Mobilizing English Canada For War:
The Bureau of Public Information, the Wartime Information Board
and a View of the Nation During the Second World War
William R. Young
"We are planning a whole-page layout under the heading: BOY SOLDIER LEADS CANADA'S ARMIES," began a satire of a wartime ceremony. "We understand," it continued:
that you were mentioned in despatches during the last war for gallantry during hand to hand combat in a maison toleree near Bethune. While natural modesty may move you to try and suppress such matters, the public has certain claims. Nothing is more important for morale than implicit faith in our military leaders; such incidents are of great value in inspiring confidence....
Our Promotion Department is at present arranging an elaborate bit of pageantry to take place on Parliament Hill.... At this ceremony, Mickey Rooney, on behalf of the International Boy Scouts Association, will present a gold-plated pea-shooter to Canada's Army as a symbol of all-out warfare.... you are the proper person to receive this token on behalf of the Army.
Mr. Rooney will be escorted to the dais by the Wichita Harmonica Band, playing "Waltz me around again, Willie" in delicate compliment to our Prime Minister. After receiving the pea-shooter, you will fire the first pea from it in the direction of the Vichy Ambassador, who will occupy a box to your right. A salute of 21 guns will then be fired, the carillon in the Peace Tower will break into "Roll out the Barrel", a flight of R.C.A.F. planes will drop peanuts to the crowd and a detachment of Commando Troops will seize the Prime Minister and carry him shoulder high to the Chateau Beverage Room. The whole ceremony should be a magnificent symbol of Canada's undaunted determination in the fight for liberty....1
This satire on official propaganda, written in 1942, accompanied serious critiques of the whole propaganda effort. Since 1939 the Bureau of Public Information worked to build a national wartime consensus of opinion in English Canada in a hortatory manner reminiscent of the Great War. The Bureau always used the war itself as a national unifying symbol and to emphasize the contribution of all Canadians "sharing together in common experience, working and striving in great causes...."2 Following the lead of Canada's political leaders who all remembered the previous conflict, the Bureau began by painting the war as a fight to the death against an implacable aggressor. In the second instance, official propaganda played up Canada's material and military contribution to the allies. The final thrust of the Bureau's activities from 1939 to 1942 aimed at creating a sense of 'Canadianism' that would encompass ethnic groups in the English Canadian community. All these efforts, hoped the propagandists, would cement English Canadian attachment to the nation, eliminate domestic conflicts and mobilize the population in support of the war policies. This analysis applies to English and not to French Canada, although the propagandists' aims in Quebec remained analogous. Because the problems of French-English relations do not have a bearing on positive efforts to. mobilize English Canadian
opinion for war, they will not be discussed in this essay.3
The Bureau's successor, the Wartime Information Board, organized different means of creating a national view after 1942 but these too enjoyed incomplete success. The sustained criticism of the Bureau's preaching led the Board to incorporate a feeling of the diversity of opinion and to stimulate the democratic process. In contrast, this approach did not come from the top, from the politicians, but was devised by adult educators and social scientists who believed that support for the war effort would grow from a sense of national social goals. Convincing Canadians that the government respected the differences between workers, soldiers and businessmen, for example, became the basis of this effort to create a stronger attachment to the country. Criticism had less to do with the Board's failure in consolidating national sentiment than the agency's presentation of the objectives of the nation in terms too similar to those of the governing Liberal party.
