Canada's History : 2020-08-01

TRADING POST : 27 : 27


a trace of wounds. However, wartime trauma sometimes lurked just beneath the surface, rising up to torment without warning. Sam Roddan, a Canadian officer who served with a British regiment, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, experience­d the grinding warfare of northwest Europe. Under constant stress and strain, he saw men killed and maimed. The trauma made him feel like he was losing control over himself. “It creeps up on you when you are least prepared,” he wrote. “It dries out your mouth. It gets into your bones and muscles. It’s like dry rot in the brain and heart.” Roddan eventually broke down from the combat stress and was sent home. Although he went on to a career as a teacher and a writer, his lingering mental wounds traumatize­d him for decades, long before society came to understand post-traumatic stress injuries. He wrote in 1989, “I draw close to those around me, as though to make room for absent comrades now part of history.” especially after the limited conscripti­on in late 1944, the wounds to national unity were not as deep. There were other fault lines, however. The had allowed for censorship, imprisonme­nt without trial, and deep intrusion by the state into the lives of all Canadians. But it took some time for this legacy of the war to emerge as a cautionary lesson. Most egregiousl­y, there was little talk after the war about the harsh treatment of the twenty-three thousand Japanese Canadians and Japanese nationals who had been forcibly relocated from the west coast in 1942. Branded as enemy aliens, they were herded into isolated camps while their goods, homes, and businesses were sold off at criminally low prices. It would take that group several decades to address the historical amnesia around its unjust treatment. The stronger state had been necessary to fully prosecute the war, but Ottawa did not relinquish all of its powers once the war ended. In the postwar years, the number of public servants continued to grow, with preferenti­al hiring for veterans. More programs were created and administer­ed to aid Canadians in the uncertain time. Canadians seemed to support a greater role for the state in their daily lives, with one wartime Gallup poll revealing that seventy-one per cent of respondent­s wanted to “see great reforms in the country after the war.” Among the programs introduced in 1945 was the “baby bonus” — or family allowance. Issued on a sliding scale according to age, the bonus averaged about seven dollars per child per month. In the years to follow, further changes to federal tax collection and a more interventi­onist state implied that citizens would be cared for from cradle to grave. All of this was welcomed by Canadians, although it would forever War Measures Act A new social-security net emerged from the war, thanks to Canada’s wartime leader, who rarely led from the front but had well-honed political instincts. King had served as prime minister since 1935, and his cautious hand must have impressed Canadians during the war, since they again chose his party in the June 1945 election. His Liberals won in part because of their measured wartime leadership. They ensured that the passions of English Canada did not lead to the full alienation of French Canada, such as accusation­s of being traitors to the cause, as had occurred during the First World War. While there were wartime regional and linguistic tensions, and a stronger anti-war movement in Quebec than in any other province, 27 AUGUST–SEPTEMBER 2020