- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 12 Apr 1945, p. 409-426
- Thomson, Roy H., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Conditions in Great Britain and in France. The speaker's observations during his few weeks in the United Kingdom and France, with many anecdotes and illustrative examples. An understanding of what the people of Britain are going through today and of what they have gone through in the past five and a half years leading to an understanding of the problems that will be theirs when the war is over. The courage of the British people. The people of France much worse off than the British, in terms of the economy, supplies, morale, etc. The people in the farming populations of France, Belgium and Holland better off during the occupation than after being liberated, and why that is so. Ways in which Canada can help Britain economically in the postwar period. A new role for the United States in international markets. A mild or severe case of social unrest ahead for Britain. A levelling-off in the material and intellectual position of all classes evident in Britain. An attitude in Britain antagonistic to this levelling-off. The need for progressive legislation and education. Emigration to Canada. What Canada has to gain by helping the British to come here. Britain's part in the fight on to victory.
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- 12 Apr 1945
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THE PUZZLING YEARS AHEAD
AN ADDRESS BY ROY H. THOMSON
Chairman: The President, Mr. C. R. Conquergood
Thursday, April 12, 1945
MR. C. R. CONQUERGOOD: In an issue a few weeks ago, Liberty Magazine introduced' our guest speaker of today to its readers with this comment, which will bear repeating: "It is one of the paradoxes of this age of universal communications that while the publisher of a newspaper or the owner of a radio station may be instrumental in acquainting large sections of the public with the names, fames and shames of hundreds of personalities in the field of politics, sport, entertainment or business, he himself is rarely known".
Our guest speaker today is Mr. Roy H. Thomson who now controls five Ontario Daily Newspapers and three Ontario Radio Stations.
Mr. Thomson is a native of Toronto, and was educated here. His business career was interrupted by World Wax I. He secured his commission as Lieutenant but did not get overseas at that time. Following the war, he eventually transferred to Northern Ontario as a radio distributor. This led to the establishment of a radio station. Later, he bought the newspaper at Timmins, the "Press" which he found so interesting that he has since acquired papers in Old Ontario. He now controls in addition to the Timmins Press, The Galt Reporter, The Sarnia CanadianObserver, The Woodstock Sentinel-Review and the Welland-Port Colborne Tribune. His radio stations are CKGB at Timmins, CJKL at Kirkland Lake and CFCH at North Bay.
Mr. Thomson has recently been overseas where be went as a war correspondent. I have much pleasure in presenting Mr. Roy H. Thomson, President of Thomson Publications Limited, who is to speak to us on "The Puzzling Years Ahead".
MR. Roy H. THOMSON: Mr. Chairman, Honored Guests, Gentlemen: I know many members of the Empire Club are already aware of conditions in Great Britain. Perhaps you visited the country during wartime yourselves; or you have heard speakers, better fitted than I, give adequate descriptions of life as it must be lived in those islands under conditions of war. So, for a few minutes, I ask your indulgence while I run over some of the things I observed during my few weeks in the United Kingdom and in France.
It is necessary that I do, because an understanding of what the people of Britain are going through today--of what they have gone through in the past five and a half years--leads to an understanding of the problems that will be theirs when the war is over. Also, it gives us a better understanding of the manner in which the British people can, or may be able to measure up to those problems.
But I would like to say this here and now, that any group of people who have the sheer courage-"guts" is probably the most fitting and descriptive word-to go through what the British men, women and children have gone through, have also got the courage and ambition to solve the many problems which are going to rise up and plague the British people. Whether they have the wherewithal to beat those problems is another question. But certainly they have the courage. As often as life in wartime England was described to me, I found it incredible when I saw it at first hand and was part of it only a few weeks ago. Here, we have no idea of wartime inconvenience. In Britain they seem to know nothing else. To my mind those people of Britain-the civilians-the little men and women and their children, are heroes every bit as much as their men of the front line, for in this war they have submerged everything to the business of fighting.