Shortly after war broke out in 1939, the newly-established Bureau of Public Information sought to waken a sense of patriotic fervour in order to minimize divergent opinion within the country. The Bureau portrayed the enemy as the antithesis of real 'Canadianism'. Blame for the war rested on the shoulders of Hitler and later on Mussolini and the Japanese autocrats who were "aggressive, violent, deceitful and possessed with a lust for conquest." The dictators had taken power, gained total dominance over their peoples and turned their countries into military machines. As they pursued international glory, they relied on 'Force' and destroyed 'Reason' to dominate by "brute force". In conquered territories "unspeakable tortures" ended the opposition to the master races, the Germans and Japanese. Nazi massacres and induced starvation served not as "incidents in the heat of battle" but as "deliberate instruments of Hitler's racial policy." The war, a struggle of biblical proportions, became an eschatological battle that reduced the latitude for public questioning of Canada's participation. "If we do not destroy what is evil," Prime Minister King warned, "it is going to destroy all that there is of good."4 Because the Nazis abandoned humanity, American playwrite Robert Sherwood told Canadians, only the "spiritually diseased" in democracies could sympathize with them. All human beings hated the "inhuman oppressor."5 As the anti-enemy themes moved away from their more hysterical beginning, the thirst for conquest became the pre-eminent explanation of enemy motives. Canada was a prize of war, intoned the soundtrack of the film Geopolitik: Hitler's Plan For Empire, and the Germans would keep fighting until they realized their ambitions. "There is no portion of the globe", it continued, that Hitler "would be more likely to covet than this Dominion...."6
'Canadianism' involved more than putting forth a common view of the enemy, but also creating pride in Canada's role in both the military and international situation. From the Bureau's first efforts until the surrender of Japan, the propagandists always emphasized that Canada had declared war in her own right and conducted it on her own behalf. In order to keep Canada's effort to the fore, the information agencies tried to publicize Canada's position before other allied sources could contradict or overshadow it. Recognizing that international conference exerted little impact "save through a press relations policy,"7 information officers tried to make certain that they played up Canada's contribution, even though it might be minimal. They feared that the loss of a sense of public participation in international meetings might ultimately lead to a decline in public support for national policies.8 After American newsreels almost provoked riots in Canadian movie theatres by showing the Dieppe raid as a predominantly American venture, Canadian information officers renewed their determination to publicize native military operations. By publicizing the participation of Canadian forces in the invasion of
Sicily in July 1943 and by releasing a statement by Mackenzie King before the other allied leaders, the propagandists ensured greater coverage of Canada's role. This set the example.9
Government publicity always emphasized Canada's distinct interests vis-a-vis the allies. For a while, the British example provided a strong symbol for evoking English Canadian responses. The National Film Board documentary, The Second Year of War, for example, showed dramatic scenes of the flickering light cast by blitzed London on the dome of St. Paul's cathedral. This could not but bring chills to most Canadians of British ancestry. At the same time, government publicity constantly repeated the essential importance of Canadian aid to British survival and the gratitude of the British people.10 In English Canada, mention of France tended to deal with the role of the French resistance just as Victory Loan broadcasts dramatized the assistance of individual French people, to Canadian airmen who had been shot down and needed to escape the Germans.11 For Russia, the publicity gradually evolved into a reiteration of Canada's desire to build "lasting goodwill" with Canada's northern neighbour which had been able to continue to fight because of Canadian assistance.12 The "common interest" of Canada and the United States provided the main axis for the Canadian interpretation of the Americans' place in the war. Although Canadian publicity always mentioned the joint nature of North American defence and economic agreements, some Canadian releases included a sly criticism of the United States by pointing out that before the US went to war, Canada had fought for the whole of North American civilization. After the Americans joined the fray, Canadian material spoke of the relatively grander proportion of the Canadian war effort and stated that Canada remained "the only one of the co-belligerent nations that has not found it necessary to accept lend-lease from any source." Mackenzie King pointed out that Canada's unique place as the lynch pin between the United States and Britain should always be "a legitimate source of pride to all Canadians."13
