What chances for a Liberal comeback?

BLAIR FRASER December 20 1958


What chances for a Liberal comeback?

BLAIR FRASER December 20 1958


What chances for a Liberal comeback?


Theoretically the Liberals ought to have an excellent chance to win both by-elections December 15, in TorontoTrinity and Springfield, Manitoba. In each riding they have lost only one election between 1935 and 1958 (not the same one, either) and both withstood the Diefenbaker tide in 1957. Officially and for the record, the (¡rits are predicting that both will go Liberal again -but only a well-heeled few are willing to bet on it.


Neutral observers think the Conservatives will probably hold both seats. Moreover, they think the I iberals have the best chance in the one where the record makes them look weakest— Toronto-Trinity, which went Tory in 1945, which includes the old true-blue division, Toronto South, and which only once (in 1940) gave the Grits a big majority. It's in Trinity, nevertheless, that the Liberals rate a fifty-fifty chance in many people's books, and a Tory can get a bet down at even money if he stalks his prey with care.

Springfield, on the other hand, never once went Conservative from the Bennett sw'eep of 1930 to the Diefenbaker sw'eep of 1958. The one in-between election that the Liberals lost, they lost to the CCF last year. For two postwar terms the Liberal member for Springfield was big John Sinnott. whose exploits of joie de vivre and jeu d'esprit have made him a living legend on Parliament Hill. The legend didn't go dowm so well in sober-sided Springfield—but voters took what seemed the easy way to defeat big John. They beat him at a Liberal nominating convention, and sent the new l iberal nominee to Ottawa as usual on election day.

That was 1953. The new Liberal, Tony Weselak. got more votes than all the other candidates put together, and also turned out to be a good member of parliament. Last year he lost to CCFer Jake Schulz, but the Conservative ran last with a total vote not much bigger than Schulz’s majority. The same man, the late W. V. Yacula, did win Springfield in the Diefenbaker landslide March 31. but after his death the Conservative nomination went to a newcomer to federal politics who faces Weselak. the 1953 winner, and Schulz.

On paper it looks like a perfect setup for a Liberal comeback. In fact the outlook is so bleak for Weselak that the Liberals, in spite of their brave talk, are already making excuses for him in advance. He's a good MP. they say, but too shy to be a first-class candidate. The anti-socialist vote ganged up last spring to beat Jake Schulz, a Farmers’ Union man who is a bit of a leftwing rebel in the CCF: they'll do the same again, and so on. and so on.

The real reasons why the odds are against Weselak seem to be two. One is that there are no big lively issues in Springfield. Liberals arc predicting hopefully that the Conservative farm price support policy will be a hopeless failure, but they fear they haven't convinced many farmers of this just yet. Mostly they (all back on the argument that the Conservatives have too many members already, and that it’s better to have another good strong man in opposition than to add one more to the faceless, voiceless mass on the government side.

In other circumstances this argument might have considerable weight. Unluckily for the Grits, it is enfeebled this time by the provincial situation in Manitoba, which is the other big reason w'hy the Tories are favored to win Springfield.

Young Duff Roblin, the new premier of Manitoba, is in the same position in the Manitoba legislature that John Diefenbaker held in the 1957 parliament. He governs without a majority, but his weakness is his strength—both opposition parties are scared of an election. So low are they in finances and morale that Roblin could probably carry on for five years if he wanted to. w'ithout ever facing a vote of no confidence from the combined opposition. Naturally, therefore, Roblin’s Conservatives expect him to call an election very soon. His organization is in excellent trim, spoiling for a fight, and in no mood to take any chances of letting Springfield go and thus reviving Grit morale.

In Toronto-Trinity the picture is different. There is an issue: unemployment. In Trinity, as in all Toronto ridings, it takes a special form since the government’s announcement on September 23 that it would not now proceed with the Avro Arrow.

Whether or not the government decides next March to go ahead with the Arrow alter all (and Avro is certainly lobbying to that end, with a vigor Ottawa has not seen in living memory) the eflect of the September announcement has been unsettling, to say the least. Liberals claim that large numbers of men have already been thrown out of work, in various supply plants in the Toronto area.

