Archive for the ‘Mackenzie King’ Category

Canada and the war: temperance and a total war effort: national selective service broadcast, December 16, 1942

From the outset of the war, the Canadian people have clearly shown that it is their desire to help in every way to make Canada’s war effort as effective as possible. To every appeal, whether for fighting men, for financial assistance, for war industries, for medical supplies, for auxiliary services, for civil defence and air raid precautions, for blood donations, for voluntary rationing, for salvage and conservation, or for any of the hundreds of other ways in which the individual citizen can serve, the response of the majority of our people has been splendid.

What Each Can Do to Help

Old and young, in all walks of life, are not only willing but eager to make their contribution to the winning of the war. From all quarters of the Dominion, men and women continue to ask of the government: What can I do to help the war effort ? Tonight, I wish at least in one particular, to answer that question, and in so doing to make an appeal for yet another kind of personal service. Like other forms of service, this one involves a measure of self-denia, and even more, perhaps, of self-discipline. Self-denial and self-discipline, however, will be recognized as the outstanding qualities of a good soldier. From the service I have in mind no one can be debarred because of age, physical disability, lack of opportunity, or for any other reason. I refer to temperance in the use of alcoholic beverages as a contribution to a total war effort. Here is a way in which everyone in Canada can help.

If the military might of Germany and Japan are ultimately to be crushed, the United Nations, one and all, must definitely and urgently strive toward a total war effort. To achieve an all-out effort in Canada will demand from men and women of every province an ever-increasing measure of individual self-denial and self-discipline.

Temperance Essential to a Total Effort

Regardless of what one’s attitude towards prohibition may be, temperance is something against which, at a time of war, no reasonable protest can be made. Its importance as an essential element in achieving a total war effort is supported by facts, which, in themselves, are conclusive. It is of that aspect of Canada’s war effort that, on behalf of the government, I wish to speak to you tonight.

No one will deny that the excessive use of alcohol and alcoholic beverages would do more than any other single factor to make impossible a total war effort. Fortunately, the Canadian people in all their habits, are essentially a temperate people. I doubt however, if we begin to appreciate the extent to which war itself, and the excitement and environments created by war foster dangerous inclinations and tendencies. The increased consumption of alcoholic beverages in Canada since the outbreak of war is one evidence of this. Nor do we begin to have a clear appreciation of what the increase in consumption of alcoholic beverages in wartime means in increased risk, and in loss of efficiency to the fighting and working forces of the country.

Increased Consumption of Spirits, Wine and Beer

Since the outbreak of war, there has been in our country a steady increase in the consumption of spirits, wine and beer. It is estimated that in dollar volume, the annual outlay is now practically double what it was before the war.

Let me say at once that the dollar volume is not a true index of the increased consumption. That has not been as great as many have been led to believe. Every year, taxation has been increased. Each year, therefore, a dollar spent on alcoholic beverages has purchased a smaller quantity. A truer index of the increased consumption will be found in the quantities of spirits. wine and beer made available for consumption.

In the twelve months immediately preceding the outbreak; of war, the quantity of spirits, both domestic and imported released for sale in Canada, amounted to over three and a half million proof gallons. The corresponding figure for the third year of war was nearly five million proof gallons. This figure represents an increase of 37½ per cent.

During the twelve months immediately preceding the outbreak of war, the amount of domestic wine made available for sale was just over three million gallons. In the third year of war, it was nearly four million gallons. This represents an increase of more than 25 per cent.

The most reliable available index for increase in the consumption of beer is the increase in the use of malt for brewing. In the year prior to the outbreak of war almost 140 million pounds of malt were used. The corresponding figure for the third year of war was over 232 million pounds. This represents an increase of over 60 per cent.

Effect on Morale

I have drawn your attention to the wartime increase in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. I should like now to mention some of the effects of increased consumption on our war effort. Let me speak first, of the effect generally, upon the morale of the people.

For one cause or another, it has become necessary to impose restrictions upon the use of many commodities, including not a few of the necessities of life. It has also been necessary to restrict methods of travel to the extent of making it impossible for large numbers of persons to move about freely, and even to share the customary enjoyments of home life, the society of friends, and family reunions. To very many, real hardship is experienced in seeking to meet the obligations of their daily tasks.

When gasoline and rubber are rationed, electric power and transport facilities are becoming increasingly scarce, and manpower shortages are developing, it is difficult for people to understand their increased use for other than the most vital needs of war. At a time when nearly all of our citizens are denying themselves, or are being denied, some of the comforts and enjoyments which, in normal times, have come to be regarded as necessities, to see others spending more money than ever on alcoholic beverages is bound to occasion resentment. It tends to destroy the spirit of mutual aid, and of community cooperation, which are never more needed than at a time of war.

Unless it can be shown that the increased production, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages has meant no loss, but a gain, to the manpower available for war service, and that the increase in consumption has meant an increase of the efficiency of those who are planning and directing the war effort of the country, and of those who are engaged actively in war service, it must be apparent that increase in the production or consumption of alcoholic beverages, instead of strengthening, is only tending to undermine the effort others are making to win the war.

Effect on Workers

Our war effort — and not our war effort alone, but, in considerable part, the effort of the United Nations — depends on the achievements of Canadian working men and women. Their work is needed to help feed, clothe, equip and arm the Allied fighting forces. Every hour of useful work is precious.

Workers in industry are the partners in war of the fighting forces. There can be little doubt that absence from work, and inefficient work, are frequently due to intemperance. At a time when every moment counts, absenteeism among workers in essential war industries may occasion heavy loss. In this highly mechanized age, the absence of a single key man may slow up industrial processes for a large number of workers.

Industrial accidents are attributable in large measure to the same cause. Here again, the shortcoming of a single individual may affect many other lives. Recently I noted that, in one province alone, the rate of industrial accidents was equivalent to having on the casualty lists, from enemy action, an entire division every month.

I would not wish to imply that most industrial accidents are due to intemperance. But, certainly, temperance has never failed to reduce their number.

