who are the real power at the back of those who have to deal with them in this country. With all respect the crux of the whole question is not the opinions of such an audience as this.... If you were to take a census of those here I do not think you would find any difference of opinion on the broad question of Imperialism, but when you approach a definite decision, when you have Colonial Premiers and the Colonial Office negotiating, the difficulty is that there is a lack of complete sympathy between the people whom they represent . . . If a greater spirit of sympathy could be brought about between the working men in this country and the Colonies, if more knowledge of colonial conditions and sentiments could be brought home to the workmen of this country, and vice versâ, you would make much more easy the solution of the question which we are considering.
Personally, my experience of the Colonies is limited to the Dominion of Canada. But in a broad general question of this kind I take it that one self-governing colony is very like another, and I hold that Mr. Cohen is unquestionably right. I would not even restrict myself to "voters" and "working men," but would include all men of sufficient intelligence to understand the subject, as well as their wives and families.
Imperial Conference, Imperial De
fence, State-owned Cables, Preferential Trade, Tariff Reform, each specific is advertised in turn as though it were a panacea, while the family history and general constitution of the patient may be set aside as negligible factors.
Just lately certain Englishmen at home, and a few more now resident in the United States, seem to have woken with a start to the extraordinary increase in the volume of immigration from the latter country into NorthWestern Canada. Although the movement has been in steady progress for the last half a dozen years the men who are only now beginning to realize its extent are raising a cry of alarm. Some of them have rushed into print and prophesied the imminent denationalization of Manitoba and the NorthWest Provinces, if not of the entire Dominion.
On the other hand, the Canadian authorities have hastened to reassure them by counter assertions to the effect that the new immigrants, in crossing the air-line which is the boundary between the two countries, will im-, mediately change their political prejudices, while the sky above them remains much the same. And each party can produce strong arguments to show that its own particular view is correct.
The first will pelt you with statistics, proving to their own complete satisfaction that the predictions of certain American journals are irrefutable, and that in a very few years the Stars and Stripes will be floating above the little school-houses dotted over the great prairies, while the National Anthem of the next generation will be "My Country 'Tis of Thee," or "Yankee Doodle," or "The Star-Spangled Banner," or whatever ditty may then be
the official public hymn in the United States. They will point out that the annual influx over the border has increased from 712 in 1897 to 58,816 in the fiscal year July 1, 1905-June 30, 1906; that many of the new settlements are entirely American, and that, therefore, their members have little opportunity of merging their nationality in that of their neighbors. To all of which the stock answer is that, firstly, most of the new arrivals are returned Canadians; secondly, that the rest of them are perfectly satisfied to live under the English flag; and thirdly that your American is a born politician and not going to deprive himself of his vote by omitting to take out his naturalization papers.
The stay-at-home Englishman shrugs his shoulders and is quite content to leave the matter to the newspapers, or to the Colonial Office, or the Dominion Government. He reads with perfect equanimity that a police magistrate has offered to let a criminal off a term of imprisonment if he will consent to emigrate to Canada; very much as though you were to throw snails over the wall into your neighbor's garden, and expect to be patted on the back for your humanity to the snails. He thinks he has done as much as can be expected of him for the next decade, if he lowers the postal rates for English publications, so as to enable them to compete on something like equal terms with the flood of cheap American literature which has already well nigh submerged the entire Dominion.
Foretelling the political future of a new country is risky work. Even a trained specialist like Mr. H. G. Wells has returned from a few months' visit to the States, acknowledging frankly that, as an oracle, he is pretty much where he started. But the globe-trotter, who has hurried over the C.P.R. between Montreal and Vancouver will pose with cheerful alacrity as an au
thority at home. He has discovered that Canada is quite a big country in point of size, much bigger than he expected, somehow. He is rarely at a loss for an answer to any question you may address to him. "I was talking to a Canadian in the "smoker" and he told me, &c., &c." If he can add that the Canadian was a business man (and they all are) that settles the matter at once, because it is an obvious guarantee of the soundness of his judgment and of his political foresight.
