February 16, 1921

CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

If my hon.

friend made a lapse and said "1911," he and others have said over and over again that we are in now by the lease and power and godwill of the big interests. They are always saying that. In 1917 we were put in power by the big interests of the country such as I have stated, and it is those interests which we are pursuing at the present time. Though the war is over in one sense of active militant operations, it is far from over in the other sense of healing the wounds and making the readjustments which are necessary as a sequence of the destruction, confusion and trouble which resulted and which follow in the trail of the war.

I am not going to follow my hon. friend any further in reference to the particular subject which he has debated, and I am not going to make any apology for bringing another subject, to the attention of the House. The Speech from the Throne has many sections in it and deals with a variety of subjects, and I think the House would hardly be doing justice to itself or to the situation on the whole if it confined itself to the somewhat narrow discussion of different faiths' and beliefs with reference to the tariff issue alone. I am, therefore, not going to apologize to the House for introducing an entirely new subject and one which I think it is well for Parliament at this particular stage and for the the country to take somewhat into consideration. I read as one of the sections of the Speech from the Throne:

The-First Assembly of the League of Nations was recently held at Geneva. Representatives of forty-one nations, including those of Canada, met and deliberated together in a spirit of harmony that promises much for this great experiment. Much time was necessarily devoted to the work of organization, but other measures were also agreed upon which are calculated to promote stability and good will in international intercourse. Most important of these is the draft scheme for the establishment of a Permanent Court of International Justice which will be submitted to you for approval at an early date.

I am not going to try to give a large number of details to the House. I intend to approach the subject from a different angle with the idea of giving to the House, and through that to the country, a general view of the work and purposes of the League as so far developed. The note that is struck in that paragraph of the speech is a note of great importance and of singular breadth. It is indicative of a long line of progress which has at last developed into a political situation unequalled in the history of the world. It is indicative also of the progress of Canada from her childhood to the present time and of her future progress.

With what singular interest anyone who is really interested in the development of the individual life follows the boy from early childhood to matured manhood. The playthings and the trivialities of the boy gradually are shed, and from step to step he takes on the obligations, duties and work of maturing youth and maturing manhood. He goes from obligation to obligation, from duty to duty, from

strength to strength, as he develops. Long time afterwards, it happens that the boy who played with marbles and made his little constructions of mud huts and the like gets up amidst the big forces of the world and plays with those great currents of thought and enterprise which are the cardinal and principal currents of the world's history and the world's development. We do not pity the boy for that change. It is a mark of development and progress; we are delighted to see it, and none of us tries to put upon that development the bar of an exclamation like this: "Ah, well, he is undertaking greater responsibilities; he may fail." What is interesting in the development of individual life is far more interesting when we view it with reference to the development of national life, and this about which I am speaking to-day marks one of the many stages of Canadian national life. Before Confederation there was potent, inherent, in these colonies in British North America, a unity which by and by might work out into greater distribution of power and strength and a great accession of development and progress. Confederation was one of the first steps in developing that latent potency for nationhood. After the confederation had been fairly rounded out, the relationship widened and we began to think more and more of the inter-related colonies and dependencies of the Empire, to make our acquaintance with them, to consider them as members of the same family, to consider between them and us joint interests and common ideals, and so to work from the merely national out into the broad expanse of the Empire as a community of young peoples and coming nations within the Empire itself. That broadened us; it gave us greater responsibilities; it put upon us greater obligations; but we did not regret it. After that we went still wider afield. The war in South Africa struck another note and gave another complexion and tone to the relations of Canada within the Em-' pire itself. It was that note and tone which are given by the expenditure of blood and sacrifice and effort for a common purpose and a common ideal, and an impetus was given to that spirit, and wideness and breath to the development of that spirit within the Empire itself, by the South African war.

Then came later that hurricane of war in Europe, menaced by growing clouds for many months, maybe many years before, and in the midst of that hurricane of war

Canadians found themselves, and Canada found herself, one with those who were sent forth to take their part in that war. That enlarged Canada her thought, her feeling, her ideals beyond the family, beyond the national, beyond the Imperial, and created a wider acquaintance, and a wider area of sympathy and effort with all the allied nations as against the common enemy we all were fighting.