One thing is sure. Whether it be in the factories or workshops, in the mines or forests, in offices, or in homes, anything which impairs the efficiency of workers is almost certain to cost the lives and limbs of an increasing number of our soldiers, sailors and airmen.

Effect on Armed Forces

As to the advantages of temperance in the training of the armed forces and of its benefits to the members of the forces themselves, there can be no doubt in the world.

The lowering of efficiency due to the use of alcoholic beverages, is certain to slow down the progress of the recruit in training. In these days, when the utmost alertness is needed, whether on land, at sea or in the air, such lowered efficiency is bound greatly to increase the likelihood of accidents in which others besides the offender may be involved. Just as a defect in a plane or a gun or a ship may cost men’s lives: so may some carelessness or neglect in the sailor, the soldier or the airman endanger the lives of their comrades; and risk grave disaster in training, or in combat.

Then, too, failure to be temperate helps to establish habits which, later, may lead to a breakdown of morale. It is a common observation of seasoned soldiers that intemperate habits lead to reckless exposure when men are under fire, thereby occasioning needless casualties.

Only the man who disciplines himself strictly can stand for long the terrific pace of modern war. Those who indulge themselves too frequently and too freely will break under the strain. That was true in the last war. It is still more true in this.

Other Important Considerations

If I am outspoken of the dangers of intemperance to members of our armed forces, it is because we are all especially concerned for the welfare of those who are risking their lives in the cause of freedom.

The anxiety of most parents in seeing their sons and daughters enlist does not lie only in the fear of the physical dangers they may encounter. There are many mothers and wives in Canada who have steeled themselves to the loss, if need be, of their menfolk in the service of humanity. They have the courage to face that loss. The loss they cannot face is one that would not have occurred but for some preventable error of judgment. Even more perhaps they fear a loss of character in the one they love.

If we are to do our duty by the gallant young men and women who are in training and on service, we all should do whatever lies our power to make their course through the hazards, the perils and the temptations of a time of war, as secure as it can possibly be made.

Let it be remembered, too, that at a time of war, nearly every one is under great strain. Just when we most need to be clearheaded, in order to face the hard facts before us, there is all too frequently a very real inclination to give way to dangerous tendencies merely as an escape from realities. Under the influence of stimulants. mistakes are quickly and often irretrievably made. The best insurance against all such risks is the cultivation of temperance in all things.

The Diversion of Materials and Manpower

As a nation, we cannot put forth a maximum effort unless our people are prepared, through self-denial and self-discipline, to maintain the highest possible individual efficiency, and unless they are also prepared to give priority to the needs of the armed forces and of those industries which serve the war effort.

At no time has the government done other than give priority to the needs of the fighting services and of our war industries. The change from a peacetime to a wartime economy is already so vast as to constitute for Canada an industrial revolution. That change, of necessity, has had to take account of the national economy as a whole, and of the means which would serve to bring about the desired results in the manner which would be most effective in the end.

Under the War Measures Act, the government has the widest powers to divert materials and manpower to meet wartime needs. The powers of the Department of Munitions and Supply are specifically framed to give priority in the use of materials to war production, and to the procurement of supplies for the armed forces. The Wartime Prices and Trade Board likewise has power, while safeguarding the production and distribution of essential civilian supplies, to take measures to release manpower. It then becomes the responsibility of the National Selective Service administration to allocate this manpower to meet the needs of the armed forces and war industries, and to ensure a sufficient supply of manpower for essential civilian needs.

On November 10th, the government extended the powers of the Wartime Prices and Trade Board to control all business undertakings and activities, and to curtail or eliminate specific activities. This authority has been used and will continue to be used by the Board to eliminate wasteful practices in industry. This is being done as rapidly as is consistent with an orderly absorption in essential wartime activities of the manpower so released. No useful object would be served by the arbitrary elimination of existing employment in advance of more essential demands for manpower.

What the Government Has Already Done

To restrict the traffic in alcoholic beverages, more has already been accomplished by the government than is generally realized. I have already referred to taxation and its effect in increasing prices. It is reliably estimated that over 60 per cent of the amount of retail sales of alcoholic beverages goes into the treasuries of the provinces or of the Dominion. There can be no doubt that increased prices resulting from taxation have acted as a deterrent to consumption.

The rationing of sugar has resulted in a curtailment of the production of domestic wines.

On November 1st, the entire distilling capacity of Canada was converted to the manufacture of industrial alcohol required for war industries and essential civilian needs.

On October 23rd, the Wartime Prices and Trade Board, in order to prevent a further increase in the manpower requirements of the brewing industry, issued an order limiting the supply of malt to the breweries, after November 1st to the quantity used in the preceding twelve months. The Board at the time, was careful to indicate that this was merely a preliminary step in the curtailment of an industry from which additional manpower would subsequently be needed for war purposes.

Reduction in Quantities and Alcoholic Strength

By Order in Council under the War Measures Act approved by His Excellency the Governor General to-day, the government has taken further important steps to curtail substantially the distribution and consumption of alcoholic beverages as a means towards achieving a total war effort.

The Department of National Revenue has been directed to reduce the quantity of beverage alcohol, both domestically manufactured and imported, to be released from bond and made available for sale. The limitation is based on the quantities released for sale in the twelve-month period which began on November 1st, 1941. For the twelve-month period which began on November 1st of the present year, the quantity of beer is to be reduced by 10 per cent; wine by 20 per cent; and spirits by 30 per cent.

Provision has also been made for a reduction in the alcoholic content of all distilled spirits to not greater than 30 per cent under proof. This reduction in alcoholic content becomes effective as soon as stocks now packaged and ready for sale are exhausted.

The “fortification” of wine with distilled spirits is prohibited.

Prohibition of Liquor Advertising

The greatly increased consumption of alcoholic beverages is very largely a direct result of the increased purchasing power created by wartime expenditures. All the reasons for the curtailment in the production, distribution, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages apply to liquor advertising. Advertising is clearly not necessary to promote sales, nor is it justifiable if sales and consumption are to be curtailed.

