BACKSTAGE AT OTTAWA
The Solons Learn To Do Without
THE MAN WITH A NOTEBOOK
PARLIAMENT’S problem this year is to make a little go a long way.
Take the matter of emergency powers. People now are even more fed up with controls than they were last year, when the Emergency Powers Bill had a rough ride. On the other hand, most people want some controls kept on—generally they want controls retained but adjusted in their favor. This puts both Government and Opposition on a political tightrope.
Only in the Speech from the Throne, if then, shall we learn exactly how the Government is attacking the problem. But it looks now as if this will be the general strategy:
First, re-enact any orders-in-council that are to become permanent law. Thousands of them were just administrative changes, or innocuous amendments to existing law, put through under the War Measures Act for convenience and speed. Now the job will be to sort them out and make them amendments to whatever statutes they affect—a big job, but not a very controversial one.
Second, let another group of orders die a natural death. On some wartime measures the Government would just as soon take no action at all, not even to repeal them. It’s a fair guess that one of these will be the order forbidding liquor advertising. Federal politicians are thankful that liquor is not their baby; they’ve no wish to get into a fight with either Wets or Drys. Once the order lapsed, the whole matter would slip back into provincial jurisdiction. None but Quebec allows direct liquor advertising anyway; the other eight could make up their own minds about those “institutional” ads in which the brewers urge us to look at the scenery.
Third, of course, are the orders we need if we’re to have any controls at all. These will probably be spelled out, very precisely, in a new and reduced Emergency Powers Bill.
They’ll presumably include power to fix prices, control rents and occupancy of dwellings, establish priorities on scarce materials. But they will no longer include power to arrest people without warrant and hold them without trial, nor the power to ship native Canadians back to wherever their ancestors came from.
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TAX MONEY is another thing the Solons must learn to handle thriftily, after seven years of having it fall like manna.
Hon. Douglas Abbott, the new Minister of Finance, has comforting views about taxes—he really doesn’t like them. Of course Mr. Ilsley didn’t exactly like them either, but he was suspected of a dour Baptist belief that what you don’t like is good for your soul. Doug Abbott is an easy-going Anglican.
Just before he became Minister of Finance, Mr. Abbott made a speech that dealt, in part, with taxes. In fact, he made it twice—first before the Canadian Club at Victoria, when nobody paid any attention; again before a little meeting of about 150 people in his native Lennoxville, when it hit the front page all over Canada.
He didn’t say quite as much as the headlines implied—talked more about tax
reductions already decreed, than about any more to come. But he did say this:
“It is recognized that tax reductions, particularly on personal and corporation incomes, will encourage private investment and enterprise and provide a greater incentive to work and produce . . . We must create conditions, a climate, if one may use that term, within which initiative can be exercised and enterprise flourish.”
That’s no commitment to cut taxes further in 1947, but it does sound like a declaration of intent. And the spending departments in Ottawa have already taken the hint—it’s harder to get an appropriation through now than it has been since 1939.
* * *
IT1 VEN IN peacetime, one of the biggest spend-J ing departments will still be National Defense, now comprising all three armed services under Hon. Brooke Claxton. There, the problem is complicated by the fact that certain parts of the budget, like the research and development program, are going to be a great deal larger than ever before. So in the areas where cuts can be made, the axe is falling all the harder.
Biggest defense economy will be one to save both money and effort—the co-ordination of the three services, which is advancing at a great rate. With the exception of one or two who are soon to retire anyway, the top officers in all three services are enthusiastically for it. As the “interim” period ends and the services go on their peacetime footing, they’ll be fitted in more and more closely as parts of one big, reciprocating defense machine.
But although the top men in each service are for
it, they may have a few mental reservations about who’s going to have the most say. The Navy, the smallest of the three, would have little hope of dominating either of the others, but the Army and the Air Force, at certain levels anyway, tend to regard each other with mutual contempt.
To these people, it must have been a bit of a shock when the new Minister of National Defense established his offices in the Navy building.
It had been taken for granted he would move into the Woods building where all his predecessors have sat—a comfortable niche in an established Army setup, where the machine could roll on undisturbed and make the new minister a part of itself. Now it’s the machine that has to be changed. How much difference this will make in the long run is anybody’s guess, but the short-term effect, in the words of one observer, has been “electric.”
RESULTS IN Richelieu-Vercheres, whore a Liberal was elected to replace the late Hon. P. J. A. Cardin, surprised nobody in any party here, except in their degree. Liberals were pleased at getting a bigger majority than they exj>ected; Progressive Conservatives were depressed, though only one group of them was surprised, at getting only about 1,500 votes after what looked like a strenuous campaign.
For each party though, the results confirmed a distinct set of suspicions and decisions.
Liberals had suspected one part of their trouble was bad organization. In Richelieu-Vercheree, the political generals who planned Pontiac were totally excluded. Strategy was drafted at a high level in Ottawa; tactics were left wholly to the local organization, with a quartette of federal ministers coming down for a one-night stand at the last minute. This invasion of Big Shots was designed to demonstrate solidarity between local and national organizations, without actually interfering with the local boys at all.
