May 26, 1930

LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Those two vessels were

obtained from the British Admiralty under an agreement that Canada might use them for naval defence provided she met the somewhat substantial cost of refitting.

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CON

Thomas Erlin Kaiser

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KAISER:

We do not own them.

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

That is a legal question;

I will bring down the order in council in relation to the matter if my friend desires.

I think Canada's presence at the conference was amply justified because of her interest in the relations existing between the nations of the world by which she is surrounded. She finds that an agreement has been arrived at in which she is particularly interested, between the British commonwealth of nations and the United States, whereby the impasse which existed between those nations at Geneva has now been done away with and there has emerged from the conference complete unity and complete harmony in regard to naval matters. That is also true of the great empire

of Japan which is our nearest Pacific neighbour. Canada comes from that conference in the extremely fortunate position of feeling satisfied with the outcome because of the fact that the conference has resulted in this agreement between those three great nations.

Something else, I think Canada contributed to the conference. Canada's naval program is based primarily on her naval needs. Her needs in the first place consist of the necessity providing for coast defence and protection, for a reasonable distance out to sea of the trade in and out of her great ports. But in addition to that Canada might claim naval protection on the south. She has done away with the necessity for the protection by agreement. She has substituted a treaty for battleships. That treaty has worked well, and Canada, I believe, at the conference constituted a striking demonstration of a country which was able not simply to talk of disarmament, but which had been able to find a substitute for armament. Such a substitute I believe is necessary in the last analysis. I do not believe we can just simply disarm and leave it at that. International disputes are bound to arise; there are bound to be difficulties with regard to trade; there is bound to be friction because of congestion of population in some parts of the world and paucity of population in other parts; there will always have to be taken into account the passions to which men are subject. To guard against international disputes in the future we should try to find machinery to adjust differences between nations just as we have such machinery for settling disputes between individuals; that is, we must find a means of settling international disputes without resort to force. It seems to me that Canada was able to give an example of such means by pointing to our International Joint Commission. This was more than once referred to in the discussion in connection with the conference, and I believe that in this way there is great hope for advancing the future peace of the world.

My own feeling is that we in Canada should endeavour in every way possible to emphasize and show how effective is this method of what I may term preventive defence. The idea is to forestall the use of force by machinery for reason and discussion, something to which the people can instinctively turn when national clouds threaten. Public opinion is becoming increasingly interested in these matters. I think we should direct our energies not only to finding those methods, but also to bringing to the minds of our people a knowledge of just what those methods are. I believe that too much cannot be said for this point of view, that there should be brought

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to the minds of our men and women, our boys and girls, the idea that instead of mobilizing battleships there is some simple method to resort to when an international dispute occurs. I believe our people ought to be so educated and informed that when an international difference arises they can at once answer the question "what do we Jo now?" And they will be able to answer that question if our public men, our League of Nations' societies and all other agencies by spreading national information make it a matter of dominion-wide education to bring before our people the idea that there are other methods of settling international disputes than by force, and just what these methods are.

I have given, Mr. Speaker, the results of the conference in a brief and sketchy form. I believe the house will approve the treaty which has been signed. I think it marks a very definite step in advance along the road of international peace, and I believe the idea of disarmament embodied in the treaty, with the idea which I have endeavoured to express of providing substitutes for armaments, will together constitute a powerful factor in promoting the peace of the world.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

I should like to compliment the

Minister of National Defence (Mr. Ralston) upon the splendid sentiments to which he gave expression in the latter part of his speech. He urged that we should have some substitute for armament; that we must find machinery for the settlement of international disputes without resorting to arms. He stressed the need for the development of "preventive defence". I feel that if this policy can now be carried out and if in any way the recent conference contributed to that end, much has been accomplished. When I heard the earlier part of the minister's speech, I wondered whether in practice that had been the actual result of the conference. I have before me a copy of the book Disarmament by Solvador de Madariaga, and in connection with the attendance of the minister at the conference I thought of a paragraph contained in this book.

