What Canada Has Done
By W. R. Givens
(Publisher and Editor of the Kingston "Daily Standard")
[The Independent; October 9, 1916]
Two years ago, on August 4, 1914, when Canada entered the war by the side of Great Britain and her Allies of her own volition—"Daughter in her Mother's house, Mistress in her own"—her public net debt stood at $314,301,625. At the present she is spending on the war alone, on her troops at home and overseas, a total of $1,000,000 daily; or, in the year, more than her entire national debt of two years ago. And yet, except from a few whimperers and professional or political agitators, one hears no complaints or grumblings—no protests at or railings against the expenditures. The rather—and it but emphasizes the fact that the British Bulldog spirit has found lodgment in Canada—the people, having given of their best blood and brawn at Ypres, at Festubert, at Langemarcke, at Givenchy, at Verdun (for our total in killed, wounded and missing is now 30,000) are practically solidly behind the government in its forward work and are prepared, as General Grant was in his time, to fight the issue out "if it takes all summer."
This, then, is an outstanding feature in Canada today after two years of war, that her people and her government alike are more determined than ever to do their bit for the cause of Empire. They have seen their per capita debt increased to over $50; they have had additional taxes placed upon them; they have seen one home after another put in mourning, and the will of the people remains inflexible that Canada and her sons shall stay in the fight to the finish until the war-mad Huns shall be finally and fully overcome, and liberty and light be again assured to the world.
But tho this be an outstanding feature there is one other that must appeal to the thoughtful people of the world as yet more significant: that in these two terrible years there has been no governmental scandal or graft, no governmental, corruption or dishonesty. Mistakes of judgment there undoubtedly have been, but they have been in minor and inconsequential matters and accepted as such by the people. True, there were charges against Sir Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia, and the Shell Committee—the latter an Imperial organization for which the Canadian Government was in no wise responsible—but after these charges had been exhaustively investigated by a non-partizan commission of judges Sir Sam and the Committee were completely exonerated and the charges almost contemptuously dismissed. Beyond this, there has been not even a breath of suspicion against the government, presided over by Rt. Hon. Sir R. L. Borden, who has grown amazingly in statesmanlike stature and political sagacity in this time of national stress.
Here, then, is where we find Canada after two years of war—undaunted in her spirit, unshaken in her purpose, and with a clean and honorable record of work well done. As to what that work has been, let the figures themselves, briefly put, 'tell the story.
Thirty-three thousand men armed, equipped and sent overseas within six weeks after the declaration of war—the greatest number of armed men ever to embark upon the seas at one time, up to then—and this tho at the outbreak of the war Canada had only four permanent military units of less than 2500 men.
Three hundred and fifty-thousand six hundred and fifty-five men all told recruited up to date out of 500,000 to be raised, this total coming from available male recruits in all Canada estimated at 1,250,000.
The sending of 250,000 men overseas without the loss of a single life while in transport. A total of $400,000,000 already raised for war purposes, with another domestic loan of probably $100,000,000 to be called for at once, the advertisements for this loan now being out; savings banks deposits increasing, nevertheless, from $699,399,000 in August, 1914, to $738,169,000 on March 31, 1916.
The manufacture for the Allies of munitions to the amount of $30,000,000 per month and the creation of over 400 factories for this purpose. The establishment of numerous training camps, including the huge Borden Camp in Western Ontario, where at least 30,000 men can be accommodated.
The passing of a generous pension bill for Canadian soldiers, who, by the way, are the best paid soldiers in the world today.
The establishment of separation allowances for wives and children of soldiers on active duty.
Private donations to the amount of $30,000,000 to the Patriotic Fund, the Belgian Relief Fund, the Red Cross Fund, etc., etc.
The raising of $50,000,000 per year in new taxes—and this without increasing by one dollar the cost of living or the necessaries of life, these taxes being on note circulation of banks, on gross incomes of trust companies, on checks, on telegraph messages, on sleeping car tickets, on perfumery, on wines, on bills of exchange, on letters (which now require an additional cent stamp), on excess war profits, on business profits beyond seven per cent in the case of companies capitalized at $50,000, and beyond ten per cent in certain other cases, etc., etc. The taxes, in short, as in England, have been levied against those best able to beat them, and it is a tribute not alone to the wisdom of Sir Thomas White, the Finance Minister, but to the people themselves that they are accepting their added burdens without complaint.
Other features of the work have been the establishment of hospitals overseas, and various direct gifts to the Imperial Government—as, for example, a donation from Canada, two days after the outbreak of war, of one million bags of flour, supplemented by various provincial gifts, led by the premier province, Ontario, which has done a magnificent work thruout this period. It is only Quebec, the province of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, ex-Premier, who, as is well known, has never been an Imperialist, that has failed to live up to its own best traditions. Tho with nearly one-third the population of all Canada, this French Canadian province has given but a handful of men to date, 36,890, of whom nearly 10,000 came from the English-speaking residents of the province; while its contributions in other directions have been pitifully small and disappointing. That Sir Wilfrid Laurier has not been able to do more with his own people has been a sorry and grievous disappointment. The fact is, however, that he has apparently not tried to do it, having made only seven public speeches in his own province in the last two years. Naturally, the rest of Canada—English-speaking—bitterly resents this, that Quebec should shirk while all the rest of Canada fights, and when the war is over it will not surprize if there shall be a day of reckoning for that ,province, some of whose leaders, it is an open secret, have for years, dreamed a dream of an independent French republic on the shores of the St. Lawrence. At the moment Canada—outside of Quebec—is too busy to give much heed to this ambitious plan. That time will come later.
© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013.
If you appreciate the articles, read the e-novel informed by them —
THE HEADLONG FURY
A Novel of World War One
By J. Fred MacDonald