12 APRIL 1940, Page 14

Commonwealth and Foreign

CANADA IN 1915 AND 1940


Ottawa, March 28th NOW that the election is over, it is possible to write with some degree of certainty regarding the attitude of the Canadian people towards the war. The Liberal Party under Mr. Mackenzie King was returned by the largest majority in the history of this country. The complete result is not known at the time of writing, but Mr. King's Government will hold some 190 seats in a House of 245 members.

The electors had various choices offered to them. They could support the Liberal Party, which had succeeded in bringing the country into the war united and in quelling the first serious threat to unity when the Duplessis Government in Quebec revolted against war controls within a month of the outbreak of hostilities. The Liberal Government had also done a good job in organising the fighting forces, mili- tary, naval and air, and had laid a broad foundation of economic and financial controls without which no real war effort would be possible.

The Conservative or National Government Party (National Government being the label under which the Conservatives chose to run) was weak, and its leader, Dr. R. J. Manion, was not up to the standard set in the past by Sir Robert Borden, Mr. Arthur Meighen and Mr. R. B. Bennett. The Conservatives did not differ from the Liberals on war policy, but contended that the Liberal Government had been in- efficient, and had been guilty of gross favouritism in appoint- ments and wasteful patronage in expenditures.

Then there was the C.C.F., or socialist-pacifist party, ably led but committed to the policy of giving only economic aid to Britain. And finally there was the New Democracy Party, an offshoot of Social Credit, which was ardently pro-war, but which declared that the war could be financed painlessly if only the party's monetary policy was adopted.

The Canadian people chose the Liberal party—not as a party but as a war-time Government. The overwhelming success of the party can be accounted for only by the fact that great numbers of electors who, ordinarily, are supporters of other parties, decided that (t) they wanted Canada to do her utmost in the war, short of conscription, and that (2) the Liberal Government was the best instrument for achieving this purpose. The victory, therefore, is not a party victory, and has no significance apart from the war. The Liberal Government may, and probably will, be defeated just as decisively as it was elected this time, when the war is over and peace-time problems again become uppermost. It is, indeed, unfortunate on all counts that the combined opposition is so small. The Government is now firmly entrenched for the duration (unless the war outlasts the life of this Parliament), and will greatly miss the constant criticism which an opposi- tion of normal strength would have provided.

But if the overwhelming Liberal triumph has its draw- backs, there are, as well, compensating advantages. To many, it will seem a miracle that Canada, after six months of war, should be more united than at any time since Con- federation. The extremists on both fronts—the Quebec Nationalists and the Ontario ultra-loyalists—have been shattered, and unity prevails. War, which many believed would split the Dominion in two, perhaps destroy Confedera- tion, has knitted the two races, French and English, closer than they have ever been.

It may be said that the price of this unity is a weaker war effort this war than last. But the facts are otherwise. Canada has done much more for the cause in 1939-40 than she did in 1914-15, and even if her present commitments are not exceeded, she will be ahead of her achievements in the last war. In February, 1915, in a statement to Parliament, Sir Robert Borden gave the detail of Canada's war effort in thc first six months of the last war. There were then sonk 60,0oo men under arms, of which 31,000 were training in England, 1,000 in Bermuda and the balance in Canada. At the end of the first six months of this war there were 75,000 men in the Canadian army, of whom an undisclosed number but close to 30,000, are now in England and the remainder training in Canada.

In the last war Canada's navy comprised two obsoletL cruisers and a personnel of 1,500 men. The German U- boats sank many ships off our Atlantic coast, some of them within sight of shore. We were unable to meet this threat and received naval reinforcements from Australia, and later.

from the United States. The Canadian navy in 1914-15 cost at the rate of $4,000,000 per year. In March, 1940, we had 5,334 men in the navy and are providing our own defence against submarines and mines with six destroyers and a flotilla-leader and a large number of auxiliary craft. There are, as well, 90 submarine chasers now under construction, at a cost all told, of $5o,000,000. The navy today is costing at the rate of $40,1300,000 per year.

In the last war Canada had no air force. Many Canadians served in the R.A.F., but not until the U-boat peril became acute did Ottawa try to organise an air force to defend the seaboard. In the end, the United States took over this task and did it. In this war Canada has her own air force both at home and abroad. There are now 10,228 men in the air force and the sea routes are kept constantly under observation. Moreover there is the Commonwealth Air Training Plan which is rapidly taking form, and which will cost Canada in the coming year upwards of $too,000,000. Training will begin within six weeks, and by autumn an ever- increasing stream of airmen will be flowing toward Britain and France.

On the financial side, Canada, in the first six months of the last war, spent some $50,000,000. Britain helped by lending Canada money, some $6o,o0o,000 in all. In the first six months of this war Canada will spend $115,000,000 and. in addition, some $92,000,000 of Canadian securities owned in Britain have been repatriated, to that extent easing the financial problem of the British Government.

If you look at the future, the comparison becomes even more striking. From August 4th, 1914, to March 31st, 1916, Canada spent on war $230,000,000. From September 3rd, 1939, to March 31st, 1940, the war expenditures will be $115,000,000, and the estimates for the fiscal year (they will almost certainly be exceeded) ending March 31st, 1941, call for $500,000,000 on the purely Canadian war effort and $100,000,000 on the air-training plan. The comparison is thus between $230,000,000 and $715,000,000.

These facts were placed before the Canadian people in the election campaign. Their approval of this war policy by an overwhelming vote augurs well for the coming days of peril.