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On 5 December 1939 the Cabinet War Committee was established. Its terms of reference were to consider questions of general policy, to consider reports from special and other committees and to coordinate war activities. It was composed of the Prime Minister, the leader of the Government in the Senate, the Ministers of Justice, Finance, National Defence, Mines and Resources and the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Prime Minister Mackenzie King). Any member of the Cabinet or civil service could be called upon to attend when the subject warranted their presence.
In May 1940, the Committee was enlarged to include the Minister of Munitions and Supply and the Minister of National Defence for Air. In July 1940, the Committee was again enlarged to include the Minister of National Defence for Naval Services. From time to time, other Ministers attended meetings of the Cabinet War Committee without being named as full members. Throughout the history of the Committee there were very few occasions when the Prime Minister was not in the chair. When he was absent, he did not turn his duties over to the Minister of National Defence but to the Minister of Mines and Resources as the next senior member. By 11 April 1945, when it held its last meeting, it had convened 339 times covering virtually all matters of policy relating to the conduct of war. Though not officially called the "War Cabinet", it was the effective wartime government of Canada.
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The Working Committee was first established on 3 August 1943 as a small working committee to study British Sub-Committees documents relating to arrangements for Peace with Italy and the formulation of a post-war policy on Germany, and to advise the Chiefs of Staffs and the Government on appropriate replies. It was composed of the officers of the Three Services, the Privy Council and External, and met every two weeks.
On 24 November 1943 it was officially established by the Cabinet War Committee, changing its name to the Working Committee on Post-Hostilities Problems. It was composed of the Under-Secretary of State of External Affairs, serving as Chairman, the Chief of the Naval Staff, the Vice Chief of the General Staff, the Chief of the Air Staff, the Secretary to the Cabinet, the Acting Secretary of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Secretary to the Privy Council Office, and the Assistant Secretary of State of External Affairs. Its terms of reference were to keep the Advisory Committee on Post-Hostilities Problems currently informed on post-hostilities matters, and to prepare studies or arrange for the preparation of studies which it considered necessary or which it had been assigned to by the Advisory Committee on Post-Hostilities Problems. Although initially much of the work consisted of commentaries on British papers, by 28 March 1944 it dealt with broad political and economic questions of particular concern to Canada, and studied Canadian post-war defence arrangements with the United States, Canada's military interests in Greenland, Canada's position in the event of strained relations between the Soviet Union and the United States, Canada's role in the defence of the North Pacific and the defence of Newfoundland, and the advantages and disadvantages for Canada of a regional security organization.
By the spring of 1945 the Working Committee on Post-Hostilities Problems had virtually completed the program of studies approved by the Advisory Committee the previous year. After January, it had met only once a month and at its forty-first meeting on 1 March 1945 it had been decided that henceforth it would meet only when reqested to do so. Its last official meeting was held on 5 June 1945.