In the lead up to the second world war we see a fairly strong isolationist attitude in Canada. People were focused inwards as they tried to overcome the great depression




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History of Canada Since 1939


Jan 12, 2010 Canada in the Second World War


Isolationism

in the lead up to the second world war we see a fairly strong isolationist attitude in Canada. People were focused inwards as they tried to overcome the great depression.

by the mid 1930’s people who talked about and advocated for collective security are very much a minority

John Dafoe the editor of Winnipeg newspaper was one oc the strongest proponents of collective security. but for every john dafoe there were however, many men like J.S. Woodsworth and Henri Bourassa who were strongly against Canadian involvement in European affairs.

Canadian PM’s during the great depression read the mood of the nation and became more isolationist in their policies.

When Japan invaded Manchuria in 1939 Canada said that it wouldn’t support any active resistance and the same statement is made as Hitler rose to power.

King supported the policy of appeasement designed by the European powers.

Officially the Canadian gov’t never got involved in the Spanish Civil war but about 1300 Canadians volunteered in the war. Norman Pathoon a Dr. from Montreal was the most famous Canadian to serve in the Spanish Civil War.

Many Catholics in Quebec supported Franco b/c he supported the Catholic Church.

there was also a belief that most of what Hitler said was mere rhetoric. King thought Hitler was a simple German peasant who only wanted the best for his country.

few people criticized King for his support of Chamberlain at the Munich Conference in 1938.

there was a sense in Canada that perhaps Germany had been treated to harshly at the end of the first world war and that if we let Germany get a bit of pride back then that would be ok. Also Hitler was keeping Germany from becoming a communist states.

in Quebec the feeling of better Hitler than communists was the strongest.

King was worried about the national unity of Canada. Conscription was an issue that had almost pulled the nation apart in the first world war.


in the lead up to WW2 King tried very hard to refuse to commit Canada to any policies that would make it look like they we were getting ready to fight again.

Canada refused to accept Jewish Immigrants the most famous example was the refusal of the St. Louis a ship full of jews escaping Germany from docking in Canada.

King did recognize that if another european war broke out that Canada would be involved.

B/c of Kings efforts Canada entered the war as a fairly united nation.


War

7 days after Britain entered the war Canada entered WW2. Canadians entered the war on a much more somber note than they had in the first world war.

the first seven months of the war known as the phony war b/c nothing happened but with the fall of france and the beginning of the battle of britain shook Canadian confidence


Political changes in 1939-40 - Elections in Quebec - Union Nationale loses to the liberals which was a shock b/c Quebecs premier, Duplessis had dissolved parliament to fight an election on quebec sovereignty and the centralization of power in Ottawa to fight the War.

When Lapointe won the election in 1940 it gave a strong liberal mandate. Conscription was an important issue in the election.

in ontario the premier Hepburn called for a resolution saying that the feds weren’t executing the war with enough vigor. King saw this as a call for conscription and dissolved parliament and fought an election on the issue of conscription and national unity. King won the election and was now in the strongest political position he had ever been in


the canadian economy had to shift dramatically to begin wartime production. as factories changed over, high unemployment disappeared.

b/c of the lack of able bodied men workers women moved into the factories and onto the production lines.

Elsie McGill was the Worlds first female aircraft engineer. she worked as an aeronautical engineer during WW2 and helped make Canada a powerhouse of airplane construction. She was called the Queen of the hurricanes and sat on the Royal Commission of the Status of Women in Canada from 1967-70


Jan 14, 2010

WW2 Cont

Changes for women - work, volunteer, enlistment

Closer ties with the USA

Battle of the Atlantic

Japanese Canadians

Dieppe, Italy, D-Day

Conscription


while WW2 did lead to a lot of changes for women as they went into the factories, most of them moved back into the home and out of the factories after the war. also most of the work women did was very traditional women’s work but in a factory

by the end of the war 50,000 women were part of the armed forces, not fighting but doing jobs that the army, navy and air force needed done, mechanics, clerical, photography. women were kept separate and only ever commanded other women


by 1945 the number of unionized workers had doubled from before the war.