But here, too, a difficulty has arisen within the Liberal ranks. Some of the local campaigners, their eyes riveted on the Trinity by-election alone, are roaring against any decision that puts a man out of work—their slogan is: “If it costs a man a job. we’re against it.” But, to the dismay and indignation of these shock troops, Liberal leader L. B. Pearson won’t go along with their line.

He is quite willing to belabor the government for shilly-shallying, postponing decision at vast expense and inconvenience. He is more than ready to raise the argument that the Conservatives used to make so familiar—refusal of information to parliament. (The whole Arrow issue arose, in public at least, after parliament had gone home.) But just because he hasn’t got the information Pearson won’t take a stand yet on the Arrow issue itself. So far, his cautious references to it indicate that he’s inclined to blame the government not for its failure to go ahead with the job now, but for its failure to cancel the contract outright.

Thus the Trinity by-election brings out the fundamental question about an opposition role: must a party out of office have a coherent, consistent alternative to government policy at all times? Or may it launch its attack from all directions at once, and let consistency go hang?

When the Liberals were last in opposition, a quarter-century ago. they took the latter course. Senator Chubby Power still fondly recalls how he anil the rest of the rouges from Quebec would rake the Bennett government from one angle, while the Scots Presbyterian Grits of Ontario delivered equally hot fire from the opposite side of the argument. The tactics seemed to work—after only one term, the Liberals were back in office.

But times have changed. It is now unfashionable to strike one attitude in French and another in English: on a few occasions when the Conservatives tried it during their long sojourn in the wilderness, the results were always unhappy.

I he Liberals, too. have already found out that double talk doesn't pay, even in opposition. It was the hyperbole at the Liberal convention in January, on the subject of "Tory unemployment," that led Prime Minister Diefenbaker to produce his so-called "hidden report” and score the parliamentary debating triumph of last January 20. By the same token, the Conservatives’ own dramatic exaggeration of that "hidden” document caught up with them at the end of July, when the same economic forecast for the current year was dug out by the Toronto Star. It was still "hidden. and officially it remains "hidden" to this day, but the lame attempts to disavow it gave the Tories their most embarrassing day in parliament since they moved to the government side.

Whether for these reasons or not, Pearson and his advisers are determined to be as consistent as they can. They have decided, and maintained their decision in several altercations with byelection tacticians, that no by-election shall be allowed to saddle the party with a policy it can’t support nationally.

Defense is particularly dangerous ground in this respect. When General George Pearkes took office as defense minister last year, one of the first questions at his first press conference was, "Are you going to introduce any big changes in Canada’s defense policy?” General Pearkes said no, he didn’t think so.

But, said the astonished questioner, in his days as defense critic General Pearkes had attacked a great many Liberal policies and urged innumerable changes; what about them?

With a beaming smile, Pearkes replied: "I have been minister of defense for eight days. In that time I have learned more about our defense problems than I learned in the preceding eight years. I now find that many of my former criticisms were not valid.” From a man who had been twelve years in opposition, and whose party had been out for nearly twice as long, such an answer was disarming as well as conclusive. It wouid not do for the Liberals—not yet. anyway. They cannot plead ignorance, even though they are already finding that their secret information is somewhat out of date. There is no government problem in 1958 that was not known at least in broad outline in 1957, and although many of their specialists have been retired from public life by the electors those who survive must carry on as if they knew all that their colleagues knew. It will be interesting to see how long they can keep it up. +


Did workers, bosses stint in giving? Here’s how nettled civic leaders reacted to big-city flops

AMONG OTHER strikes, real and threatened, are Canadians striking against charity? The directors of at least half a dozen United Appeal and Community Chest campaigns in major cities say yes, a lot of them are.

This fall, 80 cities, large and srnali, asked their citizens for a total of $28 million for charitable works. Few reached their target. Toronto, Ottawa, Regina, Sault Ste. Marie, Sarnia and Brantford put up the money they were asked to put up. Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Victoria, Hamilton, Halifax, Edmonton and many others did not.

