March 29, 1927

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

May I interrupt my hon. friend? I think he is mistaken. What was adopted was that particular part of the report which related to the signature, negotiation and ratification of treaties, but the report itself as a whole was not submitted to parliament.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

It is the resolution I was discussing this afternoon, which was made subject to the ratification of the governments of the various dominions.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

That one resolution.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

My point was that it had never -been adopted, although we had acted upon it in regard to one or two treaties. For same reason or other, at the close of last session it was thought necessary to bring in a resolution to adopt that particular resolution of the Imperial conference of 1923. If it was

necessary to do so on that occasion, is it not far more necessary on the present occasion that a similar course should be taken by this House to adopt the much more important report which is now before us for consideration? Why, Sir, as I read the reports of the former Imperial conferences they fade into insignificance in contrast with the report of the last conference. The former reports deal with matters of minor interest as compared with the pronouncements made by the conference of 1926. In none of the former reports was there any recommendation which one might consider a recommendation for any constitutional change. But in this instance by the language of the report itself constitutional principles are discussed and recommendations are made involving what one must pronounce to be grave constitutional changes in this country.

Mr. Speaker, if ever there was a time when definite action should be taken by parliament in regard to an Imperial conference report that time is now. Indeed, so various have been the statements made and the opinions expressed in regard to this report by ministers who actually took part in the conference as representatives of this country and by others who represented other parts of the British Empire, so various and so diversified have been the expressions of opinion in regard to what the conference actually did, that the public of this country has no clear idea of what actually took place from wdiat has been actually reported. I place side by side the statements made by three of the prime ministers who attended the conference of 1926. First, I take the statement made by the Prime Minister of Australia when he was in Canada in January last as reported in the press at the time. He said:

There is nothing really new in the status or relations of the British dominions as a result of the recent conference. The rights now enjoyed have existed ever since the termination of the war.

That is clear and distinct language which we all understand. Then I compare with that the statement of my right hon. friend the Prime Minister made in this House on December 13 last, when he said:

I believe the work of this conference will take its place in history by the side of those great charters which have stood in one form or another for a larger freedom.

Next I place side by side with that the statement attributed to the Prime Minister of South Africa, who said:

The British Empire now exists as a name only.

When three of the participants in conference make statements so irreconcilable as

Imperial Conference-Mr. Guthrie

those which I have just read, it is little wonder that the public in this country and perhaps in other parts of the British world are at a loss to know what actually did take place.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I am sure my hon. friend does not wish to mislead the House as to what I said or the significance of it. He has read a part only of what I said. I stated that the resemblance to the charters of a larger freedom lay in the fact that none of . them purported to set forth anything that was new, but rather to register the point that had been attained-exactly the same meaning and intent as that conveyed by the reference of the hon. Prime Minister of Australia, which my hon. friend has read.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

No, it is a very different statement, Mr. Speaker.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

No, it is not.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

The language can mean

only one thing, that this larger freedom of which the Prime Minister speaks is a new acquisition to the self-governing powers of this country, or something to this effect.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Would my hon. friend do me the justice of reading the remainder of that statement, and not take a part of one sentence and separate it from its context?

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I will inform my right

hon. friend through you, Mr. Speaker, that the statement is to be found in full in Hansard of December 13 last, and that the quotation which I have read is accurate. I think, Sir, with such a diversity of opinion as I have described it becomes necessary to examine somewhat critically the actual report of the conference, .and in doing so I assume that one may attach the ordinary meaning to plain English words. There is one thing to be said about this report, the preliminary part of it at all events, that it uses very plain and very precise language, and from the language of the introduction one can gather that the report deals not only with fundamental principles affecting the relations of the various parts of the British Empire inter se, but also the relations of each part to foreign countries. It is an inclusive report. It deals not only with inter-imperial relations, but also with the the relations of this Dominion and of the other dominions with foreign countries.

Now, what are the definite pronouncements of the report? The first is that the dominions are autonomous communities. I assume that means that we enjoy full and complete rights of self-government. I do not know that I could amplify that statement better than by

a quotation from a speech made on December 13 last by my right hon. friend, which will be found at page 43 of Hansard. He said:

With regard to the domestic and external affairs of this Dominion, the Imperial conference has said that in the opinion of its members those rights of control are just as full and complete with respect .to Canadian affairs as are the rights of the British government in respect of the domestic or external affairs of Great Britain.

We know that the rights of Great Britain with regard to external and internal affairs are absolute, full and complete. So we may assume from the clear statement in the report that we are autonomous communities and that our rights in regard to both external and internal affairs are full, absolute and complete.

Next there is a definite pronouncement of equal status. My right hon. friend and I are agreed upon that point. I think we all understand the meaning of the expression, "We have equal status."

Next we have a declaration that we are in no W'ay subordinate to one another. That is, this Dominion is not subordinate to any of our sister dominions, neither are we in any way subordinate to the parliament or government of Great Britain.

A little lower down we find another very precise declaration:

Every self-governing member of the empire is now the master of its destiny. In fact, if not always in form, it is subject to no compulsion whatever.

I doubt if more inclusive and more conclusive language could be used to express the meaning intended to be conveyed than is employed in these declarations. Autonomous communities-of equal status-'Subject to no subordination-masters of our own destiny- subject to no power of compulsion. These are the main declarations of the conference in regard to the constitutional position of this country. The language is clear, definite and precise, and it refers both to our internal and to our external rights and authority.

Keeping that language prominently in view, let us pass to the next question which was discussed by my right hon. friend this afternoon, and upon which he and I are, I think, again in. pretty close agreement. He next referred to the right of disallowance of Canadian Acts on the part of the government of Great Britain as enacted in section 56 of the British North America Act, and also the right of reservation of a bill for the signification of the royal pleasure as enacted in section 57 of the British North America Act. My right hon. friend has expressed an opinion to-day in respect to both these sections in which I concur. I regard both of these sections to-day

