Infinitely more important is the second reason. For a long time at least the stanchest, strongest and stablest part of Canada’s people must be rooted to the soil. Up to the present half her population has been rural, and less than three per cent. absorbed by the factory, the railway, the labor union. Of her population of 7,800,000, only 176,000 workers belong to labor organizations, and ninety per cent. of these have never been on strike. These figures alone explain why class hatred has never widened into a chasm dividing society in Canada.
Why Big Business has never dominated government in Canada will be dealt with in a later chapter, but if Big Business can not violate law with impunity at one end of the social scale, it may be safely said that anarchy will never violate law at the other end of the scale.
At the same time there are symptoms appearing in the industrial conditions of Canada as gravely dangerous as anything in her immigration problems. These need only be stated to be apparent. Where wages have increased only ten per cent. in a decade, the cost of living has increased fifty-one per cent.—according to an official commission appointed by the Ottawa government to report. Though Canada is an agricultural country, in food products alone, she pays ten million dollars duty yearly. In one farming province ten million dollars’ worth of food is yearly imported. Why is this? Why is Canada not producing all the food she consumes? Because in certain sections only one settler goes out to the farm for four that live in the town.
In the West, if you add up the population of all the cities, you will find that one-fourth as many people live in the cities as in the country. In one province you will find that out of half a million population, three hundred thousand are living in cities and towns. This is the province that imports such quantities of food. It is also the province that has more labor trouble than all the other sections of the Dominion put together. Demagogues harangue the city squares for “the right to work,” “the right to live;” and mill owners, farmers, ranchers, railway builders go bankrupt for lack of men to work. It is the province where the highest wages in the world are paid for every form of labor. It is also the province where the greatest number of people are idle, and neither you nor I nor anybody else, can convince the idle stone mason who demands eight dollars a day that he keeps himself idle by not accepting half that figure. He is not dealing with “the robber baron” capitalistic class. He is dealing with the humble householder who wants to build but can not afford workmen at eight dollars to five dollars a day, when he could afford workmen at four dollars to a dollar and fifty cents a day.