Why? “Plain stingy,” campaign directors in many cities complained angrily. “There’s a limit to giving —the targets are getting too high," workers and business firms replied testily.

Perhaps never have the country’s charitable campaigns been conducted in such an acrimonious atmosphere. Witness: v0 Shooting for $300,000, the Victoria campaign fell far short within its original time limit. Campaign leaders extended the closing date twice. Still the campaign was $30,000 short. Insurance executive Justin Harbord, who was campaign manager, finally threatened to publish donation lists "to show up our stingy businessmen. They’re just not giving.” v0 Seeking $2,900,000, Vancouver fell short by $250,000 even after a two-week extension of its campaign. Millionaire lumberman Walter Koerner, who led the campaign, blasted business and professional men. "Many leading citizens are riding on other people's backs,” he said. Some doctors gave $5. One of Vancouver's wealthiest men gave $250 and one of the country’s biggest companies chipped in $200—“an insult to the campaign,” said Koerner.

Looking for $8,750,000, Toronto got it. but the campaign produced two bitter rows. The County Orange Lodge distributed a pamphlet charging that Roman Catholic organizations got too large a share of the funds. The Toronto Civic Employees Union claimed that the metropolitan government used “coercion and intimidation” to force workers to accept United Appeal canvassing. Super-mayor Fred Gardiner replied that the union was niggardly. Last year’s donation by Local 43 was $1,000, he said; by the fair-share basis accepted by unions it should have been $67,000.

v0 Trying for $464.000, HalifaxDartmouth was shy almost $50,000. “About 30% of business firms did not co-operate in the payroll deduction plan." said fund director A. R. Jackson. "The goodgiving companies subsidized the poor-giving ones." v0 Needing $140.000, Saskatoon got only $119.000. and campaign chairman A. H. Trout teed off on everyone. "A city of this size should be ashamed of itself for not raising $140,000,” he said.

Montreal has no integrated fund. This year, an astonishing total of 81 assorted campaigns asked citizens for $30 million. The Red Feather campaign, looking for $1,921.000. was short by $113,000. “People are resisting such a vast appeal for money,” said Red Feather chairman John H. F. Turner, who also took a belt at businessmen: “The attitude of certain companies enjoying the benefits of the community is hard to understand. They make a profit, give token amounts or none at all. Too few are being called on to do too much for too many.”

Backstage WITH BINGO / Newspaper bingo-old idea makes new hit

NEWSPAPER BINGO—you mark the cards at home from numbers published in daily ads—is giving a big fillip to the normal $3-million-ayear revenues that service clubs and charitable organizations collect from the game in Canada. With a nervous wink at the law, which says such games of chance can be conducted only "occasionally,” organizations in 15 cities are running bingo day in and day out through paid ads in local papers. They attract hundreds of thousands of players with prizes as high as $5,000.

To play, you buy cards (usually for 50c each) from newsdealers and fill in numbers as they appear in the ads. If and when you get a winning combination of numbers, you get in touch with the sponsor, present the card for checking and collect your money. In Toronto the Kinsmen Club draws up to 50,000 players a week. The Canadian Federation of the Blind has 20,000. Each offers top prize of $5,000.

Newspaper bingo has some striking advantages over live bingo, according to sponsors. They don’t have to rent an arena or go through the arduous rigmarole of running an evening's play, which requires dozens of helpers. They can also make the game practically foolproof as far as cheating is concerned. In live bingo doctored cards sometimes fool hurried officials. In Barrie, Ont., one woman printed a “winning” card on the spot and collected $2,000. She was later arrested. In newspaper bingo officials have plenty of time and opportunity to subject cards to every kind of safety check.

