Title: "Fighting Conscription in Canada" in The Public, Feb 9, 1917 by S. J. Farmer
Author: Farmer, S. J. (Seymour James), 1878-1951
Source: Archives of Manitoba, MG 14 B 25½, Frederick John Dixon, File 2
Page 1 of 1


The Public 137
February 9, 1917.
human relationship, and that it might even be pos-
sible to provide an international code which contem-
plated a milder calamity than an immediate world
war in the event that the face of one’s wife was
slapped, which usually it is not.
Buncombe Advertising.
The Union Leader (Chicago), Jan. 13.—“How
$12,000,000 a Year Are Distributed in Wages,” is the
attractive headline of a Chicago Surface Lines adver-
tisement, which appeared in the local daily papers
recently. Well, what of it? How many employees
are these $12,000,000 distributed among, and how
much do they get individually? What are the profits
of the Chicago Surface Lines? Do the employees
benefit proportionately from these profits?...
Does the Chicago Surface Lines, out of its bigness
of heart, give away these $12,000,000 a year, or does
it demand in return exacting service? And who gets
the profits from this service? Why does the Chicago
Surface Lines exploit the $12,000,000 pay roll, and
why is it necessary for a public monopoly to pur-
chase advertising space in the daily papers? Does
it have to solicit business, or do car riders have to
patronize their lines whether they want to or not?
These questions, answered in fairness, should make
good “copy” for future advertisements of the Chicago
Surface Lines. They would furnish the public with
real facts concerning traction methods, instead of the
one-sided blare of public benefaction.
Recent events in Canada, and particularly in
Winnipeg, prove that the spirit of democracy has
not been quenched by the food of militarism which
thirty months of war has loosed upon this country.
From the beginning of the war press, platform and
pulpit have afforded publicity to none but pro-war
advocates, and it was but natural that our local
Prussians should make full use of the opportunity
to press their ideas to the front. Advocates of con-
scription have of course been particularly active,
and seemed to have the field to themselves until
the first overt step in the direction of their aims
was taken by the Canadian government. Then
the other side, long silent, made itself heard. The
government inaugurated a plan of registration, list-
ing the entire male population between the ages of
16 and 65, for what they dignified with the title of
“National Service.” Organized labor at once recog-
nized the resemblance to the notorious “Derby
scheme,” which was the forerunner of conscription
in Great Britain, and organized opposition to the
plan sprang to life all over the Dominion. In this
city, for example, large anti-registration meetings
were held on two consecutive Sundays. Afternoon
and evening of both days, four and five concurrent
meetings were held in as many halls in the Labor
Temple, the speakers passing from one meeting to
another. On the third Sunday a large public meet-
ing was held in a local theatre. The local dailies
vied with each other in misrepresenting the char-
acter of the meetings and the remarks of the
speakers. As a result of the movement, large num-
bers of the registration cards were returned blank,
and other filled in with answers indicating opposition
to the whole proposal. Naturally, every active par-
ticipant in this movement has been vilified to the
limit, especially those who hold public office. In
addition to four Labor members of the city council
who have thus come in for abuse, F. J. Dixon, In-
dependent, and R.A. Rigg, Social Democrat, mem-
bers for Winnipeg constituencies in the Manitoba
Legislature have been conspicuous targets for at-
tack. At the annual convention of the Manitoba
Grain Growers’ Association attempts were made to
have Dixon’s name struck off the list of speakers.
He was billed to speak on “Free Trade.” The
Grain Growers however stood splendidly by the
principle of free speech, and Dixon never got a
better reception that [than] on that occasion. So grossly
was the whole matter distorted by the press that the
Convention passed a strongly worded resolution con-
demning the newspapers for willfully misrepresenting
the affair.
On the opening of the Manitoba Legislature a few
days later, the usual official speeches in reply to the
address from the throne contained further attacks
upon the opponents of registration. In reply to
these attacks both Dixon and Rigg delivered vigor-
ous anti-war speeches, and all the fat is in the fire.
Petitions are being circulated asking Dixon to
apply the principle of the Recall, of which he has
been chief exponent, to himself. Whether these
petitions will be largely signed or not remains to
be seen. One gathers, however, that the people re-
sponsible for their circulation are having their
troubles. Dixon’s attitude toward the request de-
pends, of course, upon the size of the petitions. But
whichever way the scheme terminates, I think the
militarists are going to be painfully surprised at
the strength of the anti-militarist sentiment. Even
among those who support the war there is consid-
erable resentment at the attitude of the Liberal
Premier of the Province, who has publicly declared
that the anti-registrationists should be jailed, and
this resentment has been augmented by the dismissal
of two letter carriers, who as delegates from their
union to the Trades Council took a more or less ac-
tive part in the anti-registration movement. Also by
the dismissal by the Manitoba Free Press of one
member of its editorial staff and a reporter, for
the same reason.
One noticeable and gratifying effect of these devel-
opments is the coming together of Radicals, Social-
ists, Social Democrats and Trade Unionists to face
their common enemy, Privilege. We are probably
in the minority, but do not judge our strength by
the lack of space accorded us in the press, nor the
strength of the conscriptionists by the noise they
are making.
Winnipeg, Manitoba.
During the past two years we have been trying
to get the Town Council of Port Augusta to take
a poll under the Land Values Assessment Act. Port
Augusta is the starting point in South Australia

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