The war over, and its sacrifices in an active way for the time being over, Canada's interest still proceeds. We entered into that war, not simply to destroy some crowned head, not simply to overthrow some military dynasty; we entered into that war to secure the liberty and the peace of the world, and every drop of blood we shed, every man that fell, and every bit of the dust of Canada's people that enriches the soil of those countries where they fought and died was a pledge for the future carrying out of the work begun and carried on by physical sacrifice in the war. We made our investment there, and every bit of treasure that we spent and every drop of blood that was shed, and every succeeding sacrifice that was made is not only a perpetual record of the work done by Canadians in the field for freedom and justice, but an undying reminder of the work that Still remains to be done.

We have made an investment in the field of world peace. We have put in our treasure and our blood, and we propose to follow that investment to its completion, and to bring out of it in common with the other nations of the world, the rich rewards of enduring peace, freedom from war and all the dread burdens that follow as a consequence of war. Now in that work we are not simply related to the Empire, we are not simply related to the Allies; we are related to the world. We are a part of the world machinery now, with just that much wider sympathy, with just that much broadened, helpful feeling that binds us not merely to our own nation, not merely to the Empire, not merely to the Allies with whom we fought, but to the world itself which needs adjustment, and into which we have put our investment in order that peace and security may follow as the ripened harvest. So much then for that phase of the question.

When we sat in Paris after the conclusion of the war, and during the conferences of that long peace assembly, men from all the nations interested, their strongest and best intellects, were working on the problem of the Peace. What could

be assured as a constitution of Peace, as a realization of the hopes that war would be diminished, if not entirely banished from the world. These men were working with all their power and energy along that line, and the product of their labours was the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles, followed by the other treaties which embodied that covenant and which looked forward to gain by that covenant the fruits of the victory and compensation for the sacrifices in the world war. The Treaty of Peace, read just by title, has no great distinction from the hundreds of thousands of treaties of peace which had before been signed throughout the world and which are now filling the records of the different nations of the world. But this was more than an ordinary treaty of peace. It was a pledge and a covenant for the future. It was a reversal of the policy of six thousand years. It was a negation of war and an apothesis of peace and was signed and guaranteed by the thirty-two signatories to the covenant and the treaty, and since that time has been signed by thirteen states that were neutral, and by the six others which were admitted at Geneva. It has been signed by forty-seven countries of the world. Four that signed the Treaty of Peace did not ratify it. This accounts for the ultimate figure. It is a pledge of their proposals, of their wishes, of their desires, of their convictions, of their promise to fulfil. It may not be without importance, I think, to read in a few lines just what that pledge is. It is contained in the Preamble:

The High Contracting Parties In order to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security .

by the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war, .

by the prescription of open, just and honourable relations between nations, by the firm establishment of the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among Governments, and by the maintenance of justice and a scrupulous respect for all treaty obligations in the dealings of organized peoples with one another.

Agree to this Covenant of the League of Nations.

Forty-seven nations of the world have signed that. There is nothing that ever equalled that in the world's history. Treaties have been made between two countries, between three and four and sometimes half a dozen countries, but no treaty with signatories to a pledge for the abrogation of war and the employment of the 4

arts of peace for the settlement of international disputes and difficulties has ever before been witnessed by the world with the majority of the world's nations behind it.

I have said that forty-seven nations have signed that pledge. That means that about 63 per cent of the whole of the territory of the world is embraced within that pledge. It means that 75 per cent of the whole population of the world is embraced within that pledge. That is significant. To my mind, it is something wonderful. Who are outside of that pledge to-day? Germany is outside, but if Germany for a few months will give the proper attention to her international obligations, and show a spirit of goodwill, she will be admitted to the League and will be welcomed. Mexico is outside of the League, and so is Soviet Russia, but there is hope for both Soviet Russia and Mexico.

The United States is without the League; but do not ever say that without coupling with it this other thought, that the spirit, the prayer, the hope, the overwhelming conviction of the people of the United States runs even with the ideas and purposes for which the League is formed. There may be some differences as to certain non-essentials which may have to be looked after and changed. But when you count the United States as not being in the League count also, of a surety, upon the fact that the vast majority of her people, with their prayers and hopes, are marching in the direction of the League of Nations as constituted.

Let us then in the next place consider the duties and obligations of the League. They are set forth in the covenant, which assigns those duties and obligations in certain directions and to certain organs of the League which are to be created. The League itself must operate through its own organs. The Supreme Council is not intended to carry out the purposes of the covenant of the League. It is simply an organization of [DOT] the four or five great Powers. The League must have officiating organs of its own.

