How Liberals win Elections

Writing upon the Boer War, Mr. Dooley observed that if he had been in control there would have been no fighting. He would have conceded the Uitlanders’ demand for the vote, but he would have done the counting ! The Liberals are never tired of professing their desire to enfranchise the workers, but it is rarely that they make such a muddle of their schemes for depriving the workers of any use which the franchise might be to them as they did recently in Canada. In an interesting article in “The Co-operative News,” Mr. Edward Porritt states that a scandal already in the courts arises out of what is known as ballot box stuffing. It was done in the interest of a Liberal candidate in one of the rural ridings of Ontario. The facts are no longer in dispute, and they show callousness to moral considerations, daring and ingenuity. The Ontario ballot boxes were most ingenious. They were provided with a double side and a trap door. With the connivance of a deputy returning-officer, some of them were substituted for the official boxes, and before the polling began they were loaded with votes concealed in the double side, and marked in favour of the Liberal candidates. The ballots were marked in the names of men known to be Tories, and when these Tories came to vote, their votes, by means of a spring, were thrown into the false side of the box, in the place of the concealed ballots, which had been passed through the trap door into the box proper. The newspapers were full of this Ontario scandal just when Earl Grey took possession of Rideau Hall.

The second scandal turns on a plot by a handful of financiers and promoters to defeat the Laurier Government, in order, it is believed, to secure from an incoming Tory Government such a revision of the Act for building the Grand Trunk Railway as would enable these men to plunder the railway by means of a constructors’ company similar to that by which millions of dollars passed to an American syndicate when the Canadian Pacific Railway was carried across the Continent.

Mr. Blair (the ex-Minister of Railways) is the central figure in this scandal. While he was Minister of Railways he opposed in the Cabinet and in the House of Commons the Government plan for a second Trans-Continental Railway. On account of this opposition, he dropped out of the Cabinet and out of the House. He was made chairman of a newly-created Commission for settling railway freights and other questions between the public and the railway companies. His pay was ten thousand dollars a year—as much as the Premier receives; and it was understood whan he accepted the office that he bid good-bye to politics. About ten days before the general election, however, Blair suddenly resigned his place on the Commission, and the same day it was announced in a New Brunswick paper that he was to take the stump against the Laurier Government and the Railway scheme during the few days before the polling. This astonishing news was telegraphed from St. John to every newspaper in Canada, and for a week or more Canadians were eagerly looking for Blair’s appearance on the Tory platform, and for the red-hot shot which he was to fire into the Laurier Government and its railway scheme.

No such shot from the Blair guns was fired. Blair was dumb until the election was over, and since then the question has interested all Canada, “At what point and why did the plot against the Laurier Government fail ?” For the Laurier Government was returned with a larger majority in the House of Commons than any Liberal Government has had since Confederation.

The question has not been answered, but much of the plot has been uncovered. It has been ascertained that Blair was persuaded to resign by a young company promoter named Russell. Blair was to have some position in the gift of Russell, worth more than ten thousand a year. Russell is almost young enough to be Blair’s grandson ; but he was wily enough to persuade Blair to resign and to make other plans for the overthrow of Laurier. He bought three daily papers as part of the scheme—two in St. John and a third in Montreal. It is also openly said by men whose position in Canadian politics warrants acceptance of their word that on the eve of the election three members of the Laurier Government were to be arrested for malversation in office, and that ten or fifteen Liberal candidates in Quebec were to be paid 2,000 dollars each to resign as a protest against this Ministerial scandal. They were to resign on such short notice that the Liberal organisation would have no time to nominate other candidates.

About much of this remarkable plot there is no longer any doubt. Blair admits that he was persuaded by Russell to resign, and the purchase of three daily papers by Russell is a matter of legal record. What Canada wants to know now is why Blair came back, and it wants to be quite sure that the Trans-Continental Railway construction was the game for which Russell and his moneyed associates were playing. More must come out when Parliament meets.

At Quebec, the so-called Liberal premier is so much a tool of the monopoly interests at Montreal that the Liberal Party is in revolt, and anything may happen when the newly-elected Provincial Legislature begins its Session. The ugliest incident in the Quebec election was the attempt of an attorney of a Light and Power Company—a concern with forty millions of capital—much of it water—which controls all the public utilities of Montreal, to secure re-election to the legislature. Montreal is the most monopoly-ridden city in the British Empire. It pays more for heat, light, and power than any city in the United States—not excluding Tammany-ridden New York—and this monopoly is so well entrenched at Quebec, the Provincial capital, that the people of Montreal have resigned themselves to despair.

All this only emphasises that which we Socialists persistently endeavour to impress upon the workers. As long as the means of life are owned and controlled by a class, that class will dominate all institutions, whether political, religious, or social. The only remedy for “scandals” such as these is to organise in the International Socialist Party for the complete overthrow of capitalist domination, by the only means, the realisation of the object of The Socialist Party of Great Britain.


One Reply to “How Liberals win Elections”

  1. ‘K’. was the occasional pen name of Adolph Kohn but I don’t think it was Kohn who wrote this article.

    Why? 1) I don’t think Kohn was a member of the SPGB in 1905 & 2) The subject matter of the article. My guess is that this ‘K’. was either a member of the Socialist Party of Canada or an SPGBer residing in Canada.

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