Imperial Conference-Mr. Guthrie

as inoperative. I think only on a single occasion in the last sixty years has an act of the parliament of Canada been disallowed by the British government. I believe also that only some fifteen bills have ever 'been reserved for the signification of the royal pleasure, and of these only one has failed to obtain the royal assent. But sections 56 and 57 still exist unrepealed in the British North America Act, they still constitute the letter of the law. Around them, however, has grown up constitutional practice and constitutional custom -which have actually superseded them in practice. I make this statement on pretty strong constitutional authority, and among other authorities, may I cite Sir Robert Borden, an outstanding constitutional lawyer in this country. He has stated in his brief work, Constitutional Government in Canada, that these sections of the British North Amei'ica Apt are practically inoperative to-day and that no government of Great Britain would dare-I do not think he used the word "dare"-that no government of Great Britain would at this late day advise His Majesty to disallow an act of the Canadian parliament in regard to our own affairs, nor would such an act of this parliament ever be reserved for consideration before receiving the royal assent. The letter of the law is still in the act; the strict legal right still exists, but the constitutional right has overridden it, and, as expressed in much better language by Earl Balfour in the House of Lords, quoted in this House this afternoon, "the constitutional right [DOT] is the right which prevails." Consequently I am in agreement with my right hon. friend when I say that we are not greatly concerned with these particular sections in regard to disallowance or reservation of acts of this parliament in regard to our own affairs. Those sections are inoperative and will never be called into operation again in regard to any measures pertaining to the domestic or internal affairs of this country. No British government would ever advise the disallowance of a Canadian Act and, if it did, a very, serious situation would prevail, as stated by my right hon friend this afternoon, in which view I entirely concur. Consequently I am not much concerned with this aspect of the matter. The report makes direct mention of it, and I agree that the reason for alluding to this question in this report was due to the peculiar situation that exists in the Irish Free State and possibly, as well, the situation that obtains in South Africa. Now the right of reservation has been distinctly retained in the report where that right occurs in constitutional acts; not

so with regard to the right of disallowance. That has not been retained. The section in question in the report refers only to the right of reservation. There has been referred to a committee of experts, to be set up hereafter, both the question in regard to disallowance and the question concerning the right of reservation. These experts will, I have no doubt, meet at some time in the future and report upon these questions, but we in this country need have little concern with any report they may make. I submit that so' far as this parliament and this country are concerned, these rights of disallowance and reservation are gone; they are fallen into desuetude. On that point I think we are all agreed.

Let me go a step further. The next question touched upon bj' my right hon. friend was that of appeals to the Judicial committee of the Privy Council, and in that connection he at once enters upon a discussion of constitutional principles involving constitutional alterations-modifications in the constitution of the country of very far reaching consequence. It is, I submit, now and always has been, the inherent right of a British subject in any part of the world to bring his complaint or grievance to the foot of the throne. Such is the popular language in which this special right is always expressed. Some seventy or eighty years ago an act was passed by the parliament of Great Britain constituting the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the final tribunal for the settlement of claims and disputes within the empire, and the bringing of petitions for the redress of grievances to the foot of the throne in practice now means an appeal to that tribunal, the court of final resort in the British Empire. We as British subjects have always enjoyed the privilege of bringing our complaints to the foot of the throne, for, as I say, that is our inherent right. It applies to British citizens throughout the world. According to this report, however, this parliament is -now authorized, if we see fit, to prohibit appeals by the citizens of Canada to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the future. Let me read the exact paragraph in the report touching upon this question. It is to be found at page 16:

Another matter which we discussed, in which a general constitutional principle was raised,-

Note the language; a general constitutional principle was raised.

-concerned the conditions governing appeals from judgments in the dominions to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. From these discussions it became clear that it was no part of the policy of His Majesty's government in

Imperial Conference-Mr. Guthrie

Great Britain that questions affecting judicial appeals should be determined otherwise than in accordance with the wishes of the part of the empire primarily affected.

I think, from the statement made by my right hon. friend this afternoon, that he and I are in perfect agreement in our views on this point, and if I understand the meaning of the language I have just read it is simply this, that if it be the will of the parliament of Canada that appeals to the Judicial Com-mitee of the Privy Council be abolished our will shall prevail. If we pass an act through this House and the Senate to abolish such appeals, such appeals shall no longer be permitted.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

In federal matters, yes.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

There is no limitation here concerning federal matters.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

My hon. friend knows that is what it means.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I do not think it does mean appeals in federal matters. It applies to the appeal of any subject on any question. If we abolish appeals we abolish them in toto. We are given the power if we choose to exercise it. I do not wish to be misunderstood in regard to this matter; personally I am not in favour of the abolition of these appeals, but there is no doubt that this parliament now has power under this report to abolish them if it so desires. I agree that in a dominion which has full powers of' self government, with absolute and complete control over its internal and external affairs, there is something anomalous in the fact that our own courts have not the final determination of our own cases. I do not know that I can do better than to use the language of Professor Berriedale Keith, a high authority upon constitutional questions, and one who was quoted with great approval by my right hon. friend this afternoon. In writing to The Outlook as recently as February 5 of this year, he says in regard to these appeals:

Of the questions at issue, that of Privy Council appeals is theoretically simple. It is obviously absurd to declare that Canada is autonomous and an equal member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and at the same time to. hold that the courts of the Dominion are unfit to do justice to an unfortunate lady who has an accident while seeking to enter a Canadian railway station, to take one of the issues recently decided by the Privy Council, overruling the Dominion courts.

And although I admit the position is anomalous, I still maintain that the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council should be continued. I think

in this parliament undoubtedly we will maintain the right of appeal; but in years to come we may have parliaments in this country where a different opinion may prevail. We should preserve this right of appeal to the judicial committee because I believe it constitutes our greatest constitutional safeguard. The only real difficulty which arose at the conference in connection with appeals to the judicial committee was in the case of the Irish Free State, which case my right hon. friend elaborated this afternoon. In regard to appeals from the Irish Free State the whole question was postponed until the next Imperial conference, because there were special difficulties in regard to the Irish Free State which did not exist in connection with the other dominions. In this article Professor Keith goes on to show why the question of Privy Council appeals is of vital interest to the Dominion of Canada. He says:

Secondly, if power were given to each dominion to limit or abolish appeals at pleasure, Canada would be placed in an invidious position. If she decided to permit appeals to go on, she might be held to be deliberately accepting a status of subordination derogatory to her dignity as the premier dominion in status, resources, and population; if she felt bound to stop appeals, Quebec would be deeply resentful, for Quebec sees in the Privy Council the final bulwark of her provincial autonomy and her control of her language and religion.

This is the opinion of Professor Keith, who was quoted with such approval this afternoon by my right hon. friend.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

What authority has he to speak for Quebec?

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

He has pointed out in the quotation I have just read the importance of these appeals in regard to the constitution of this country. First I point out that in the language of the report itself, the proposed change involves a change of constitutional principle, and I am one of those who believe that there should be no constitutional changes in this country until the proper parties assent thereto.

