Montreal Gazette, 26 Jul 1918, page 6

The Bachelor Tax Again

 

The bachelor tax is a candid harking back to medievalism.  At first it was regarded as a joke; and nobody thought the city would seek to impose it; but the notices are out; the stamp of civic authority is affixed; and penalties have been prescribed for disobedience tot eh civic authority.  It is confidently stated that an appeal to the courts would prove that the by-law is “ultra vires” of municipal authority; but, considering how little revenue can be obtained from the imposition of the tax; how unpopular it is; and how glaringly anachronous would be any regulation which prescribed the attitude and the relations of the individual life in a free democracy, it would seem that the proper thing to do would be to drop the matter.  The imposition of the tax was an after thought before the Quebec legislature.  It was indeed abandoned by the legislative committee; but, at the last moment, was reinstated and so became part of the amended city charter.

It is not urgent so much to demonstrate the legality of the by-law, as to laugh the matter out of court.  If the city needs revenue, there are more legitimate ways of finding it. It would certainly be no credit to the first city in the Dominion to have it go abroad, that a musty regulation belonging to the dark days of the “sumptuary laws” when the life of each individual was regulated, form the cut of his hair to the shape of his shoe, had been resurrected for imposition upon a free democracy, in a modern day, which expresses the genius for individualism.  Sumptuary laws were congruous enough in the Dark Ages they are unthinkably archaic today.

The city is too big, too modern to impose this ancient regulation, belonging to a dim past, when the individual counted for little in the political scheme of things.  If a serious attempt was made to collect this tax, which is based upon an inquisition repugnant to individual freedom the whole country would smile indulgently at a condition analogous to that in which you could introduce ‘curfew’ and have people obey it without laughing  in the face of Dogberry.

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