THESE WERE THE YEARS THAT MADE OUR WORLD
NEVER in the history of human prophecy had so many been so wrong about so much.
In the previous decade, the 1930s, prophecy was dismally easy. Even the statesmen who didn't want to see it, and who kept telling each other it wasn’t there, really did see Hitler’s war coming with dreadful clarity. The memory of those years is like the nightmare in which you watch catastrophe approaching and arc held by a strange paralysis from doing anything to prevent it.
The 1940s were different. Everybody prepared, busily and with great assurance, for calamities that didn't take place. Economists got ready for the brief, feverish postwar boom that would end by 1946 in the inevitable postwar crash, just as the last one had in the early 1920s. Politicians talked in apocalyptic tones about “One World or None”; it had to be one or the other, they explained, because “peace is indivisible.” (This latter cliché, oddly enough, was accepted as dogma in spite of the obvious fact that small wars were actually going on continuously in various parts of the world — Indonesia, Indo-China, Kashmir and finally Korea.)
The all-or-nothing approach led to deep pessimism. By early 1947 a public opinion poll found only thirty-
one percent of Canadians still believing the United Nations could fend off World War III (and in those days the United Nations was regarded as our only hope, however forlorn). Fifty - one percent of Canadians thought World War III inevitable and fairly imminent. Thirty-nine percent expected it would be fought in the frozen wastes of the Canadian Arctic.
Sometimes even correct predictions were based on curious reasons. Prime Minister Mackenzie King was appalled to find, on his return from a visit to England in 1947. that in his absence his ministers had got Canada involved in a United Nations commission on Korea. Mr. King was sure, he said, that Korea was a zone of great peril, quite possibly the starting point of the next war. Canada should disengage herself — which, to the embarrassment of the ministers concerned, she did within less than a year, with what one historian has called “a rather indecent haste.”
When the Korean War broke out two years later, just before Mackenzie King's death, his former colleagues were impressed anew with the Old Man’s prescience and sagacity. They were less impressed when they found out how he knew Korea was a danger point. It turned out that he'd been warned, through a spiritualist medium in London, by the ghost of his old friend Franklin D. Roosevelt.
But if Canadians were pessimists about the world in general they were optimists about Canada. World War II convinced us, temporarily at least, that there was nothing we Canadians couldn’t do. After all, had we not performed miracles? Two million of us were engaged in the war effort, 800,000 in uniform and 1,200,000 in war industry. Of the latter, threequarters were doing things Canadians had never done before. C. D. Howe, the minister of munitions and supply, told us that Canadians had learned to make “at least one hundred major products never before made in Canada” which could be manufactured in the postwar years, not even counting the purely military goods we were turning out. At the peak, Canadian war production had amounted to $150 million a month.
These were heady achievements for a young nation that still thought of itself as mainly farmers, fishermen and lumberjacks. They had side effects, not all of which were good. We shook off, temporarily at least, our habitual inferiority complex. We became cocky, boastful, brimming with self-assurance and sometimes with arrogance. In the late 1940s, when the British were going through the disciplined austerity that proved their courage even more than Goering's bombers had done and made possible their prosperity of the 1950s,
Canadian businessmen used to make tours in which they would explain how Britain, too, could flourish like Canada if her industries would adopt modern Canadian methods. The British were quite polite, most of the time.
In the main, though, we can look back on the complacencies of those days without too much embarrassment. Some of the calamities we anticipated, and which did not take place, may have been averted just because they were anticipated.
We hoped, for example, that the postwar depression might be deflected by the newly born welfare state, the huge system of transfer payments that took money from the rich and the comfortable and paid it to the relatively poor. The theory was that this would provide a kind of safety net, an irreducible minimum of purchasing power that would always prevent the free enterprise system from breaking down in the total paralysis that had seized it in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Well, something prevented the postwar depression. We have now lived for twenty years at a level of prosperity which has varied but which, at its worst, has never approached what once we knew as a depression.