You have heard much about the blackout. In late November, when the nights started early and lasted long, I found it the most depressing thing imaginable. Those people live like owls and it struck me the cruellest thing you can do to anybody is to take away, light. The whole life of the British community has been changed to coincide as much as possible with the hours of daylight. People scurry for home early in the evening. Theatres open at six o'clock so they can close about eight and allow people to reach their homes before the transportation systems close down. Nobody seems to want to stay out late and, for all that they say London now has more lighting than at any time in the war, I found it the darkest place in which I had ever been.
To say the British people have been marvellous is an absolute understatement. They may be tired but their morale is tremendous, and, in all truth, I doubt whether we, in Canada, could have carried on as they have done.
However, the daily perils and the hard living which the British people have gone through during the past five years have left their mark very definitely on them. Their nerves are frayed and this was brought home to me one morning when I boarded a bus on Piccadilly. The girl bus driver was crying openly and it was obvious that she had entirely lost control of herself. She was unable to make change as the passengers handed her their fares and she had just broken down completely. Some distance further on an inspector got on the bus and rode along with the girl in order to get her straightened out. I asked the passenger sitting next to me what had happened and he told me that it was not an unusual thing to find an odd person whose nerves had given way in this manner.
Everything in Britain looks worn and old. For five years there have been no repairs and when something breaks it stays broken. For example, I was taken somewhere by an Englishman in his car-and he was a very wealthy man. The handle of the door on my side had been broken and every time it had to be opened from the inside. He just could not get it repaired and that is only one small example,
The blackout is only one of their lesser problems. In Britain there is clothes rationing that leaves a nation looking threadbare and food rationing that has turned Britons into a race of lean men. It is only factual to say that England's normal standard of living has become a war casualty, and the future poses the question of whether it will ever come back.
Today the British stores have little or nothing to sell. There is a shortage of everything and people can buy only the bare necessities. To the housewife money is not the important thing; it is ration points that count.
So, this war economy in Britain has been the greatest levelling-off process that any country has ever seen. You might even call it a system of equal discomfort for all. The heating, wherever you go, will bear witness to that. At one time I occupied a room in the Ritz Hotel--familiar to many of you I'm sure. This accommodation was costing me roughly twenty-five dollars a day but--listen to this--it got so cold in that room I had to go out into the November chill to get warm.
In the shops you find prices are high, if there is anything worthwhile to be bought. Rationed foods, of course, are sold at fixed prices but for other things the purchase tax, ranging from one-third to one hundred per cent, has raised the price of everything to a degree where it must be difficult indeed for the Briton to make do on his wages. Even if his wartime salary is greater than his old peacetime earnings I would say the Briton's purchasing power generally is considerably less because of the lack of things to buy and the heavy purchase taxes.
So it can safely be said that Britain today is doing with less than ever before while her whole industry is harnessed to producing for war.
One point might serve to bring home just how stringent things can be. I don't doubt you all enjoy a plate of bacon and eggs as much as I do. Well, in England they give eggs to the people--or rather make them available for purchase--by allocation. Whenever there is an allocation each ration ticket holder is entitled to one egg. That doesn't sound too bad, you say; but wait! When I was there, there had been only one allocation of eggs in the past two months. Since my return I have not been able to eat an egg with a clear conscience. And it struck me that anybody in Canada, who could see the situation at first hand, would feel only too glad and too proud to be in a position to help out the British people with food wherever he possibly could, even at some sacrifice to himself.
Curiously enough statistics seem to show that this rationing of food has had a beneficial effect on the health of the nation. But don't ever let anybody tell you that it doesn't take most of the fun out of life.
"Urgent living" sums it up about as well as anything. You get only a minimum of heat, a minimum of light, a minimum of soap, a minimum of food, a minimum of hot water, a minimum of clothing and footwear. And if you want to do something nice for some English friend, send him a bath-towel. He has probably cut his old one in two, long years ago, just to save some of the clothing coupons which must be given up for towels, in the same way they are for a pair of trousers.