What may this proposal ultimately involve? I cited an instance last December in my speech which I might give again. If we remove the right of appeal to the Privy Council, in regard to domestic matters this parliament will certainly be all-powerful. Five years hence, ten years, or a generation hence, when the personnel of this House will perhaps have entirely changed, when new men with new ideas occupy these seats, what is to hinder a constitutional change of a very radical kind, if there be no appeal to the Privy Council? If the right of appeal to the Privy Council were

1668 COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Mr. Guthrie

abolished to-day I see no reason why this parliament could not pass a law to abolish the use of the French language in this chamber, and I will tell you how it might be done. We would simply have to pass a motion to change the rules-as a few days ago we passed a motion to change other rules for this parliament-to provide that the French language should not be used in the debates in this chamber. It will be immediately said that the question would at once be taken to the courts but with a favourable House of Commons and -Senate we might pass an act prohibiting any action being taken in the courts. This has been done before; it was done under the War Measures Act and it has been done on two occasions in the province of Ontario. We have the undoubted right to do so. I do not say that we could do so with great propriety, but we would have the right to do it; there would be no appeal to the Privy Council to check us; there would be no power to disallow our motion or our rule, so that we could act without hindrance. I point out to you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to ihe House, that the outstanding safeguard of the constitutional rights of the people of this country in many respects is to be found in the appeal which lies to the Judicial Com-mitee of the Privy Council, and this report enables this parliament to abolish these appeals should it ever see fit to do so. Should we have such power? Should we be able in this parliament to change the constitution of the country in this manner? We have never possessed such a right up to the present time. Australia is expressly given power to change its constitution; so are South Africa, the Irish Free State, New Zealand and even the provinces of the Dominion of Canada. The first enactment of section 93, subsection 1, gives each province of Canada the right to, change its constitution save in one respect, that pertaining to the office of lieutenant governor. We possess no such power in this parliament: Why was that power withheld? We know the reason; we know that confederation in this country was brought about by agreement and through a spirit of compromise; we know, and the fathers of confederation well knew, that there existed two great predominant races, in Canada, the English race and the French race, with different ideals, different languages and to a large extent different religious views. These two great races had to be brought together and harmonized to make a united Canada. It was the spirit of compromise which brought about confederation. The fathers of confederation saw to it that there should be no power in the constitutional

act of this country which might enable those coming generations or centuries later to alter the basic terms of the confederation agreement. That is the reason why this parliament was not given power to amend the act of confederation.

But my right hon. friend the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice have brought back a report, involving important changes in constitutional principles, particularly in respect of appeals to the judicial committee, a report which would enable this House to destroy the greatest constitutional safeguard enjoyed by minorities in this country. Have the provinces wrho originally formed confederation been consulted in regard to this proposal? Should any serious change in our constitution be permitted without the approval of the parties who originally executed the agreement which formed the basis of confederation? To my mind, Mr. Speaker, this is one of the most serious proposals brought before this parliament in a generation. It is a most dangerous power. Not perhaps to-day-I am not afraid of the situation in Canada to-day-but a time will come when we will be gone from the scene. The opportunity may then be at hand for some succeeding parliament to undo by a single act much of the good work which has been accomplished during the past sixty years. Why then permit this important proposal of this report to go unchallenged in this House? Why not submit it directly to the parties most interested, to the provinces of the Dominion of Canada who made the original agreement? Is this entirely a dominion affair, think you, Mr. Speaker? Is it not well known that appeals nowadays are very often taken directly from provincial courts to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, that they never approach the Supreme Court of Canada at all? Does this proposal not interfere to some extent with the rights of our citizens in the various provinces of Canada who do not desire to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, but who prefer to appeal directly from the courts in the provinces to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council? The provinces have never been consulted in regard to this proposal. The provinces were not represented at the Imperial conference. Yet this report, brought back to us by my right hon. friend the Prime Minister and his colleague, the Minister of Justice, might enable us by act of this parliament, without consultation with the provinces, to destroy this great safeguard of constitutional right in this country.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is one aspect of this report which most deeply impresses me. I feel gravely concerned about it. I know

Imperial Conference-Mr. Guthrie

that in many sections of this country there is great concern about it. If we may alter special provisions in our constitution in one regard we may do so in other regards. There are many anomalous conditions in our constitution to-day. The country has developed upon somewhat different lines than was anticipated at first. It is alleged that in some respects there is over-representation in one of the chambers of this parliament in regard to certain provinces of the Dominion. If we are able of our own motion to abolish appeals to the Privy Council, and if there be no power of disallowance of our acts, what is to hinder this parliament from changing the constitution of this parliament in regard to representation in the upper house-a domestic matter, an internal matter, something that does not interfere with a single interest outside the Dominion of Canada? Who can say us nay? Are we not masters in our own house? Are we subordinate to any power whatever? Have we not full autonomous powers of government in this country? Then who shall say us nay? The Minister of Justice will of course argue that the British North America Act still stands, that it has not been repealed. But what authority is there to enforce it? I ask him that question. If there be no appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, what super-authority exists over our legislation? Trouble would at once arise if the government of Great Britain sought to interfere. It would never attempt to do so. The British government acts upon constitutional principle. It would never interfere with the exercise of a constitutional right of^ this country, and the British government itself has joined in sending this report forward to us. _ . .

There are other elements in connection with this report that will require some consideration. W'e have already gone pretty far in regard to the question of treaties during the last sixty years in this country. I do not object to it, but the difficulty I see is this: where is it going to land us? I am and have always been a strong supporter of the proposal that Canada should have the right to negotiate her own commercial treaties; but when we reached the time of the war we went far beyond the negotiation of commercial treaties. We engaged as a nation in the negotiation of the treaty of Versailles, one of the greatest peace treaties ever known in the history of the world. The question is, have we gone too far? Does the House realize that we have no authority to make treaties under the British North America Act? Section 132 of that act enables us to perform all treaty 32649-106

obligations entered into by Great Britain. That 'is the last enactment on the subject. We have no statutory power to make treaties, but we have gone ahead making them. How much further are we to go in this respect without consulting the provinces? The making of treaties may some day involve us in very, very serious consequences. I do not mean trade treaties, I mean other treaties. We may seriously involve provinces by our treaty making propensities. Let me cite a case which has occurred to my mind. Suppose this government should undertake to negotiate a treaty with Japan, a foreign nation. Suppose we were to grant to Japan lands which are owned by Canada in the railway belt in British Columbia, for settlement or otherwise, and that a protest should come from British Columbia to the effect that we have no power under the British North America Act or under any other act-to make such a treaty. Well, our only power is that given in the report of the conference of 1923 and the conference of 1926, and we might act to the detriment of the rights of British Columbia.. We might do likewise in regard to the inland fisheries of Ontario if we so desired; we might make a treaty with United -States. Ontario might protest, but we could go on and make the treaty. All this involves a very serious change in the constitutional development of this country. I do not say it is a wrong, I uphold it; but at the same time do you not think, Mr. Speaker, that we should have the approval of the provinces in regard to these matters before we proceed much further?

