AT THE time of writing, in Parliament and press a lively discussion of criticism in wartime is proceeding.
It started when Hon. C. D. Howe accused The Financial Post of being No. 1 Saboteur in Canada. Mr. Howe’s own admissions, as reported by Hansard, show that in all main essentials The Financial Post's revelations concerning bottlenecks in aircraft production were correct.
Newspapers throughout the country have been quick to support the Post in its assertion that criticism made in good faith, with the object of speeding up the nation’s war effort, is not sabotage, but that attempts to hide deficiencies might with more justice be so termed.
It is with the principle involved that we are at this moment concerned.
Let us first make it clear that there is no defense at all for attacks made on public men with malicious intent or partisan spite. In this respect, the record of the Canadian press is an exceedingly clean one.
So far as honest criticism is concerned, there is every justification. The right to criticize is one of the principles which the Empire is fighting for. When criticism is designed to eliminate flaws which blockade a full fighting effort, there is more than justification. It is a duty.
The Prime Minister, in his attack on the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette, and Mr. Howe in his attack on The Financial Post, made a grave mistake in attributing sinister motives to the publications concerned. Ministers of the Crown have no right to assume a monopoly of loyalty.
They err also, in persisting in the belief that criticisms of the official actions of public servants are attacks on their personal character, on their integrity, on their honesty of purpose.
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Now let us ask ourself three questions.
Have newspapers or magazines any God-given right to tell heads of business and Governments what they should do?
Do they think they know more about engineering, commercial or financial problems than anyone else?
Are they the country’s greatest experts
on executive management and organization?
The answer in all cases is “No.”
Many people picture an editor as a gloomyvisaged individual seated behind a desk cluttered with newspapers, magazines and government bluebooks, typing out articles telling all and sundry what they should be doing. Others entertain a notion that editors, when they write a comment, merely let their fancy roam or give vent to their own prejudices. Such cases are rare indeed.
Editors of newspapers and general magazines do not profess to be experts in any particular line of business but their own. They know the field their publication covers. They are experts at gathering information and having it explained. A capable editor knows where to find the best authority on all important subjects with which he has to deal.
No, editors have no God-given right to tell people what to do. But they have a responsibility. It is to get facts, to sift facts and to inform the public as to what those facts mean. A democracy cannot function in the dark.
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Most Canadian publications are long established. Their sources of information, cultivated over many years, are reliable. Often they have more information than even a cabinet minister can obtain from his own department.
The best example we know of is The MacLean Publishing Company itself. It produces twentyeight publications. Some of its technical and trade papers were established as far back as 1884. It owns technical papers in the United States and Britain as well as in Canada. Each of these papers is edited by a man fully qualified in his field. Several of these men were outstanding technicians before they became editors. Their experience is a practical one. Their sources of information are the highest authorities in each field.
The editorsof Maclean s and T he F inancial Post have the benefit of knowledge, of facts, gathered by all these other publications in addition to their own sources of information, sources which have been thoroughly tested.
So it is that when a MacLean editor offers an opinion it is by no means just a stab in the dark. It is based on an endless amount of seeking for
fact. It may have cost a large amount of money.
For well over half a century The MacLean Publishing Company has been building on the foundation of Public Service. Its roots are generations deep in the soil of this Dominion. It has been steadfast in its belief in the Empire.
This is the company the Honorable C. D. Howe refers to as the publisher of Canada’s No. 1 Saboteur.
Six Appeals in One
A NATIONAL campaign for the Canadian War Service Fund will be in full swing as this appears. The objective is $5,500,000.
There are six appeals in one, proceeds being shared by the Canadian Legion, I.O.D.E., Salvation Army, Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A. and Knights of Columbus on a basis approved by the Dominion Government.
In past years, each organization has conducted its own separate drive. For the sake of national economy, at the Government’s suggestion, the six campaigns have been consolidated; the needs co-ordinated.
The budgets of all the organizations concerned have been examined by an advisory board of men of long business experience. Savings have been effected and the possibility of duplication of effort eliminated.
What is to be done with the money? It is to be spent in carrying on auxiliary war services rendered to the men of our fighting forces, services requested by the Government at the beginning of the war. Comforts, recreational facilities, provision of comfortable, homelike places to go when off-duty—abroad and in Canada—all these things are made possible by what you give.
It is the human touch that is provided; the link with the folks back home.
Demands upon the purses of Canadians are heavy. But they are nothing like the demands made upon those who are or who will be in the front line of battle.
No call made in the interest of our soldiers, sailors and airmen has yet failed to bring a full, warm-hearted response. The War Service Fund should be a glowing witness of the fact that back of the men behind the guns are the men and women back home.
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