The government has, therefore, decided to prohibit the advertising of spirituous liquors, wine and beer, throughout Canada, for the duration of the war.

A period of some six weeks has been afforded within which necessary adjustments may be made. Liquor advertising will, however, not be permitted in any part of Canada after February 1st, 1943.

Appeal to Provinces to Limit Hours of Sale

A word is now necessary on the relations of the Dominion and provincial governments with respect to the production and sale of alcoholic beverages. The federal government has to do with their production and importation; the provincial governments with their sale and distribution. In other words, while the Dominion government is in a position to control the quantities of spirits, wine and beer to be released for consumption, the regulation of the retail sales of alcoholic beverages is a matter which is determined by each province according to its judgment.

It is true that under the War Measures Act, where the demands of war so require, the Dominion has an overriding jurisdiction in this as in other fields. The government has felt that it would not be justified in exercising this jurisdiction except in matters of actual necessity connected with the prosecution of the war. For this reason, the federal government has refrained up to the present from taking any action in this field which it was felt the provinces themselves might be expected to take.

Eight Hour Daily Limit to Sales

An examination of existing wartime needs now makes it necessary for the federal government, in addition to the measures I have announced, to appeal to the provinces for their cooperation in further restricting the sale of alcoholic beverages. It has already been found that the curtailment of hours of sale, in those provinces where the hours have been cut down, is automatically resulting in a reduction of consumption of alcoholic beverages with evident beneficial results to Canada’s war effort. While each province is able to judge best of its own places of sale and hours of sale, the federal government is of the opinion that in the interest of Canada’s war effort, the total number of hours to be allotted for the sale of spirits, wine and beer, in any establishment where they may be sold, should not exceed 8 hours per day.

On behalf of the federal government, I wish now publicly to appeal to the provinces to lend their cooperation in furthering our country’s war effort by effecting at as early a date as may be possible this much needed restriction.

The Force of Example

For the promotion of temperance something more is necessary than a reliance upon government action. Success in this endeavour depends more than all else upon the attitude of each individual and upon the social outlook of the community.

The appeal for temperance is, as I said at the outset an appeal for wartime service. Temperance is essential, if the services of men and women are to be employed to the best and most useful effect according, to the physical capacity and ability of each. Nothing less will assure a total effort.

Few would venture to deny the advantages of temperance in increasing the efficiency of a nation at war. Net many hesitate to advocate its benefits and to set the necessary example. As we all know, many persons, young and old, accept stimulants merely because they think it is expected of them. They do not wish to occasion embarrassment to others by a refusal to take what is offered to them by way of hospitality. To most sensitive natures, it requires much more courage not to yield to some social habit, or fashion, or custom, than it does to face physical danger and peril. The highest chivalry always demands consideration of the feelings of others. A change of attitude in some things at a time of war might even be made to constitute a new code of honour.

Just as in today’s struggle for world supremacy, new methods and weapons of war have come to, replace other and less effective methods and weapons, so a total war effort has come to mean a new kind of leadership: leadership which in every town. in every social group, in every factory, in every barracks, and in every home, will set an example for others, and will give them the inspiration to follow it.

The Armour of God

At this Christmas season, and at the close of this year, in which, through the sacrifice of other lives, our own lives have been spared, shall we not resolve to do whatever lies within our power to save further sacrifice of human life, and to shorten this terrible war. The coming year can hardly fail to see all our armed forces engaged in a life and death struggle with the enemy. We may be called upon to witness the greatest ordeal through which our young country has ever been obliged to pass. To be equal to that ordeal, we must put on the whole armour of God.

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Canada and the war: manpower and a total war effort: national selective service broadcast, August 19, 1942

I am speaking to you on a memorable day. You have learned that, after long months of training, Canadian soldiers from Britain have been in action against the enemy. We know how eager the army overseas has been to share the actual combat with their comrades in the navy and air force. We were proud to hear that our troops had a foremost place in the raid on Dieppe.

The news of any action should not be allowed to destroy our sense of perspective of this world-wide conflict. We have reached one of the gravest hours in history. This is true whatever appearances there may be to the contrary at any given moment.

The Germans are still advancing into the richest areas of southern Russia. Their advance threatens to cut Soviet communications with the forces of the United Nations in Persia, or Iran as it has come to be known, and with their forces in the Middle East. The Nazi advance threatens Persia and, beyond Persia, India.

From the Far East, the Japanese advance westward has reached the frontiers of India. The Japanese forces in Burma are being strengthened for a drive into India itself.

The Magnitude of the Danger

It is plainer than ever that Germany and Japan are engaged in the greatest pincer movement in the whole history of warfare. Their design is to envelop the vast land mass of Russia and China by joining forces in India.

India itself is divided and threatened with disorder. All free peoples sympathize with Indian aspirations for self-government. But deeply as we may regret lost opportunities, we cannot have any sympathy for a course of conduct which places in danger the freedom of mankind. The weakening of Indian powers of resistance can only help the Axis; it cannot help India.

It is not only on land that the outlook is dark. On all the seven seas, the naval supremacy of the United Nations is gravely threatened. The Axis powers are making a stupendous effort to cut off vital supplies at the source, and to isolate North America from the Old World. Japanese landings in Alaska, and attacks already made on both coasts of our country have brought the danger to our very doors.

Need for the Utmost Exertions

The United Nations have not yet begun to win this war. The danger is not only plainer than ever, it is greater than ever. We shall gain nothing by refusing to face the gravity of the situation. It should not be the occasion for despair, but rather for grim determination. It is clearer than ever that the freedom of the world, and with it the freedom of our own continent and our own country, can only be saved by the utmost exertions of all the United Nations.

