Justice Outweighs Vengeance

March 1 1946

Justice Outweighs Vengeance

March 1 1946

Justice Outweighs Vengeance


IT WOULD be well if Defense Minister Abbott would table in Parliament and publish the complete record of the trial of Nazi General Kurt Meyer.

At this writing no one in Canada, not even Mr. Abbott himself, has read the evidence— there is no copy on this side of the Atlantic.

All anyone here knows is that Meyer was acquitted on the major charge of ordering Canadian prisoners shot; that he was convicted on the relatively minor charge of a general responsibility for the state of discipline in which such a crime could be committed; that he was sentenced to death anyway, but that General Chris Vokes refused to confirm the sentence (as he would have to do in order to make it valid), and instead commuted it to life imprisonment.

General Vokes, unlike us, had read the evidence. So had the superior officers he consulted, Generals Simonds and Murchie. So had the one civilian whose advice he sought—John Read, legal adviser to the External Affairs Department, Canada’s nominee to the Court of International Justice, a man renowned throughout the Commonwealth for his grasp of law.

In the light of these facts it seems to us regrettable that such a storm of invective should have descended on General Vokes for his decision.

Surely these four men, all disinterested, are entitled at least to the presumption that they acted reasonably. They are in possession of facts we lack. Why should we conclude, instantaneously, that they were wrong?

Unless, of course, we are to argue that Meyer should have been shot anyway—that “an eye for an eye” is to be the guiding principle in our treatment of war crimes.

That’s what the Nazis would have done, true. They believed in reprisal, in the shooting of hostages.

But one of the great effects of this war was the defeat of that barbarous ethic, the maintenance for at least this generation of belief that justice outweighs vengeance.

Time To Grow Up

'KJOT long ago a CBC book reviewer made ^ uncomplimentary remarks about the Canadian novel. Ever since he’s been dodging brickbats, not only from indignant authors and editors but in some cases from indignant private citizens. The idea seems to be that to criticize anything Canadian is disloyal, a kind of treason.

This is not only nonsense it’s a sign that this country still isn’t wholly grown up.

Criticism is the life of a free society. That’s what freedom means, the right of dissent, the right of intellectual detachment. And one of the salient marks of maturity is the ability to take criticism good-naturedly, to act upon it if it’s well-founded, and to ignore it if it’s not.

Far from resenting criticism, Canadian art, literature and journalism should welcome it.

They’re all a long way from perfect—harsh

words once in a while will do none of them any

harm. We don’t hear very manyT Perhaps we’d

all be better off if we did. à

Mr. MacDonald, We'll Miss You

/^VF ALL the friends Canada maefe among Britons during the war, there’s none to whom we’ll say good-by with more regret than Rt. Hon. Malcolm MacDonald, U. K. High Commissioner, who leaves next month to be Governor-General of Malaya.

Canadians liked Mr. MacDonald because he appeared to like them. He showed this liking not in the well-turned compliments at which any well-briefed Britisher excels but in hearty enjoyment of all things Canadian—our sports, our countryside and our company.

We liked him, too, because he took the trouble to learn about Canada. By the time he’d been here a few years he knew more about Canada than many Canadians ever know. He knew the great northland, for instance. He knew our social and political problems as too few Canadians know them.

Our relations with the Mother Country have almost always been good, but they’re seldom devoid of strain, and at times during the war the strain was intense. Yet this never shattered the harmony or marred the co-operation between this country and Britain. Not least of the reasons for this success was the fact that Britain had a first-class man in Ottawa.

The Ford Strike Settlement

A/TR. JUSTICE RAND’S decision in the Ford strike was a judgment of Solomon—it split the issue right down the middle and gave something to each side.

To the workers it gave, not the union shop, but a basis for union security. Its brand-new idea of a compulsory checkoff, for members and nonmembers of the union alike, recognizes the stheory that since all workers benefit equally by collective bargaining, all ought to share the cost of it. And it protects the worker from the thing he most feared, the use of reconversion layoffs to smash unions which grew up during the war.

To the employer Mr. Justice Rand gives protection from the thing he most feared, irre„ sponsible stoppages. A union calling a strike without the approval, by secret ballot, of all affected workers will lose its checkedoff dues. An individual worker striking without union sanction will be fined $3 for every day the “wildcat” strike endures.

Neither labor nor management is completely happy about the result, but we suspect the precedents set by the Rand decision will have a profound effect on future Canadian labormanagement relations.