But of all the great events of the early postwar years, the most important was not widely predicted because
to predict it, publicly at least, would have been a crime. Had anyone foretold, in 1944, that within five years the Western allies would have formed a new alliance with Germany against the Soviet Union, the prophet would have been instantly interned under the Defense of Canada Regulations.
It takes a great effort of memory to recall, now, the image of Soviet Russia that was then accepted in the Western world. Time magazine, never likely to be mistaken for a procommunist publication, had a cover story on Josef Stalin in February, 1945, which began: “Not since the Red Army burst into the Balkans had there been such a surge of Allied gratitude and respect for Russia as followed its army’s burst into the Reich.’’
Especially before D-Day there was even a tinge of guilt in our admiration lor the Soviet ally. A wry story was current about two men in a commuter train:
birst man, looking up from his newspaper: “We seem to be doing rather well these days.”
Second man: “You speak English very well, for a Russian.”
Anyone who cast the faintest doubt on the perfection of the Soviet Union, in any aspect whatever, was made to feel a traitor. In 1942 an American reporter, William White, visited the USSR with Wendell Willkie and didn't
much like what he saw there; he wrote an article saying that life inside the Soviet Union was very like “a moderately well-run penitentiary.” This remark, which now seems so commonplace, drew a storm of hysterical abuse that echoed for months.
Even as late as March 1946, and even against so great a man as Sir Winston Churchill, the self-appointed friends of the Soviet Union were still a formidable force on this side of the Atlantic. The occasion was Churchill’s speech at Fulton. Missouri, in which he coined the most memorable of all postwar metaphors: “From
Stettin on the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the continent of Europe.” Churchill said the Russians in Berlin were giving “to the defeated Germans, the power of putting themselves up to auction between the Soviet Union and the democracies”; he proposed a “fraternal association” between Britain and the United States to frustrate their designs. For these prescient words the British war leader was denounced on all sides. His immediate audience listened to him coldly, editorials in the most respectable papers were reproving, senators and congressmen rebuked him, and a thousand CIO members turned out in New York to picket his speech there a few days later.
But though the general public was
slow to realize it, the fact is that even before Churchill spoke the alliance of World War II had ended and the Cold War had begun to take its place. The date of the change, insofar as such a process can be said to have a date, was March 27. 1945; the place, a small village near Warsaw, Poland.
On that date and in that place, sixteen leaders of the Polish underground resistance movement came out of hiding to confer with Soviet authorities about forming a new government for liberated Poland. They did so with reluctance and apprehension — they were not communists, and they had reason to doubt the good faith of the Russian commissars who had taken over from the fleeing Nazis as administrators of Poland. But the British government had been in touch with Moscow, and sent them reassuring messages through the Polish government-in-exile in London. Finally, with what amounted to a British safeconduct, they emerged from their hiding-places to meet the Polish communists and their Russian masters.
That was the last any Westerner heard about the sixteen Polish delegates for approximately seven weeks.
When Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister, arrived in San Francisco for the conference that founded the United Nations, he seemed genuinely puzzled that people kept asking him, “What happened to
the Polish delegates?” At first he said, perhaps truthfully, that he didn't know. As time went on he grew more and more impatient with this question from reporters — he would walk out of a press conference whenever anyone had the impertinence to bring it up. He could hardly do the same when his fellow foreign ministers asked it. Finally, at dinner one evening with Anthony Eden of Britain and Edward Stettinius of the United States, he told them he'd got a message from Moscow: “I’ve heard about those
Poles you’ve all been asking about. They're in jail.”
Probably Molotov never did understand why his news caused so much horror and dismay among the Western allies. Why so much fuss about sixteen prisoners more or less, when hundreds of thousands were in jail for less reason? And indeed it may be true that the men who'd been working with the Russians directly, dealing with Stalin and his aides face-to-face, already knew enough about Stalinist methods that they would not have been surprised.