The picture fortunately is not wholly dark. Russia and China have been gravely weakened, but their people fight on with unparalleled heroism. Despite her losses, Russia has immense resources of manpower and materials and a huge territory untouched by the enemy. In Egypt, the enemy has been halted, and held at the very moment when all there seemed to be lost. The Mediterranean has not been closed. Britain remains a fortress of world freedom. From the British base, offensive action has steadily increased. The nations of the British Commonwealth continue to combine their forces and to fight as one. With every week that passes, Canadian and American forces at sea, on land and in the air, are adding to the strength of the United Nations in all the theatres of war. In the Pacific severe blows have been dealt to Japanese power. The immense strength of the United States is making itself felt on all the continents in the world. Complete agreement exists among the Allied powers on the present and future plans of campaign.

The great strength of the United Nations affords us the needed courage to turn our hopes into the reality of successful action. The magnitude of the danger must increase our determination. More essential than ever to the winning of the war is the need of the most complete organization of all efforts. To this one end, Canada’s contribution must be made just as comprehensive and effective as it can possibly be made. Every citizen must make his most useful individual contribution.

The Aim of Manpower Policy

The aim and the means employed by the government to direct the services of all men and women into the most needed channels are described as its manpower policy. The government’s manpower policy has already touched the lives of millions of Canadians, but there still remain considerable numbers who are capable of rendering much greater service than any they have thus far performed.

The government’s policy is that every man and woman capable of performing some form of war service should undertake the service for which he or she may be best qualified and when the demands of war require. This policy will necessarily immediately affect all but the very old, the very young and the disabled among us. A total effort for total war has been the goal towards which the government has been steadily striving. While much has been achieved, we have now come to the time when, on all sides, any and every means necessary to the accomplishment of our aim must be employed. The government’s policy is a positive, not a negative policy. It will be administered without fear or favour and without any regard for race, or creed, or class. It must be recognized that the security of each individual is bound up in the security of the nation as a whole. Every person must regard his services as essential to the combined effort. Moreover, all should realize that the lives of our fighting men at sea, on land and in the air depend on men for the reinforcement of their ranks and on unremitting toil on the farm, in the mine, in the forest, in the mill and the factory, and on the merchant ships. Our growing consciousness of the danger will, I believe, increase the readiness of all to accept the added direction of their efforts.

The Need for the Services of All

I told you that the services of all are corrected. This includes the services of women as well as of men; the services alike of young and old; the services, as I have said, of all except the very young, the very old and the disabled. The power represented by these combined services, we speak of as “total manpower”. As you see, it includes, as well “womanpower” and the power of youth.

The government is determined, as far as it is humanly possible, to make sure that the best use is made of the services of all men and women, and that every able-bodied man undertakes some form of essential service, in the armed forces, in war production or in a vital civilian activity. Selection enforced where need be by positive action on the part of the State is the method employed to ensure this end. The phrase used to describe this process is “national selective service”.

I do not need to tell you that, to the total war effort which is our goal, it is not only the services of all that are essential, but what is of equal if not greater importance, the efficient use of these services.

The efficient use of services of men and women for war purposes demands two things. It demands first that the services of all persons not needed to maintain the health and efficiency of the people should be employed directly for war purposes. This, in military language, is spoken of as “mobilizing” manpower. Secondly, it demands that the services of the persons who are thus “mobilized” shall be employed in the most useful manner.

The services of men and women are imperatively needed for the armed forces. All, however, cannot be employed in the armed forces. For example, it would not be possible to have a total effort if so many men were training for the navy that none were left to build ships. We could not have a total effort if so many men were taken into the army that enough were not left to make tanks and guns and shells. One could go on and give hundreds of similar examples, but others will suggest themselves to your own minds. Those whose services are needed to maintain the health and efficiency of the people, if they are doing all they can in their respective occupations, should not feel that they have no place in the war effort.

A Balanced Programme

Parliament, as you are aware, has given the government immense powers to control and direct the total services of men and women to meet the needs of war. I propose to tell you how some of these powers have been used. I wish also to speak of a number of new measures it is intended to employ.

I think the manpower policy might be clearer to you were I to answer a number of questions which many of you have already been asking.

The first question I shall answer is: What tasks are men and women needed for in wartime? Men — and women, too — must be raised for the fighting forces. And to achieve a total effort we must not only raise, but be prepared to maintain, a navy, an army and an air force as large as Canada can support in a long war.

Men and women are needed to make the machines, the munitions and weapons of war for our fighting men, and to provide their food and clothing and shelter.

Men and women are also needed to make machines and munitions of war for our partners in the war. More men and women are also needed to provide food for the people and the armies of our allies in the active fighting zones.

In wartime, as in time of peace, the people of Canada must continue to be fed, clothed and sheltered; the young must be educated; the sick and the elderly must be cared for; police and fire protection must be provided; transportation must be maintained — a large undertaking in a widespread country. Everyone can think of other work which cannot be neglected. All civilian tasks should, of course, be cut down to the limit. But even when cut to the limit, to fulfil them requires a very large number of men and women.

It also of first importance, that all the demands on the services of our men and women should be kept in balance. If too many persons are allotted to one task, some other task will suffer. There are few more difficult problems than accurately to decide how many men and women should be allotted to the several tasks. To this should be added the problem of deciding what proportion of our forces, supplies, equipment, food and much else should be sent abroad and what proportion it is wise and necessary to retain here.

Administration of Manpower Policy

I come next to the question: Who administers the wartime manpower policy?

The main responsibility for administering wartime manpower policy rests with the Director of National Selective Service, Mr. Elliott Little. He is responsible to the Minister of Labour. For local administration, employment offices of the Unemployment Insurance Commission provide a ready-made administrative machinery. This machinery is being rapidly expanded.

The enlistment of men for the navy, air force and active army will continue to be carried out directly in the three Defence departments. For the immediate present, the conscription of men for military service in Canada will remain the responsibility of the Department of National War Services. It is planned, in the near future, to transfer the task of calling up men for military service to the Director of National Selective Service. In anticipation of this transfer, there will be close co-operation between the Department of National War Services and the National Selective Service administration. This will serve to avoid undue dislocation of war industry resulting from the calling of men for military service.

In the exercise of its immense powers over the services of men and women, it is realized that the National Selective Service administration may make decisions which if needless hardship is to be avoided, will require revision. The National War Services Boards will accordingly be retained to hear appeals from decisions of Selective Service officers.