The final element of English Canadian propaganda meant defining a 'Canadianism' that integrated the ethnic community into a 'Canadian way of life.' Afraid of possible foreign subversive influence undermining the war effort of alienated ethnic groups, the Bureau of Public Information began sponsoring radio broadcasts and pamphlets called Canadians All. Apart from warning of possible communist or fascist influence in Canada, these told English Canadians of the loyalty of the ethnic community, even of enemy aliens. Native born Canadians should "never assume that our fellow Canadians are by nature (sic) unworthy of our sympathy, respect and goodwill...." The English and ethnic communities were urged to integrate so that out of the war "the golden metal of true Canadianism will emerge." For a truly strong nation, the broadcasts preached, English Canadianism will emerge." For a truly strong nation, the broadcasts preached, English Canadians had to "widen the range of our nation-building to include ... a fuller knowledge of your fellow Canadians and particularly those who are not part of your race of creed."14 Along with this, the Bureau sponsored an advisory group, the Committee on Cooperation in Canadian Citizenship, which pushed the Bureau's emphasis on Canadianism even more strongly. In order to eliminate barriers between eastern Europeans and English Canadians, the Committee became involved in trying to settle inter-ethnic disputes between the right and the left-wing factions of the ethnic community.15
By the mid-war years, these traditional appeals, in many ways Great War leftovers, had obviously failed to express a satisfactory national view. Many English Canadians remembered the hysteria of the Great War and remained skeptical of any identifiable propaganda. The public reaction to the invasion of Sicily in mid-1943 highlighted a schizophrenic reaction to the emphasis on Canadian participation in the war. Angry that other
allies and particularly the United States did not mention the role of Canadian forces, English Canadians still did not like the massive publicity build-up in Canada. "And they say the Americans bray," commented an observer.16 The audience, critical of brouhaha and victory parades, felt that they heard only what the government considered good for them. Glowing news reports of military campaigns, followed by stories of reverses and the to deums that attended some small local success had only led to apathy.
The English Canadian public failed to agree even on the national interest in the allied cause. Anglophones complained that the discussion of Canadian military participation led to a belief that Canadian troops were being sacrificed on the battlefield to save the lives of British soldiers. Anglophiles voiced the opposite view. In their eyes, "Britain seems to be the common target for fault.... She is slow, she is run by fools...17 Efforts to create a national view of Russia did not work either. Most catholics and businessmen remained skeptical of the USSR's bona fides and objected to any sympathetic propaganda. Other Canadians, however, questioned whether the government's earlier antagonism to Russia had been based on the truth.18 As for the United States, some Canadians identified so strongly with the common North American cause that they resented any criticism of the United States and believed that Canada's ultimate destiny lay in some kind of union. Others resented the overshadowing nature of American participation in the war.
On the other hand, the very success of the propaganda in convincing Canadians of the righteousness of the war caused some disunity. Public opinion surveys showed that English Canadians were "well sold on the war: they want the Axis defeated...."19 But the drive to create unity on the basis of an anti-enemy sentiment always remained a double edged sword. Anti-Nazi sentiments grew so pronounced mid-1940 that some English Canadians threatened to begin a witch hunt for Nazi sympathizers. In one broadcast, Allister Grosart repeated the story of a "drunken Nazi" who had called the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to curse at a patriotic message." I'll take you ... through the gates of a camp where you'll find a lot more Nazis like yourself.... They're in there wondering why Der Fuehrer is such a long time coming to get them out."20 In 1942, private citizens in Montreal established the Canadian Column to publish contradictions of rumours planted, they believed, as part of Hitler's plan to subvert the morale of the democratic nations. These private patriots, however, got out of hand. The Canadian Jewish Congress complained that the Column's denial that Jews ran black markets in rationed goods had only supported the allegation. Afraid xenophobia and paranoia like that of the Great War might seriously damage relations between various sections of the Canadian public, the government quietly worked to keep it under control.21