There is a demand in this country which has arisen very largely on account of the report of the conference of 1926, a demand founded in my mind on a misapprehension, but a demand voiced very largely by some of the newspapers which give very strong support to the present government, that Canada take power to amend our constitution, I take the instance of the Manitoba Free Press, I quote one or two of the very dlever and well considered editorials which have appeared in that well known Liberal journal in regard to the question of the amendment of the Canadian constitution, and I say that if these views here expressed are prevalent in this country it is time something was done to check them. Such views are bound in the end to lead this country into difficulties. In the Manitoba Free Press of the 23rd of November last I find an editorial headed "The Charter of Dominion Independence", which reads as follows:

1670 COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Mr. Guthrie

The declaration by the Imperial conference as to the true relationship between the British nations appears to meet the situation created by the necessity of meeting the demands of the dominions, at least of some of them, that there be a formal and explicit recognition by definition of their complete equality with Great Britain in powers of self-government both with respect to external and internal affairs. The conference is not a legislative body; but, representative as it is of all the governments of the empire, its expression of opinion as to the powers of the dominions means that any dominion which cares to do so can now go forward in the exercise of full powers with the certainty that all legal checks will be removed.

All legal checks removed!

It imposes upon the British parliament an obligation to cooperate with the dominions in the removal of all anomalies which prevent the full functioning of dominion powers.

This point can be illustrated by a reference to Privy Council appeals. The resolution affirms that appeals should only be allowed where the dominion is a consenting party; this is not legally the case now. The judicial committee of the Privy Council has held that Canada has no power in law to prohibit appeals in criminal cases as she sought to do by legislation passed nearly forty years ago. Similarly in the Admiralty courts the Canadian laws with regard to shipping are found to be subordinate to the Merchant Shipping Act of Great Britain. On these and similar points it will be necessary for the British parliament to remove the legal bar against free action by the dominions. We assume that the appointment of the committee by the conference to consider this needed legislation is preparatory to this being done. Once this is done the situation as between the dominions and Britain will be this: That

while in its technical terms the British parliament will retain its overlordship, no legislation by the British parliament, past, present or future, will apply in any dominion without its formal consent. The division in authority is so complete in fact that the formal enfranchisement of the dominion parliaments would go no further; and presumably this final step can be taken by each dominion at will. But before this can be done by Canada, we must settle some domestic questions, notably, by what means we are to amend our constitution?

I quote also from the same paper under date of December 8, 1926:

The question of how the constitution of Canada is hereafter to be amended, which has not been given the consideration which its importance calls for, will now require attention in view of the situation which arises as the result of the constitutional declaration by the Imperial conference. [DOT]

I quote another extract taken again from the Manitoba Free Press under date of January 5, 1927. It is headed "Amending our Constitution", and it reads:

Decent articles in the Free Press urging the necessity for obtaining machinery whereby Canada can amend her own constitution, have drawn angry comments from a number of Quebec papers, including the Patrie and Action Catholique. The anger does not matter; the

important thing is that there is recognition, even though unwilling, of the facts of the situation. The Free Press has pointed out the desirability, from the viewpoint of the interests of the provinces and of the racial and religious minority, that Canada should take over the power of amending her constitution upon conditions which would supply reasonable safeguards for these interests. We can see in these suggestions nothing to support the fears, to which the Patrie and other Quebec journals give expression, that with the amending power vested in Canada the privileges, linguistic and religious, of the minority will be in danger from the majority. It is, in fact, just the other way about. As matters now stand the protection which the minority thinks it enjoys is non-existent; and in suggesting that it be restored by a reasonable agreement between the Dominion and the provinces, to be determined by conference, the Free Press is certainly not conspiring against the rights of the minority.

It will be seen at, a glance from the extracts which I have just read that the theory of a good many people in this country is that under this conference report we now have power to amend our constitution. I submit that we have no such power; but if we are to proceed to abolish appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the thin end of the wedge will certainly enter into the body politic. I cannot agree to the proposal that Canada be given that power; I distinctly dissent from it. I notice an article copied in the Winnipeg Free Press from La Presse of Montreal and I am going to put it on Hansard. It reads:

Think this over: What will become of the guarantees we enjoy under confederation when the Canadian parliament becomes absolutely supreme in the country, and when, as a result, the British parliament will have no control over the Dominion?

The Canadian parliament, if it so wishes, will have the absolute implicit right to change, prune and amend our constitution. Defenceless, and with no means of redress, we will be obliged to give way before the will of the majority.

In the light of past experiences, is it not right to ask whether the objective sought by some, at least, of the more vehement supporters of this theory is to wield the supreme control, exercised without right of appeal, in order to bring into effect certain aims which they have cherished for many years?

This must give us to think and must also convince us that we should not sacrifice too much for the sake of this fashionable recklessness.

Mere words are sometimes an extremely dangerous form of payment. They provide no funds with which to pay back what has been taken.

The view of La Presse is to a large extent re-echoed in the language used not long ago by the premier of Quebec in the legislature of that province. I quote from the speech of Premier Taschereau as reported in the volume of the Hound Table for March current where he says: : ;j fi- i

Imperial Conference-Mr. Bourassa

What does the future hold for us? I do not know, but I pray the men who direct our affairs at Ottawa, and I am sure that it is their view also, to remember that the constitution which rules us must never be changed without the consent of the province of Quebec and of each province, expressed by its legislation.

We entered into confederation on certain conditions which we believed necessary for the safeguarding of all that is dear to us, such as language, schools, laws, belief, and provincial autonomy. One of the clauses of the federal pact is that the Canadian constitution cannot be changed in its essential parts without the assent of the British government. I believe that this very necessary condition may be even more necessary to-day than it was in 1867.

I am endeavouring to impress upon hon. members as best I can the seriousness of the protest which I make. I protest in the first place that this parliament should in no sense ratify this report without amendment. I protest in the second place that no constitutional changes should be permitted under this report or otherwise unless they have first been approved by the provinces of the Dominion of Canada. Let me repeat what I said at the outset. So far as the larger part of this report goes, I entirely agree; I do not express an adverse opinion in regard to any df it, more than to say that I fear it will leave the door open in the future for complications which we little estimate to-day.

