Previous Index Next

 

CHAPTER VI

FINANCIAL MEASURES

A T THE end of July, 1914, and for a considerable time thereafter, a greater responsibility was thrown upon the shoulders of the Canadian Minister of Finance than had ever been borne by any of his predecessors. The whole financial fabric of Canada, the whole system of credit, the value of written contracts and the faith of Canadians in one-another's word, might easily have been ruined, beyond the power of years to repair, by a single false step on the part of the man responsible for the conduct of the Canadian Treasury and the administration of the laws relating to money and banking. There was no precedent to guide him, no standard of rules which could be applied to the new situation. Much had to be allowed which would not have been permissible in times of peace; on the other hand, to tolerate too many departures from established usage, or to allow any irresponsible individuals or corporations to exercise dangerous powers without close supervision by the Government, would have been to invite disaster. It speaks volumes for the discernment and knowledge of Sir Thomas White, at that time the Hon. W. T. White, that the amendments which he effected in the financial and banking systems of Canada to meet the abnormal situation of the war worked with the most perfect smoothness, and opened the door to no serious abuses.

The Minister of Finance was materially assisted in the delicate task which confronted him at the beginning of August, by the existence of a body through which he could deal with the banks as a collective unit, with complete assurance that no single bank would be permitted to make an improper use of the powers specially conferred upon the banks as a whole. It has been for

116


Previous Index Next