After Prime Minister Robert Borden returned from an imperial conference in Britain in December 1912, he introduced the Naval Aid Bill. It had been drafted at the suggestion of Britain's Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty. The bill called for a contribution of $35 million to the British government for the construction of three Royal Navy dreadnoughts (battleships).

The cost of the program was actually far greater than Laurier's plan for the creation of a Canadian navy, and the Liberals in the House of Commons vehemently opposed the Naval Aid Bill. On 9 May 1913, the Prime Minister used closure to pass the bill, which was subsequently defeated in the Liberal-dominated Senate. Borden's government took no steps to complete the development of the Royal Canadian Navy, and, as a result, Canada effectively had no naval policy.

At the start of the First World War in 1914, the Royal Canadian Navy had a strength 330 officers and men and possessed two aging ships, the Rainbow and Niobe. According to the terms of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, cruisers of the Japanese navy were available for the security of Canada's West Coast.


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