The formula worked like a charm, and confirmed everybody’s suspicions of the regular Montreal Liberal machine. Far from changing anybody’s mind about the need for â house cleaning i#j the rouge organization, the Richelieu - Vercheres victory made it a virtual certainty.
Progressive Conservatives were not unanimous about the wisdom of running a candidate in Richelieu at all. According to the Ottawa grapevine, Premier Maurice Duplessis sided with the “anti” faction— he wanted them to stay out and let Social Credit have a clear field. The other side, however, carried its point.
What the result will mean for long-term strategy, it’s too soon to saÿ—no decision, obviously, would be made at this early date. But just as obviously, RichelieuVerçheres did strengthen the case for Progressive Conservatives staying out of most Quebec ridings altogether, in the event of a general election. It now appears pretty certain that they couldn’t win the solidly French-Canadian ridings. All the more reason for leaving the field to Premier Duplessis and the Social Créditera.
Continued on page 51
Home the Hard Way
Continued from page 9
At Sunnybrook, the seclusion room is wood-panelled for the patient’s protection from self-inflicted injury. The window has nothing in front of it but a fine wire screen; the door has a full-sized glass insert through which the occupant can see orderlies and nurses at their duties.
True, there is no knob on the inside of the door, and the glass is shatterproof, but the room is by no means depressing.
Brown was not a bed case so he was given a ticket for each meal and sent down to the cafeteria dining room on the ground floor for his food.
He had been officially admitted to the hospital by a cheerful, loquacious nurse. The nurse tried to draw him out. Brown resented her efforts, but grudgingly gave particulars of his life and military service. Then a staff psychiatrist interviewed him, unhurriedly, and Brown loosened his tongue a bit more. Later, he saw Dr. Baillie.
Dr. William Baillie is Sunnybrook’s chief psychiatrist, who personally meets every patient. Talking to Brown the doctor’s voice was low, casual, friendly. Brown was a nervously ill man, a challenge to the hospital’s ability to cure him. Dr. Baillie was satisfied Brown would be cured.
The doctor assigned to Brown’s case described him as a “tall, well-set-up, handsome man with a perpetually anxious expression.” Brown was 33 years of age. His complaints were of general nervousness, a fear of riding in motor vehicles and a fear of high places.
The life history the doctor obtained —it was later supplemented by the findings of social investigators for the department—-was that of a happy and unremarkable childhood and a loose, unsettled young manhood.
John Brown was the third child in the family of respectable, hard-working Roman Catholics in mid-eastern Ontario. His mother, a rather domineering woman, was highly class-conscious and ambitious for herself, her husband, her family.
John had a happy childhood, was bright and did fairly well at school. He had four years in high school but did not graduate. Weakness and fainting spells made his mother think he was delicate. He thought so too.
Fear of Buzz Bombs
He went out of school into the depression of the early 30’s and did not obtain a steady job. His mother thought the girl he married bad for him, beneath him. Subsequent events proved her at least partly right and she did not hesitate to say “I told you so.” She told department investigators “the whole town felt sorry for me when my son married so far beneath him.”
Brown and his wife did a good deal of carousing and some quarreling, but
they remained together and she bore him two sons before he joined the Army.
He was surprised when the Army accepted him: he had expected to be turned down.
His wife was described by social workers as having good features but a hard look. When interviewed by the department representative she was living in a tar-paper shack at the edge of the town. The two boys were dirty, uncared for but robustly healthy.
The investigator observed “Mrs. Brown is one of a family of 12 children which, when it moved to—, made the town shake.” Brown, however, had been “as much of a playboy as she was a playgirl.”
When Brown joined the Army, his wife felt he had “deserted” her and decided to “lead a life of her own.” She was sent to jail for bootlegging; later, she became pregnant. Brown heard of these things while he was overseas.
Dealing with Brown’s reaction to his wife’s infidelity, his doctor observed “this upset him considerably at the time.” After Brown was evacuated from Normandy, he was sent to a hospital in the south of England, where he lay for weeks, his leg in a heavy cast. Buzz bombs rattled and roared over the hospital, and he suffered from an exaggerated fear of the bombs and his own helplessness.
“From then on, lie had an appropriate fear for every occasion,” the doctor’s report read.
Coming back to Canada in a hospital ship he was afraid of torpedoes; in hospital he was afraid the building might take fire while he was helpless in bed. The psychosomatic effect of his wound took a firmer hold on his mind.
These fears he kept to himself lest he be retained in hospital. In spite of his disgust with his wife—he insisted he had been faithful—he wanted to patch up their life together.
Back in Canada he was discharged for convalescence and went to his home town to find, to his grief and anger, his wife had been more promiscuous than he had known.
In spite of this he tried to make a home with his wife but it didn’t work. Brown took to drinking heavily. He sold his comfortable house to buy liquor.
Things became worse. Brown claimed and his mother supported his story, that the wife had tried to kill him when she was under the influence of drink. She took his crutches and locked him in the house. Twice she tried to strangle him, and she certainly made no effort to hide her affairs with other men. Finally, he broke down and fled back to the hospital for shelter from his woes.
