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Biography of the Day

HÉBERT, LOUIS-PHILIPPE – Volume XIV (1911-1920)

d. 13 June 1917 in Westmount, Que.


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir George-Étienne Cartier


The Fenians

Women in the DCB/DBC

The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

The Acadians

For Educators

The War of 1812 

Canada’s Wartime Prime Ministers

The First World War

The First World War and the Growth of the Central Government

Canada’s role in the First World War necessitated the expanded reach of the federal government into many areas of society. The demands of total war required the growth of the civil service, the mobilization of recruits, and the direct intervention of Sir Robert Laird BORDEN’s government into the country’s economic life:

“In response to an urgent need for foodstuffs in Europe, Borden’s government commandeered the 1915 wheat crop. In 1917 skyrocketing prices led to the establishment of the Board of Grain Supervisors of Canada under Robert Magill*, which took marketing of the crops of 1917 and 1918 away from the private grain companies. It was succeeded by the Canadian Wheat Board with the same mandate for the 1919 crop. Also in 1917, a food controller, William John Hanna*, was appointed to regulate the production and distribution of Canada’s food supplies and a fuel controller, Charles Alexander Magrath*, was given the power to regulate the distribution and price of fuels and the wages of coalminers in Alberta and Nova Scotia. A year earlier, responding to increasing concern about war profiteering by Canada’s businesses, Borden and White had reversed themselves on the tax issue and imposed the nation’s first direct impost, the business profits war tax. It was politically motivated. So too was the income war tax, grudgingly introduced by White in 1917 as a companion to the Military Service Act, ostensibly to conscript the excesses of the nation’s wealth to match the forced enlistment for military service…. In short, by 1917 precedent and tradition had been abandoned; business as usual had given way to remarkable government intervention in the economy.”

For more information on the expansion of the federal government during the First World War, consult The First World War, as well as the following biographies.

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