How big will newspaper bingo grow? Partly, it’s up to provincial attorneys-general, sponsors admit somewhat fearfully. They could clamp down at any time. What stops them is that the current sponsors are pouring the proceeds into CHARITY.-CAROL CHAPMAN

Backstage WITH MUSIC

It hath charms for Canadian business too: 2,000 firms plump for music-while-you-work

ALONG WITH PLUMBING and power lines in a new insurance building rising in I oronto s asphalt jungles, engineers recently threaded an extra cable into partitions for each office. It was done on orders from the firm’s U. S. head office. It was to provide music for every employee. Ten years ago the average boss might have scoffed at such an idea. I oday 2.000 firms in 15 Canadian cities pay seven companies thousands a year to pipe music into offices and factories. Few employees realize it. but the music is scientifically composed to make them work harder, reduce mistakes, curtail gossip and eliminate absenteeism.

The seven Canadian firms lease the music from Muzak Corporation of New York which composes and records it on the advice of industrial psychologists. Different programs are piped to clients over rented phone lines each day for 28 days, then the cycle starts over with a handful of new compositions spliced in. There is no more than the barest hint of a tune in any of the music. It is designed to be heard, "not listened to," says Muzak which claims to be able to make workers happier and harder working. Experiments by the American Association of Applied Psychology indicate there’s some truth in it.

Muzak sells four kinds of programs, for (a) factories. (b) offices, (c) retail outlets and (d) hotels, restaurants and bars. In addition to making people work

harder, the vendors claim that a different program will make them eat and drink more. A Toronto leasing firm. Associated Broadcasting Company, backs up this boast by offering bars or restaurants their moneyback if business doesn't pick up 10% within 60 days. Will music also make people buy more? The T. Eaton Co. thinks so. It pays Muzak for a special program.

So large and lucrative is the leased-music business that Muzak no longer has the field to itself. Leading competitors are FM radio stations. Unburdened by the rent of phone lines, many FM stations broadcast to factories and offices, charging a fee for screening out commercials. Another competitor, Bertram Hunt of Toronto, however, makes his money by charging supermarkets for plugging in commercials on his piped programs. "Competition is getting fierce,” says Hunt.

Already it is forcing Muzak and its rivals to look for new outlets. Newer apartments in some cities now have Muzak. Some private homes get it too.

But the piped music has a serious drawback in the very fact that makes it useful to business performance: it may be psychologically correct but there’s not much tune. This was illustrated when Toronto public skating rinks recently decided to give up Muzak, for which they had been paying $4,000 a year. Reason: skaters couldn’t keep time to Muzak. -MCKENZIE PORTER



In spite of their never-ending complaints about traffic congestion, Canadians keep right on adding to their woes: two-car families are increasing far faster proportionately than onecar families. There are now 250,000 operating two or more cars—a jump of 100,000 in five years. There are 2,300,000 with one car (a gain of about 555,000 in the same period), almost as many households as there are with running water (2,865,000) and bathtubs (2,773,000).

MOST-BORROWED BOOKS First in line when Nobel prizewinner Boris Pasternak's celebrated Doctor Zhivago went on the bookshelves of the Parliamentary Library in Otraw-a:

Nobel prize-winner Lester B. Pearson. PEARSON The library lends out about 12,000 books a year.

Most faithful borrowers: Pearson, Diefenbaker and Port Arthur MP Douglas Fisher. Most popular books right now: Montgomery’s memoirs, the Mackenzie King biography and Wheeler-Bennett’s life of George VI. Top whodunit fan: Ellen Fairclough. Most-borrowed periodical among 271 available: Maclean’s.


Are New Canadians sticking to their old-world ways? Not in name, anyway. Applications for change of name have roughly trebled in the past seven years. Usually, applicants want to change from a complicated European spelling to a simpler Anglicized one. It costs $15, plus $1 for each additional member of the family. Provincial judges who rule on the petition don’t ask why a person wants to change his name, but they’ve discovered one reason is

to beat tough divorce laws. A woman can legally change her name to that of her common-law partner by resorting to a provincial Change of Name Act.


Can cider produce more revenue for Canada’s applegrowers? They've been looking into it since getting B. C. sparkling cider into Alberta liquor stores for the first time Dec. 1. Findings: half the provinces don't sell Canadian hard cider; most sell imported English cider. Niagara wineries gave up cider 30 years ago for lack of demand—many farmers make their own. It's still produced and sold in the Maritimes.