From Cold War to Present Day
Reorganizing the Military
Cold War Defence
Caption: Grumman Avenger AS Mk. 3M, 881 Anti-Submarine Squadron, HMCS Magnificent, Royal Canadian Navy, 1950-1952
The new National Defence Act somewhat readjusted what had been in existence since 1904 except in wartime. There would henceforth be a Cabinet Defence Committee chaired by the prime minister. Its vice-chairman would be the minister of defence and its other members would be the ministers of finance, industry and trade, and external affairs.
The minister of defence would chair the Defence Council, made up of the minister's parliamentary secretary, deputy minister and assistant deputy ministers, the three chiefs of staff and the chairman of the Defence Research Establishment. A remarkable but often forgotten fact: In 1950, for the first time since passage of the original Militia and Defence Act following Confederation, there was no section providing for compulsory service by men of eligible age. In other words, the law was finally catching up with a practice that had endured since the 1870s.
The substantial defence budgets of the period 1940-46 took a dive: The 1949 budget would be $361 million, compared to $2.9 billion for 1944-45.
However, the forecasts would explode - for two reasons, both based on the government's goal of keeping the peace by preparing for war. The year 1951 would see the passage of a $5-billion, three-year budget that was actually exceeded. In 1952-53 alone Canada would spend more than $2 billion on defence. Strength would be nearly 50,000 men and women in the Regular Army alone as of 31 March 1954, nine years after the end of the Second World War.
This was the first time in peacetime that the total number of professionals exceeded that of the militia, which was established at 46,500. These figures indicate a remarkable change in the public attitude to its armed forces. In 1927, for example, nine years after the end of the First World War, the army had numbered barely 4,000 personnel.
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