Added to all these inconveniences there has, of course, been the extra hazard of enemy action. Since last spring and until the last few days, no one knew when one of the Germans' new V bombs was going to strike next-especially in London.
When I was in London there wasn't a day went by that you didn't hear the explosion of a V-2 or rocket bomb. Nobody ever heard them coming in. There was just a great explosion, followed by the sound of falling masonry. But life went on with no apparent regard for these things--except of course the heavy rescue squads, the ambulances and the firemen-and it seemed fantastic that people under fire could carry on with such high morale. Fortunately the news of the past few days indicates London has been free of these attacks and we can hope, thanks to the accomplishments of our Canadian troops in Holland, that they are over for good.
Now, as to France. I spent only four days in Paris, not long but long enough to gain some impressions at least. And, while I found that Paris itself has not changed, the people have. They have a very chastened look about them.
Their problems of life are even greater than those of the British people. For one thing, their economy has gone completely out of gear. The French are in the midst of a terrific inflation. There is virtually nothing to buy, yet you find the Frenchman putting a fairly good face on things. The French tradesman is a better window-dresser than the Englishman. So in Paris and other French cities you find attractive shop windows. But inside the shop? Nothing! The storekeeper has put it all in the window.
There is little for sale that would attract anybody while prices are fantastic. Mostly the articles are perfumes and baubles and hardly the stuff on which a nation wants to spend its money at a time when this same money is worth so little and the need is for the substantial things that give new life to a country-food and clothing, but chiefly food.
In France there has been real suffering so far as food goes. I talked to one man, a Standard Oil Company executive, who stayed in Paris during the occupation. He was a Frenchman and a man of some means. But he told me that had he not had a relative in the country within reach by bicycle on the week-ends, as an extra source of food, he did not know how his family would have survived. People of the big centres suffered most and the poorer people, unlike my Standard Oil friend, did not have the means or the facilities to go to the country where the food was grown even were they fortunate enough to have some farming relative.
A great many people, particularly among the farming population, were better off in France, Belgium and Holland, during the German occupation than they are today after being liberated. For them the occupation meant, in effect, a redistribution of wealth. It turned the farmer into the aristocrat because he was a man with food to sell at the expense of the city dweller, whose output went to the Germans. The meagre rations inspired a tremendous black market business which it was almost necessary to patronize in order to survive at all. As a result the country people were doing well by themselves during the occupation and were none too anxious to be liberated!
In brief, gentlemen, that is how the facts appeared to me in Great Britain and France during my all-too-brief stay. And I only wish I could leave with you, from this description, the feeling I got myself, in Britain, that there was a country which had given everything--absolutely everything--to a point where personal comfort meant nothing whatever; to a point where I feel we have some responsibility for their future welfare.
The future is the big question mark in the minds of the British business men. Personally, I would call it more than a question mark; yes, something much more ominous than a question mark, because it seems to me that when the peace with Germany has been established, the battle is only beginning for Britain. Then she enters on an altogether new fight--a battle for survival in a world quite different from that in which she held so high a place before the war. It will be, in effect, a battle for a decent standard of living in the British Isles.
For the British there are terrific problems ahead and I, for one, don't envy them the solving of these problems one bit. For one thing, Britain today is in a much worse position to fight this forthcoming battle for economic survival than she has ever been. Britain today, as compared to Britain of pre-war years, is a poor nation. Those, who are pessimistic about Britain's place in the post-war world have much evidence to support their doleful outlook, it seems to me.
That is where we, here in Canada, come in. The future of Britain is-and there can be no getting away from it--one of the responsibilities that go with membership in the British Commonwealth of Nations. It is a responsibility which, if we fully understand just what stringent times of sacrifice Britain has been through, we will be glad to shoulder.
Surely, for Britain, the pattern of the future is clear. And in all truth it is sombre enough. It means work, hard work, and no easy living. Much of the cost of war has still to be paid. The part that has been paid has dissipated the wealth which was accumulated over the centuries by British enterprise and grit and daring. Now Britain must start almost from scratch and compete, on a basis of not much more than her own resources, against the countries of the world, who, because of the war, have geared themselves to productive output undreamed of in other years.