Preaching about 'Canadians All' did little to eradicate the prejudices of either the ethnic community or of English Canadians. Under the influence of redbaiters, Tracey Phillips and Watson Kirkconnell, the Committee for Cooperation in Canadian Citizenship encouraged anti-communist publicity that alienated moderate elements in the eastern European ethnic community. The organizers of the Victory Loan reported that the eastern European settlers in the Canadian west registered an extremely low response to the loan drives. Finally, the Wartime Information Board abandoned efforts to integrate the ethnic community when it failed to convince the government to fire Tracey Phillips from his new position in the Nationalities Branch of the Department of National War Services.22 As for English Canada, propaganda did nothing to diminish anti-oriental sentiments that led to the forced resettlement of Japanese Canadians inland, away from the British Columbia coast. A public opinion survey in 1945 found that English Canadians continued to express dislike of all 'foreigners' and did not believe
that citizens of an ethnically different origin could indeed become "good Canadians."23
These failures inspired influential Canadians arguing for the government to adopt a different propaganda approach that expressed Canadian nationhood less traditionally. As early as mid-1940, a group of public servants, members of Parliament and academics, all participants in the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, lobbied for recognition that "a democratic spirit must infuse the wartime instruments of regimentation or the war will be lost on the home front...." They suggested that Canadians needed motivation to resist the destructive force of the war. For Canada, they concluded, "the d=ynamic can be found in a common national purpose to create a genuinely democratic society."24 Great War tactics led, they believed, to public apathy especially when the United States joined the allies and most Canadians foresaw eventual victory. Across Canadian society, they began to see the idea of a 'people's war' catching hold, the belief in the futility of war unless it resulted in a better post-war life for all.25 Another group with influential connections, the Canadian Association for Adult Education, urged recognition of this public mood and wanted to build "a more dynamic popular conception of the war effort... in terms of the new world which can emerge from the war if there is an enlightened and effective national will to that end." By abandoning its preoccupation with patriotism, propaganda could educate the population about "the process through which a better society might evolve."26
Support built up within the Wartime Information Board, which superseded the Bureau of Public Information, for a similar view. John Grierson, appointed general manager of the Board in early 1943, derided the earlier approaches. The "patriotism is enough" period when "the flags flew and the bands blared" had long ended. The following "finger of scorn period", which "bullied the population" into supporting the war effort by comparing Canadian with allied efforts, had lost its effect. The subsequent "back the attack approach" that emphasized war events and revenge would, Grierson believed, leave the population facing the peace with unrealistic expectations.27
The most effective agitation for new information policies came from middle-level, Liberal members of parliament like Brooke Claxton, Parliamentary Assistant to the Prime Minister, who argued the political benefits. Fearing the threat of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation which had adopted the idea of wartime change as its own, younger Liberals began speaking about the 'people's world' that would follow the 'people's war.' The government could only mobilize support for the war effort and Liberal policies, Claxton pointed out, if it convinced voters that "something better will come from victory."28 Finally, progressive Liberals told the government to worry about social unrest unless the population could agree on a vision of the future. Edgar Tarr told his Liberal friends to use "the pressures of war to bring about commitments which will lessen the chances of reactionaries gaining the day and keeping the world in an unholy mess." Polarization between left and right would occur as long as the war organization remained "largely an organization of the classes asking the masses to respond without giving them any say."29 For his part, Claxton warned that "outmoded conceptions of the place of the common man don't stop the changes but they do make them explode in different directions." The government must work to build up a consensus to convince those Canadians "in a restless search for advance" not to forget current achievements and to see extremists "for what they are, that is as masters of prejudice and intolerance who are going to use those weapons in an effort to steal political power." Claxton's ideal citizens stood firmly in the political centre "doing the fighting not the talking".30 Naturally, they would all vote Liberal.
