Maclean's celebrates some of the people who helped to move Canada quietly forward in the midst of one of our most turbident years

January 4 1964


Maclean's celebrates some of the people who helped to move Canada quietly forward in the midst of one of our most turbident years

January 4 1964
IN ALL THE OBVIOUS WAYS, 1963 has been the most turbulent, nervous year Canadians have lived through since the close of the Second World War. Events threatening our present and future pursued us through the months:

A debate, triggered in January by the statements of an American general and the U. S. State Department, split the country on the issue of nuclear arms for our forces. The minority government under John Diefenbaker, shaky since its election the previous June, was defeated in the House in February after important members resigned in bitterness. The serious possibility that the country might actually be separated into French and English sections began to occur to English-speaking Canadians after Jean Lesage's Quebec government issued an ultimatum in April stating what tax agreements it would accept — and when. The federal election campaign in April, studded with violent incidents rare in modern Canadian politics, ended with the voters denying Lester Pearson and the Liberals the majority they wanted but sending them into office to govern anyway. '¡In April and May the bombs of the FLQ, expressing in brutal terms the separatist feelings of a Quebec minority, produced one death and one maiming and brought a new violence to the Canadian crisis. The reading of Walter Gordon’s federal budget on June 13 aroused powerful opposition to its tax on American investment in Canada, and in the days that followed the government edged away from its own proposals, thereby destroying the image of high competence which had been the Liberals’ greatest asset.

A few weeks later the country was calm again, and in autumn elections John Robarts in Ontario and W. A. C. Bennett in British Columbia, by returning in strength to office, continued the recent Canadian tendency toward powerful provincial governments and weak Ottawa governments — a tendency which was to place the provincial premiers on the offensive as plans for constitutional change began in November. The headlines through the autumn grew pleasantly dull, until the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 22, when all of Canada’s own affairs shrank in significance, our southern boundary dissolved for a moment, and Canadians spent a weekend in common grief with Americans. President Kennedy’s assassination was the most momentous event of 1963, for us as for all Western peoples.

Curiously, though Canada's public affairs seemed to stagger from crisis to crisis, the country itself was not in bad shape. Business was good, major projects (like Hamilton Falls in Labrador) were opening up, and it seemed that in employment we would have the best winter in five or six years (meaning, the least bad). And through all of this, on several fronts, some extraordinary Canadians were moving the country forward — people like Sister Marie Laurent-de-Rome, in Montreal, whose originality was helping to bring Quebec’s education system into the twentieth century; and Premier Woodrow Lloyd, of Saskatchewan, whose government made a real public health-plan work, for the first time in North America. These people, and some others, the editors of Maclean's celebrate on the pages that follow:


THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH in Quebec continued in 1963 to move along lines already set down by its gentle but passionate cardinal, Paul-Emile Léger. Like the province it has dominated for so long, the church is moving toward a new kind of freedom, and few Catholics, lay or clerical, have spoken for this freedom more frankly or with more effect than a thirty-seven-year-old Holy Cross nun, Sister Marie Laurent-de-Rome.

Sister Laurent plays a vital role in contemporary Quebec education. She is a professor of philosophy at College Basile-Moreau in Montreal, but her historically important contribution has been made as a member of the Parent royal commission on education. It is on this commission’s recommendations that the government has based its now-famous Bill 60, introduced in 1963, and then withdrawn so the government can convince the electorate that the changes it proposes are required. (Bill 60 will be reintroduced in 1964.) As a religious, Sister Laurent might have been expected to oppose many of the changes the Parent commission suggested — they will eventually go a long way toward loosening the church's control of education — but instead she fought steadily for the liberal viewpoint.

Sister Laurent’s training is a long way from the traditional, if not always correct, picture of the cloistered French-Canadian nun that has prevailed outside of Quebec. If she typifies anything, it is the new, well-trained, realistic young cleric moving into power in the church. She holds masters degrees in philosophy and theology, she has studied labor relations, and she is precisely bilingual. In a typical remark to a students’ conference last year she said of Quebec: “Perhaps the weakest point in our education is that we have discouraged original spirits too much, suffocated literary and artistic talents, and made it difficult to express new ideas or lively opinions.”

Here, and across the bottom of the next two pages, Maclean’s salutes some people who made news in 1963 and who otherwise might not get saluted at all.


Judy LaMarsh was a humble Liberal MP last March when she began her notable career as a Conservative vote-getter by leading the Liberal Truth Squad, a group whose announced intention was follow Prime Minister Diefenbaker around the country and refute any lies he told. The Truth Squad was jeered at by the prime minister and joyously satirized by the newspapers, including the pro-Liberal newspapers. It was quickly retired, in a flurry of embarrassment, by Mr. Pearson. But only six months later Miss LaMarsh—now the Liberal minister of health and welfare—flung herself into another campaign, this time the provincial election in Ontario, by declaring that Conservative Premier John Robarts was sabotaging the Canada Pension Plan. Her interference during the Ontario campaign was widely believed to have helped beat Liberal Leader John Wintermeyer.