For the press and the public it was different. This was the first known fact to cast doubt on the warmth of the wartime alliance, to document the misgivings that a few had retained all along and that millions more were soon to develop. The Polish prisoners cast a chill that endured through-
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THE 1940s REVISITED
continued from page 11
Whatever became of Gouzenko? He made $100,000, spent most of it — and stayed in hiding
out the San Francisco conference, and indeed endures to this day.
Much graver evidence of the true relation between Russia and the West came on September 5, 1945, when Igor Gouzenko walked out of the Soviet embassy in Ottawa with a file of secret documents under his arm and asked for asylum in Canada.
Gouzenko himself was a very tiny cog in the Soviet machine, a mere cipher clerk. His job was the coding and decoding of secret messages between certain officials in the Soviet embassy and some offices of the Soviet government in Moscow. All he brought with him were copies of some of those messages — but they were enough to prove the existence of an elaborate network of espionage between Soviet embassy officials and the communist party of Canada
Again, it is difficult today to recall what a bombshell this was — not only to the public (which didn’t even know it until several months later) but to the Western allied governments. Prime Minister King set off immediately for
The embassy cog who became the Cold War's masked marvel
Washington, ostensibly to make the acquaintance of the new president. Harry Truman. After a few days there he took ship for London on what was vaguely described as a “factfinding" trip. It seemed natural enough that he should want to talk to the new prime minister, Clement Attlee, though it did seem odd that he should stay four weeks and then pay another visit to Washington (with Attlee) as soon as he got back.
Meanwhile, in a cottage in the Gatineau hills, RCMP officers were questioning and re-questioning Igor Gouzenko. It was the beginning of a long association. They were to get to know him very well — too well, he and they both came to think — in the years ahead.
Gouzenko was then, and officially he still is, presumed to be the target of communist avengers. On the very night he left the embassy in 1945, a group of Soviet agents came to his apartment to get him — they smashed the lock on his door and searched his flat, but Gouzenko had expected this and begged shelter with a neighbor who called the Ottawa city police. Thereafter he became a kind of ward to the RCMP, living in secret under an assumed name and under Mountie guard whenever he requested it.
As time went on, the threat to his safety began to seem less urgent. The easiest way to guard a man unobtrusively is to have the guard working around the house in some capacity or other. The Mounties soon noticed (or thought they did) that Gouzenko's fears for his own safety became particularly acure when it was time to put on the storm windows, or the roof needed mending. Relations deteriorated.
On Gouzenko’s side was the resentment of poverty, all the keener because it followed a brief illusion of great wealth. He sold his autobiography to a publisher and to Hollywood for something over a hundred thousand dollars, which seemed to him an inexhaustible fortune. It wasn’t. Invested, it would have brought him a modest income, but Gouzenko grew up in a communist country where private investment is not only impossible but immoral. Money was for spending, and Igor Gouzenko spent.
His hundred thousand was mostly gone when, in 1954, he published the novel on which he had been working for years. To the great astonishment of the Mounties (some of whom thought Gouzenko’s writing was just an excuse for not getting himself a job) it won the governor-general’s award for the best Canadian novel of the year. This success restored his morale and, presumably, his dilapidated finances.
But not, apparently, for long. Gouzenko’s last appearance in the public prints, a few years ago, was as defendant in a civil suit brought by one of the chartered banks for recovery of a two-thousand-dollar loan. The suit has since been settled out of court. By the combined efforts of the government and some friends his affairs have been straightened out and he lives on a modest stipend. His address is still nominally secret, though the RCMP think the communists would have little trouble find-
ing him if they were still interested. No secret is Gouzenko's feeling that he has been rather shabbily treated, that the adopted country to which he presented some of the secrets of his own has been insufficiently grateful.
