A Discussion of Some of the Problems of Reconstruction
Lieut.-Col. J. B. MacleanDecember11918
Now That the War is Won
A Discussion of Some of the Problems of Reconstruction
Lieut.-Col. J. B. Maclean
IT is not too much to say that the work of Canadians has surpassed any other country in the war. And let me again repeat, when I speak of Canadians I do not mean the native born alone, but all who enlisted under the Canadian command—Americans, Canadians, Old Country men—even men of Austro-German descent. I would give the first place to our men who were born in England, Ireland and Scotland.
We got a volunteer army together, improvised its equipment, landed it in Europe in record time and, though outnumbered, it faced the highly trained professionals of the German Empire, hurled thenvback, and saved the channel ports.
The Allies were short of munitions. A group of resourceful Canadian manufacturers came quickly to the rescue. They adapted their ordinary machine plants to the new work. They did it so well that the whole Allied Governments and private manufacturers copied their methods, as they were recorded in the Canadian technical papers. Articles from these papers were reprinted in blue books by Australian, Indian and Russian Governments—the latter translating articles from Canadian Machinery into the Russian language. Such big munition manufacturers as Vickers, Armstrong-Whitworth in England and the Bethlehem Steel Co. on this side had their experts follow the Canadian technical press. Thousands of copies were subscribed for by other leading Allied manufacturers. And right up until the present one Canadian concern, the Fairbanks-Morse Co., headed by a young American-Canadian, H. J. Fuller, turned out more shrapnel than any in the world.
Later these papers made available to Canadian manufacturers blue prints, and specifications for supplies for France, Italy and Russia that the Canadian Government and the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association were unable to secure. In fact two of the outstanding failures in Canadian war effort were the Department of Trade and Commerce and the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association. Both have been helpless. The first has not yet taken any practical steps towards recon-
struction and the association did nothing until the war was practically over, when a secret committee gum-shoed to Ottawa and, having carefully excluded the press, laid before the Prime Minister some favors they needed towards maintaining the exports w'hich the closing of the war would seriously affect. Sir Robert was as usual the soul of cordiality but he very politely pointed out that there were other factors in Canada besides this committee to be consulted; fanners, for example. Farm products, even in war time, had brought more money into Canada than manufactures with the enormous extras that have been coming to us from war supplies. There were also our miners, lumbermen and paper men, and our fisheries.
In effect Sir Robert said any hole-in-the-corner, p i e c e-m e a 1 policy would fail in Canada in these days just as the Asquith divided command policy failed in winning the war.
It is an extraordinary fact that on the intriguing and agitation of two or three Toronto daily newspapers, Pelletier, a PostmasterGeneral, said he was going to put technical papers out of business, and M. E. Nichols, our Director of Public Information, just before the war, officially reported that such papers were of no value whatever. It was certainly in the German interest that Canadian manufacturers should have no technical papers that for over four years, week after week, would give them information on munitions making.
There was a time when the British Army depended entirely on Canadianmade munitions—before Lloyd George came in and reorganized the British production.
I have often wondered if these newspapers knew how closely they have been working with the secret societies financed by and working for Germany in Toronto. One of these days we may be able to publish the story. We have given phases of
it from time to time. Within the past three months a reported tipped off to a Toronto meeting of Bolsheviks that a British-German secret service agent was to be present and a very important link in documentary evidence was thus lost to the secret service. A Cabinet Minister at Ottawa inspired the Censor to order that no criticisms might be made of Lenine and Trotzky. That order still stands, but we have never paid any attention to it, and from the outset have exposed these men and their agents, whose Canadian headquarters were in Toronto.
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Finally, and most important of all, comes the work of the Canadian army in France. It is the standard the entire Ú.S. army frankly and generously say they aim to attain. Canada has not been allowed to know how splendid is the work they have been doing. We have been
permitted by a Simple Simon censorship and a poor press service to learn something of their magnificent work before the enemy. The greatest honor of all—the fact that the Canadian army led the British troops in every successful move in the present campaign—that the Canadians
were the point of the spear in every thrust that made the way for armies that followed—has been carefully suppressed in all the press despatches. The Prime Minister referred to it in a Victory Loan speech; only a few newspapers quoted it. In the excitement of peace it leaked out that the Canadians were first in Mons.