AT A CONFERENCE of provincial premiers Woodrow Lloyd never makes a striking impression. He talks quietly and slowly, puffing his pipe steadily, and what he says is neither profound nor original. But in 1963, a year when provincial premiers as a class were making an unusual amount of political noise, Woodrow Lloyd's government in Saskatchewan was quietly carrying off a political change that may be nationally important. His government was proving for the first time that a prepaid medicare plan for all the people, organized by public servants in close co-operation with doctors, can succeed economically and socially in the North American context. Premier Lloyd inherited the plan from T. C. Douglas when Douglas left Regina for federal politics in 1961. It was under Lloyd that the health plan turned into a bitter political issue and the doctors struck: but it was also under Lloyd that a workable compromise between the government and the medical profession was made. And it was under Lloyd, and his health minister, A. E. Blakeney, that the plan, receding from the headlines, began to work on a day-to-day basis — work so well, in fact, that a leader of the Saskatchewan medical profession told Maclean's recently: “There's no doubt about it, the plan is here to stay." Citizens of Saskatchewan receive full medical care at an annual cost of about twenty-four dollars per beneficiary, and doctors' incomes have not dropped. Four points indicate Lloyd's success: 1. Though medicare opponents predicted doctors would flee Saskatchewan, there are now a few more doctors than ever before, and even a few more specialists. 2. Enrollment in Saskatchewan's College of Medicine has increased over last year, in just about the same way it has increased elsewhere in Canada. 3. A spokesman for the College of Physicians and Surgeons has announced: “It is our fervent hope” that in the provincial election expected next summer “neither the government nor any other political aspirant will raise the issue of medicare.” 4. Liberal opposition leader Ross Thatcher, who vigorously opposed the plan in 1962, has now denied that his party would dismantle it if elected to office; the Liberals would only alter it slightly, to give the government less control. Woodrow Lloyd has made his revolution and he's made it stick.


The Quebec East branch of the separatist Rassemblement pour l’Indépendance Nationale brought the first breath of humor into the Canadian crisis in November when its members cabled Queen Elizabeth demanding knighthood for Maurice Lamontagne, the federal cabinet minister whom separatists admire least. “Considering,” they petitioned the Queen, “that for a long time the Right Honorable Maurice Lamontagne has been the champion of the British cause in Canada . . .”


LAST NOV. 14 Glen How appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada to argue, as he has four times before, a civil rights’ case concerning the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He has been a Witness himself since 1941, and since 1943, working in Toronto, he has been their lawyer. The beliefs for which he sometimes argues — like the prohibition against blood transfusions — are repugnant to many Canadians, but the significance of his civil rights' cases is far greater. In winning them he has done more to clarify our civil liberties’ laws than any other Canadian in recent years.

He may do still more with the fifth case, the one he took to the Supreme Court in 1963. Like the rest, it came from Quebec, where the Witnesses met their most dogged enemy, the late Maurice Duplessis. In 1954, three months after the Supreme Court upheld the Witnesses’ right to hand out copies of Awake! magazine without having them censored first by the Quebec police, Duplessis pushed through his legislature a law that he hoped would finally push the Witnesses out of his province. Glen How calls that statute “the most oppressive piece of legislation in Canadian history,” and in November, after nine years of battling in the lower courts, he asked the Supreme Court to quash it.

The statute is a remarkably unsubtle collection of the clichés of oppression: secret informers, unspecified charges, and the prosecution of a man for what he intends to do. It provides that “on the oath of a credible person” that someone is “about to” say or do something “insulting” to a religion (the Witnesses' beliefs in themselves are insulting to most Catholics), a judge may commit the offender to trial and in the meantime, close down the organization he belongs to and seize its literature. It reverses the burden of guilt that has been the base of our legal system for centuries: it makes the accused prove he’s innocent.

“A fatal blow to the Jehovah’s Witnesses” announced a front-page headline in Le Devoir the day after the act was passed. But by a series of legal manoeuvres How kept the statute from being used, and he’s certain that the Supreme Court, whose decision is expected early in 1964, will keep it from ever being used. If he’s right, then he will have done more to explain what freedom of speech means than a bookful of bills of rights.


THE TORONTO ARGONAUTS lost Tobin Rote, one of the best quarterbacks in Canada at the end of last year’s season, and proceeded this year to sign up so many replacements that they had the only guaranteed full attendance at Quarterback Club meetings in all Canada. They got Jackie Parker from Edmonton and Sandy Stephens from Montreal, and held on to a couple of their own, including Don Fuell, a very highly regarded youngster. Argos’ performance lifted farce to a new level in Canadian football in 1963, and, to the glee of all Canada’s Toronto-haters, but as no surprise to their local supporters, the Argonauts and their surfeit of quarterbacks finished a dead last, again.


