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Canada: THE DOMINION: Sitting on the Lid

2 minute read

With some self-satisfaction the Wartime Prices and Trade Board this week took stock after six and a half years of heavy-handed price control. It found that Canadian price levels had remained remarkably stable. Canada’s official cost-of-living index had risen only 18.9% over prewar (U.S. rise, 31%). The increase was only 1.3% last year.

One reason, said a top Prices Board official, has been the Lack of powerful pressure groups attacking price ceilings—like those battering OPA in the U.S. But -there were other more important reasons. Wartime taxes had been much stiffer in Canada than in the U.S.; Canada had done a much better job freezing wages and keeping them frozen. Thus it had held down the amount of cash that might otherwise have fueled a postwar inflationary spending spree. Moreover, Canadians are by tradition a more law-abiding people than U.S. citizens, have refused to deal extensively in black markets.

How long could the line be held so firmly? Price Boss Donald Gordon, who has easily won the hit-&-run attacks on price control in the past, was now running into something like a pitched battle. Moreover, in price control, as in most things, Canada was influenced by what went on south of the border. Price rises in the U.S. had exerted an upward pull on Canadian prices. Now Canadians uneasily eyed the proposed emasculation of OPA. If that happened, they would have an even harder job keeping the lid on inflation in Canada.

A Matter of Demeanor

Of the 14 persons Canada’s Government had charged with conspiracy to spy for Russia, one was already serving a 2½-year term in Kingston Penitentiary (TIME, April 22), twelve had been committed for trial. Last week in case No. 14, that of Dr. David Shugar, 30-year-old Polish-born scientist, the Government pulled up lame.

Dr. Shugar, who worked on antisubmarine devices during the war, had been accused partly because Government investigators who questioned him lengthily in secret were “not impressed by [his] demeanor or by his denials, which we do not accept.”

But last week, at Shugar’s preliminary hearing in Ottawa’s Police Court, the Government had no evidence to present. Briskly Magistrate Glenn Strike dismissed the charges.

Said a free but bitter Dr. Shugar: “I definitely wasn’t impressed with [the Government’s] demeanor either.”

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