The Use of Compulsion in Selective Service

A word now as to whether national selective service need be or should be wholly compulsory.

The purpose of National Selective Service is, as I have said, to control and direct the services of men and women in the manner which will best serve the national interest at a time of war. The control and direction need not be wholly compulsory. In itself, compulsion has little or no merit. To the many who are willing to serve there is no need for the employment of compulsion. Compulsion is necessary, however, to obtain service from those who otherwise would not be willing to serve. The application of compulsion requires the services of men to administer and enforce it. Unnecessary compulsion is a waste of time, labour and money. Voluntary methods, where they are satisfactory, represent an immense saving of what is commonly called “red tape”. In times of peace, compulsion may readily be kept at a minimum; in times of war, however, its use becomes increasingly essential to an all-out effort.

Compulsory service, in other words, conscription, for the whole of Canada, over the whole of Canada, has been a part of the law of the land since 1940. This has been frequently forgotten, if not at times intentionally overlooked.

The Basis of Selective Service

Without accurate and up-to-date information about our manpower resources, there cannot be total mobilization. It is impossible to control and direct the activities of men and women without knowing how many are available, and what their capacities are. To attempt such a task would be comparable to the attempt of a tailor to make a suit without knowing how much cloth he had. How then you will ask, is accurate manpower information secured, and how is it kept up to date?

The national registration which was made in 1940, provided basic information which has been of great practical value. A more scientific record of Canada’s industrial population has been provided by the records of the Unemployment Insurance Commission. These two sets of records have been combined in a central registry in the Department of Labour. Because of the constant shifts in population in wartime, the task of keeping the records up to date is immense. The records must be so kept if manpower is to be directed efficiently or fairly. This task is now being performed by the Department of Labour.

Special surveys and registers of manpower, needed from time to time, will be made as required. A special registration of woman-power will be undertaken shortly. Also, in the near future, employers will be asked to report all additions to and separations from their staffs since April 1st. I would ask that all concerned co-operate with the government in providing this essential information.

Increasing Total Manpower

The effective use of manpower has two sides. One is concerned with making the services of more persons available for war service; the other with directing men and women into the most suitable forms of service.

How, it will be asked, is the total available manpower for war purposes being increased?

The employment of women who have not previously been employed increases the total manpower resources. Apart from the new generation of young men available each year, the total manpower for all essential needs can be increased only by increasing the employment of women. Women are now replacing men in many essential civilian occupations, in some almost entirely. Women are undertaking many of the tasks in war production. Women are also replacing men in many of the duties in the armed forces. In all cases, the men replaced are being released for heavier or more hazardous duties.

Concern has been expressed as to the effect of the employment of women on the welfare of the family. That concern is fully shared by the government. It must, however, not be forgotten that a total war effort is needed to protect everything we hold dear, including the family and family life, and that the employment of women is essential to a total war effort. We have only to think of what has happened to family life in enslaved Poland to realize what will happen to the Canadian family if this war is not won.

To help safeguard the welfare of the family, day nurseries for the care of children of working mothers are being extablished in co-operation with the provincial authorities in the two large industrial provinces. Other welfare activities are being vigorously developed in order to protect the health and well-being of women workers and their families.

Cutting Down Non-essential Activities

The total manpower available for war work is also being increased by shifting men and women from unessential civilian tasks to more essential activities.

Up to now, the shifting of manpower to the armed forces or war production has been the incidental result of cutting down unessential production. The reason for the curtailment has been the need to conserve scarce materials. But the main reason now for a further cutting down of civilian activities is the need to conserve manpower for direct war needs.

Under the conditions of total war, some industries are properly regarded as wholly non-essential. Many industries in this category have already been shifted to war production, or closed down to conserve materials. In other fields of civilian activity, a certain amount of production is essential for the maintenance of public health and well-being, upon which the entire war effort depends. Up to a point, the production of such industries is no less essential to a total war effort than the production of war industry itself. Beyond the point of meeting necessary minimum requirements, however, their production is non-essential.

The government, accordingly, has decided that non-essential civilian activities should be curtailed or eliminated. The Wartime Prices and Trade Board, which exercises control over civilian trade and industry, has been directed to put this policy into effect by such measures as appear necessary for the purpose. Additional manpower for war service will thus be made available as rapidly as possible. Besides restricting and eventually eliminating non-essential activity, measures will be taken to ensure that minimum essential needs are satisfied by the use of the least possible amount of manpower, materials, machinery, fuel, power and transportation. In restricting civilian activity, the Wartime Prices and Trade Board will act in closest collaboration with the Director of National War Service, whose duty it will be to direct into the most useful channels the manpower released from non-essential civilian activities .

Means Taken to Increase Efficiency

By better organization and by the development of skill, fewer men and women are required for the same task. The efficiency of the manpower and womanpower of Canada has been greatly increased by labour training in technical schools and in industrial establishments. Labour training will be continued on a growing scale.

Provision for housing, the reconditioning of the physically unfit, the maintenance of health standards, and the organization of personnel management are also being promoted by the government. All are contributing to the effective employment of Canadian manpower.

The Direction of Manpower

Turning now to the direction of the services of men and women, you will probably ask: How are persons being directed into the appropriate form of war service?

Men are being compulsorily directed or conscripted for service in the army. Compulsion for military training began in 1940; and military service in Canada in 1941. From the outset, all the men were called up who could be trained and equipped. Training facilities and equipment have been made increasingly available. In consequence, in recent months, the number of men called up has been increased several times over.

In March last, compulsion and direction were extended to a much wider field than military service. The entry of men into a wide variety of occupations was drastically restricted. As a result, men seeking employment were automatically directed into service more immediately concerned with the war. To conserve essential manpower on the farms, employment in agriculture was stabilized. A plan was set up to divert engineers and other technicians into direct war service. When this plan was announced, it was indicated that similar direction might later be given to the service of skilled workmen. The first step in directing the services of skilled workmen was taken in June. All industrial employment was, at that time, brought under the control of the Employment Offices. Much more complete control and direction of employment is now necessary.