the war prevented people from living a normal life, even for those living at home. by the end of the war over a million people had seen service in the armed forces.


the war brought closer relations with the US. the Ogdenburg Agreement established the Permanent Joint board of Defence in 1940. this is an agreement that Canada and the US work together to defend North America

The Hyde Park Declaration of 1941 - financial arrangements were made to finance war production and helped with the lend lease agreement.


for the early years of the war most Canadian troops were stationed in Britain. it was an important role but it didn’t give the troops and sense of heroism and was disappointing for the people back home.

the Battle of the Atlantic lasted the entire duration of the war and it was German’s effort to starve out Britain through the use of U-Boats and some surface ships. In response to this Ships were sent over in convoys and Canadians were tasked with protecting convoys.

Canadians early in the war were unprepared for this role, they lacked proper training and equipment. Later on in the war with better training and equipment Canadians were able to have success.

Canadian merchant seamen played an important role in keeping Britain in the war by keeping her resupplied.

Canadians were also sent to Hong Kong to protect it but they were young soldiers with very little training and they were defeated in 1941 and spent the rest of the war in Japanese POW camps


there had been levels of racism against the Japanese in BC before the war and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor those fears grew.

BC’ers feared that there were now spies and enemies living among them so King ordered that japanese people living on the Coast of BC were forced to move inland into internment camp.

German’s and Italians were also interned in Camps but many many more Japanese people were interned roughly 22,000.

there is a sense that these internments were more racially motivated.

there were also POW Camps for British POW’s in Canada and by most accounts many of the prisoners interned in the camps ended up immigrating to Canada (staying there) at the end of the war.


Dieppe was Canada’s first major offensive for Canadian’s in the War (august 1942) Canadians wanted there boys to get some action in the war and pressured King to pressure Allied Command to get so fighting for the Canadians.

The Allies were having a rough go of things in 1942 and they needed to make it look like they were doing something “good”

about 6000 Canadian troops were involved in the raid on Dieppe. it was a disaster intel was terrible, they mis calculated the tides which were out when they landed forcing the troops to run across a large open flat beach. there were over 3000 casualties with over 1000 POWs.

Canadians also fought in Italy. Landing on Sicily and then fighting there way up to Rome.

Finally D-day. The First Canadian Army landed on Juno Beach and it was far more successful than Dieppe. 14,000 Canadians landed and captured their beach head. After the D-Day invasions it still took another year to defeat Germany.

Canada was in charge of clearing the east coast and the liberation of the Netherlands in 1945.

45,000 Canadians were killed and 55,000 wounded in WW2.


there were many questions about what the role of Canadian men should be in the war. Should they produce munitions, produce food, go and fight or what?

King really didn’t want to have to go to conscription but early on people were conscripted. the first phase was a conscription for home service. these men were nicknamed zombies b/c they hadn’t volunteered to go serve oversees.

by the summer of 1944 new recruits were not enough to replace losses and pressure was increased on King to start conscription for foreign service.

King held a plebiscite asking the people to release the gov’t from their promise not to conscript. English Canadians voted strongly for it and French Canadians strongly against it.

he didn’t introduce conscription right away even though he was now able to. he didn’t do it b/c he was concerned with national unity.

by the spring of 1944 the military needed more recruits and forced King to implement conscription. b/c it happened so late in the war it had very little effect on the actual war.

what it did change was attitudes on the home front. b/c it was delayed quebec wasn’t so angry and yet English Canadians felt that he had done his job.

people in Canada people started talking about what was to be done when the war ended as soon as the war began. they wanted to avoid the repetition of the end of WW1 and its chaos.

b/c the gov’t was doing such a efficient job of running the economy and the nation that peopled expected them to do that after the war as well.

people started talking about health insurance, family payments and a social welfare system b/c they wanted there to be one at the end of the world.