The psychiatrist’s summary of Brown’s history was: “An intelligent and well-principled man who was excellently adjusted in the service and found out that his wife was being unfaithful to him while he was overseas. He managed to avoid being too greatly affected by this through regimental activities until wounded shortly
after D-Day. On being evacuated and deprived of comradeship, and while helpless in a plaster cast, he developed fears of death appropriate to his surroundings. These have persisted until the present, when he is chiefly afraid of riding in vehicles.
“On returning home his worst fears were realized about his wife and he has been unable to make any adjustment to the situation; is worried about the disposal of his children and has become an alcoholic.
“Impression — chronic anxiety state. Note-—further questioning reveals that t his man definitely considered he would like to die while in hospital but put these thoughts away as unworthy. One gets the impression that his fears of death are a sort of projection of this desire.”
Brown, a devoted Roman Catholic, could not brook the thoughts of suicide which might have been the end of a man with less religious background.
The doctor noted another symptom with concern. It was a recurring dream which left Brown shaking and sweating with rage and disgust.
His wife and her lover appeared in the dream and insulted him while he was powerless to move against them; then his bonds were broken and he chased the lover all over the town but could not catch him. Night after night the dream came, morning after morning Brown awakened depressed, griefstricken, bitterly angry. Yet he told the doctor “1 still love my wife.”
Sticks to His Story
To counteract Brown’s loss of weight and his depression, he was given insulin inject ions of subcoma strength. Beginning with JO units and progressing to 80 units, the injections were given early in the morning to counteract the increased adrenalin f. jcreted in his bloodstream as a result of fear and anxiety.
The insulin put Brown to sleep and burned the sugar out of his body. He awoke three and a half hours later ravenously hungry. Great bowls of porridge, smothered in heavy syrup, and as much other food as he wanted were brought to him. Then he got out of bed and went about his day’s routine. The injections continued for three weeks, and Brown gained eight pounds, felt much better.
The doctor reported: “This patient has finished insulin therapy with improvement in well-being, but fear of vehicles is unchanged.”
There were more interviews, with the object of getting Brown to realize his own contributions to his nervous illness.
“He was interviewed,” the doctor wrote, “and denied he had led a dissolute life before marriage or before going overseas. He attributed the fact he never worked steadily before the war to ‘immature outlook.’ There is discrepancy between the assessment of his character as given by himself and by social service and relief workers, but he sticks to his own.”
Sunnybrook psychiatrists are not easily discouraged, but Brown’s doctor added: “1 do not feel we have scratched the surface of his condition with psychotherapy. He seems latently sarcastic and supercilious, and this has only superficially broken down.” The provisional diagnosis was: “Psychopathic personality”—a state of mental unbalance manifested by emotional unstability.
So Brown was asked to undergo an interview with his doctor while under the influence of sodium amytal. Taken by mouth, sodium amytal is a mild hypnotic, induces pleasant, restful sleep and quiets the nerves.
Injected in the veins, it has a much more immediate effect and tends to relax the mind to the point where facts and incidents hidden in the subconscious are told freely. Brown agreed to the test and slipped off into a dreamy state below the level of ordinary consciousness.
He told things he had previously hidden, but not very many of them. The psychiatrist gained the impression Brown had set. up a determined block against some memory which might have belied the information he had given. However, he did talk more freely.
After the hypnotic state had passed, Brown was told what he had said, and was urged to face his situation and find his own solution of it. It was impressed upon him that he had to co-operate, to seek his own cure, else the hospital could do little for him except improve his physical welfare.
Brown took four tests in assessment of his intelligence and personality to aasist the psychiatrists in their diagnosis and treatment of his neurosis. First was the Wechsler-Belle vue intelligence test to check his mental capacity, educational background and performance ability. He filled in blocks of hieroglyphics, performed small problems in arithmetic, tested his vocabulary, his perception of associated ideas.
His intelligence quotient was rated by the psychologist at 130 over a mean of 100. The average 1. Q. of neuropsychiatrie patients is considerably above that of most other men and women treated in DVA hospitals. This average is 115, but individual scores of 150 and 160 are by no means uncommon.
Then Brown took the Multiple Minnesota Personality Test. He sorted 500 cards bearing statements he believed, didn’t believe or couldn’t answer. Some of the cards seemed silly to him, but his classification of them gave the psychologist a better understanding of his personality.
The psychologist wrote: “A low
paranoia score indicates a very realistic outlook.” Brown demonstrated he had few illusions about his own ability or personality.
He passed on to the Thematic Apperception Test. He looked at 20 cards, each with a picture, then told a story based on what each picture suggested to him. His stories showed a feeling of
Continued on page 51
Backstage at Ottawa
Continued from page 15
No pre-election bargain between Mr. Duplessis and the Bracken party is at all likely—Progressive Conservatives have tried for such a union before, without success, and Richelieu makes the deal all the more remote. But a postelection coalition, with “provincial autonomy” as the principal common ground, begins to look more and more like a feasible objective. iy