Somewhat reluctantly giving in, Prime Minister King gradually authorized Grierson and the Wartime Information Board to design a new set of propaganda programmes that would form a national consensus around a new set of issues. Grierson's officers believed that citizens would not support policies unless they could link the war to the fulfillment of basic needs, such as working conditions, health services and housing. This course, they felt, would promote common purpose and an individual appreciation of a relationship to the total national effort. "Mere oratory," warned Board psychologist J.D. Ketchum, would not convince the population. Canadians required graphic and detailed explanations to envision the "permanent challenge." The Board's officers believed that, although Canadians' ability to absorb masses of facts remained limited, this restriction did not apply to information specifically requested. The government could make use of the public's demands to put forward its view of national policies.31 The Board's public opinion surveys reinforced these philosophical assumptions. By 1943 the surveys revealed that Canadians' highest priority lay in working out post-war plans. Interest in the armed forces and in war production had reached a saturation point. The population, concluded the survey analysts, demonstrated curiosity about broader questions and were no longer "fooled by injunctions to win the war first before talking about the peace." At the same time, Canadians showed willingness to continue wartime sacrifices--as long as these were demonstrated to be both essential and equal.32
Using these findings, the Board prepared publicity to build up a sense of nationhood by convincing individual citizens of their participation in national life. To neutralize the skeptics' belief that centralized bureaucracy exercised undue influence, the Board did not just reiterate the Four Freedoms, the Magna Carta and the British North America Act in civics course fashion. Instead, pamphlets specifically explained to citizens how to manipulate the political system. The Board pointed out that except for the publicly-owned radio system, a few men controlled the newspapers and broadcasting. In practical terms, ordinary Canadians had to form well-organized groups that neither the media nor the government could ignore. "Organized public opinion" could reduce the passivity of individuals and the "comradeship learned in war" could accomplish things in the spirit of democratic change. During the 1930s "society had no vision. Society saw no meanings, held no ideas.... " But the war provided opportunities that could rekindle "the flame of a great and prosperous Canada."33
In order to expand this sense of national belonging, the Board prepared specific campaigns as defensible and as factual as possible. An educational campaign to explain the merits of economic controls, for example, began when support for these policies declined in 1943. The campaign emphasized the "concept of participant citizenship and social responsibilities of the individual" in an attempt to secure co-operation with wage and price controls. The Board also dealt with "the citizen in his relationship to his local community, his responsibilities as a member of that community and the things he can do locally to help fulfill the national purpose."34 Since both the Depression and wartime controls themselves had given the public a "very personal connection" with government economic intervention, the Board argued that only a frank and open approach would succeed in consolidating support. The public, therefore, should be told the basis of the cost-of-living index and its use as an indicator of inflation and the gauge for wage and price increases. The major campaign brochure even explained the real reason for the government's economic policy: fear of civil unrest if economic stabilization measures failed. Appealing to a sense of common outrage, the pamphlet explained that inflation left the majority with a reduced standard of living while speculators made exorbitant profits. If this occurred, "everyone would suspect others of profiteering," general distrust would wreck national unity and war activities would suffer from bickering and class
rivalry. A successful policy, pointed out the pamphlet, would "leave Canada in a position to meet the problems of post-war reconstruction with far more success than if inflation were present." Since no one wanted to relive the 1930s, economic stabilization policies remained an essential national goal for all Canadians.35
Following its philosophy, the Board explained in detail that both government and public had more money to spend. Despite taxes and voluntary savings, disposable income had risen from $4,200,000,000 in 1939 to $7,000,000,000 in 1943. Floating around in competition for scarce goods and services, this money constituted an inflationary threat. While some unjustified price rises occurred because of this excess income, most other prices increased in a controlled fashion to allow for higher production costs. The cost of imported materials, however, could not come under the government's control nor could the prices of their substitutes. Even labour costs pushed inexorably higher as the result of factors such as absenteeism, high employment turnover and employees' inexperience. Despite these imperfections, the campaign assured Canadians that the government had strictly supervised mark-ups and wage increases to assure overall stability. The controls, therefore, prevented the "hardships and injustices of inflation" by taking "into account everyone's ability to pay" and by distributing the "burden of war finance fairly." Canadians with fixed incomes would not get caught in the squeeze of rising prices and would not allow others to use a rise in prices "as an excuse" to demand higher incomes.