But the greatest thing the Canadian army has done has passed completely unnoticed. Terrific as the actual fighting has been it was not nearly as important a factor as the months of preparation. It is in the thoroughness of preparation that the Canadian army excelled all others. Some hints of this have come through in articles from men at the front which have appeared in these columns. Preparation meant more than drill and training. ■ It meant first the moral courage to refuse to carry out plans given even by the Commander-in-chief, when experience showed they were unwise. It meant the abandonment of red-tape and the old rules of minor tactics and the trial of. everything resourcefulness suggested. It meant no rest for the Canadians, nothing but never ending work, work, work for months upon months. When other armies were resting and playing the Canadians were at it night and day.
But the results were worth while. I have never seen it published anywhere but it is a fact that the Canadian army has not once been defeated in a German attack. They have won every objective they have gone after.
Why did the Americans, Old Countrymen and native-borns do so much better under the Canadian command? It was all a question of leadership. We were losing this war with bad leadership. We won when we got good leaders. Leadership is merely a capacity for doing things and getting things done.
It is a wonderful organization, our army in France to-day. It is one grand object lesson in leadership, co-operation, co-ordination, efficiency, animated by an unselfish public spirit, a readiness to serve. Plans have been made to disband it; to wipe it out as an organization. Scores of well-intentioned busybodies are planning common-place, futures for the men. But the great fact that this army has been four years building, that it contains today the pick of young Canadian manhood —and some splendid womanhood too—is generally overlooked. Canada is on the threshold of the greatest opportunities that ever came to any country. Whether we will grasp them to the full extent depends upon the kind of people we are and how we are served by our public men and industrial leaders. Put the nation in the hnds of the army as it is organized today; direct its efforts to organized peace vyy rsuits ; it makes one dizzy to-think of the great things that could be accompli shei-
So far but one big practical thought has come out.
Hon? Dr. Cody is a democratic Anglican parson Jr. Toronto. Tradition and precedent mean little to him. Wylie Grier, the portrait painter, has said that “Precedents were nade for those who are too lazy to thinkfor themselves.” Cody thinks for himsrf and he expresses his results so effecVely, so sincerely, so disinterestedly, so TOdestly that when, a few months ago, iearst. the Methodist Premier of Ontario, rsked him to become Minister of Education he had built up the largest congrega’ tion in Caruda. His appointment created a great surprise and raised a cry from the old party politicians and Bolshevik
journalists. It was redoubled when he said he was going abroad to study conditions before he could say what changes in policy he would recommend his Province to adopt. Self-satisfied Toronto editors said effete Europe had nothing on us. Dr. Cody comes back with two big practical ideas. The first is the filling of all vacancies in the teaching staffs of the province with specially selected officers and men from our overseas army. And the other, more attention to the studies that fit pupils for the battles of life. At present the great majority of the public schools of Ontario, and for that matter some of our other provinces, are so inefficient as to be unjust to the pupils. Children are so badly educated, so wrongly inspired, that they are handicapped for life.
Dr. Cody will no doubt carry out Jiis plans which shoúld be adopted by other provinces. With a minimum salary of $1,000 a year and free house and garden in the rural schools with the usual pension, the scheme will be the most profitable investment the province has ever made. The teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic will be a minor part of the master's work. His great work will be in making them good, honest, public-spirited, right-living Canadians, worthy of the sacrifices that have been made for them.
Dr. Cody should go further; use the Generals and the Colonels as Inspectors to go among the teachers to discipline, inspire and keep ever before them the same ideals which made the Canadian army great. Let the same feeling of pride and responsibility prevail in all ranks, excepting that they are training the youth to win in peace.
The great cry in Canada to-day is for men. Men for the bigger jobs. There are hundreds of openings for the $5,000 to $10,000 and upwards class. Thousands have been tried and found wanting. Not because they were not born with the ability to fill them, but because of wrong home or school training—wrong ideas, inspirations and ambitions. They were not trained in youth to realize that the first step to success is sacrifice and service, and the next honesty and hard work. They want the $10,000 salary for $500 effort. The legitimately successful men and women of to-day are they who gave $1,000 service when they got $500 pay. If Canada is to become the greatest nation on earth it can only become so by giving better service.
Clergymen’s children in their early training have a great advantage. Their average of success in business and the professions is greater than any other class. We cannot all be born in the parsonage or manse but can at least put our children under good teachers.
To become our teachers is the greatest public service the men who have fought so nobly for us can now render to Canada.
But there are other ways in which their leadership should be retained in the public service. We need leadership and direction in building our country, getting more producers on our lands, on our fisheries, mines and forests; manufacturers and mechanics to turn this raw material into articles of the most perfect quality for final consumption; and men to sell them to the nations of the earth. This will need a great organization that can be trained, disciplined, co-ordinated, that can secure the co-operation of all classes and conflicting interests. ’
And here I will have to leave the suggestion for the present.
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