I fear that a time may come when opinion in this country may change and another generation may seek to pass through this parlia-* ment legislation which may ultimately disrupt this dominion. We cannot judge of the future by the present. We will soon all pass from this scene. Our children or our children's children may be here. My most earnest desire is to preserve in this country a united Canada. We have now lived for sixty years under our present constitutional charter; we have had our little squabbles, it is true, but they have never amounted to very much. We have had no real difficulty in working out our destiny. Why then introduce changes? Why introduce the possibility of trouble in the future? Why not stamp with our disapproval that portion of this report which opens the door to constitutional change? Why not place in the report a saving clause in reference to this Dominion? The situation in this country is not like the situation in Australia. In Australia they have nothing to fear from this report. Australia can accept it in full. Premier Bruce, when he was in this country, emphasized the fact that in Australia 98 per cent of the people were of Anglo-Saxon extraction. He and his people have nothing to fear from this report.

We in this country have a different situation to face. We realize our peculiar situation

32649-106J

in this chamber and throughout Canada. Let us have strict regard to the original contract which brought this confederation into being. Let us stand by those principles. I am not one of those who say that there shall be no change. Changes are bound to come, but let them come in the proper way. Let them come with the approval and consent of the people who made the original bargain and the people who in the final determination should be consulted in regard to a measure of this kind. I therefore beg to move, seconded by Sir George Perley;

That all the words after "that' in the motion be struck out and the following inserted in lieu thereof:

That it is not desirable that this House should be deemed tacitly to have acquiesced in the declarations and recommendations contained in the report of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference, 1926.

That in the opinion of this House the proceedings of the recent Imperial conference and the declarations and recommendations contained in the report of the Imperial Conference Committee on Inter-Imperial Relations should not be binding upon the parliament of Canada until approved by a formal resolution of this House; and that until such approval is obtained this government shall not be deemed to be authorized to take any steps to carry intp effect the recommendations contained in said report;

That it is also the opinion of this House that no amendments should be procured to the British North America Act to give effect to said report or otherwise, which would affect the rights, powers or privileges of all or any of the provinces of Canada, as they now exist under the terms of said act, unless the same are first approved by the legislature of each of the provinces of Canada.

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Subtopic:   DEBATE ON STATEMENT OP PRIME MINISTER AND AMENDMENT OF MR. GUTHRIE
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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. HENRI BOURASSA (Labelle):

Mr. Speaker, I may be allowed, I hope, to compliment the leader of the opposition (Mr. Guthrie) upon the high tone that he has given to the debate on this 'important question. Once more I find myself in the somewhat difficult position, though I rather like it, of agreeing partly with the Prime Minister and partly with the leader of the opposition, but largely disagreeing with both.

On one point, first, I entirely agree1 with the Prime Minister, in his repentant attitude with regard to the position which the government has taken, or might have taken, on this report. The leader of the opposition blames the government for not having brought in a forma! resolution of approval of the report; but I think he has furnished much argument to justify the government in not asking the House to approve the report. As far as I am concerned I thank the government for having left me in the happy position of not having to vote either in approval or dis-

Imperial Conference-Mr. Bourassa

approval of this report; because, although it contains much that appeals to all of us and a good deal that will appeal to some of us, it also contains a good deal that should be condemned by most. *

A learned foreign observer of things British and Canadian, Mr. Lawrence Lowell, has recently expressed the view that one of the interesting features of this conference and of its report is that it at once satisfies those who advocate a distention of the bonds of empire as between Great Britain and her self-governing dominions, and also those who wish to see those bonds strengthened. He might equally well have said that it dissatisfies both those who look to complete independence as the desirable future of the dominions, and those who look to a closer and permanent cooperation. In fact, a careful reading of the report shows that the one concentrating thought upon which all the members of the conference agreed was to put therein something to satisfy everybody, and if possible nothing to dissatisfy anybody-a pretty heavy task even for a body like the Imperial conference, and headed by such a master of casuistry as Lord Balfour as he was :aptly described this afternoon by my friend from St. Lawrenee-St. George (Mr. Cahan).

Another reason for w'hieh I think it would not have been proper to propose to this House a formal motion of approval of this conference is that, unlike most similar documents, it contains very few concrete propositions. It is more of a dissertation' upon the various subjects submitted to the conference; it is an expression of collective opinion, the supposed consensus of thought of the representatives of Great Britain and of the various self-governing dominions who conversed together behind closed doors during five weeks. But in the absence of any concrete resolution on the basic principles at issue, in the absence also of the expression of opinions given by the various representatives, I do not see how we can be expected to pass judgment upon the findings of the conference.

At the previous conference the present Prime Minister of Canada advocated the necessity of, or at all events the great advantage to be derived from, more publicity being given to the deliberations of the conference. I fail to find, either in this summary of proceedings or in the big volume of appendices which was published afterwards, that the same request was made this year by any member of the conference. The result is that we do not know the personal views expressed either by the representatives of Great Britain, or those of Australia or Canada, and so forth. I

quite understand, as the Prime Minister said this afternoon, that with regard to foreign affairs, with regard to those intricate and delicate matters forming the subject of negotiation between the British government and foreign governments the world over, it would not have been proper to publish at once ail that was given out before the conference either by Mr. Chamberlain or the other representatives of the Foreign Office who attended the conference. But with regard to those questions concerning the relations between Great Britain and the various dominions, with regard to principles of policy, with regard to the negotiation of treaties, and so forth, I fail to see why we should not be informed of the views that were expressed there by the representatives of Great Britain, of Australia, of Canada, of South Africa and of Ireland. Nobody can believe that they all expressed the same views on all of these principles, on all aspects of all the various questions at issue, and on the solutions proposed for these problems. It is therefore impossible for the various parliaments of the empire to pass judgment on the attitude of their representatives at that conference without knowing the particular attitude that was taken by each of them in those deliberations.

Let us take first the passage which has been mostly commented upon, not only in the various countries immediately concerned- Great Britain and the self-governing doming ions-but all over the world. I mean the passage in reference to the constitutional relations between Great Britain and those dominions. I happened to be on the ocean coming back from Italy to America when this report was issued; and in the short summary of despatches given out on the ship every day a paragraph was wired from London or Paris or Berlin-I am not quite sure which, but evidently from an international news agency -giving out a summary of this report. It was all centred upon the declaration of equality of status; and it was mentioned in a couple of lines that it signified a deep change in the internal organization of the British Empire, and therefore in its relations with the outside world. Naturally it interested me very much; but knowing something of what had been going on in previous conferences, and also something of the work which preceded this conference, I remained rather skeptical and landed in New York with the idea that probably a publication of the whole report would demonstrate that there had not been such a radical revolution. I knew enough of British traditions to feel cer-

Imperial Conference-Mr. Bourassa

tain that matters of great concern to the British Empire are not dealt with in this manner.

So I began studying the report. The Prime Minister has spared me the task and the House the annoyance of having it read once more.