The catch, gentlemen, in my view, lies in those words, "her own resources". You need only to draw a ring around those small islands and think then of what it means when we say "Britain's own resources." They are not great in comparison to other countries. That, then, is where the Empire and the colonies and full co-operation of the component parts of the Commonwealth with Britain comes in.
Make no mistake about it. Britain has been at the top too recently and too long for other countries to feel any particular sympathy over the impoverished condition in which she will be at the end of the war. For too long she has been the rich old dowager, the moneyed relation. So Britain will have to make her own future and the future standard of living of her people will depend entirely on her own efforts and the co-operation the Empire people give her.
The standard of living in Britain, prior to the war, was far below the standard of living in Canada. And Britain was only able to maintain that standard because of her far-flung interests, gained at great effort over long years and now largely dissipated. Unless the standard of living is to sink much lower in the post-war years, her efforts must indeed be prodigious.
There should be no sound reason for any hesitancy at helping Britain, on the part of Canada, or for that matter on the part of the United States as well. Consider it this way. Britain has poured everything into the war--her men, her women, her children, her way of life, her wealth, and even her own home land. It has been only right that Canada and the United States should even up the account somewhat by supplying, in addition to manpower, other aid in the form of goods to Britain and other war-racked countries. So in this war we have had lend lease and mutual aid.
As I see it this will have to continue after the war, for some good time to come, even if we have to strip it of these nice-sounding names-lend-lease and mutual aid and call it outright gifts. That, in my opinion, is an unalterable fact.
There must be action and succor from the well-off parts of the world for the poorer sections, just as one part of our country would rally to the aid of another section in time of national disaster, such as, say, some great flood or an earthquake.
We must always remember that after the war Britain will not be starting on an even basis with those countries who will be her greatest competitors. Many of her industries have been battered. Many of her future greats are casualties of the war. Many of her patents and trade secrets have become the common property of all the United Nations. Except for invaded countries, the requirements of her reconstruction are infinitely greater than other parts of the world. We must remember a great percentage of her housing is either damaged or destroyed. Her industries must be changed over to peacetime requirements and adapted to mass production if she is to compete in the post-war world at all.
By Canadian, American, Russian or South American standards the British home islands are not rich in natural resources. These people cannot build up their future by selling or trading their own natural wealth and such wealth as they do build up out of their own home islands they must achieve by their own ingenuity and patents and smart business methods, which will enable them to out-trade and outsell competing nations in the world market. But even the great qualities of the British people cannot offset the vast natural resources of the countries with which they will be competing. So here again we have the reason why, if Britain is to survive as a first class nation, and if her people are to have a reasonable standard of living, she must develop and trade the resources of the colonies and she must have the help and assistance of the Dominions. I believe, even the United States will now admit that over any substantial period of time one country cannot sell to another without taking payment in return in goods or services. Most certainly this applies in the fullest measure to Britain in the post-war years.
Britain will meet the most serious competition of her existence, and in self defence she will have to keep her imports down to a minimum. No nation has learned better than Britain, in these war years, just how effectively unessential imports can be kept down. Britain at war allows no drones in the hive. Everybody works, with the result that farming, to mention one industry, has been elevated to an honored vocation, to a place of great importance in Britain's economy. By a system of subsidies and controlled prices the British Government has made farming profitable and there is no doubt that in the post-war years she will see that this continues. Obviously that means less food to import and less imported food to pay for.
For another thing, there is the prevalence of the mass-production methods in other countries. Britain is far behind in mass production. It just hasn't been the British way. Theirs has been a father-to-son craft tradition resulting in a quality product. But I wonder how much that will mean in the post-war trading world? It may be a sad commentary on our modern way of life--but I think it is a true one--that people nowadays have placed the accent on something new, on something to have for this year, to use and to discard and replace with another new article next year. British high quality has little appeal to such people.