ON JAN. 3, General Lauris Norstad, the NATO commander, was in Ottawa on a farewell tour. He was asked by a reporter whether Canada had fulfilled its NATO commitments. He replied, in effect, that we hadn’t, and that we should contribute to NATO’s nuclear forces, as we apparently had said we would. After this statement Liberal policy became explicitly pro-nuclear, Conservative cabinet ministers began resigning, the country was embroiled in a fit of anti-Americanism, and the government fell. Shortly after his press conference, Genera! Norstad was heard to say that he hadn’t realized the nuclear-warhead question was of such concern to Canadians.


TOWARD THE END of 1963 it was obvious that Canada’s Great Lakes labor struggles would continue at least till the spring of 1964, but it was also apparent that these troubles were moving slowly toward a resolution. In 1963, for the first time, the fight against the Seafarers' International Union and its president, Harold Banks, was proceeding in the way most Canadians wanted it to proceed: through judicial inquiry, Parliament, and the courts. Some of the credit for this naturally went to Judge T. G. Norris, whose report stated what many labor people had always believed about Hal Banks (it called him a Hitler) and led directly to government trusteeship over the SIU. But Judge Norris did no more than his duty. The man who went beyond his duty in facing up to Hal Banks was the mild, moon faced, youthful businessman in the picture above. Jack Leitch. the president of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., hardly seems a likely giant-killer, and indeed for ten years Leitch's firm co-operated with the Banks dictatorship, just like the other shipping companies. But when one of Upper Lakes' ships was fired on by a rifleman off Seven Islands, Que., during a labor dispute in 1961. Leitch and Upper Lakes apparently declared war. They ended the period of comfortable relations with Banks, signed a contract with the competing Canadian Maritime Union, and began a struggle which led directly to the Norris report. That struggle is still on. Leitch admits that if he had known all it would involve — it has cost his company two million dollars — he might not have started. Still, he did start, and if honest trade unionism finally wins the Great Lakes from Harold Banks, then Jack Leitch will have to receive a large part of the credit.


IN 1959 a provincial inquiry found that Mayor Hawrelak of Edmonton had been guilty of gross misconduct in connection with certain land deals. He resigned immediately, and then was sued by the city for $199,000, which, the city charged, he and a few others had received improperly. Hawrelak settled by paying the city $100,000. This year he turned up again as a candidate, and on Oct. 16, 1963, having acknowledged only that "I erred politically and regret it,” he was re-elected mayor by the voters of Edmonton. At his inaugural meeting four University of Alberta teachers made a public protest, and later there was a public demonstration by university students as well. Mayor Hawrelak, however, was securely back in office.


AMONG ALL those Canadians who struggled earnestly to maintain national unity during 1963, two men stood head and shoulders above the rest — Premier W. A. C. Bennett, of British Columbia, who said he wasn’t making any concessions to Quebec, no matter what; and René Lévesque, Quebec minister of public works, who brought a new concept to Confederation talks: he said that if the game wasn’t played his way he would take his ball and go home.

BENNETT said: "Federal civil servants should be appointed on merit alone. We will not stand for civil servants getting more money for talking two languages, or three languages for that matter.”

LEVESQUE said: “These demands are an ultimatum, a real one . . . If this minimum — for these are minimum demands for the moment—is rejected . . . we will proceed toward a moment of truth . . . I don’t know what will happen.”


A MONTREAL NEWSPAPER said of him: "He is alone as no one in the world is." This was during the bomb panic caused by the FLQ terrorists in Montreal last spring. Detective-Sergeant Leo Plouffe, the $6.700-a-year head of the Montreal police department's crime labs, was the undisputed hero of that murderous moment in Canadian history. He was on call at any time of the day or night, and he went out. again and again, to dismantle man-killing bombs left by the terrorists, risking his life. One man — an army bomb-disposal expert — was maimed, another man was killed, Plouffe himself escaped mutilation by only a few seconds, and yet he continued to race out. face the bombs, take them apart, and save the lives of the people who depended upon him. Last spring in Montreal the situation demanded intelligence, ingenuity, and cool courage: Leo Plouffe had all three.


EVERYWHERE in the film industry of Canada, the talk concerns the feature films of the near future. Our best young film makers are poised, so they pray, for a major assault on world cinema. In 1963 one Montreal director. Claude Jutra, working on a tiny budget, gave a hint of the (possible) riches to come by producing a highly personal. Fellini-like film. A Tout Prendre, and showing it to a delighted audience at the Montreal

Film Festival. A Tout Prendre (which English-speaking Canadians will see. subtitled, in 1964) is an autobiographical story about Jutra and his girl friend Johanne Harrelle (both play themselves). It has already aroused that enthusiasm — that lively sense of the possible — which the film industry in Canada has needed for years. We salute Claude Jutra as much for his ability to inspire others as for his own notable accomplishment.


