Before social welfare existed, the 1900’s were a time of poverty, drunkenness, and misery. For ages Temperance groups such as ‘The Dominion Alliance For The Total Suppression of the Liquor Traffic’, and the ‘Woman’s Christian Temperance Union’ struggled to put prohibition in place for many reasons. Some being that historically, alcohol has been around from colonial times and banning it was a large task. Another being that the government was not wealthy at the time and enforcing the law cost money that could be put to other uses. Despite that, they believed that alcohol was the source of all the country’s hardship like Canada’s failed economic success , social cohesion and all other impurities and banning it could do good for the country. According to Gerald Hallowell,(2013) (Pg.1) drunkenness and acts of public violence were a big issue. Eventually after the election of 1917 the federal government put prohibition into force on April 1 , 1918 which banned alcohol imports , production, and trade.
The Consumption of alcohol was banned once in the late 19th century in the form of local municipal bands as well as the early 20th century in the form of provincial bans and once as a temporary wartime measure in the form of national prohibition from 1918 to 1920. During pre-confederation the Dunkin Act was passed in Canada . This act authorized any municipality, province, or town of Canada to ban the sale or production of any liquor, of course by majority vote of the province.
By Canada putting prohibition into force, it lead to rum runners, illegal selling and exporting of alcohol and consumption of it. This all lead to organized crime becoming the most powerful it had ever been before, the part of the century where mafias and gangs flourished. By banning the consumption of all alcohol, the demand for it got increasingly high and anyone would do anything to get there hands on some.
Prohibition was an amazing opportunity for organized crime. People wanted alcohol, they did not care if there was a ban and would get it anyway they could meaning that it did not stop consumers from getting access to it even if it was illegal. Of course members of organized crime saw this as a potential goldmine and took the opportunity to provide the public with illegal homemade alcohol. During the time of the Prohibition law enforcement, court systems and politicians became very corrupt from all the bribes and fear from gangs and mafias. Organized crime became so forcible and mighty that it nearly took over alcohol production, sale and import .They could bribe, blackmail or kill anyone who tried to stop them. When you ban any product that has been used by the public for a long period of time it will make a great opportunity for gangs and organized crime to benefit off of it and start to illegally sell and manufacture and enter the black market. Alcoholics will do anything to obtain and fulfill their desires and supply. This demand will make a good market to supply their need . That’s how organized crime steps in when the profit margin is high and because criminals control the market , they can put any price on the product. Prohibition made organized crime members very rich. Even after prohibition bans were lifted mafias and gangs still benefited due to the prohibition laws going on south of the border and continued to rum run and smuggle liquor.
Prohibition was a bad idea and horrible failure for many reasons . There is no surprise onto why it only lasted a decade. To begin with, prohibition laws were extremely difficult to enforce. At the time the economy was very poor and in a wreck, due to the war that had previously ended, so the government had no money to enforce the laws. Many people were illegally drinking that it became too much for the police to handle since they had to keep going out of their way to arrest the people going against the law. People with drinking problems were determined to break the laws to get what they wanted and there was no one to control or stop them since the police went corrupt and took bribes. Furthermore, prohibition was a bad idea because it physically put many people’s lives in danger . Since the production of safe and FDA approved alcohol was no more , organized crime members resorted to home brewing their alcohol . People were desperate to get their hands on liquor but did not know if the drinks they were buying were truly safe for consumption; and in most cases, they were not. People became sick from the liquor but since the substances they ingested were illegal they could not get help or treatment not to mention, treatment was usually expensive and most people could not afford it.
The whole idea of prohibition was to better the economy and purify the country but in fact it did the complete opposite. Prohibition took money away from the government at a time it was desperately needed. The sale of alcohol could have increased and bettered the poverty stricken Canadian economy but instead the alcohol money was put into the hands of organized crime and gang members. Canada was heavily dependent of their manufacturing of rye, wheat and grains. When prohibition was put into place there was no longer need for brewing and distilling factories which were multimillion dollar companies and made a lot of income for the economy. Many citizens lost their jobs and had to resort to crime as their only option. By changing Canada’s laws it not only affected Canadian citizens but Americans as well. Instead of bringing Canada and the United States closer it pulled them further apart. The ban on alcohol created tension between the two countries because Canada was the main producer and exporter with the United States at the time and when the ban was made it was a major loss in business and finance for both countries.
Overall, prohibition only did more harm to the country and was a catastrophe full of problems. It was a disaster for many reasons; prohibition allowed organized crime to become the most powerful it’s ever been, it corrupted and took over law enforcement, put people in physical danger, unemployed many and took money out of the economy and into the hands of gangs. Nonetheless, prohibition was a very significant and crucial episode in Canada’s history despite it being more damaging than useful.