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Cadbury, George Woodall (1907-95)

George Cadbury.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A11291-1

Born and raised in Birmingham, England, Cadbury was the eldest grandchild of the Quaker founder of the famous chocolate dynasty. In the 1920s, Cadbury attended King's College at Cambridge to study economics, where John Maynard Keynes was his supervisor. Afterwards, he studied at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cadbury accumulated years of experience as a managing director of two sizeable food processing enterprises in England. He was lent to the Ministry of Aircraft Production where he was the deputy director of production for three years during World War II. He then worked for the British Air Commission in Washington, DC. Cadbury had close links with the British Labour Party and was well known in Fabian Society circles. He got to know a number of Canadian socialists including David Lewis, the future leader of the NDP. Lewis suggested that Cadbury pay a visit to see the newly elected CCF government in Saskatchewan. In the summer of 1945, Cadbury met with officials in the Saskatchewan government, was invited to observe a Cabinet meeting, and was offered a job.

Cadbury arrived in December, soon joined by his wife Barbara, also a committed socialist with much experience in the co-operative movement, along with their two daughters. T.C. Douglas needed Cadbury to bring order to the group of enterprises purchased or set up in its first few months of government. Douglas also wanted an effective system of long-term economic planning. Cadbury established the Economic Advisory and Planning Board, a committee of Cabinet with himself as chair, to provide advice to Cabinet on improving performance of government enterprises. With experts recruited from all over Canada, the Planning Board soon became the brains trust for the new government. Two additional central agencies were created which had a great impact on the evolution of government in Saskatchewan. The Budget Bureau pioneered a more collective approach to expenditure control and acted as an advisory body on the machinery of government. The Government Finance Office, later known as Crown Investments Corporation, was a holding company and treasury board for the growing number of Crown Corporations in the province.

Through these agencies, Cadbury put Saskatchewan at the cutting edge of innovative government in the world. By the end of the decade, Cadbury felt that the creative part of his job had been completed and he left the province for a long career in the United Nations as an advisor to various developing countries. After retirement, he moved to Ontario and returned to political life as the chairman, and later president, of the national NDP. He was also active with his wife in the International Planned Parenthood Federation. He died on February 28, 1995.

Gregory P. Marchildon

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Further Reading

Cadbury, George. 1971. “Planning in Saskatchewan.” Pp. 51-64 in Laurier Lapierre et al. (eds.), Essays on the Left. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart;  -  - . 1981-82. Transcription of oral interview. Saskatchewan Archives Board, R-8343 to R-8345; McLaren, Robert I. 1995. “George Woodall Cadbury: The Fabian Catalyst in Saskatchewan's ‘Good Public Administration',” Canadian Public Administration 38 (3): 471-80.
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