Let me for a few moment simply sketch what are the working organs of the League of Nations. Its first working organ is the Council, which is constituted by one member from each of the five great Powers; and as the United States has not yet ratified the covenant of the League, only four representatives are on the Council from the great Powers; that is to say, representing all of the five Powers

apart from the United States. The four other members of the Council are provided for by election by the Assembly, of which I shall speak a little later. Before the Assembly was called and nominated its four members to the Council, provision was made in the covenant by which four members to represent the other nations, members of the League, officiated, and their term of office closed when the Assembly took on its proper power of nominating its four members. So that you have as an organization, one of the first organs of the League, the Council, consisting at present of eight members, which may be augmented to nine if the United States becomes a member of the League. Of these, four of five represent the Great Powers, and the other four represent all the other Powers and are elected by the Assembly of the League.

Now, that Council must in the first place have unanimity in order to carry through its measures, and that condition appeared at first to be almost a block in the way of practical working. It has not been found so, however. It is better to have that as a condition of the conclusions being reached by the League than to have a mere majority trying at this particular time to force upon all the nations what it may think should be done. And in practice it has so worked out that no obstacle has appeared in the way of any line of conduct and action which the Council of the League has been carrying out during the time that it has. been in existence. The ground is taken that trivial things should be allowed to go and conclusions should be reached in the spirit of the League with a unanimity that will carry conviction. And if sometimes the rough edges may perhaps be pared off of what some members of the Council might wish to see put through, thereby giving some indication of compromise, still it is a wise compromise and a wise provision, in my opinion, and it has worked out successfully so far.

The next organ of the League of Nations is the Assembly, which is constituted in this way. There are now three delegates for every nation a member of the League, whether that nation be small or, large. There is one vote for every nation, and the leader of the delegation gives the vote when votes are called for. From the 41 nations which were represented by their delegations at Geneva on November 15, there were 110 delegates, some nations having two and some one; there was not the full number of three for

each nation. That is the Assembly as it was constituted on November 15. As now constituted there will be a possible three delegates for every one of the 47 nations that now make up the membership of the League.

With the Assembly, just as with the Council, unanimity must prevail, unless it is otherwise designated in the covenant or in the. treaties which assign obligations or duties to them. Ope would think that in an Assembly of 110 delegates-that is, the representatives of 41 nations-it would be found that the compulsory unanimity would work out detrimentally to practical business. Well, the proof is better than the supposition. That Assembly met and did its work for five weeks, and the question as to the condition of unanimity being a bar or block to its progress never once came to the front in any such way as to retard the real work of the Assembly. The men who represented the nations were there under the overpowering impulse and spirit of working for a League with ideals in which the selfish and the national must give place to the unselfish and the international. And however strongly opinions were held and presented and debated, in the end there was no withdrawal of any proposition on the ground that perfect unanimity was not obtainable. So much with reference to the proof of the practical, rather than to the theory which one may form as to- what might be a bar or block to the working of the Assembly.

The Assembly and the Council have different duties put upon them; there is a difference of jurisdiction. There are some things which, under the covenant and in the treaties, are given to the Council alone, while there are other things that are delegated solely to the Assembly. That is to say, each has some absolute powers. They have co-ordinate powers where they work in concert one with the other in order to come to the desired result. And then the Assembly and the Council each has the right to take up anything that comes within the sphere of the League or that appertains to the peace of nations.

There are, and were, some who thought that there ought to be exact definitions, put down in black and white, of the duties of the Council and of the Assembly; but a little discussion of the matter made it plain to all concerned that that would be extremely unwise, and that it was far better to leave it to the good sense and the good spirit of co-ordinate bodies, working along

the same lines and for the same objects, rather than to attempt to exactly define the arrangement of their powers. Anyway, it worked out thus to the satisfaction of the members of both Council and League.

Then, in connection with the Assembly and the Council, there is of course the Secretariat. The Secretariat is really the staff of the Council and of the Assembly. The first secretary was provided for in the Covenant of the League of Nations. He was appointed by that Covenant for five years, and was selected by the Supreme Council of the League for that period. When the term expires the Secretary-General becomes the appointee of the Assembly of the League of Nations and the work goes on, as in Parliamentary circles, under the control of the Assembly, or what you might call the popular body. The Secretariat has a staff at the present time of some one hundred and fifty officials of different grades. On this staff more than eighteen different nations, members of the League are represented, showing the spirit of distributing this work as evenly and as well as might be, so that as many of the members of the League as possible shall be personally interested and shall be able, personally, to put forward their views with reference to the practical work of the Secretariat. Now these make the three great forces of the League in its operating capacity-the Council, the Assembly, and staff of the Secretariat, with the limitations that I have mentioned.