The Control of Employment

Under the measures of control to be adopted shortly, apart from a few common-sense exceptions, no employer will be permitted to lay off any employee, and no employee will be permitted to quit his employment, without giving reasonable notice in writing. This notice will be called a “Notice of Separation”. A copy of this notice will have to be furnished to the nearest employment office. No employer will be permitted to interview or engage any applicant who has not secured a permit from an employment office. Permission to seek employment may be restricted to a given locality, industry, occupation or establishment. Control will be established over “help wanted” and “situations wanted” advertisements.

After a fixed period, unemployed persons may be required to accept any available suitable work, and persons employed less than normal full-time may be required to transfer to available, full-time, suitable work of which there is special need, or in other words, what is spoken of as work of “high labour priority”.

Any employed person who is induced by a National Selective Service officer to accept a new position in which he can contribute more effectively to the production of the war, will be entitled, upon the termination of such essential work, to a similar right to reinstatement in his previous position to that accorded to men in the armed forces.

An aggrieved employer, employee or trade union will have the right to appeal the decision or direction of a National Selective Service officer.

The progressive application of selective service is having two effects. By the elimination of unnecessary civilian activities, luxuries and numerous comforts are disappearing. This may mean inconvenience for many and hardship for some. But it also means that the supply of manpower to fight and to make the weapons with which to fight is being kept up or increased. That is the goal of national selective service.

Appeal for Co-operation and Support

But enact what measures the government may, national selective service cannot succeed unless the Director and his officers receive the whole-hearted cooperation of all the citizens of Canada. I therefore appeal to each one of you for your co-operation and support in this great national effort. Let it never be said that you favour national selective service for someone else, but that you wish to escape it for yourself.

With such time as I have had at my disposal, I have tried to bring home to you the magnitude of the danger and the gravity of the need for the utmost effort on the part of all. It cannot be said too often that the survival of freedom in the world is at stake. It cannot be stressed too strongly that the existence of our own freedom is bound up with the world’s freedom. In the present war, millions of lives have already been sacrificed “that freedom may not perish from the earth”. At this time of the world’s greatest need, I appeal to every man and woman in Canada willingly and cheerfully to accept such control and direction of his or her services as may be required in the national interest. It is the sum of individual contributions that makes up the power of the nation as a whole. No service efficiently rendered is too small to help save defeat and to tilt the balance toward ultimate victory. Be inspired by the belief that such self-denial as your war service may involve is essential to the preservation not only of your own freedom but of our country’s freedom and of the freedom of mankind.

Source: Historical Resources About The World War Second

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Address on the national security plebiscite, April 7, 1942

I wish to speak to you tonight, my fellow Canadians, on a matter which, at this time of war, is of first importance — of first importance to the present position of our country, and to its future security; and, therefore, of real concern to the homes and lives of all.

Government Seeks a Free Hand

On Monday, the 27th of this month, you will be asked to give the government a free hand in the discharge of its duty in carrying on the war. This may seem to you a strange request. What may seem stranger still is that this request is being made at a time of war. All of us, I believe, realize that, in war time, a government has greater need for a free hand than in peace time. Why then, you ask, does the government at this time of war, come to us for a free hand?

The answer is not, as you might suppose, that the government lacks full legal power for the conduct of the war. The hands of the government are not tied either by the law or the constitution. The government has been given by parliament much wider powers for wartime than it commands in peacetime. It is important that you should understand, that at the present time, as far as legal power goes, the government is perfectly free to take any action which a majority in parliament will support. This will continue to be true of the power of the Government at Ottawa to the end of the war.

How then, you ask, are the hands of the government tied? What is it that binds the government? What is the restriction which the government seeks to have removed? Why was the restriction ever imposed? Why should the government and parliament not tackle this question on their own responsibility without resorting to a plebiscite, and why, after two and a half years of war, has it become necessary to have the restriction removed?

These are questions which have been repeatedly raised ever since the government announced its intention to ask you to free its hands. They are very natural questions. They are questions to which you will expect a satisfactory answer.

Legal Powers and Moral Obligations

If the only thing that mattered in the relations between the people and the government was the possession of power, the government would, of course, be free to do as it pleases. That is what obtains under a dictatorship. No account is taken of the will of the people. It is on that principle that the Nazi, Italian and Japanese dictators are acting today. Under democratic government, however, quite as important as the possession of power is its exercise in accordance with the will of the people.

When those who hold representative and responsible positions have given a definite promise to the people, they have created an obligation to act in accordance with that promise, until the people are again consulted. Such an obligation may not be binding according to law, but as an obligation it is no less sacred.

There are those, I know, who make light of what they call “political promises.” It will, I think, be generally agreed that a political platform or programme is one thing; a definite and concrete promise or pledge is quite another. Because of circumstances, a government may, without breaking faith, fail to carry out, to the letter, its full programme. No change in circumstances could, however, justify a government in ignoring a specific pledge to the people, unless it was clear that the safety of the nation was immediately involved, and there was no possibility of consulting the people.

Nature of Restriction upon Government

The pledge from which the present government is asking to be freed is not related to any ordinary day-to-day matter of policy. It is a pledge which was made specifically in relation to the conduct of the present war. It is a pledge which was given, by government and opposition alike, before and since the outbreak of the war, and to which, at the time it was made, no political party took exception. The present House of Commons was returned in the light of that pledge.

The pledge to which I refer is, as you are all aware, that, as a method of raising men for military service overseas, resort would not be had to conscription. In other words, that voluntary enlistment would be the method by which men would be raised for service overseas.

That promise is a restriction upon the government today. It is, as I have said, not a legal restriction. It is a moral obligation and I need not add a moral obligation of the most solemn kind. It is equally the one and only restriction upon the exercise by the government of its full power.

How Restriction came to be Imposed

You ask: why was the restriction ever imposed? Why was the promise given? “Surely,” many will say, “the government should have known that it would need a free hand in tirne of war. Why, then, did the government tie its own hands?” The answer to this question is very simple.

