Canada in World War II

Canada in World War II

On the eve of the Second World War, Canada was showing evident signs of luxuriant demographic and economic development, which ensured that it had great chances of becoming a world power in the near future. The war, which once again saw Canada rush to the aid of the two mother countries, Great Britain and France, has powerfully contributed to accelerating this development.

Internally, Canadian life in the last ten years has been marked in the political field by a notable increase in the votes of the Cooperative Canadian Federation (CCF), a socialist party that in a few years (it was founded only in 1932) has already achieved conspicuous successes., especially in the prairie provinces, to the point of becoming a necessary element in the Canadian political equilibrium. The old liberal leader WL Mackenzie King (who in August 1948 withdrew from active political life by ceding the party presidency to Foreign Minister Saint Laurent) was able to overcome, thanks to his consummate skill, all the difficult tests of war and postwar period; his party, the only one that in the complex Canadian life has a widespread base and therefore can be called the interpreter of the whole country, while experiencing notable setbacks between 1940 and 1945 (from 2,352,000 to 2,029,000 votes), it is still by far the strongest party. The positions of the individual parties, as they appeared after the elections of 11 June 1945, were the following: out of 245 seats the liberals had 119, the conservatives 66, the CCF 28, the party of social credit 13, the progressive Labor (communist) 1.

As for conservatives, whose political base is limited to English-speaking provinces (especially Ontario), the qualification of “progressives” added to the denomination of conservatives after the December 1942 congress may be indicative. The political content of the main parties quite faithfully reflects that of the three major British parties in an older phase of development, corresponding to the most recent industrial development and the consequent weakness of the trade union movement, divided into two main bodies adhering respectively to the AFL and the CIO of the neighboring American confederation, as well as to a non-negligible Confederation of Christian workers in the state of Quebec. Overall, only slightly more than 25% of workers have been registered in trade unions so far.

In the economic field, the Second World War provoked a very intense industrial development, due to the double need to produce for the war and for the internal market. Thus between 1939 and 1943 the net value of production tripled, while between 1939 and 1944 that of exports quadrupled. Even taking into account a certain price tension due to the enormous demand for goods, the figures reported are nevertheless very significant. Another effect of the war was an enormous increase in trade with the United States, which in 1946 rose to as much as 2,250 million dollars (compared to around 800 million in the pre-war period), with a clear preponderance, however, of imports over exports. This latter fact had as a consequence, at the end of 1947 and at the beginning of 1948,

The leaders of Canadian politics had to solve the problems common to all the already belligerent countries after the war; in particular the repatriation of soldiers overseas (about half a million) and their reintegration into productive activities. But, on the whole, these difficulties were overcome without serious complications. Meanwhile, the population had continued to grow rapidly.

Even more striking, for foreign observers, is the increased international importance of Canada, both within the Pan-American community and within the British Commonwealth, in which it has increasingly assumed the role of an independent and sovereign nation, with as a conciliator between the Atlantic interests of the United States and those of Great Britain. In this process, the royal decree of October 2, 1947 authorizing the governor general to sign and ratify international treaties and to accredit ambassadors, a decree that follows another that replaces the qualification of “British citizen” on Canadian passports with that of “citizen Canadian “and more that abolishes the obligation to appeal, in civil matters, to the English private council,

and the exchange of messages between Truman and Mackenzie King on the occasion of the visit of the American president to Ottawa (10-12 June 1947). This political and military solidarity finds its most evident manifestation in the joint preparations for the defense of the Canadian Arctic, a region that has become strategically very important due to the recent technical advances in aviation, which have made it a competition zone between Russia and the United States and that the Canada certainly cannot think of defending on its own. Finally, a notable increase in the importance of Canada on the American level was brought about by the decision (referendum of 22 July 1948) of the people of Labrador and Newfoundland to ask for union with Canada. This political and military solidarity finds its most evident manifestation in the joint preparations for the defense of the Canadian Arctic, a region that has become strategically very important due to the recent technical advances in aviation, which have made it a competition zone between Russia and the United States and that the Canada certainly cannot think of defending on its own. Finally, a notable increase in the importance of Canada on the American level was brought about by the decision (referendum of 22 July 1948) of the people of Labrador and Newfoundland to ask for union with Canada. This political and military solidarity finds its most evident manifestation in the joint preparations for the defense of the Canadian Arctic, a region that has become strategically very important due to the recent technical advances in aviation, which have made it a competition zone between Russia and the United States and that the Canada certainly cannot think of defending on its own. Finally, a notable increase in the importance of Canada on the American level was brought about by the decision (referendum of 22 July 1948) of the people of Labrador and Newfoundland to ask for union with Canada.

Canada in World War II

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