FOR SEVERAL YEARS the would-be promoters of Canadian theatre have argued that the country should encourage regional drama companies rather than a centralized theatre on the Broadway model. Leon Major, the Toronto director, has been a leading proponent of this idea, along with John Hirsch, the Manitoba Theatre Centre director. Aside from Manitoba, nothing had been done about the idea, but in 1963 Leon Major himself made an important step toward implementing it. Last summer the Neptune Theatre in Halifax opened under his direction and began to produce a string of plays, using first-class directors and actors. At the end of the year the Neptune still had money troubles, but its continuing existence, and growing success, was the chief Canadian theatrical event of the year.


CANADA HAS few rich men eager to take a direct personal interest in the arts, and fewer still who can do so with flair and energy. In 1963 Toronto was lucky enough to discover a new one in its midst. Honest Ed Mirvish, the proprietor of the country's biggest, corniest discount house, suddenly discovered the pleasures of cultural patronage. He bought Toronto’s grand old legitimate theatre, the Royal Alexandra (which might otherwise have become a parking lot), and spent a quarter of a million dollars magnificently restoring its Edwardian elegance. About the same time he turned a score of old houses near his discount store into an art colony. He rented studios cheap to artists and artisans and turned the rest of the space into handsome art galleries and a coffee house. Ed Mirvish started 1963 as merely the noisiest shopkeeper in Toronto and ended it. remarkably, as a cherished member of the city’s cultural establishment.


THEKE ARE ONLY a few Canadian scholars whose work alters the structure of international thought within their fields of study. In 1963, C. B. Macpherson, fifty-two-year-old professor of political economy at the University of Toronto, joined that select company. Macpherson is little known to Canadians, and probably he will never be famous, but his new book. The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, which challenges most accepted ideas about 17th-century English thought, has made him immediately a major figure in political science. The distinguished critic George Lichtheim, writing last September in the New Statesman of London, began: “It is rare for a book to change the intellectual landscape.” He went on to explain how Macpherson, by studying both the content and historical context of 17th-century thought, had written a book which would change dozens of accepted ideas. The Times Literary Supplement was equally respectful: it called his work refreshing, profound and elegant.


To THE RELIEF of almost everyone. 1963 was the year that music challenged rock 'n' roll for hit-parade popularity. Mostly, it was “folk" music — some of it genuinely from the earliest forms of North American singing and some of it written especially by and for the new stars who rose in the folk-music world. The best of the new Canadian stars were the superb team of Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker, who succeeded with two LPs during the year and began work on a third. One song, Four Strong Winds, written by Tyson, beat its way up through the raucous gibberish of most popular records to become number two in eastern Canada in November.

Not all purists are in favor of Ian and Sylvia, who arrange their material to suit their own unique musicality. But no one denies that they are pleasant to listen to.


IT WAS NOT a pleasant year in federal politics, nor an encouraging one, but a valuable new figure rose to prominence: Mitchell Sharp, the trade and commerce minister, a former civil servant who turned into a first-class politician before our very eyes. He performed superbly in the House (under the most difficult circumstances) and handled wheat sales to Russia and China immaculately (under, admittedly, the least difficult circumstances). He aroused in Washington the deepest respect accorded any Canadian of his generation. And he showed, all year, the competence Canadians looked for in the Liberals and the cool excellence we hope to find in all our public servants.


WITHOUT APOLOGY, the editors of Maclean’s put forth the suggestion that one of their own colleagues, Peter C. Newman, made a genuinely outstanding contribution to political journalism in 1963, and in fact became a special kind of pioneer. Newman’s dramatic and tragic Renegade in Power: The Diefenbaker Years was the most widely discussed Canadian book in many years, but it did more than bring literary insight to recent politics and political excitement to the bookstores: it also broke fresh ground. Canadian journalists and politicians rarely set down their firsthand, close-to-the-source accounts of events. Newman’s success will encourage more of them to do so in the future.


CANADIAN TELEVISION was closer to major events in 1963 than it had been in the past. It was faster on its feet, more likely to bring us quickly into touch with the events of the moment. We saw Douglas Harkness the night he resigned as defense minister, and we saw Waiter Gordon right after his budget died under him. But the CBC was also more probing than before: it found a fresh way to expose the scandal of Canadian Indians, and a new way to approach — through the infamous Arthur Lucas case — the inadequate justice in some of our courts. Curiously, these items were not only one network's best moments but one producer’s best work. Pat Watson of Inquiry, our best weekly show, brought excellence to Canadian TV in 1963.