The ordinary newspaper correspond ent is not very much better. He does not confine himself, it is true, to the obiter dicta of casual travellers in the train; he seeks out bankers and politicians and "business men" generally in their offices. Where he fails is that he does not appreciate the fact that most of these authorities see dozens of him every year. If only to save themselves trouble they have the stereotyped smile, the stereotyped invitation to lunch, and the stereotyped opinion on the future of the country, all ready to be handed over at a moment's notice. The journalist is profuse in his thanks and feels himself equipped to write columns of exclusive information from the man on the spot.
I can give him a hint that may afford him a little innocent amusement if he has a few minutes to spare in his quest for news. Go into the office of a man interested in real estate, in that city which is called the bull's-eye of the Dominion. [It would be more correct to call it the bull's-eye of the North American Continent, a point which Englishmen hardly realize.] He will smile at you, with the added touch of cordiality born of the conscious ness of superior knowledge, which makes us so civil in pointing out his way to a total stranger. He will ask you to lunch, for his hospitality is innate, and he will wait for the question inevitable at this moment:
"What do you think about the American Immigration Movement?"
average business man in London. He may have a definite, well-thought-out
He knew it was coming, and is quite opinion on the subject. But if so, ready with his answer:
The American farmer is the best immigrant we can have. He is a pioneer to begin with, and he understands the condition of things out here. As to his Americanizing Canada, that is all nonsense. He is a politician, &c. (see above); he finds that his individual freedom here is at least as unhampered as in the States; that the taxation is less; that our judges are incorruptible; and that the land is rather superior for his purposes. Besides that a very large proportion of this influx consists of returned Canadians, and a certain number of Europeans who happen to have landed at an American port, but have decided to move on here.
Generally speaking you thank your friend, and take up your hat and go. But if you are guileful you will add as an afterthought:
I am particularly grateful for the opinion, coming from a man like yourself, because it relieves me of a certain sense of responsibility. From what I hear elsewhere I had begun to think it was my duty to urge on the authorities at home the necessity of taking special steps to stimulate British immigration in order to offset that from the U.S.A.
Then watch him squirm. (It is so difficult to write of things Western in Addisonian English.)
So long as he thinks that the fear of the American movement will act as a deterrent to British immigrants he is anxious to pooh-pooh the whole thing. If you point out to him that this fear might be used as an instrument to produce exactly the contrary effect he is torn with conflicting emotions. The truth is, of course, that his first consideration is the importance of increasing his business, and the best way to do that is by filling up the country. With the ultimate consequences he is very little more concerned than is the
he will probably want to know more about you than he will learn from a mere letter of introduction before he will impart it. And you will probably want a good deal more knowledge of the country than you can pick up in a flying journey before you can properly gauge the value of that opinion.
You may even interview a prominent railway official, a prominent banker, an officer of the Hudson Bay Company, a well-known merchant, and so on, and then strike an average. Even so, you will only arrive at a vague generalization. For each man's opinion will be colored, sensibly or not, by his own individual interest. Every time I cross the Rocky Mountains I am filled with renewed admiration for the astonishing nerve which enabled men even to propose building a railway across such a country, to say nothing of the extraordinary skill required to carry the project into effect. I am proud number some of the C.P.R. officials among my personal friends, but I know that in answering a general question of this kind their first thought is: "How is my reply going to affect the interests of the railway?" For all these men have something to sell, be it money, or transport, or dry goods, or what not; and their bias is in favor of what will immediately increase the number and purchasing capacity of their customers. Anyway there is plenty of time yet before the crisis becomes acute.
After what I have said it will probably be guessed that I have no solution of my own to offer; I can only add to the above list-with much diffidence the ideas of a spectator who has seen a good deal of the game, and whose views have perhaps, a certain detachment, which those of the man on the spot must necessarily lack.