AGITATION AMONG THE MONGOLIANS.
THE ECONOMIST believes in the exclusion of Mongolians from every class of work that can be performed by white people; it believes that the Chinese are now and have been since the first day they landed here been a great detriment to the Province; it realizes that in the general employment of Mongolians community interest is completely negated, but this paper does not endorse to deprive any one industry of their inalienable right to employ any quality or class of labor available, any more than that industry should be prevented from purchasing special make of labor-saving machinery. This paper will even go further and say that if it suited Mayor Houston to employ a Chinaman as a gardener, or S.S. Taylor, K.C., and William Blakemore to engage Chinese servants, that they are perfectly within their rights in so doing, although not altogether consistent in precipitating an agitation against the much despised cheap labor of the Mongolian. It may be that the Kootenay Shingle Company has broken faith with its former employees, and if it has done so, the aid of the law should be invoked to punish the company for so doing, or make it live up to its contract, but so far as employing Chinamen or Japs to work in the mill is concerned, the Kootenay Shingle Company only avails itself of the rights to engage whatever labor suits their purpose best, as does Messrs. Houston, in selecting a gardener, and Taylor and Blakemore in their choice of domestic servants. In the case of Mr. Deane, another of the anti-Chinese agitators, it cannot be said that his position is inconsistent with his practices. He does not express a preference for cheap labor in any capacity, and so far as THE ECONOMIST is aware his action has been uniformly consistent with his professions.
The driving out of the Chinese and Japs from the mill at Salmo will only congest some other branch of the labor market, perhaps make Chinese servants cheaper. So far as having any perceptible effect on supply and demand, or excluding them altogether from the Province, it is not likely that any of the speakers at the meeting last Wednesday evening would attempt to dispute.
But after all, it was not so much a question of the employment of Mongolian labor by the Kootenay Shingle Mill, as it was the opportunity of making capital against the Provincial Government, that concerned the agitators. And here again they were at fault. The McBride Government has shown that it is hostile to the Mongolians, but it would have been notoriously derelict in its duty had the Attorney-General’s department refused to grant police protection when the request was made. If that demand had not been responded to, and a serious breach of the peace had taken place, in what way could the Government have justified its neglect of duty? The Chinamen have paid their $500 tax, and are entitled to protection, and are perfectly within their rights in demanding that protection when they feel they are likely to be interfered with in the lawful performance of their duties, and while existing conditions prevail they will continue in the full enjoyment of that right. The laws of the country make no distinction between the white population and the Mongolians in this respect, and it remains with the Government to see that the laws are duly enforced. It is simply ridiculous that any class of men should attempt to deprive them of the rights they enjoy under the laws, and the reckless assertions made by the speakers can only be accounted for by their evident desire to create a false impression against the Government.
As to whether the presence of Chinese in this Province are a benefit or a harm there can be only one opinion. They have no families to maintain and consequently they can work for wages far below the sustaining point for the white man who has a family to keep. They send their money out of the country, and consume but little of the white man’s product. Their mode of living is a menace to the wellbeing of the community, and their morals are of the most depraved character. It is a notorious fact that the majority of the opium fiends on the coast can trace their first indulgence in the seductive drug to the presence of Chinese servants. In every city on the coast with a large Chinese population their presence has created a bad influence, and no doubt careful investigation would show the same baneful results in Nelson. No sane man would leave his children alone in his house for an hour with a Chinaman, and yet there are some who will argue that the Chinese are a blessing to this country. The great question is how to get rid of them. “Hot air” exhibitions like that which took place at the Success Club rooms Wednesday evening are not going to improve the situation. But a decided step towards Chinese exclusion would be taken if every man in this Province would agree not to employ the Chinaman in any capacity or deal with any one who did. When the people themselves make it unpopular to employ the Chinese, and this sentiment becomes general, it will not be long until there will be no more “yellow peril.” But just as long as there are men who will engage Chinese labor as servants or otherwise in preference to white men, so long will the “Heathen Chinee” be with us, and those who find it to their advantage to profit by his cheap labor will do so. If instead of a large Chinese population, British Columbia had white laborers, times would be better than they are now. The other Provinces in the Dominion seem to be able to get along without Chinamen, why cannot British Columbia do the same thing? Now would be a good time to take up the agitation, but first let the agitators dispense with their Chinese servants. There will then be some consistency in their agitation.