Having gone thus far, will the House

Slow me to say a word or two as to the neral line of the duties. I cannot take the time to put them in detail but I will present them generally: They are for the reduction of the armaments of war, provided for in articles 1 to 8 in the Covenant. The lowest point, consistent with national safety and with the international obligations of the League, is the point set out to be attained in the future. To get to that as quickly as possible is the work of the League. Ten sections, or so, are then taken up with dealing with disputes between the nations and which up to the present time have been settled in the main, if diplomatic efforts failed, by the arbitrament of brute force. These cover a variety of plans for arbitration, for courts, for notices, pledges not to go to war within a certain time and until examination has been made, and safeguards against 'the violation of any of these pledges that were made.

Then there comes an article with reference to the registration of Treaties which, though simple in itself, is of paramount 44

importance. It means that every Treaty which is concluded between members of the League is to be registered and ultimately to be published. What does that mean? It cuts straight across the customs of thousands of years when secret treaties were made between powers which aroused the suspicion and massed the resources of one set of powers against others, and not only led to suspicion but to lack of faith and confidence and ultimately to broils and to war. This marks the era of open diplomacy. Henceforward you can make your treaties but they are to be registered and. under the League, to see the light of day. That is a change that is stupendous in itself and which, if carefully worked out and adhered to, means a mighty important element and factor in the peace of the world for the future.

Then there is the system of Mandatories which also marks an absolute divergence from the methods of six thousand years. The individual who, in the olden time, was stronger than his neighbour took his cattle and made them his own. The nation which otherwise was stronger than its competitor took its territory and made it its own. Under the League of Nations the derelicts of war, the colonies and the parts of empires dismantled do not go to the victors to form additional parts of their territory and to constitute the elements of their future aggrandisement. These are placed under the Mandatories allocated by the Supreme Council, the terms and conditions of the Mandate to be prescribed by the Council of the League of Nations and the supervision to be under a Commission appointed by the League of Nations to which the Mandatories are to report each year and whose work may he reviewed by the Council and by the Assembly itself.

The element in the Mandatory principle is that these parts of territory and these peoples are not to be held as the. adjuncts or slaves of the nations that have conquered, but are to be held in trust and to be administered by the Mandatory for the good of the people entrusted to their care; and the checks that I have mentioned are placed upon the Mandatories by the League in order to see that this trust is properly and reasonably executed. There you have a revolution, alongside another revolution, in the ways of the world for the last six thousand years and which point strongly- with the backing of forty-seven nations at present behind them to the better era when wars and their possibilities *Will be reduced to the minimum and the maximum of peace and security will be ensured.

But the League of Nations was wise in another thing. There are two ways in which you may bring about good international relations. One is by the reduction of the causes of war, by the compulsory reduction of armaments and another is by this allotment of Mandatories to prevent greed from being an impelling motive for war-that is greed of territories not at present enjoyed. All these things are good in their way, and are necessary, but there is another avenue. That is to get down to the common heart, the common impulses, the common interests of the nations, and working along humanitarian and economic lines for the good of all, one nation with another, to pave the way along that avenue for those feelings of amity, of help and of sacrifice, one for the other, and of commonness in ideal and purpose and benefits which will have a very strong effect in bringing about the desired results. And so there is your social and economic propaganda. A nation, China for instance, is plagued by the opium traffic. That nation buys itself free or struggles out from it; another nation-not China-sacrifices some of her interests and agrees with China; and you have the two principal nations concerned in agreement. But you never will stop the opium trade and the deleterious traffic in it and kindred drugs until you have the co-operation of all nations, because those who do not co-operate are the go-betweens, and they destroy the effect of the sacrifices of those who are primarily interested. Therefore the League comes in as a sort of liaison between the different nations in all these great humanitarian works of which I have cited one example, and by its counsels and its technical advisers it assists the nations to do more effective work: it exerts itself to influence nations to make similar conventions; it pleads with nations for the good of all to join these conventions ; and it helps by its counsel and its supervision to gather the nations gradually into one world-whole.

When that has been done and effective supervision established, you strike a death blow, as far as you can, at these ills. There is the illicit traffic in women and children; there are the epidemic diseases which scourge primarily one country and which threaten to scourge the world out of that country as a centre and hot-bed of those diseases. All these are brought under co-ordinating influences in the different nations, and by means of the League of Nations they combine for supervision and for help in carrying out the world-pur-

pose. There are a dozen or more of those great humanitarian, economic and financial organizations-technical organizations they are called-the duties of which are defined in the Covenant and in the operation of which are being negotiated by the League of Nations. That in brief gives you some idea of the nature of the work that is being carried on by the League of Nations.