I will content myself with repeating the main paragraph dealing with the present relations of Great Britain and the dominions:

Their position and mutual relation may be readily defined. They are autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the crown, and freely associated as members of the British commonwealth of nations.

Then it goes on:

A foreigner endeavouring to understand the true character of the British Empire by the aid of this formula alone would be tempted to think that it was devised rather to make mutual interference impossible than to make mutual cooperation easy.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I venture to express the view that not only a foreigner, but even a Britisher, even a close student of British history and the British constitution, if he stops at studying closely this formula, may feel somewhat puzzled as to its real meaning.

Let us deal first with the nucleus of the formula-the declaration of "equality of status," which [DOT] has been mostly talked of, either favourably or unfavourably. I need not tell the House that, as stated by the leader of the opposition, in his excellent and interesting speech, there is nothing new in this declaration, although I understood at first that he took exception to it. May I point out, however, that far from being a new principle introduced in the internal relations of the self-governing countries of the empire, it is the logical and unavoidable outcome of the principle of self-government acknowledged to every community of free British subjects, at least as far back as the report of Lord Durham, and the natural development which that principle has taken in practice in its various applications ever since. May I quote to the House an opinion expressed in the early sixties by one of the most thoughtful and clear sighted English jurists of the last century, Sir Erskine May? In the first edition of his Constitutional History of England, which I think was published in the year 1861, after an enumeration of the facts connected with the evolution of self government in the various dominions he wrote:

To conclude this rapid summary of colonial liberties, it must be added that the colonies have further enjoyed municipal institutions, a free press, and religious freedom and equality. No liberty or franchise prized by Englishmen

at home has been withheld from their fellow-countrymen in distant lands. Thus, by rapid strides, have the most considerable dependencies of the British crown advanced, through successive stages of political liberty, until an ancient monarchy has become the parent of democratic republics in all parts of the globe.

I at once call attention to the distinction drawn by May between the characteristic of the English nation and the characteristic of the daughters throughout the world-an "ancient monarchy" and new "democratic republics".

But such a transition, more or less rapid, was the inevitable consequence of responsible government, coupled with the power given to colonial assemblies, of reforming their- own constitutions. The principle of self-government once recognized, has been carried out without reserve or hesitation. Hitherto there have been many failures and discouragements in the experiment of colonial democracy; yet the political future of these thriving communities affords far more ground for hope than for despondency.

England ventured to tax her colonies, and lost them: she endeavoured to rule them from Downing street, and provoked disaffection and revolt. At last, she gave freedom, and found national sympathy and contentment. But in the meantime, her colonial dependencies have grown into affiliated states. The tie which binds them to her is one of sentiment rather than authority. Commercial privileges, on either side, have been abandoned: transportation,-*

Not in the sense that we understand it- the transportation of -Wheat, for example- but the transportation of convicts-

-for which some of the colonies were founded, has been given up: patronage has been surrendered, the disposal of public^ lands waived by the crown, and political dominion virtually renounced. In short, their dependence has become little more than nominal, except for purposes of military defence.

That was before confederation.

But parliament has recently,-

I think it was in the session of 1861

Parliament has recently pronounced it to be just that the colonies which enjoy self-government should undertake the responsibility and cost of their own military defence. To carry this policy into effect must be the work of time. But whenever it may be effected, the last material bond of connection with the colonies will have been severed; and colonial states, acknowledging the honorary sovereignty of England, and fully armed for self-defence-as well against herself as others-will have grown out of the dependencies of the British Empire. They will still look to her, in time of war, for at least naval protection; and, in peace, they will continue to imitate her laws and institutions, and to glory in the proud distinction of British citizenship. On her part, England may well be prouder of the vigorous freedom of her prosperous sons, than of a hundred provinces subject to the iron rule of British pro-consuls. And. should the sole remaining ties of kindred,

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affection, and honour be severed, she will reflect, with just exultation, that her dominion ceased, not in oppression and bloodshed, but in the expansive energies of freedom, and the hereditary capacity of her manly offspring for the privileges of self-government.

I do not think I exaggerate when I say that these were then the prevailing sentiments among the governing classes of England, and confederation was made possible as between French and English, as stated by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Guthrie), and possible, as well, as between the daughter state and the motherland, just because that spirit prevailed. There was no fear expressed on the part of Great Britain because Canada would one day reach her full-fledged independence; and instead of opposing that spirit there was a feeling of pride in seeing the daughter look forward to a future just as glorious as the past of the mother country had been.

Two or three years afterwards the government of the province of United Canada undertook that very task which was considered by May, and by the English government, as the last step to be taken by a colony to become absolutely independent of the mother land: I mean the organization of its land defence. England reserved to herself the control of foreign affairs-the root cause of all wars and difficulties with foreign nations-and also the full and exclusive responsibility for the external defence of Canada by sea, the colony undertaking the defence of her land. That was the basis upon which confederation was consummated. Twenty years later, at the first Imperial conference, when for the first time this new policy of imperial cooperation was raised, Sir Alexander Campbell, the representative of the Canadian government, reminded the British ministers and the representatives of Australia, New Zealand and Cape Colony, as it then was, that the agreement which had been concluded between Canada and Great Britain was that Great Britain, by reason of her position as a world power, was bound to defend Canada on the seas at her own expense, while all that Canada had pledged herself to, as a consequence of her full internal independence, was the organization of the defence of her territory. And he repeated there and then that upon that basis confederation was entered into. If the leader of the opposition is so much concerned, as he evidenced this afternoon, about the preservation of confederation in its entirety, if he wants to preserve untouched the principles of the federal pact as between the various elements of Canada, he should also be in favour of the resurrection of that policy under which Canada would have no responsibility for any

of the imperial enterprises of Great Britain as a consequence of her situation as d world power.

I took the trouble to collect some authorities to prove that throughout the course of our history since confederation until the last war, there has never been expressed in England any doubt as to the potential independence of the self-governing dominions nor as to their right to assert that independence completely at any time they may see fit. Let me quote at random an opinion of Sir Frederick Pollock, who surely was not a revolutionary radical. I have not the date, but I know that it was a good many years after May-because I remember having met Sir Frederick Pollock-that be said:

Leave the conventions alone and look at the facts, and yon find that the self-governing colonies are, in fact, separate kingdoms, having the same king as the parent group, but choosing to abrogate that part of their full autonomy which relates to foreign affairs. . . . The Sovereignty is a figment; the states of the empire stand on an equal footing.

Take next the opinion of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, whom nobody has ever charged with a tendency to disrupt the empire. In the year of the queen's jubilee, at a time when so many opinions of varying shades were 'being promulgated, he declared most positively in a speech delivered at Birmingham on June 21, 1S97:

The throne is the only constitutional connecting link between the colonies and ourselves. In all else these great self-governing communities are as independent as we are.