You might ask why can't Britain extend its use of mass production to equal that of other nations? I think she can, though admittedly she will be starting from a long way back. But Britain has never proved too adaptable to mass production and there are those who say the British people are not suited to such technique. Certainly the Britons are not prone to make changes just because there is something new around. To realize that, you have only to encounter the antiquated British plumbing, which so amuses and later annoys the Canadian and American boys.
In meditative mood, it strikes you that these same people turned out the Spitfire and Radar. Well, that shows what they can do when they have to. The future will show just how adaptable British industry and British workmen are to the needs of the moment.
I would say, from talks with publishers in London, with Lord Beaverbrook, with Brendan Bracken, the Minister of Information, that, because of their complete absorption with the war, the British people have been unable as yet to make detailed post-war plans. This war, great tragedy that it has been to all peoples, has, of course, been a terrible shock to England. It has been sufficiently severe to make them face their problems and search for the solutions.
Now, those who see Britain as having an especially hard row to hoe--and I am definitely one of them--point in the first place to the outstanding fact, which we must all admit, that all the United Nations are feverishly working to obtain a full share of world trade--and Britain, until the war years, was always a trading nation.
Foremost among these nations, out for world markets, is the United States. There is not likely to be a repetition of events which followed the Peace Treaty of 1919. At that time the United States kept its fingers out of the--international pie. It had fought a war and was on the winning side. Its politicians said: "Let's wash our hands of Europe. Let us mind our own business and get into no more foreign entanglements." So they, to some extent, only nibbled at foreign markets. In this war the United States has taken part on a world wide scale. Its armies and navies and air forces have fought in the east and the west and their efforts this time have not been token efforts, but real efforts.
Also, the American people are reconciled to the fact that they are going to be involved in policing enemy countries and whether they like it or not they must be concerned with their economic affairs also. So we see the United, States emerging as a world economic power and we see its politicians and business men eagerly eyeing the world market.
Pessimistic, but to my mind realistic, Englishmen point to their possessions in the Far East. They wonder if, after the war, Great Britain will assume unlimited control of them, and, if she does, will they have as much value as before the war. It is to be doubted that they will. Consider rubber, for instance. As a result of the war rubber has a strong competitor in the synthetic product. Who is to suggest that this country and the United States will scrap a $200,000,000 industry to buy rubber from Great Britain and the Netherlands possessions? It seems most unlikely that the demand for natural rubber will ever again reach pre-war levels.
The English businessman is not so naive that he has forgotten the antipathy created in the United States by the restrictive Stevenson Act. That was the act which made Harvey Firestone and other leaders in the United States start their own rubber plantations on territories out of British control. Too, these same pessimistic Englishmen cast a questioning eye on the vast cotton industry of their northern counties. Under wartime compulsion other processes have been developed for cotton manufacture, processes independent of the Lancashire climate. They see, as well, the rise of artificial and synthetic fabrics which will cut into the cotton market.
Most important of all, possibly, has been Britain's decline, through enemy action, from her former position as the world's greatest maritime power while the United States, through accelerated shipbuilding, emerges as a great power in the transportation world--by air and by sea. The dominance of the Clydeside, and Tyneside is being eclipsed by Mr. Kaiser and his kind. Shipping has always been the bulwark of British economy. British bottoms carried the trade of the world and by aggressive operations and through government subsidies the British merchant marine managed to offer lower freight rates and better service to exporters and importers of all nations. Loss of this favored position is definitely something for Britons to be long-faced about.
I have touched now on what seem to be a few of the international problems which give grave concern to the people of the British Isles. Those are the facts as they appeared to me and I'll admit they are on the gloomy side.
But there is another side to the story . . . the same old tale that thrills people of British blood everywhere the story of Britain's courage and the Briton's "never-say-die" spirit.
He knows he has been up against pretty tough odds before and that he has come through. He knows there is a deep sense of loyalty in all Britishers. He knows that from somewhere there always arises a British leader to rally the nation to great united effort and if only he and his fellows can be made to realize the urgency of this new fight the effort will be as great in the battle of the Peace as it was in the battle of the War.