In the bright autumn days of 1945, however, all these troubles lay in an unsuspected future. Gouzenko was eager to talk, and the Mounties to listen. The trouble was that Gouzenko didn't actually know any of the Canadian spies he was exposing — to him they were merely names in a coded message, and “cover names” at that. It took months of careful checking and cross-checking to identify the eighteen Canadians eventually arrested and tried.
The case was an international sensation when it broke in early 1946, as near as anything could be to an open declaration of the Cold War. The Russians, after a brief interval of embarrassment, decided to present themselves as aggrieved. Gouzenko was an “absconding criminal” who had “stolen some money,” and should be delivered up by the authorities of a friendly country. Canada had become instead a “centre of anti-Soviet activity,” spreading false charges. At the Paris Peace Conference that summer (where treaties were signed with the minor satellite powers) Molotov or Vishinsky would walk out whenever Prime Minister Mackenzie King or any other Canadian rose to speak.
Thin as the Russian grievance was, it got a few flickers of response for two reasons. One was concern for the abuse of civil liberties in the spy case —the suspects were arrested before dawn, held incommunicado for days without charge, denied the right to counsel. (Asked why the suspects hadn’t been allowed to see their lawyers, one cabinet minister was startlingly frank: “If we had let them see a lawyer, he would have told them not to talk.”) Many loyal Canadians in all parties felt uneasy about this, and some still do.
The case for stealing secrets
The other reason for sympathy with the Soviet Union, or at least for something less than normal outrage, was the fact that secrets had been kept from a wartime ally which (as we all remembered then, more keenly than we do today) had made colossal efforts and sacrifices to win the war. Wasn’t it reasonable, after all, that military secrets should have been shared with our Soviet allies? And when they found they were being excluded, especially from the greatest secret of all, the atomic bomb, was it surprising they should take steps to lind out for themselves? These questions sounded more plausible in 1946 than they do now. To many who were not communists, they made sense.
Some of those doubts and hesitations might have persisted to this day, to the enormous advantage of the Soviet Union, had it not been for the brutal stupidity of Josef Stalin. Much has been said and written, even inside Soviet Russia, of how cruel Stalin was, how vindictive and ruthless. It is less often said, but equally true, that he was also a fool. His cruelty was not only monstrous, it was idiotic.
The treacherous arrest of the Polish delegates in 1945 was a relatively trivial example, among Stalin's many treacheries, but it was typical. Those sixteen Poles could not possibly have done him as much harm, free, as their arrest did. It started the dispersal of a fund of good will for Russia which, after the heroic victory at Stalingrad, was tremendous, and which Stalin managed to dissipate in less than three years.
Curiously, during those years it
gave the West little comfort that we had the atomic bomb and Stalin did not. This was not at all because we expected the Russians to acquire one soon — in 1947, one member of the United Nations atomic energy committee assured me that the Russian atomic bomb was "at least twenty years away.” (“Even if they had enough physicists, which they haven't," he said, “they just haven't got enough plumbers.”)
But in spite of our belief that we
had a monopoly, it was ue who were frightened by the bomb, rather than Stalin. Apparently only those who possess atomic weapons know enough to be scared of them. (Encouraging thought: maybe this will also prove to he true of the Chinese.)
And so the shadow of the bomb hung over the second half of the 1940s like a cloud across the sun. People talked dutifully of “the nuclear age” and its vast possibilities; even before the leaves turned red in 1945, every
contemporary cliché about atomic energy was already commonplace. But in fact the nuclear age did not arrive. Peaceful uses of nuclear power did not develop, did not have or even promise any change in daily life. Nuclear power was just the bomb, nothing more: the dreadfully familiar image of a mushroom cloud, our cloud, and theirs.
Of all Stalin’s criminal follies the worst, from his own point of view, was the seizure of Czechoslovakia in February 1948. It is not farfetched to say that the loss of Czechoslovakia was the salvation of western Europe. For the loss of Czechoslovakia led directly to the passage by the United States Congress of the Marshall Plan, the first and most successful of American foreign-aid programs. It was the Marshall Plan more than anything else that saved western Europe from chaos and Communism.
