Page:Problems of Empire.djvu/207

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about 40 million bushels, or 5 million quarters. Sir Robert Giffen's estimate is 3 million quarters. Sir Robert Giffen's eminence as an economist or a statistician I should be the last to dispute, but on the question under discussion I think that the authority of the man on the spot, with his special knowledge, is entitled to the greater weight.

As to the possibilities for the future, at a moderate estimate, there are 125,000,000 acres of arable land in the Canadian North-West. Fifteen million acres under wheat would be sufficient to produce all the wheat required in the United Kingdom. If the proposed preference is as effective as the information I gathered in the North-West led me to suppose it would be, I venture to prophesy that within ten years Canada could supply all the wheat we require in the United Kingdom from outside sources. Canada, it must be borne in mind, is not our only source of wheat supply. India has in some years sent us very large quantities, and in 1901 (a fact not generally realised) Australasia sent us about the same quantity as Canada. The idea of the Empire becoming self-supporting as regards its food supply is not the idle dream which Sir Robert Giffen would have us believe.

Weakness of present position.To turn to agriculture. From the speeches made by Cobden and Mr. Chas. Villiers at the time of the repeal of the corn laws, it is clear that the repealers thought there was no risk to British agriculture by the adoption of their proposals. It was their conviction that the country would remain self-supporting, and it is probable that if Mr. Cobden or his colleagues could have had any conception of what would have been the condition of the country to-day, they would not have