Now with reference to the 'Assembly. That is the newest and therefore may perhaps be less known to most of us. Any way, I feel it my duty to say something with reference to the Assembly, to the end of interesting my fellow members in the work and purposes of the League, and, if possible, of arousing in Canada that force, moral and social, which must be the foundation of the success of the League of Nations, if it ever is to succeed. It is not Lloyd George, it is not Millerand, it is not the King or the Cabinet of Italy who in the main is going to make the League of Nations a success in the world. It is the Co-ordination of the prayers and wishes and hopes, the moral and political influence of the great body of humanity the wide world through which is to make that League successful. This is my excuse for bringing that matter forward today.

On the 15th day of November one hundred and ten delegates found themselves in the City of Geneva and in convocation at the Hall of Reformation, which, taking Genevan history into account, has some associations connected with it. People were wont to ask, and there was every excuse for their scepticism: What in the world will happen when forty-one different nations, of every colour, of every creed, of every language and traditions get together in one room down in Geneva? How are they going to understand each other? How will they ever make their views known to each other? Will they ever get down to business? There was ground for thought of that kind. Well, Sir, what happened? In brief, this. I have had some experience of political conventions; so has my hon. friend. I have seen them get together from one country-yes, from one province, and I have found them take a very long while in getting their rules of procedure and all that sort of thing fixed to their liking and settling down to real work. I never saw and never read of a convention, and certainly none on the scale of this one, which so soon got down to profitable and practical work as did the first Assembly of the League of Nations.

It is true there was all that disparity, there was all that variety of tendency and thought from generations and centuries behind each of these nationalities-all those conditions were there, but when humanity is inspired by a common spirit and a common ideal, overpowering in its nature, all these differentials are soon left to take care of themselves, and the human unit is the only thing that emerges into the foreground, and the worth of the human unit is the only thing that counts. That was exemplified in the first League of Nations. It was the spirit of the mission upon which they came, it was the height of the ideal which inspired their coming, it was for the great purpose possible of achievement that they were there, and they set themselves to become acquainted with each other, to get each other's viewpoint, and they vanquished all these seeming difficulties. They came together, and in six days' time they were working just as smoothly, and, I think, much more expeditiously than the committees in our own Parliament or in other Parliaments of constitutionally governed countries are carried on. So much then with reference to that as a matter of fact.

What did they have to do? Those one hundred and ten people met there without a president or presiding officer. That difficulty was quite easily got over. The Council of Nations had appointed one of its number to be temporary chairman, and he and the head of the Swiss Confederation made congratulatory addresses, and then came the election of a permanent president. It is a courtesy amongst those peoples that the first session of a convention like that, shall take as its chairman a man from the country in which it meets. That honour might have been claimed by Switzerland, but it was not, and the president of the Swiss Confederation himself moved the nomination of Mr. Hyman of Belgium as the first president. He thus put Belgium and Switzerland into the best of accord one with the other, and avoided any bitterness that otherwise might have taken place. So we had our first president.

Then came the rules of procedure. The Council had drawn up provisional rules of procedure. We adopted those rules after a very short discussion, and then appointed a committee to amend, revise and bring down a permanent set of rules. The next step was how to carry on the work of the Assembly. That was solved in this way. Six great commissions or

committees were formed, each consisting of forty-one members; that is, upon each of those commissions every member-state of the League had one representative, and those six commissions took the burden of the work which was referred to them. The first committee dealt with constitutional questions, the rules of procedure, the relative competence of the Council and of the League, and the election of members of the council. The second took up the matter of the technical organizations which I have already explained to the House. The third took up the matter of a permanent Court of Justice. The fourth took up the secretariat and the finances of the League -a very important subject indeed, which engrossed a very large amount of our attention. The fifth took up the question of admissions to the League; fourteen demands for admission were made and six out of the fourteen were admitted. The sixth committee took up the questions of mandates, armaments, and economic weapons. Every resolution and everything referring to the meetings and the work of the Assembly was transferred to its appropriate committee, was threshed out in that committee, and the conclusions of the committee were reported back and discussed, amended or approved, as might be, by the Assembly. That brought forty-one different nationalities of men into each committee, and solved very quickly the question of our getting acquainted with each other. They were thrown together around a common table for a common purpose. They made their views known and practically became as well acquainted in the course of a very short time as we on different sides of the House are with one another.

