Ruth Bleasedale is the author of this article. In her time with Dalhousie university she has other publishing amongst this one. It shows in her work that Ruth has thoroughly studied the events on the subject of Canal Conflict.
Author advocates that the Canalers’ society was in turmoil after the assessment of primary sources of evidence . Author asserts in her article that the general perception of the Canallers’ was poor. Their condition was associated with an identity problem rather than an economic one. In her thesis the author claims that these economic problems directly influenced the culture bias and people competing for socioeconomic interests was the reason for the conflict ” Yet men attempting to control the disturbances along the canals perceived an economic basis to these disturbances which directly challenged ethno centric interpretations of the Canallers’ behavior”. The author thinks this topic is important because the problems could have been tackled better if they were identified properly and as a result revolts could have been turned into reforms more effectively. Doing so the author supports Karl Marx’s alienation theory where he believes that transition from capitalism to socialism is an inevitable part of the development of human society. Moreover the author supports his own thesis by providing evidence throughout the article, implying, that the low degree of integration, common values and high degree of isolation between two groups in a society have an adverse impact resulting in disagreements. Author distinctly articulates in her article that “the objective basis of the social disorder along the canals was, primarily, a class conflict” following the events of around 1840’s in upper Canada.
It can be argued that thousands of Irish immigrants coming in to British America at the time meant accumulation of many unskilled workers. When the government announced the beginning of the canal project it created ten thousand jobs in upper Canada alone. Despite heavy demand sometimes it was not enough specially in winter due to many reasons. For instance British farmers complained that they would not hire Irish immigrants because of their ignorance at times or due to the fear of them carrying disease. Author says that the newspaper wasn’t kind to them by highlighting theft reports etc. by Irish immigrants while the journals purposely reduce the numbers listed of starving victims in that community. Author also argues that upper Canada was lacking in the system of public relieve which worsen the situation of these families. Contractor labor relations were worsening because contractors failed to provide adequate wages barely higher than unskilled labor. Author asserts that these wage levels were not fair and unsubstantial while a conservative estimate suggests that the laborer could not feed his children at the wage rate. On top of hat it was reported that contractors would make the laborers wait for months ,on the threat of bankruptcy, before they were paid . Many canal workers and their families got sick from malaria due to sharing the same habitat as the malaria carrying mosquitoes. Due to long intervals between payments laborer got involved in desperate credit transactions with high interest rates which resulted in high debt. Contractors tried avoiding cash payments. Homogeneous housing communities were setup with canal workers where they were residing mostly. Faction members supported their members but were aggressive towards opposition. When this became more frequent it was looked at as an Identity problem. Seasonal reduction in employment led to strikes which brought these factions together. Author also goes into detail with the clash between contractors and laborer with favorable outcomes for people with higher authority. They influenced changes in provisions of fire arm laws, specifically for people living in these homogeneous housing communities, making it impossible for Canalers to carry any fire arms.
Many times in the history similar events have taken place with worse repercussions. On the other hand it can be argued that immigration in high numbers can create chaotic circumstances in any country or society in the short-run. Similarly ethno cultural bonds and support of Irish nationalism in British America led immigrants to carry out demonstrations frequently while Labor were divided into two sub cultures which was brought to work influencing factions, liberals and other stakeholders. Some would even call them horribly infatuated. Comparable events built up a bad reputation of the Canalers allowing others to classify their issues associated with identity, religion, nationalism, culture etc. However Canalers’ experience so far had put deep seated suspicion of employers and introduced the willingness of defying laws according to the author. This act of cohesion may have been caused by the estrangement of these two social groups. One class supposed it could maintain social order by domination and power instead of consensus and conformity while the other fighting for the limited recourses available to them.
Author concludes that this bitter rivalry influenced by racial discrimination had created distrust of the authorities and employers making it a distinctive form of class conflict. After evaluating majority of the primary and secondary sources used by the author in her argument seems valid ,not flawed, and the author has respected the time line, It can be concluded that the author did substantiate the intersection between the two parallels with a few exceptions where the stereotypes did actually play a role in increased tensions. The evidence seems sufficient for the authors argument in this article with examples ranging from one issue to the other and effective reasoning.
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