Too, the Briton knows his country's experience in foreign affairs and experienced diplomacy is going to be invaluable in the days to come. And, while it may sound trite, the Englishman knows wholeheartedly and believes right to the grave that there'll always be an England. That is something rather wonderful. It is the same something that staved off the great blitz and the same something that won the Battle of Britain.
So, in looking at Britain today, you can see the two types of thinking; and sometimes both types are merged in the same man. One type is the down-to-earth, realistic facing of future problems. This is balanced off with the almost unbelievable optimism that everything will come out all right for good old England. To the North American mind that last is sometimes hard to understand. While the Englishman looks somewhat askance at the future aggressive policies of the United States as a trading nation he looks too at the British Dominions with wonderment and amazement because he sees--and all too clearly--that Canada particularly, is emerging from this war not only matured but experienced. For Canada is a country with its own voice, a voice which carries a good deal of weight in the world. And you men know all too well that even our one hundred per cent wartime industries are not talking about closing up. They're talking about conversion and exports.
Right at this moment several leading industries have their men in foreign fields. They're not there to sell anything today. Not a bit of it! But they are there to sell a great deal tomorrow because Canada is coming out of this war with a shipbuilding industry, a chemical industry and many other industries against which Britain is going to have to compete.
Do you blame the Englishman for a bit of wonder when he realizes that in some instances these very industries in the Dominions, against which he is to compete, were established early in the war with the aid of British capital? With the aid of British patents and trade secrets! Yes, and often with British management and British foremen!
This recently developed and thoroughly international outlook is not confined to Canada alone. The other Dominions, Australia, New Zealand and even India, are looking longingly at world trade. They do not intend to permit the full employment of war years to slip back to partial and spasmodic employment of pre-war times.
Up to now I have not mentioned the home-front problems in Britain. Most of these are not essentially problems created by the war, although it has accentuated them and their solution must now be found.
Britain, in common with all countries, sees ahead a mild or severe case of social unrest. And this uneasiness is the more acute in Britain because the people there have experienced more disastrous effects from depression than ever did Canada or the United States. Remember the "dole" years and the "doleful years" of the thirties? They are very fresh in the minds of every working man in Britain.
The people want to see some way around the condition which forced willing and skilful workers onto relief rolls. They must solve this and at the same time avoid putting themselves in a non-competitive position with the rest of the world in the cost of production. If their cost of manufacturing is too high they cannot compete in the world markets and secure the vitally needed export business.
That the Britisher realizes there must be a levelling-off in the material and intellectual position of all classes is very evident. One minor, yet revealing, instance of this awareness is shown by the recent announcement that the famous and exclusive seats of learning like Eton, Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge are going to be open to all classes. Lack of means or accident of birth will no longer bar any youth from a good education.
All that is helpful. But once more we have the contradiction. For, in the opinion of one well-informed man I met, legislation and rules for the betterment of the lower classes do not as easily solve the problem in England as they might be expected to do in Canada or in the United States. The reason is the existence in England of a mental attitude antagonistic to the levelling of social barriers. It cuts across the community. It is evident in the upper classes and just as evident in the lower classes. You see it in the little Cockney, in his cap and with his white handkerchief knotted around his neck, who feels uncomfortable when you enter the public bar where he likes to chat and play darts with his cronies. He is polite. He calls you "guvnor" or "sir" but he is uncomfortable and would really prefer that you knew your station and went into the saloon bar and left him and his mates alone.
You see, in Europe five hundred years is not considered a long time. So the class consciousness of those other days, which our forefathers outdistanced when they came to new lands, doesn't seem at all out of place in England. For instance, I gained the impression, from the way some people spoke, that the Battle of Bannockburn just happened yesterday. Scotsmen still talk about it. And the Divine Right of Kings still has its adherents despite the fact that the doctrine has been discarded by parliament for some hundreds of years.
In effect there are still some unenlightened individuals about who believe one class is born to lead and another class is born to carry the hod. And this belief is to some extent held by the top and bottom people alike. So often you ask a cobbler why he is a cobbler. The answer is that his father was a cobbler. And if you ask why his father was a cobbler the answer is "because my father was one."