The man who saved Europe and kept Canada from going broke
American aid has become so commonplace, so taken for granted in sixteen years, that we forget it ever was new. In particular we forget there was ever a gap between wartime Lend-Lease and the foreign aid programs that now distribute dollars all over the globe. But there was a gap, and it lasted three years and caused a lot of enmity among former friends and comrades.
Within days of the Japanese surrender in August 1945, President Harry Truman announced that he was cutting off Lend-Lease. The British were shocked, insulted and humiliated. They hadn’t even made a start at the colossal jobs of reconstruction, or even demobilization; they were expected (and determined!) to take a share of the task of occupying Germany and liberating Europe; they were still faced with enormous expenses that could properly be mailed
war costs, yet the Americans were cutting them off. They were furious. The words of Winston Churchill, the great and good friend of America, in the House of Commons sounded almost pathetic: “1 cannot believe this is the last word of the United States.”
It wasn't, of course, but the next word wasn’t much better. What Truman offered was a loan—substantial, but repayable, and bearing slightly more interest than the U. S. treasury would have to pay, so America would make a slight profit on the deal. British MPs were so angry that seventy-one of them, mostly Tories in opposition but including some Labor backbenchers, insisted on voting against acceptance of the American loan, even though Churchill asked his supporters to abstain and let the Attlee government get the money.
Britons at this time were getting one egg apiece per week, three ounces of bacon, six ounces of butter or margarine, and a shilling’s worth of meat. At that, they were the bestfed people in Europe—British austerity only seemed worse because the rationing system worked and there was little or no black market, so the rich were almost as hungry as the poor. In most European countries, food supplies were just above starvation level.
Truman’s motive in cutting off Lend-Lease was to placate the U. S. Congress, prove to them that he had no intention of letting America become a Santa Claus to the world. He may have been right. As the great figure of Franklin Roosevelt receded into history, American isolationism was reviving—the resentment against having been dragged into “foreign wars” and mulcted by beggarly foreign friends. The fact that Europe was close to starvation, threatened by economic collapse and a communist takeover, was obvious to some Americans but not to all.
One American to whom it was obvious was Dean Acheson, then under-secretary of state and the true author of the Marshall Plan. Acheson devised the bold scheme for the economic rescue of Europe. He tried it out himself, in a little-publicized speech to a university in Texas, before he dared make it the subject matter of a speech for the secretary of state himself, General George C. Marshall, who was to make the convocation address at Harvard in 1947.
General Marshall’s address was fairly well received, well enough to make it possible for Acheson to go on translating it into proposals for legislation. By the end of the year the plan was ready—but would it pass Congress? No great enthusiasm for it was visible there; only the wildest optimists hoped that it would pass. What put it through (in April 1948) was the alarm and indignation against Josef Stalin’s seizure of Czechoslovakia, the communist capture of a small, free country and the brutal murder of Jan Masaryk, the Czech foreign minister and son of the nation’s founder-hero. Thus, against his own intentions, Stalin saved Europe from communism.
He also saved C añada from bankruptcy. By the end of 1947 Canada had go' into a strange position — not only d .spite but because of the great-
est prosperity we had ever enjoyed, we were almost completely broke.
Fears of a postwar depression had turned out, so far, to be almost ludicrously ill-founded. Instead of two million unemployed Canada had more than a hundred thousand unfilled vacancies—true, there was a slight excess of “unplaced applicants,” but these were the now-familiar men with the wrong skills, or no skills at all, or who lived in the wrong places. Overall, Canada had a labor shortage. After Lester B. Pearson (then permanent head of the external affairs department) toured European camps of displaced persons and saw what valuable citizens were stranded there, he set things in motion for a change in Canadian immigration laws that soon started a vast flow of New Canadians here with new skills, new interests and new energies. George Drew, the premier of Ontario, chartered five aircraft to fly out British immigrants to the jobs that were vacant in Ontario; this in turn stimulated the leisurely federal officials into doing likewise.