For a favourable impression, the publicity initially emphasized the benefits of price control. These restrictions obviously protected the consumer who paid lower prices and distributed the price increases over the whole tax-paying public.36 Wage controls, the bugbear of organized labour, the Board argued, prevented upward pressure on the cost-of-living and yet provided for adjustment of wages to alleviate hardship. Since wages accounted for an average of two-thirds of production costs, regulation was essential in order to control prices. The tax system, an equitable way to collect money, produced more social equality and ensured that corporations paid their proportionate share. The whole structure, the argument concluded, proved that national "equality of sacrifice" underlay the government's economic policy.37
In a quintessential example of their mid-war view of nationhood, the information officers demonstrated the common interest of all economic groups in the success of controls. Since labour, manufacturers, landlords, farmers and salaried workers each appreciated the ceilings on the others' incomes, each "in turn must accept controls on their own products for the common good." Posters depicted a circle of men each pointing to his neighbour and saying "sure inflation control is well for him." If one profession got a raise, the message reiterated," everyone would want more and would end up with no comparative advance." To produce a sense of "joint effort and joint responsibility in a common cause," the Board warned that "selfishness on the part of any single group will jeopardize not only the welfare of the Canadian community ... but ... will inevitably react against the interest of the group responsible." Four years of war had shown that planning for maximum efficiency in all sectors had achieved "a stability in the living of Canadians who, under the impact of the war's demands, have learned that there is no independence in a working democracy." This realization would lead toward peacetime cooperation and sharing in "a common objective" of working out reconversion, "national in its scope and international in its responsibilities."38
As they developed their arguments, the strategists geared the economic stabilization information campaign to different economic interests and changing wartime conditions. The
first simple advertisements in January 1944 suggested not wasting energies on chiselling and trying to circumvent economic controls as practical responses to the wartime economy. The second series of pamphlets pictured controls as practical responses to wartime economic conditions. The third wave presented an "inflation is poison" theme, and preceded the special appeals to various sections of the population. Workers received publicity about the war labour boards that gave workers a say. For farmers, the message repeated that economic controls helped to modify cost increases and provided an assured income. For businessmen and manufacturers, any deflationary period in the post-war situation would leave goods on hand that could fetch less than cost. The final stage of the campaign related the need to control inflation to the post-war future. The inflationary problems which had caused strikes and unrest in 1919 "must not happen here agains."39 After September 1944, when certainty of victory threatened to sabotage controls, the campaign dropped its emphasis on wage controls and concentrated on the need for stable prices to avoid a drastic rise that would lead to a public outcry.
Apart from bolstering national economic policies, the Board worked to integrate alienated groups, particularly workers and soldiers, into a national consensus. Labour expressed discontent during early 1943 in frequent strikes and in questions about economic policies and post-war programmes. The Wartime Information Board felt that it must respond or absenteeism and industrial unrest would cause increasingly serious difficulties. Many government and industrial figures found this interpretation difficult to swallow. The Department of Munitions and Supply, for example, believed that the best propaganda reiterated patriotic themes that shamed workers into more efficient production. "So long as self-interest (sic) is the dominant factor in war work," this school believed, "dissatisfaction will be greatly magnified in the minds of the workers." These men also wanted to deal with morale problems in specific plants rather than to aim propaganda at working men in general. Public contempt for absentees and praise for the sacrifices of the armed forces would do the job. But because workers walked out of these meetings by the hundreds, the Wartime Information Board ultimately gained authority for the opposite approach.40
To increase the sense of participation by workers, the Board spoke proudly of labour's accomplishments nationally and internationally. Labour had overcome the tremendous initial German advantage in armaments in one of "the greatest military and INDUSTRIAL (sic) achievements in history." To overcome alienation, the Board strongly promoted the merits of factory labour-management committees, "joint ventures for the promotion of their common purposes." Continuous consultation between workers and managers would increase workers' sense of importance and lead to efficiency, reduced absenteeism, better employee welfare and increased output. The Board also tried to heal rifts among workers, prejudice against women for example, by praising their accomplishments.41 In one very important service, the Board worked to reduce tension between workers and other Canadians. Soldier-worker exchanges proliferated. Encouraging military praise of labour's accomplishments and pledges of support for workers' post-war demands, the Board quickly published the remark of one enthusiastic worker that "It's one job and we're all trying to build a better world from now on." The radio testimonials to the quality of Canadian military equipment mitigated any hostility towards the output of industrial workers. The Board tried to convince those outside industry that the work of "John Smith, civilian,... is vastly important...."42