French and English were the two languages in which the debates of the Assembly were conducted and discussions in the committees carried on. The question came up very early in the course of the proceedings. There happened to be seventeen states whose national language was Spanish, and the question was mooted; If we have French and if we have English, why not Spanish as well? It was debated with great vigour, but in the end the overmastering spirit of the Convention solved that difficulty; the Spanish demand was withdrawn and the solution was found along this line, backed by the practical considerations which made it impossible that every nationality should have its own language as an official language. If one wished to speak Spanish, he had the right

to do it; he had the right to get an interpretation of his remarks, and that translation into either English or French was spread upon the minutes and took its place just the same as if the remarks had been made in French or in English. But a wonderful thing happened; among the delegates from those forty-seven nations there was scarcely one who was not able to express his views either in English or in French. So it was simply a process of double translation; if a man spoke in English his remarks were immediately translated into French; if he spoke in French it was immediately translated into English, and each had the advantage of the views of the other. Although it took time, the procedure was carried out with wonderful smoothness and rapidity.

May I mention one thing that particularly struck me in connection with the deliberations of the Assembly? We are a very courteous assembly here in this new hall. We try not to say anything deliberately which will wound another. We pay compliments sometimes-though not very often, I am afraid.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

They are not always returned. -

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

No, they are not. What struck me from beginning to end was the spirit of courtesy which characterized all the discussions of the Assembly. I did not hear a wrangle in the Committee or in the Assembly; no sharp things were said just for the purpose of wounding. Sharp arguments were used it is true, and were sharply clinched, but over all there was a universal spirit of courtesy. Is that because the dominant element in that Assembly was Of the Latin race? Whatever may be the reason, it was a fact.

Another thing that struck me was this: from no country did higher or more advanced ideas emanate than from the countries of South America, nearly all of which are members of the League. Certainly in breadth and liberality-sometimes carried to the point of danger-their views and suggestions were in advance of those of the other delegations which were in attendance.

During that Assembly thirty-one plenary sessions were debated. Twenty-eight different resolutions debated and were passed in reference to important subjects sent from the Committees for- discussion by the Assembly. But from first to last the discussion of that'whole Assembly were characterized in an eminent degree by frankness, fulness,

clearness and earnestness, directed to the sole purpose of getting at the best solutions possible.

I wish to say a word with reference to the position of the smaller nations. Every delegation has just the same rights in the Assembly and in the Committees as every other delegation. In speaking and in voting the small power has the same privileges as the large power. Much depends, of course, on the source from which the delegate speaks; in the discussion of certain questions one power may have an influence which is not present in the same degree in the case of a smaller nation. But as tp discussion and voting the

5 p.m. privileges of the various nations^ represented in the Assembly are uniform,-an ideal the realization of which has long been sought. Indeed, that is what gives strength to the League; for the smaller nations feel that they approach the larger on a footing of equality and that they can exercise as much influence as the quality of their views entitle them to.

What has emanated from that Assembly? First, a plain proof that it is possible for a League of Nations constituting the majority of the countries of the world, and ultimately constituting all the countries of the world, to meet on a world platform and do effective, practical work. There was a forum upon which every nation could ventilate its ideals and put forward its position in a great gathering of internationals. There was a forum elevated before the world, watched by the press, the proceedings of which were telegraphed and written to every quarter of the globe; a gathering in which the foremost ideas of the foremost men of forty-seven nations of the world could find expression. There was a platform for the discussion of matters so brought up, for the formulating of views with regard to them, and for the impression of those views upon the world.

Do you mean to tell me that is not erecting in the world a method of procedure, a channel of influence, a means of propagation of the best thought of the nations of the world, a moral force and an intellectual force which will go further than armaments in' righting the gross wrongs of the world and drawing the conscience and heart of the world to a contemplation of the higher, the better and the truer course? That, to my mind, if nothing else were accomplished, is a splendid accomplishment and worthy of the trouble and all that it cost.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

In the discussions of the League, there was some question as to the meetings being held in secret rather than in public. Would my right hon. friend speak of that?