At home, all production was rising but it failed to keep pace with demand. Thousands of veterans and their brides were homeless, doubling up with inlaws or living in emergency shelter. Even though the building industry broke all previous records the net shortage of houses continued to grow. J. L. Ilsley, wartime minister of finance, cut income taxes by a flat sixteen percent across the board in October 1945; by 1947 the new finance minister, Douglas Abbott, was able to announce another cut, averaging twenty-nine percent, and still roll up a massive budgetary surplus for the year.
There was only one drawback. We were running out of money.
Foundation of the postwar boom was export trade to Britain and Europe, whose needs were fathomless. All the wheat we could grow, all the meat we could kill, all the goods of any kind we could produce would find a market overseas — provided we could sell them on credit. And who would deny credit to heroic allies, now in postwar difficulties but sure to be good customers in the future? With no trouble at all, Canada's government proposed and Parliament endorsed a loan to Britain three times as big, proportionately, as the Americans were offering.
What we and our customers both lacked was cash. Canada was lending money she didn’t have. The credit sales to Britain put Canadian dollars into Canadian pockets, but the goods then available were mostly American. Imports rose. Canada’s reserves of gold and U. S. dollars began to disappear at an alarming rate. By October 1947, they were two-thirds gone and dwindling rapidly. Only a drastic program of import restrictions and currency controls staved off national bankruptcy.
The Marshall Plan bailed us out the following year. Washington decided to allow “offshore purchases” with Marshall money — i.e., British and European customers could, if they chose, buy Canadian goods with the American dollars that the U. S. was giving them free. In the year 1948 no less than $700 million came to us in this way, enough to make it possible to relax import controls far faster than anyone had dared to hope.
And just over the horizon, visible but not yet actual, was the other component of the Great Canadian Boom. Imperial Oil, after years of prospecting, had made a strike at last, near Leduc, Alberta, in February
1947, the first of many and the start of a new Canadian industry. And about the same time, plans finally took shape for development of the enormous iron ore resources of northern Quebec and Labrador, deposits that had been known to exist for fifty years but deemed too costly to take out from that seemingly impenetrable wilderness. Not for ten years would Canadians again be aware of a “foreign exchange problem”—the flood of new American investment would begin to worry us later, but at the time it was simply wealth undreamed-of.
Canada had had booms before, of course. All had ended in busts sooner or later and usually sooner. What was keeping this one alive?
Even now it may be too soon to say. Various unpredictables, such as the Korean War boom of the early 1950s, gave artificial stimuli to the economy when it might otherwise have faltered. But the very fact that we did have some years of recession after 1957, with unemployment highest since the 1930s and some of the old marketing difficulties revived, gives some ground for hope that the oldstyle depression on the grand scale will never be seen again. And one thing, at least, that prevents it is the greatest of all postwar inventions, the welfare state.
Strictly speaking it was an invention of wartime. Partly to justify the efforts and sacrifices that were then being exacted of people who'd been unemployed and miserable in the 1930s, the plans for “after the war” became so ambitious that they sounded idyllic. Sir William Beveridge in England brought out his famous report on social insurance—the “womb to tomb” security that now is commonplace but then seemed a preposterous dream. (It was an appealing dream, though, and Canada quickly fell in line — McGill professor Leonard Marsh was hired to prepare a Canadian version of the Beveridge Report in a matter of weeks.) On both sides of the Atlantic there were cynics aplenty who thought these plans were no more than daydreams at best, if not mere political frauds. A. P. Herbert wrote a derisive poem for Punch:
Oh, won’t it he wonderful after the war?
There won’t be no war, and there won’t be no pore,
There won’t be no sick, and there won’t be no sore,
And we shan’t have to work, if we find it a bore.
There’s only one question I’d like to explore:
Why didn’t we have the old war before?
But there were signs on the political horizon to warn the nation’s leaders that this time they had better mean it. The people had listened to promises long enough.
In Britain Beverley Baxter, to his own subsequent embarrassment, made a political prophecy in his Maclean’s London Letter that turned out to be right: “The tide is running heavily against the Tories . . . Unless the enthusiasm of victory clothes Churchill in a new mantle of shining glory, the Tories will probably lose a minimum of a hundred seats. It is not impossible that the Tory decline will de-
velop into a rout . . . My reason tells me there will be a Tory debacle.” For a political reporter, which Baxter was, this was magnificent analysis. For a Conservative MP running for re-election, which Baxter also was, it was poor tactics. CCF friends in Canada delightedly cabled Baxter’s prophecies back to Labor campaigners in England, who quoted him with relish. But Baxter’s embarrassment was only temporary and trivial — no man really suffers for
being so dramatically proven right. Labor came in with an overall majority of nearly two hundred seats.
In Canada the same kind of storm signals went up even earlier, which may be one reason why the Mackenzie King government weathered the gale when it came.
As early as 1943 the socialist CCF demonstrated a strength it had never shown before (or since, as things have turned out). The decrepit Liberal government of Ontario, first ruined
and then abandoned by Mitchell Hepburn. was demolished in a provincial election — Liberals held only fifteen of the ninety seats. The Conservatives under George Drew won, but not with a majority. They got only thirtyeight seats to the CCF's thirty-four; the communist Labor Progressive Party won two.
The following year another ancient Liberal government was beaten in Saskatchewan by Tommy Douglas’ Socialists. Meanwhile Gallup polls
indicated that these trends were nationwide—or seemed to be.
The result was a kind of New Deal, Mackenzie King style. A vice-president of the advertising firm of Cockfield Brown moved to Ottawa eighteen months before the 1945 election to work full-time on an advertising campaign of magnificent promises. Every kind of social security — pensions, medicare, the lot — was just around the corner for those who voted Liberal. Meanwhile one item of welfare legislation was actually introduced — family allowances, otherwise known as the baby bonus.
It’s not often remembered now, but family allowances were first suggested by a Conservative, Mr. Justice Charles PMcTague, when he was chairman of the War Labor Board. He had been asked for a report on wage control, and he saw at once that wage control could not be effective or just if the man with ten children got exactly the same money as the bachelor on the next bench. Some kind of
allowance for parenthood was required to correct the balance. Many months later, but in plenty of time for the election, the King government adopted McTague’s suggestion.
Fortunately for the Liberals, various Conservative spokesmen denounced the new proposal. National leader John Bracken, in an off-thecuff comment which he did not repeat, called it a political bribe. George Drew, in a speech which also became hard to find soon afterward, pledged a battle against this attempt to mulct the people of Ontario to pay for the large families of those who had not done their duty in the war — a backhanded slap at Quebec. In the end the Conservative caucus, influenced by John Diefenbaker and Howard Green, decided not to oppose the legislation — the lone holdout against it, Dr. Herbert Bruce of Toronto, was persuaded not to cast his vote and the baby bonus was adopted unanimously.
Also part of the 1945 campaign was the White Paper on Reconstruc-
tion, published by unhappy coincidence on the day President Roosevelt died, April 12. Some of its proposals look rather quaint today (there was, for example, to be a “shelf” of public works projects constantly available, to be started whenever employment threatened to fall off) but in the main it is still a fairly accurate blueprint for the Keynesian economics that now are so commonplace as to seem conservative, but that then were radical and new.
Apparently they have worked. Something did. In fact we have had the longest period of prosperity ever enjoyed by the so-called capitalist system since the industrial revolution set it going two centuries ago. How much of that happy effect was due to conscious planning, how much to lucky accident, we can leave to historians to settle. It’s enough to say that if we today are laying as solid foundations for the I 980s as were laid in the 1940s for the 1960s, our children will bear us no grudge. ★