The pledge not to impose conscription, as everyone knows, was the result of Canada’s experience in the last war. The way in which conscription was then introduced, and the way it was enforced, gave rise to bitter resentment. Moreover, events proved that conscription in the last war had little or no military value.

Before, and at the commencement of the war, the people of Canada, like the peoples of most other countries, continued to think of the present war in terms of the last war. They thought of the situation overseas as they remembered it from 1914 to 1918. They thought of the situation in Canada in terms of the disunity which followed the introduction of conscription. They thought of just another European war. They most certainly did not think of a war in which all the nations of the world would be in danger. Much less did Canadians think of the war as one in which Canada might become the most coveted of all the prizes of war. That, however, is the actual situation today.

The pledge not to impose conscription for service overseas was given in order to maintain the unity of Canada. Without this assurance, I do not believe that parliament would have given, as it did, prompt and wholehearted approval to Canada’s entry into the war. It was the trust of the people in the pledged word of the government which then maintained our national unity.

Importance of National Unity

We must never lose sight of the importance of national unity. National unity is, I believe, more essential to the success of the war effort of any country than most other factors combined. “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falleth”.

The restriction upon the power of the government was necessary at the outset to preserve national unity. It has helped until recently to maintain national unity. In the past few months it has, however, become a matter of controversy and a threat to unity. You know full well that a foremost aim of my public life has been the preservation of the unity of Canada. I must say that under the changed conditions of today, and with Canada’s record in the war what it has been over the past two and a half years, I see no reason why the removal of the restriction should weaken our unity. Instead, I believe firmly that its removal will help to overcome a source of irritation and disunity within our own country. It will, I believe, also help to remove a source of misunderstanding in the other countries united with Canada in the common effort to preserve freedom in the world.

Why Plebiscite Necessary

I come now to the question: why have the government and parliament not tackled this question on their own responsibility without resorting to a plebiscite?

The answer is very simple. Had the government taken the position that, as conditions had changed, it did not intend longer to be bound by any pledge, it would immediately have been said that the government had violated the most sacred undertaking ever given in its name.

It would most certainly have been said that, before so deciding, we should have referred the matter to the people in a general election, or a referendum, or as we are doing, by means of a plebiscite, and asked to be relieved from all past commitments. It would have been asserted that we were no better than the Nazis; that we had ceased to have regard for the will of the people and were now relying upon force to give effect to policies which were the direct opposite of those on which we had been returned to power. Had the present government attempted to do such a thing, does anyone imagine it would have been able to retain the confidence of parliament? For the government to have disregarded its pledged word would, I believe, have helped to destroy faith, not merely in the government, but in democratic institutions. Far from increasing our total war effort, the disunity caused by such a breach of faith would, I believe, have made our effort less effective. By such an arbitrary act, we might well have destroyed the national unity on which our war effort is founded.

Maintenance of Faith in Democratic Institutions

There never was a time when the need is what it is today to conserve what still exists of faith in democratic institutions. The present unhappy state of the world is, in large part, the result of broken pledges. Nazi Germany has erected bad faith and the broken pledge into a principle of action. Bad faith, broken pledges, and disregard of the popular will, are the forces against which Canada is fighting today.

But, you may say, no one would expect the government to have taken any such arbitrary action. What the government should have done was to have gone to parliament and asked the members to give it a free hand. It is said that a release would have been granted immediately. But would it? I am certain, in fact, it would not. And that for the simple reason that members of parliament would, for the most part, have taken the position that they were as much bound by past commitments as were the members of the government.

Canada’s War Effort Being Placed in False Light

And that brings me to the last of the questions to which you are waiting a reply: “Why, after two and a half years of war, has it become necessary to have the restriction removed?”

One answer is that this restriction is being represented as the bar to an all-out effort on Canada’s part. It makes no difference whether conscription for service overseas would add to Canada’s total effort or not, the fact that the government is not free to consider its adoption is made to appear as limiting Canada’s war effort.

The truth, of course, is that our army today is just as large as it would have been if conscription for overseas service had been adopted. The absence of conscription for overseas service has not limited our war effort. The lack of power to impose such conscription has, however, placed our war effort in a wholly false light before our own citizens, and, what is worse, before our allies. In other words, conscription has been made the symbol of a total effort, regardless of all Canada is doing to help win the war.

Issue not Conscription — but Powers of Government

The issue at present is not conscription; it is whether or not the government, subject to its responsibility to parliament, is to be free to decide that question itself in the light of all national considerations. The government is not asking you to say whether or not conscription should be adopted. That responsibility the government is asking you to leave to itself and to parliament, with entire freedom to decide the question on its merits.

The question of conscription, properly viewed, is a military question. The place to discuss it is in parliament. What the government now seeks for itself and for parliament is freedom to consider and debate and decide this question, like all other questions connected with the war, unrestricted by any pledge and in the light only of the needs of national security.

A part of our forces should be kept in Canada to protect us against attack; a part of our forces should be sent overseas to help defeat the enemy and thus prevent him from attacking Canada. Both tasks are equally essential to our safety. Anyone who tells you that only one of these tasks is necessary is deceiving you. The government with the information which it alone possesses is in a position to decide where Canada’s forces can be used to the greatest advantage in defending Canada, and in helping to defeat Germany and Japan, or how the armed forces required can best be raised. We do not ask the people to make that decision. But we believe the matter is so important that the government and parliament should be completely free to decide the question wholly on its merits.

Parliament to Safeguard Rights of People

The people of Canada are not going to hesitate to take any step which they believe to be necessary for the preservation of their freedom. They are certainly not going to hesitate to adopt any measure needed to preserve their national existence, but they will wish to know, and they have a right to know, that before any step is taken, that step is necessary. This is particularly true in the case of a measure which has been the subject of bitter controversy and the source of disunity in the past.

The only place it can satisfactorily be decided whether a particular step is necessary or a particular measure needed, is in parliament. In parliament, the government can state its case and provide the information on which a wise decision can alone be made.

