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130   DAYS OF PREPARATION

ment, along with that created by the growth in numbers and wealth of the population, was indeed far in excess of the ability of Canadian industries to keep pace with it, no matter how rapidly they might expand, and for several years previous to the war the imports into Canada ran at gigantic figures, due directly to the fact that Canadian plants could not be enlarged fast enough to keep pace with the demand. It was well in the end that this was so, for when the demand was suddenly curtailed the loss fell largely on the foreign importer, whose shipments into Canada were reduced (in the case of commodities which could be produced in the Dominion) to the vanishing point, making the shock to domestic industry proportionately less severe.

If ever an economic movement, or a political principle, was justified in a totally unexpected manner, it was the movement or principle which during nearly two generations had worked for the upbuilding in Canada of a great industrial interest. It is safe to say that none of the advocates of protection, and none of the promoters of the industries which grew up under protection, ever dreamed of advancing the argument that industries would be a fine thing for Canada and for the Empire in case of a world-war, because they would supply much-needed munitions and equipment for the armies of Britain and her allies, while the money received for those commodities would assist Canada in financing and maintaining in the field an army of hundreds of thousands of men; such an argument would have seemed so preposterously far-fetched that its hearers would have come to the conclusion that a cause so defended could have no practical considerations in its favour and should be rejected. Yet that was what happened in the year 1915, and so turned a period of acute financial and economic crisis into one of comparative ease and comfort, tending at times towards an appearance of positive prosperity. In order to observe how this came about, it will be necessary to glance briefly at a few phases of the industrial develop-


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