A good many years later a statesman whose name has been frequently mentioned in this debate, Lord Balfour, or, as he was at that time, Mr. Arthur Balfour, leader of the Conservative party in Great Britain, writing to The Times on February 1, 1911, said:

I believe, from a legal point of view, the British parliament is supreme over the parliaments of Canada or Australia, or the Cape or South Africa, but in fact they are independent parliaments, absolutely independent.

Another Conservative statesman in England, Mr. Bonar Law, at that time Colonial Secretary, speaking in London on September 13, 1916, advanced precisely the same view: "These great dominions are in fact independent states".

It seems to me, therefore, there was nothing to excite public opinion one way or the other when the report came out that this conference had asserted what as a matter of fact has been the unequivocal opinion of all legal and political authorities in Great Britain during the past sixty years. Such surprise as was evinced in the Dominions was due rather to

Imperial Conjeren.ee-Mr. Bourassa

that state of mind to which Lord Balfour alluded in what I may call the conversation between himself and Lord Parmoor in the House of Lords. Truly, in the dominions, strange to say, people are less prepared for assertions of independence than they are in Great Britain. Just what the cause is I do not know. No doubt it is due in large part to that long state of subjection, shall I say, or protection, at any rate that condition of incomplete nationhood in which Canada and the other dominions have existed for so many years. The most apt comparison I can suggest is the mentality that characterized certain classes among the black population of the southern states during the war of secession. An admirable American writer, the late Thomas Nelson Page, who died as United States Ambassador to Rome, has depicted that spirit in some of his delightful novels portraying life in the southern states during and after the war of secession. Among the slaves attached to the estates of the great landowners of Virginia, who constituted the true aristocracy, the landed gentry of that country, there was a class of slaves who lived permanently with families from generation to generation. The women were the nurses-the mammies, as they were called- to the children of the family, while the men served as butlers, coachmen, and so on. They were splendidly treated, the attitude of their owners to them being in striking contrast with the conduct of the slave owners described by Harriet Beecher Stowe in Uncle Tom's Cabin; and when the war of secession came, although these slaves were not obliged to do so, they were eager to fight for their masters because of the love they bore them. That perhaps was a natural sentiment, but the peculiarity of that psychology was apparent when Lincoln launched his proclamation of freedom. It was most indignantly received by these blacks. They were loath to exercise the responsibilities of freedom. They did not want to earn their living by their own initiative; they wanted to be possessed, to be protected. They wanted to live in that happy state of semi-animal, semi-celestial irresponsibility in which they had dwelt for generations. They were therefore described by the rest of the freed negroes as "quality niggers" with whom they had nothing in common, and both classes detested each other cordially. The modem colonial imperialist who claims that he is free, and that he likes this kind of freedom, but who refuses to exercise more of that freedom, who is afraid of the responsibility which will accrue to him if he has to deal with the constitution and the laws of

his country, if he has to discuss racial problems with his fellow citizens, would seem to have some of this "quality nigger" spirit. It is the only parallel I can find in history. To be frank, I must say that that spirit exists in the province of Quebec as elsewhere, and without being personal I can say that of recent days it has received its most vivid expression in the language of the premier of that province who, by the way, has been styled by the Montreal Gazette, knowing something of the matter and of the man, as a Tory of the Tories.

The evolution which is the natural and inevitable outcome of the principle of selfgovernment, was anticipated at the time of confederation not by the radicals and not by the Liberals who opposed confederation, but by the very founders of that confederation. Take the views expressed by Sir John A. Macdonald with regard to the authority of parliament and the relations between parliament and the crown or the representative of the crown, in presenting to the House the Quebec Conference resolutions upon which the Confederation Act was founded. He then said:

With us the sovereign, or in this country the representative of the sovereign, can act only on the advice of his ministers, those ministers being responsible to the people through parliament.

Without drawing too many red herrings across the trail, I modestly expressed the view last summer that if the late leader of the Conservative party had reminded the late governor of this short passage in our constitutional history, perhaps a good deal of misunderstanding could have been avoided. In a later speech on the same resolution, and in answer to a very able Liberal or Grit representative from Ontario, Mr. J. H. Cameron, Sir John A. Macdonald said:

My honourable friend refers us to the language of the Constitutional Act to show how limited our constitution is; but by that act we are empowered, in the widest language that could be employed, to make laws for the peace, tvelfare and good government of the people of Canada. There could be no larger powers conferred upon us, and although it is quite true that our political existence is only statutory-

Mind you, those were only the dawning days of full autonomy

-that constitutionally our judges have no right to commit for contempt, and that we have no prescriptive rights such as those which the imperial parliament possesses, yet this is equally true-that we stand, with regard to the people of Canada, precisely in the same position as the House of Commons in England stands with regard to the people of England. And no man who values representative government would consent to sit here under a less extensive commission-no man will get up and disclaim the possession of such powers.

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Imperial Conjeren.ee-Mr. Bourassa

Now with regard to foreign relations, although in those days not much thought was given to foreign relations outside of purely commercial treaties, Sir John A. Macdonald, with his broad vision, his keen common sense and his true British spirit, with the smallest dose of quality niggership existing then in the minds of our statesmen, wias not afraid of thinking of the establishment of foreign relations. He said:

I am strongly of opinion that year by year, as we grow in population and strength, England will more see the advantages of maintaining the alliance between British North America and herself.

As you see, he termed the new relation between Great Britain and Canada as one of "alliance;" and to show that by that he did not mean an exclusive alliance, he added immediately:

Does any one imagine that, when our population instead of three and a half, will be seven millions, as it will be ere many years pass, we would be one whit more willing than now to sever the connection with England? .... And, when, by means of this rapid increase, we become a nation of eight or nine millions of inhabitants, our alliance will be worthy of being sought by the great nations of the earth. I am proud to believe that our desire for a permanent alliance will be reciprocated in England. . . . The colonies are now in a transition state. _ Gradually a different colonial system is being developed-and it will become, year by year, less a case of dependence on our part, and of overruling protection on the part of the mother country, and more a case of a healthy and cordial alliance. Instead of looking upon us as a merely dependent colony, England will have in us a friendly nation-a subordinate but still a powerful people-to stand by her in North America in peace or in war.

That was sixty years ago. The objects which the founders of confederation had in view were first to estaiblish between the new confederacy and the motherland terms of alliance on a footing of equality; then to reserve to the new confederacy the right to have terms of alliance with foreign nations; and finally to confine the military duties of Canada to the defence of her own territory as a portion of the empire, and to come to the rescue of Great Britain in North America, and nowhere else.