In the greatest of all emergencies, I ask you, are you not prepared to trust the government and your own parliament to see that only those things are done which are wholly in the interest of the country? If there are any who are not, who or what are they prepared to trust? This is the question I should like every citizen of Canada to ask himself, and herself as he or she proceeds to answer “yes” or “no” to the question being asked on the 27th of this month.

National Existence as well as National Freedom Threatened

But there is a greater and more urgent reason why the restriction on the power of the government should be removed. And to this I ask your special attention. I have spoken of unity. To a nation, there is one thing even more important than the preservation of its unity. That is the preservation of its existence. To those who, beyond the events of today, are able to look into the future, it is no longer the unity, it is the very existence of our country as a free nation which they see is in danger today. We are no longer in a world where even the most powerful nation is able, by itself, to save itself from the ambition and greed of the aggressor nations. For the preservation of its very existence, each free country is going to need all the help that other free countries can give. It will require the utmost co-operation on the part of all free countries to save them from becoming victims, one by one, of the gangster nations whose undoubted aim is world conquest. With our immense territory, great resources and small population, no country may come to need the help of the other countries more than our own. Unless we continue to do all we can to help others, we shall have no right to expect them to do all they can to help us. Until the present tide of conquest is turned into overwhelming defeat for the enemy, no country-and assuredly not Canada-can consider itself secure.

International Situation Exceedingly Critical

The last thing I have been or would wish to be is an alarmist. I would, however, not be true to the trust the people of Canada have reposed in me did I not say that I believe the situation, for all free nations, is far more critical today than it has ever been. Canada’s position is by no means an exception. Look at what has happened in the past two and a half years of war; look at what is happening today, and ask yourselves what other view is possible. Practically the whole of continental Europe, except Russia, is under the domination of Germany, and is compelled to serve her war machine. Despite Russia’s magnificent campaign and the ground she has regained, much of her European territory is still in Nazi hands. Who can say what the outcome of the struggle between Russia and Germany may be? In the Middle East and in Africa, the situation is also desperately critical. In Asia and in the Pacific, Japan controls a large part of China, and has seized most of the strategic strongholds and territories formerly possessed by The Netherlands, France, Britain and the United States.

Across the Pacific, the tide of Japanese conquest has swept swiftly over thousands of miles of sea. A few weeks ago, it was Hong Kong, Singapore and the East Indies — attacked and taken; a little later, Burma and Australia attacked, with New Zealand also threatened. Today it is Ceylon and India. Who can say how, or when, or where, the sweep of attempted invasion and actual conquest is going to end. Neither sea nor land defences have stopped the advances of the Germans and the Japanese. It becomes increasingly clear that both Germany and Japan are putting forth a supreme effort to achieve world mastery in 1942. At the moment, they are aiming at uniting their forces in a manner which will give them control of the strategic lines of communication in the whole eastern hemisphere.

Mounting Dangers to Canada from East and West

In the British Commonwealth of Nations, Canada and South Africa are the only countries not immediately subject to attack. Does anyone imagine that if the aggressor nations are successful in the present areas of conflict, they will leave the western hemisphere alone? Is anyone so blind as to believe that already they have not cast their covetous eyes upon the vast territory and resources of our own Dominion? Off our own Atlantic coasts and those of the United States, enemy U-boats have been destroying shipping at an alarming rate. There are strong reasons for believing that Germany hopes, in the course of the next few months, to be able by means of a great naval offensive on the Atlantic, to cut the sea lanes between North America and Britain, and to cripple the merchant fleets of Britian and the United States. Japan has a similar aim on the Pacific. These offensives may come at any time. One thing is perfectly certain. If the enemy is not kept at bay on the oceans, and defeated beyond the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific, the final battles of the world conflict will be fought in the waters and upon the soil of Canada and the United States.

Here surely is the most powerful of reasons why every effort should be made, as it is being made, alike by the United States and Canada, to help the other united nations to engage the enemy and try to defeat him where he is to be found today. We cannot defend our country and save our homes and families by waiting at home for the enemy to attack us. Every country that has stood behind its own defences in this war has sooner or later been attacked. To remain on the defensive is the surest way to bring the war to Canada. Of course, we should look to our defences; we should protect our coasts; we should strengthen our ports and our cities against attack. But we must also take our full part in the combat, we must go out to meet the enemy before he reaches our shores; we must, if we can, defeat him before he attacks us, before our cities are laid waste and before the women and children of Canada are injured or killed in our streets and our homes.

Canada Fighting to Preserve Freedom and her own Existence

It is unfortunate that so many have come to think of Canada’s war effort as aid for other countries. In reality, it is much more than that. Every sailor, every soldier, every airman in Canada’s forces, wherever they serve; every ship, every gun, every plane we manufacture, regardless of the forces that use them; the food we supply to our allies; all these may be aid to other countries against a common enemy, but are equally a contribution to the defence of Canada. Let no one tell you that Canada is in this war to uphold any selfish cause of empire. It is not true. We are fighting to preserve our freedom and our national existence, to defend our homes and families, from an enemy drawing ever nearer. We would do well to remember that, against the piratical ambitions of Germany and Japan alike, the one sure shield of defence is actual combat in the front line of battle, whether on land, at sea or in the air.

Mutual Defence and Mutual Aid

Here is the strongest of reasons why no excuse should remain for anyone to say that because of a restriction upon the exercise by the government of its full powers, Canada’s war effort is not all it might be. Should the day come-and it may come soon-when Canada is faced with attack, and we need help from the United States or Britain or any of the United Nations, how would we feel if we thought their governments were restricted in their power to aid Canada? We would do well, I think, not to permit any misunderstanding to arise in other countries as to our readiness to do our full part in the struggle we are all fighting together.

Aggression has followed aggression with such speed in so many parts of the world that no one can now predict what new areas the war may reach next year, next month or next week. Danger threatens us from the east and from the west. It is in the face of this peril that for the defence of our freedom and of our country, the government asks you to give it a free hand.

Source: Library and Archives Canada

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