Similar aims guided publicity for the armed forces since, by 1943, the Board believed that "only if they have something beyond fighting to fight for" would soldiers continue the battle. Existing sources of news had not adequately kept the troops abroad in touch with
Canada. Cynical troops refused to believe publicity that made "everything back home look rosy" and greatly mistrusted government in general.43 An information programme specifically tried to involve soldiers in the political process by immersing them in discussions on specific national issues. Disarming the cynics meant avoiding high-sounding phrases, striking to the facts, and presenting different sides of issues, as well as stimulating debate on 'real problems'. Accordingly, the armed forces programme demonstrated that "the serviceman's future depends on the nation's future." The discussion of events fell between the vocational and the popular. Apart from general news, each issue of Canadian Affairs, a monthly pamphlet, filled in knowledge about one single aspect of Canadian events, particularly civilian wartime accomplishments and the interest of the home front in servicemen's wellbeing. Editions of the overseas edition of Canadian Affairs dealt with the various geographic areas of Canada, health insurance plans, housing proposals, the role of immigration, of women and of various occupations. Creating "citizen soldiers" with a grasp of their community responsibilities meant reducing the importance of "over-salted porridge" and turning attention towards national issues in the hope of encouraging awareness of social problems and discussions of solutions. Generally, the Board worked to stimulate the discussion of changes such as social security that increased equality of opportunity and reduced prejudice.44
Ultimately, the Board linked all these views of nationhood to the post-war future of the country. Specifically, Canadians were assured that government reconstruction plans provided for assistance to veterans' civil re-establishment, facilitated an economic reconversion that protected workers and provided insurance for all against unemployment, sickness, old age and special disabilities. Pamphlets dwelt on the important role of the federal government and the need for the retention of some wartime powers to bring about a more equitable peacetime society. The editors, for example, reported that "servicemen as a whole realized this (maintaining an adequate standard of living) through government action was a problem for everybody and were prepared to discuss it with a view to arriving at the best solution for all and not just each man for himself."45 Publicity concentrated on the work of the Advisory Committee on Reconstruction, chaired by Principal F. Cyril James of McGill University, which advocated government economic planning. Business, the James report concluded, must accept the fact that government had an inescapable role in post-war economic life and could not avoid using its taxing powers to promote full employment.46 The Board also promoted the role of the new Department of Reconstruction in coordinating public works. When the Minister of Reconstruction, C.D. Howe, tabled a white paper setting out government plans, the provisions were related to national employment and opportunities. The Board emphasized that the government was working for a smooth orderly transition and a high stable level of employment.47
Although controversy surrounded the proposals to expand post-war national security, the government allowed the Board to publicize them as "a considerable part of the reconstruction programme Dr. Leonard Marsh's report on social security presented to the Advisory Committee on Reconstruction in March 1943, proposed children's allowances, contributory survivors' and funeral benefits insurance, extended unemployment insurance, health insurance, income maintenance for the disabled, and contributory and non-contributory old age pensions. To reduce opposition, the Board presented its publicity as "simply an analysis" and noted that "without special measures calculated to maintain employment, the proposed social insurance structure will have no solid foundation."48 When the government announced the institution of family allowances, monthly sums payable to all Canadian mothers for the benefit of their children, the Board aided the new Department of National Health and
Welfare to argue that the allowances would ensure that children of large, low-income families would not suffer disadvantages. Children's needs should have "a special claim upon the nation." Releases to editorial writers, teachers, ministers, health care workers and influential citizens related the scheme to post-war progress as "a simple, fair and effective way to ensure a greater measure of well-being to Canadian citizens of the future." This nationally-based argument accompanied more personal appeals that pointed out instances of children remaining away from school because they could not afford shoes.49