All this-at least to my friend-proves that besides progressive legislation to help the lower classes there must be a program of re-education to show them that initiative and ambition and energy are still the prime ingredients of success.
To my mind it would seem that, where in Canada we look for a fast lifting of any wartime controls and restrictions, they may have their place for some time to come in Britain. But it is only for this reason: if these people, any of them, feel that they are definitely born to a station and cannot rise, then, until that feeling has been eradicated, they must have somebody protecting them-even if it does mean governmental paternalism.
Against that you find in some circles in England a fear that any great extension of governmental paternalism will more deeply imbue those people at the bottom of the ladder with a feeling that they have. no chance in this . world and they will then be content to go on living as wards of the state.
It does strike me that there is more than one way in which Canada and the wealthy nations can help Britain in her fight for survival. One, as I mentioned, is the continuance of what we now call mutual aid. But, to me, that does not seem the best solution of the problem of our giving aid. Doesn't emigration from the old land to the new offer an even better way?
Now, I know that when the word "immigration" is mentioned in some circles there is an immediate resistance. That is understandable if one still thinks of immigration as an invasion of our shores by hordes of illiterate and undesirable people from southern Europe. The kind of immigration I am talking about is selective immigration. Not only should we choose people who will make fine Canadians but we should choose people with the skills and knowledge this country needs. The setting up of a policy of planned immigration is not going to be easy, but it can be done. We would benefit in many ways by receiving some of Britain's advertising men, newspaper men, textile workers, teachers, doctors, and other people with the unexcelled training that British education gives in such large measure.
While we would definitely be helping ourselves in receiving such Britons we would also be easing the burden on the Motherland's internal economy. Great Britain is overcrowded; we are not!
When we read the industrial history of the United States we see that our neighbor achieved its greatest growth when it had unlimited immigration. As I said, I am not advocating such an open policy as that, but the fact remains that Canada will not reach the fullness of its growth until it has quantity with quality in its population.
I realize that any large policy of immigration will not be easy to put into effect. To begin with the British Government does not want it. Mr. Brendan Bracken told me very definitely that they must keep their own people in the British Isles to aid in reconstruction. Furthermore the British people themselves are not too keen about leaving the old country. Then, we know, of course, that there is considerable opposition to it in Canada, but in my opinion it is essential for both countries and we must work out some plan.
We must keep Canada a British country and, as you are aware, it is now no longer British by the standard that less than 50% of our population is other than of British descent. An influx of British immigration to Canada will fashion a stronger bond between us than all the trade treaties, preferential tariff plans or other schemes developed in the legislative halls.
Remember that we in Canada could well double our population and still not fill all the good parts of this Dominion. As I see it if we can double our population we will double the opportunities in this country, and there will be double the number of jobs available with, of course, double the number of workmen. However, much of our overhead in the form of government costs, railroad expenses and many of our improvements such as roads in the older parts of our country, would now serve a much larger population. In those important respects. we would be much better off. And with double the population we would be at least twice as important in world affairs.
I feel most strongly that we, as Canadians, have no moral right--being as few as we are--to hold this great Dominion while across the water people exist on a standard of living so far below our own and in so many cases verging on actual want. So it becomes, to my mind, as broad as it is long, from the standpoint of the Briton. Either we help him at home or we help him here by bringing him to Canada. But the important thing to remember is that we, as Canadians, have more to gain if we help him to help himself and ourselves by bringing him to our land.
And now, if there is anything to be gained from this talk, I would want it to be a better understanding of the dark days that face Britain in the post-war years. That, and a feeling of responsibility on the part of Canadians for the future of Britain!
We'll have that feeling of responsibility if we keep firmly in our minds two big facts; first, let's not forget the help we in this country received from Great Britain in our early and turbulent years and, second, let's never, never, forget that Great Britain, alone amongst the United Nations, was battered and blasted unmercifully, yet never once grew too weary to fight on to victory.