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

With reference to the Assembly, all meetings were in public. That is, the Salle de Reformation was not large enough to hold everyone, but everybody who could get in got in; representatives of the press were there and had a right to be there. The meetings of the Assembly were open to the public gaze; the world saw them; all heard and digested the discussions if they wished to. With reference to the committees, it was' resolved that each committee should make its own determination whether it would hold private sessions or public sessions. But it was imperative that the proceedings of each comfnittee should be taken down in extenso from day to day, published as they were the day after, put into the hands of every member of the Assembly and the results given to the press. In addition to that, a number of the meetings of those committees were advertised to be held publicly and the public were admitted to them, so that I do not think there is any reasonable ground for stricture in reference to that. Some things will occur in a committee where it is best that the matter should be threshed out amongst the members of the committee itself, and provision was made for that emergency. Otherwise, the light of day was shed into all the transactions of the Assembly. Let me say just here on that point, that the decisions of the Council have to be public as well.

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UNION

Alfred Thompson

Unionist

Mr. A. THOMPSON:

I would like to

ask a question or two with regard to the relative positions of the Council and the Assembly. Is the Council superior to the Assembly? Does the Council derive its force from the Assembly? Is the Council elected by the Assembly?

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Just a word

on that. I touched upon a part of it, but now that the question has been asked a little more distinctly, I will give the answer. The Council has eight members upon it. Those eight members in the Council represent the Governments of the countries from which they come. Four of those members are elected by the Assembly, those four representing the other nations outside of the four great powers. In some cases, they have co-ordinate powers, Council and Assembly. They have

to work together and come to an agreement in order to carry a thing. In other respects they have absolute powers conferred upon them by the covenant and they have each the general power that they can take up whatever comes within the sphere of the League and which pertains to the peace of nations; but the agreement between them is maintained- and it is the only sensible one-that no one works without an understanding with the other.

I think I touched upon the point that one great thing that was done by the Assembly, if it did nothing else, was that it met and organized itself and was successful in organizing itself upon a practical basis and that it finished the machinery of the League of Nations. The operating organs of the League of Nations are now complete, but each man, when he comes to measure up what has been done in this last year by Council or League must take this into account, namely, that the Council itself did not begin to officiate until the 16th of January, 1920; that the Secretariat did not commence to officiate until a month later or nearly that; that fully six months was taken up in getting any kind of an organization for the League that its operations were in Paris, in Brussels, in London and in other places; it had no abiding home. It now has its abiding home, and the later part of its work was in getting to that home and in fairly settling down, preparing for the Assembly of the League of Nations, getting its officers installed and ready for practical work, so that when you come to sum up what has been done last year, you must take that into account. Take into account also that neither the League nor the Council nor the Secretariat had real life in its bones until the Assembly was constituted, and the Assembly gave to it that foundation which made it possible for the superstructure to be a vital part of the whole edifice. The League of Nations with those organs of work relies primarily upon the Assembly which meets yearly. ' The members of that Assembly come fresh from every nation with the mandate of their government at that particular time. That Assembly holds the sources of supply, and the budgeting system which formed a large part of the work of that Assembly is now arranged upon a plan as good as the plan of budgeting which exists in any Assembly in the world. It is now based on proper principles and under control of proper guidance. Heretofore it

was but a part of an imperfect machine and it could not run smoothly nor perfectly. Now the whole machine is there with its controls and its powers of supervision, and the whole machine works together as a completed organism.

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L LIB

Edmond Proulx

Laurier Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

Under article 10, if the

Assembly comes to a certain decision, have the delegates from each country the power to commit their country by their votes?

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

That is for the delegates from each country to arrange with their government. If they have not done that before they have left, then they must get into communication with their government and do it. When they give their vote, they are supposed to be voicing their country's views, and not simply their own opinions; otherwise, we would not have a very strong Assembly. I think my hon. friend will see that.

I think I have covered the ground with one exception, and I am not going very deeply into that because the Minister of Justice (Mr. Doherty) has in hand some legislation in regard to that, and he will go into particulars. The one outstanding work of the Assembly has, I think, been the constitution of a permanent court of international justice. Early in the year the Council called a committee of ten of the first jurists of the world, one of the number being Mr. Elihu Root of the United States. They met at The Hague and they were in conference for six weeks. They agreed with unanimity upon a proposal for a permanent court of international justice. That report went to the Council of the League, where it was revised, examined, debated and discussed by the Council of the League and with some amendments was sent to the Assembly. The Assembly, after making some few amendments, unanimously approved the proposition, and that proposition has been already approved by twenty-three of the member States of the League, amongst them the most foremost States of the League, and there is no doubt in my mind that the forty-seven member States of the League will agree thereto.