Finally, the Board tried to assist in the reintegration of servicemen in the national social fabric. Explaining the mechanical provisions for jobs, allowances, unemployment insurance, medical care, pensions, land grants and retraining, the Board sponsored a booklet, Back to Civil Life, as well as a radio comedy series the Johnny Home Show, by Johnny Wayne and Frank Schuster to fill the gaps in public knowledge. To defuse the 'repats' resentment of civilians" easy lives, publicity frankly admitted the comparative comfort of life in Canada but pointed out that this meant easier readjustment. The Board also tried to quiet veterans' fears that their place in the community was in jeopardy by citing the unanimous desire of civilians to assist. Specifically, the Board encouraged citizens' committees, CN programmes for women and special appeals to share housing with veterans.50 Avoiding the sob-sister approach, the Board discussed the psychological adjustment that servicemen had to undergo. This meant avoiding too rosy a picture and telling the returnee that this "romanticized anticipation" would not fit "the more tawdry reality." Families of returned men also had to consider that years in the services would change soldiers' values and expectations.51
This new official propaganda enjoyed a mixed measure of success after 1943 in building up a sense of nationhood that recognized English Canadian diversities. Throughout the life of the economic stabilization information programme, public opinion surveys indicated that support for this national policy had stabilized. Some problems with labour and agriculture remained and surveys in April 1945 indicated that public support for wage controls lagged behind that for price controls. And yet, 87 per cent of those surveyed indicated a belief that the government had done a better than fair job. Significantly only 61 per cent of the respondents believed war profiteering had been controlled. A final survey in July 1945 indicated that a majority of the population favoured permanent regulation of the economy. At the same time, the Canadian cost-of-living rose only 3 per cent from 1941 compared to a 30 per cent increase from 1914 to 1918. Perhaps the success of the controls and not the propaganda had the greatest impact in ensuring this public support. As for the labour information programme, undoubtedly, it did expand the range of knowledge available to the working man. Labour leaders expressed their satisfaction with the new services, and the keen demand by unions and the labour press for the industrial information publications indicated that these had struck a responsive chord. The public view of unions shifted a bit in January 1944; 60 per cent of those who responded to a survey (70 per cent of the workers) believed that absenteeism was not totally the workers' fault. Nonetheless, many government officials and businessmen remained unsympathetic to the Board's job and blocked some of its programmes. A further survey in the early summer of 1945 showed that the public shared these misgivings. Most Canadians believed that unions needed no more power and displayed a very high level of ignorance about the role of labour. As for servicemen, the Board felt its publicity to the armed forces had managed to defuse much resentment. The circulation of publications gradually climbed, and the editors believed that these had helped to overcome the servicemen's feeling of isolation from civilian and home events. They attributed this change to the emphasis on nationhood and to the educational tone.52
Nonetheless, the real effect of the propaganda carried out since 1943 lay not as much
in its building a sense of nationhood as in its political results. The Cabinet only allowed the Board to follow through with its 1943 changes and to set forth a 'new national point of view' for mainly political reasons. The Liberal government, while worried about the possibility of social unrest, also greatly feared that Canadians might choose the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation as the most compatible political party to govern the country in the post-war years. Any information effort, therefore, which could identify the existing government with national goals could not but strengthen the public image of the Liberals as the national party best able to achieve them. When Mackenzie King called a general election for June 11, 1945, the party chose as its slogan the theme which the Wartime Information Board had promoted for two years: Building a New Social Order for Canada. At the polls on election day, the Liberals won 41.3 per cent of the vote compared to the Conservatives' 28.5 per cent and the CCF's 14.7 per cent.53 In an election post-mortem, Davidson Dunton reported that the Board's sources attributed the Liberal success to the government's convincing Canadians of the sincerity of its national economic and social policies for post-war stability as well as the solidity of its wartime accomplishments.54 While the Board's programmes intended to recognize the diversities of a democratic society, the practical results showed that the propaganda benefited the governing party and failed in its original purpose of defining a non-political and popular sense of nationhood.
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Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation