EDITORIAL

It’s time we abandoned Ottawa’s racial-origin test

November 19 1966
EDITORIAL

It’s time we abandoned Ottawa’s racial-origin test

November 19 1966

It’s time we abandoned Ottawa’s racial-origin test

EDITORIAL

WITHIN THE NEXT few weeks and months, some of the biggest jobs in Canada’s public service will fall open and will have to be filled. We have a revolutionary suggestion for the responsible ministers in Ottawa who arc already canvassing the prospects. It is this: find the best man available for each post, and appoint him.

We haven’t much hope that this sensible procedure will be followed; the current evidence indicates that while ability to do the job is a factor in the choice, candidates will also have to pass that venerable Canadian institution, the racial-origin test.

It is taken for granted that Governor General Vanier’s successor will be chosen from the British, or at least the non-French, community. The principle of French-English alternation was passed over without much outcry when Norman MacMillan was named to succeed Donald Gordon as head of the CNR. But this merely intensifies the difficulty of other pending appointments. As Peter Newman pointed out in a syndicated column from Ottawa: “Should English Canadians be appointed to head the CBC and the National Film Board, there will be irresistible pressure to have a French Canadian named to head Air Canada, and this is the only one of the three jobs for which there is no qualified French candidate.”

Maintaining the French-English balance may be a proper consideration when it comes to selecting the members of a government; a Canadian prime minister must ensure that all areas of the country, and all elements of its population, have political representation in the seats of power.

But this is a sorry system for manning the public service. Executive positions in Crown corporations and administrative boards are neither French jobs nor English jobs nor Ukrainian jobs; they are Canadian jobs. In our first 100 years of nationhood we have been fairly successful in keeping party politics out of the public service. Our goal for the second century should be to staff it with the ablest Canadians who can be found.

Forget Hitler and remember Hegel

IN A THOUGHTFUL report from West Germany on page 18, a Canadian poet who is a Jew says that “Nazism is dead and little or nothing remains of its evil dream.” He pleads for an end to mistrust and hatred of the Germans, and urges that we judge the German people not by the misdeeds of their fathers but by their behavior now. We say amen.

In the story of Germany and our changing attitude to her since 1918 we may learn one of the great lessons of history: it pays to be decent to a beaten foe.

After 1918 the victors punished the Germans and exacted payment for their sins. After 1945 the conquerors helped them rebuild with the Marshall Plan. The results of the Versailles Treaty for Germany were massive unemployment, degrading poverty, and abiding bitterness. Their misery spawned Hitler and the Nazis. The result of the Marshall Plan is 20 years of amazing productivity and achievement, including the integration of 15 million refugees from Eastern Europe.

For all these 20 years young Germans have seen their country occupied and divided; they have been forced to wallow in the collective guilt for Hitler and the slaughter of the Jews. They ask now to be accepted for what they are, not condemned for what their fathers did.

We know now that had we acted intelligently on the knowledge we had in the 1930s, Hitler could have been stopped. If we wish to spend our time assessing blame, let us recognize that the people of the West had some responsibility, along with the parents of young Germans, for the Hitler years.

But there is no point now in perpetuating hatred. Intolerance will not help to create a tolerable world. The hope of peace lies in relieving today’s tensions, not in preserving yesterday’s.