Canada was for most purposes independent at the outbreak of WW2 but that view was internationally reinforced during the war. Most historians argue that Canada went to war for britain, more for “we need to help Britain” instead of “we need to defend democracy”

unlike WW1 the vast majority of Canadian troops were Canadian born (85%). the army that started WW2 was now a national army instead of a colonial army that became a national army in WW1


Jan 21, 2010


The Welfare State in Canada - Read the Marsh report article.


for the majority of the europe and the world the Second World War destroyed their infrastructures and displaced millions of people

Canada, however, came out of the world in fairly good shape - 3rd largest navy and 4th largest air force.

much of Canada’s war effort had been in war material production and it had forced the nation to industrialize. The Bank of Canada was full of foreign currency from the sale of war materials to other nations

post war affluence led people to thinking that they wanted to keep this and led to the discussions on the welfare state. People were well off and thus they could think about the poor and how to take care of them.

nearly everyone was concerned about was how to avoid a return to the depression. Gov’t business and individuals were all worried about this. the gov’t slogan after the war was “orderly deconstruction”

C.D. Howe was in charge of the Canadian economy during the war and he remained in charge after the war to help move the economy from war to peace.

Howe had a faith in business but he also saw during the war that the gov’t could run the economy well so he never pitted capitalism against socialism

Howe used incentives to persuade industrialists to shift back to peacetime production with tax incentives, write-offs, the gov’t undersigning for export insurance.

this worked fairly well. other than a brief hesitation in 1945-46 post wartime production climbed higher than wartime production

with jobs and wages secure Canadians began to want homes, cars, appliances. the consumer society took off b/c for many many years they had been unable to buy these things whether through economic depression of wartime scarcity. there was a pent up demand.


another reason people point to post war prosperity was the relative success of unions after the war. there were lots of strikes after the war and the unions got what they wanted b/c they had a sense of strength from their wartime efforts.

at the Ford plant in Windsor there was the largest and bitterest strikes and the unions won increased wages and benefit packages for the employees.

by 1949 unions were common in factories and resource industries and about 30% of workers were in a union.

post war Canada was evolving into a social democracy. the general argument is that the war and the wartime prosperity was the important factor in this evolution

Canadian provinces used their increased revenues to catch up on infrastructure but most of the important developments of the welfare state came from Ottawa not the provinces


all was not rosy. there had been a switch to oil and natural gas and that meant the death of the coal industry

non-unionized workers didn’t see that much of wage increase. the rural urban split became larger as they didn’t have access to the same opportunities as urban people. e.g. electricity was rare in the countryside.

there was regional and ethnic differences in prosperity as well. women and immigrants and Natives didn’t see a increase in prosperity.


the term welfare state was coined in GB during WW2 and it was a term strongly connected with the war.

for a long time the welfare state also implied the gov’t providing high and stable levels of employment as well as what it means today.

there had been examples and parts of the welfare state developed before WW2 but they were not equal across the nation and were not as encompassing.

Canada got its first pension in 1927 when two labour MP’s agreed to support the minority grits if they put forward a pension. it was a means test pension - you had to prove that you had nothing and it wasn’t that great of depression.

relief was used during the depression but it was uncommon and sporadic. it was unsatisfying to most Canadians.

Bennet had promised Canadians a New Deal that would give the gov’t a much wider role in the welfare state but he lost the election. King, who won the election, didn’t really do anything and blamed it on the problems of jurisdiction.

Once WW2 began the provinces agreed to transfer jurisdictions to the fed gov’t to win the war and for wartime unity.

Unemployment Insurance was introduced in 1941 when the unemployment rate was around 0. because no one was pulling off of it and everyone was paying into it the gov’t could build up reserves.


King was worried about unrest at the end of the War and that was one of the reasons he gave for his introduction of the Welfare State.

in Jan 1940 the gov’t created the general committee on post war demobilization and reconstruction.

in the last 2 years of the war when it was clearer that the allies were going to win the gov’t passed
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