But attitudes towards the police slowly began to change in some segments of society following World War II. One factor was that Canadians had developed an increased sense of pride, independence and confidence as a result of the country's contribution to the War (Canadian Encyclopedia 2551-2553). A stronger economy following the disastrous Depression of the 1930s meant promises of increased prosperity that could create a "brave new world" (Finkel 3-39). Being able to question the actions and conduct of the police was a natural consequence of this new sense of confidence.
A second factor was greater public consciousness and a new perspective regarding any acts of violence. Canadians had been listening to reports from the battlefront on their radios for six years, the first generation that could hear and imagine what was happening to Canadian troops abroad. Revelations about the gas chambers and the Holocaust emphasized further the sense of futility with respect to violence and war. Canada, often portrayed as the "Peaceable Kingdom," had a history of lethal violence and the country, many citizens believed, did not need any more (Torrance Public Violence). Public condemnation of any inappropriate use of violence became more pronounced.
Definitions of what constitutes violence were also changing. As Canadian society became more open, expressions of dissent and opposition were becoming more acceptable - in families, on the streets and in society - as long as certain boundaries were not crossed. Opposition to capital punishment grew after the last execution in 1962, followed by its full abolition in 1976. In the minds of citizens, physical and sexual abuse constituted a new form of violence. The old definition of violence emphasizing acts "inflicting physical harm on another person" was supplanted by a more inclusive and broader definition of public violence: acts having a significant impact on parts or all of society (Ian Jeffrey Ross).
Active participation in the War meant too, that Canadians were traveling a great deal and interacting with people from many other cultures. In doing so, they were developing a sense of ethnic tolerance, a third factor - tolerance that was much deeper and more profound than that which existed prior to the War (Dreiszier). Greater ethnic tolerance was necessary and essential since more than 1.7 million immigrants arrived in Canada between 1946 and 1962 (Finkel 47-56). But it was also accompanied by a na´ve belief that profound racism did not really exist in Canada (Backhouse). This point will be briefly explored later.
Concerns about the need to safeguard the individual rights of Canadian citizens, a fourth factor, deepened after the War as the concept of human rights was presented to the international community by the newly created United Nations. Canada had maintained a long tradition of common law respect for civil liberties. This tradition was tarnished before and during the War, however, with the introduction of the War Measures Act, the internment of "enemy aliens," the removal of the Japanese from the West Coast, the restrictions placed on Jehovah Witnesses, and the Padlock Law restricting freedom of speech in Quebec. What began as simply the desire to preserve basic civil liberties grew and became transformed after the War into a human rights movement that soon had international appeal and support (Christopher MacLennan 12-32, 109-125).
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