Undoubtedly, as was said this afternoon and as has been said very frequently in the last ten years, the participation of the dominions in the last war has hastened that evolution and has brought us nearer the goal which Sir John A. Macdonald had in view together with the other founders of confederation. We were brought nearer in a sense; but there is another point which I wish to make clear and upon which I differ just as much with one leader

as with the other. The war has also distracted us from the safe path in which the founders of confederation had directed the course of Canada. While advancing the principle of equality, it also beclouded the issue of our relations with Great Britain and the other portions of the empire. That very sensible English statesman of Canadian birth, not a genius but a man of much common sense, Mr. Bonar Law, pointed out during the war how deeply changed was the basis of relationship between the motherland and the dominions. In the course of the same speech from which I quoted a sentence a moment ago he said:

So far as the dominions are concerned, this war is being carried on under conditions which never existed in the world before, and which it is almost incredible to believe could have existed now. These great dominions are, in fact, independent states. We could not have compelled a single one of them to send a man or contribute a penny. But they have sent their best, not so much to help us as to help the empire of which they are a part.

These conditions can never occur again. It requires great good-will and good sense on the part of both the dominions and the authorities at home to enable the arrangement to work by which one set of men contribute lives and treasures and yet have no voice as to the way in which those lives and treasure are expended. That cannot continue. There must be a change.

That was in September, 1916. A year previous he expressed the view that "after this war the relations between t'he dominions and the mother country could never be the same." Every thoughtful man was convinced of that. But what were to be the relations after the war?

Was it possible to combine the spirit of autonomy in a gradual evolution to the point of full independence, as was conceived at the time of confederation, and the new system of so called free cooperation which had developed first during the South African war and had come to its full amplitude in the last war? This has ewer since been a directing thought of all British statesmen, whether Tories, Liberals or Labour. Their thought has been: how can we preserve- the cooperation of the dominions in time of war, and get rid of them in time of peace? Because after all that is their thought, and a most natural one. In periods of peace, when the British have to deal in their diplomatic relations with all the situations on earth which you can imagine, to negotiate with all governments, they do mot care to have the Canadians, the Australians, the South Africans and the Irish accompany them everywhere. In analyzing this report,

I thought of the feeling which the British diplomats must have when they see the repre-

Imperial Conference-Mr. Bourassa

sentatives of all sister nations-or as they still say between themselves, "those bloated colonials,"-coming and butting in. They have that kind of feeling whidh the directors of the British museum would have should half a dozen cattle drovers of the west come with their broncos to inspect their precious collections. I cannot altogether blame them. There is much robustness in the assertion of colonial thought, but there is not always in it that fine appreciation of things and it has not yet developed that scientific way of lying in a gentlemanly fashion so necessary to successful diplomacy. On the other hand, the British wish to preserve the means and the ties by which, in days of strife, they will get the men and the treasure from the dominions to help them in all their imperial enterprises. At the same time, they are prepared not only to grant us but to urge us to take all we can of our self-governing powers. In order to keep us occupied at home, they want to get rid of those political relations which may have been necessary some years ago; they are in just as much if not a greater hurry to get rid of them than we are. So if you take into account that feeling, if you take also into account the circumstances-the peculiar and very different circumstances-under which the representatives of the various dominions have to carry on their internal government and their external policies, you will readily understand that in this conference, as in every other conference, a formula had to be found without any regard to logic, without any regard to harmony of thought and purpose, but in. which something had to be inserted to please everybody.

Topic:   IMPERIAL CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON STATEMENT OP PRIME MINISTER AND AMENDMENT OF MR. GUTHRIE
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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Without any regard to facts.

Topic:   IMPERIAL CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON STATEMENT OP PRIME MINISTER AND AMENDMENT OF MR. GUTHRIE
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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

Yes, to a large degree. I go further. I think I am .justified by my knowledge of history in saying that there will never be an Imperial conference, or any political body in which the representatives of Great Britain and the various self-governing dominions meet to discuss various propositions of internal economy or external policy upon which they can agree. If they are bound to agree in formulas they must lie to each other in the expression of their thought, and also lie to the respective peoples; or if they want to tell the whole truth, if they want to express the thoughts and the aspirations of their respective peoples, they must express differences of opinion, because the conflicting interests cannot agree, because the aspirations are not the same, because differences are caused by geographical, historical and economic conditions. And so, if there is an agreement it must be a very loose agreement; it

cannot cover the whole field or even a very small portion of the field of the relations which can be established between those various countries.

Let us examine the extraordinary formula contained in this report and compare it with what precedes and what follows it. We are told:

They are autonomous communities. . . .

equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs-

At the same time we are declared to be "within the empire." I never heard of an empire constituted in that manner. The idea of empire, the essence of empire, carries with it the necessity of hegemony of one nation over several other nations. That hegemony may be exercised by force, after conquest, as it was in the old classic example of the Roman Empire; as it is now in the British Empire composed of Great Britain, India, and her other subordinate colonies. Or you may have a federated empire such as the Holy Roman Germanic Empire which lasted from the ninth to the seventeenth century, or again in its new form as founded in bloodshed in 1871 by Bismarck. That was the ideal of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. That was the ideal he proposed to the free people of Canada and the various dominions, but they would not have it, and here we have the avowal that that process of a federated empire has been found impossible. But then I repeat: If Canada,

Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are equal in status to Great Britain and in no way subordinate to Great Britain in any matter of war and peace, how can we form part of the empire? Where is the head of that empire? It cannot be said that it is the Imperial conference. We have had again the statesmen! this afternoon of the Prime Minister, endorsed by that of the leader of the opposition, that that conference has no power of legislation, no power of government. It cannot define, it cannot direct, it cannot accomplish anything, except express opinions one way or the other, very often one way and the other together, then report to the various parliaments, and never ask for any approval; and that is what I like best in the attitude of the government. And yet you tell me this is one empire! Well, no. Of course there still exists a British Empire, the one I mentioned a moment ago, that one composed of England, of India, of all the subordinate colonies, of all the protectorates, of all the "mandated" countries, according to the vocabulary which diplomatic hypocrisy has adopted to define the works of plunder. But of that empire we form no part.

1G7S COMMONS

Imperial Conference-Mr. Bourassa

Topic:   IMPERIAL CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON STATEMENT OP PRIME MINISTER AND AMENDMENT OF MR. GUTHRIE
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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Or the "quality niggers,"

you are leaving them out.

Topic:   IMPERIAL CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON STATEMENT OP PRIME MINISTER AND AMENDMENT OF MR. GUTHRIE
Permalink

March 29, 1927