If they approve of it and ratify it, a permanent court is called into existence, which sits continuously, consisting of * eleven judges and four deputy judges with power to take into account and settle disputes between States members of the League, disputes between States members of the League and other States not mem-

bers of the League, and disputes between States which are outside the League, provided certain conditions are complied with which are set out in the statute constituting the court.

For the first time in the world's history we have agreement upon a method of choosing judges. In 1907 the convention at the Hague split on the rock of the choice of judges. One proposal was that every state in the convention should nominate one judge. That would have made an unwieldly number. Another proposal was that there should be seventeen or eighteen judges, of whom the Great Powers should nominate eight and the other Powers nine. The smaller States baulked at that. Then a system of rotation was discussed. Anyway, the negotiations fell through, because it was impossible to agree upon any one method. The Hague Permanent Court is a Court of Arbitration, nothing more, and nothing less. But once this Court of Justice is settled upon and goes into operatiorf, , you have already twenty-two of the foremost Powers that have pledged themselves to submit their cases to it, and before the year is out in my opinion, you will have forty-seven of the members of the League giving the same adhesion. Think of that for a moral force. It has a binding force over those who sign it, and it has a moral force over those that are outside.

Then take this other thing into account. On that proposition pf a permanent Court of Justice the United States, though without the League, is exactly on all fours as to the principles and the purposes of a permanent court. So in that one way alone the League of Nations has brought about a reversion from the method of brute force for settling international disputes, to the method of settlement by a permanent tribunal of the first judges of the world, to which tribunal they have agreed to send their disputes for hearing and settlement.

Now, Mr. Speaker and fellow-members,

I am very much obliged to you for the patient hearing you have given me.

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UNION

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Unionist

Mr. NESBITT:

How are the judges

chosen?

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

They are

chosen by a somewhat ingenious method. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague has a system of groups of judges, or members of the Court. Each Power that belongs to the convention nominates four judges of certain calibre, as laid

down. These constitute the membership of that Permanent Court. A party comes up with a dispute and it and the other party to the dispute each chooses its own judge out of that panel, and the case goes before the judges so chosen for arbitration. The League of Nations has adopted that grouping system, and each nation that belongs to the League has four nominees. Each nation outside can also have its four nominees, so in that way you have a panel of possible judges. The Council and the Assembly together unite in choosing from that panel eleven permanent and four deputy judges. That is the system, and it appears to have given universal satisfaction, as being free from political influences.

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L LIB

Charles Murphy

Laurier Liberal

Hon. CHARLES MURPHY:

May I ask whether a dispute between South Africa and Great Britain could be referred to this court for hearing and settlement?

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

My hon. friend has asked a very close question. South Africa is a member of the League, and as a member has the right to nominate her four judges. Canada has that same right.

I am not going to enter upon the field of these very close relationships between the different parts of the Empire or upon the legal features of the matter. I will leave that to the Minister of Justice.

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L LIB

Charles Murphy

Laurier Liberal

Hon. CHARLES MURPHY:

Can the Minister answer as to a dispute, say, between Australia and Great Britain?

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

That would be the same as a dispute between South Africa and Great Britain.

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L LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ERNEST LAPOINTE:

May I ask an easier question? Is there any truth in the report that there was some friction or differences of opinion among the Canadian delegates, or between some of the Canadian delegation and the British delegates?

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I was driver

of the team from Canada and I have no knowledge of any friction in the least. I can give a direct negative to that. We were like a band of brothers. Neither have I knowledge of any friction between any of the members of the British Empire delegations, and I do not believe that any existed. We did not always vote the same way, we did not always | talk the same way. Each state was perfectly independent in giving its views, and in that way I think maybe a better accord and better results were obtained than if there had been any

thought of acting as a unit or if there had been coercion in any way. But there was none of that.

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L LIB

Jean-Joseph Denis

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DENIS:

As the Minister is kind enough to allow questions, I should like to put one which is of some interest to us on this side of the House. He has said that there were some forty odd nations, and that the official languages were English and French. I should like to know whether the French language was made use of in that Assembly as much as the English language? ,

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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

My hon.

friend's knowledge of history and national characteristics might have answered that for him. There was more French speaking than English speaking, and no doubt there was more good French spoken by those who spoke French than by those who were English and tried to speak French. French was the dominant language. I could make quite an interesting disquisition on the preferences of some for English and some for French, outside entirely of the question of race. It was quite odd to see some of the currents running.

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L LIB

Charles Murphy

Laurier Liberal

Hon. CHARLES MURPHY:

Did the

representative of China speak French?

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February 16, 1921