Maclean's Editorials

Maclean's Editorials

Mr. Power’s Candor

March 1 1941
Maclean's Editorials

Maclean's Editorials

Mr. Power’s Candor

March 1 1941

Maclean's Editorials

Mr. Power’s Candor

AIR Minister Power told a Montreal audience that in some training schools three advanced training planes were doing the work of four because there had been delays in the Canadian production of these planes.

The report of the Minister’s speech gives this quotation:

“Unfortunately, I don’t know why it has not been possible to produce these planes on schedule and I am not in a position to judge the delays,” he said. But one exasperated officer had told him the other day: “There are some manufacturers who are either damn fools or damn liars.”

Mr. Power is not the minister in charge of supply, but he is a member of the Cabinet, and his confession that he doesn’t know the reason for the delays is a disturbing one. It’s time somebody knew.

His officer’s statement concerning manufacturers requires prompt investigation, particularly as established plane manufacturers have been heard to make precisely the same observation about departmental officials. We do not know the ins and outs of the airplane contracts, but in the matter of other government business there have been contracts awarded to people who were not equipped to handle them. Have some of our plane contracts been entrusted to incompetents, as Mr. Power suggests? Or are the bottle-necks due to departmental indecision and incompetent ordering, as some plane manufacturers have implied?

We hope the parliamentary committee on war expenditures will get at the truth and that it will be a strong enough committee to place the blame where it belongs.

Public Wants the Truth

ON the day Mr. Power spoke so candidly in Montreal, Grattan O’Leary, of the Ottawa Journal, told a Toronto audience that the people of Canada were being misled as to the efficiency of our war effort. He said that Premier King had left a wrong impression concerning the air training plan. He also pointed to the statement of Munitions Minister Howe, made last July, that by this time we would be producing 360 planes a month, asserting that the February figure would be less than 150, and that after all our boasting, not a single Canadian-made Avro Anson plane had yet been produced.

Officers of the association addressed by Mr.

O’Leary ordered that the speech be wiped from the minutes. The Toronto Globe and Mail said Mr. O’Leary was right.

Other newspapers—the Winnipeg Free Press, the Montreal Gazette, the Windsor Star, the Winnipeg Tribune, the Vancouver Sun, the Vancouver Province, some of which have stoutly supported the government up to now—have been expressing anxiety over the lack of plan and drive in Ottawa’s direction of the Canadian war effort, particularly in the matter of production.

As this is written, there are reports and denials that H. R. MacMillan, chairman of the Wartime Requirements Board, is on the point of resigning because of disgust with Ottawa’s slow-motion technique. There aré reports that Ralph Bell, head of airplane production, contemplates the same action. Whatever the exact situation may be, there is no doubt that there have been sharp differences of opinion between men who have had wide business experience and men who are tied to bureaucratic procedure.

From all this welter of confusion, there emerge two clear points. First, after all these months, the war ministry is not getting adequate results in vital production fields. Second, ministers have made statements which actual facts do not substantiate.

With regard to point Number One, we are more convinced than ever that the remedy is a single production head who won’t be just an adviser but an enforcer—a Beaverbrook.

So far as point Number Two is concerned, either these ministers have failed to check information supplied to them, or else they have been suffering from an excess of political zeal.

If by any chance the idea has been to administer sedatives for the sake of the war finance campaign, there was sad ignorance of public psychology. The public doesn’t want to be kidded. It wants the truth.

The ^Unpatriotic77 Press

REPORTING on the effects of the foregoing, _ the Ottawa correspondent of the Financial Post quotes a government official as blaming the “unpatriotic” attitude of the Canadian press for the government’s troubles. “The press is the greatest single handicap to the war effort,” said this official.

What nonsense !

The press of this country is infinitely more patriotic than the type of official who fawns, alibis, wangles and wheedles to hold a job he isn’t competent to fill.

What is patriotism? False complacency? Or an honest appraisal of faults made with the one desire that they may be speedily corrected and an all-out war effort obtained?

No reputable publication gets any joy out of criticizing men who occupy weighty office in such times as these.

Take Maclean’s for instance. Admitting that the ministry has done a great many things well, we criticize, with some vigor, the things that have been left undone. The sole motive is to see that every ounce of effort is put into the nation’s war effort. We have urged, and will continue to urge, that every citizen put his or her back into that effort. At the same time, the people have the right to expect that, for its part, the government will ruthlessly eliminate incompetency, whether it be in private enterprise working for the state, or in its own ranks; that it will eliminate waste; and that under no circumstances will party considerations enter into decisions made.

If the Prime Minister performs these duties, then there need not be any doubt concerning the full co-operation of all Canadians.

Results Must Be The Return

WHAT does the public, the public which is being urged to make every sacrifice for the war effort, think about all the foregoing?

From a large number of readers’ letters we select this one as being representative and yet moderate.

“I have just finished reading your editorial in the Feb. 1st issue (it told why Canadians should subscribe for War Savings]certificates) and most certainly agree with you. But...

“I am an ordinary, average citizen travelling for a wholesale house who at my request are deducting sixteen dollars monthly from my salary to purchase War Savings certificates. They also deduct defense tax to which I am wholeheartedly agreeable.

“However, after reading editorials, newspaper articles, newscasts and especially after hearing numerous opinions from the boys in our land and air forces, it makes one wonder if our government is putting forth the proper effort in the proper manner to justify their position as our leaders. Personally I do not think so and believe me when I say that there are thousands who have the same opinion.

“We want to help and are willing to pay, but want to see results in return.”