The military profession cannot recognize any duty above that which constitutes its very essence; the ensuring the safety of its country. A military delegation sent to discuss disarmament problems can not and should not envisage them-as it is implicitly requested to do-in a somewhat general and abstract light. It can only view them as it should only view them, with an eye on the home forces. "Which of the possible answers to the question will increase my strength or weaken that of my potential adversaries?" Such is the only possible criterion which a military delegation can and should adopt, and any one who expects military

men in Geneva to think in the abstract ways of the intellectual or in the give-and-take ways of the politician misses the main point. But if that _ is so, it will be easily seen that a commission composed of military delegates can seldom find unanimity outside general negative propositions. To this objective limitation a subjective obstacle should be added. By temperament the soldier is not a good negotiator. His tactics are those of war: surprise,

stratagem, deep laid plans, concealment and rush-while his aim and glory is complete victory.

In another place I find the following:

Under this light, armaments appear to us as instruments of policy. They are indeed the most important instrument of policy, together with financial power-a rare thing. It is evident, therefore, that no disarmament is possible as long as no alternative instrument of policy to armaments is devised, and no reduction of armaments is possible as long as the utility of armaments as instruments of policy has not been reduced.

I was very glad indeed to hear in the latter part of the minister's statement the definitely expressed advocacy of such an alternative. I was afraid that prior to his visit to London the minister was distinctly stressing the value of armaments. In fact I am not so sure but that the minister has had some slight change of heart since his visit to the naval conference, and perhaps that has been brought about through bis close association with Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, of whom he has spoken in such laudatory terms. In the London Free Press of November 30, 1929, I find the following:

Canada must maintain a trained and adequate military defence force in peace time in order to be able "to wage neutrality."

I ask hon. members to note the words "to wage neutrality." To my mind they indicate a very great contrast to his present advocacy of some "substitute for armament." I hope that the phrase "preventive defence" which he used to-day does not embrace a military force capable of waging neutrality. To continue with the extract from the newspaper:

Canada must maintain a trained and adequate military defence force in peace time in order to be able "to wage neutrality" should the occasion ever arise, declared Colonel the Hon. J. L. Ralston, Minister of National Defence, in an address here last night. The minister spoke in the Hotel London to a distinguished gathering representative of the military, political and civil life of western Ontario. The occasion was a dinner tendered to Colonel Ralston by the officers of military district No. 1. under the auspices of the London Garrison Officers' Association. Every one of the 24 units in military district No. 1 was represented.

In the course of his speech the minister said:

You see before you your humble servant, who stands on the firing line in the House of Commons and tries to get money votes for the

Naval Conference-Mr. Woodsworth

maintenance of the defence forces of Canada. And I assure you that there is no more popular indoor sport in Ottawa than trying to clip a few hundreds of thousands off the estimates of the Department of National Defence. However I want you to feel that in the last two or three years something has been done with regard to these appropriations.

My object has not been to attempt to have a large defence force in Canada, but to have efficient to a high degree what modest force we have. The militia, engineers, and stores votes have been increased within the last few years. So far as the naval arm is concerned, last year for the first time the House of Commons voted money whereby Canada can buy and build her own naval vessels and thus assume her proper position as a nation among the great powers of the world.

It seems to me a serious thing if it is the opinion of the minister that the building of a navy represents the way in which Canada can assume her proper position among the great nations of the world. Such a conclusion would be altogether out of keeping with the tone of the latter part of the speech delivered to-day by the hon. gentleman. The other day in the committee on industrial and international relations-

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

My hon. friend knows that Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, than whom I think he will agree with me there is no greater advocate for peace, points out that there must be a transition period. There is no inconsistency. in the fact that some force is required during the transition period; my hon. friend must know that Great Britain is asking for fifty cruisers.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

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outlawry of war, is the one topic that has been taboo at the present conference. Instead we have discussed the strength of fleets, ratios, parities, yardsticks, tons and guns, torpedo-tubes and cruisers, and in so doing have delivered ourselves into the hands of the naval experts and their nationalist and reactionary backers. The attempt is being made now, and will be made in the future, to blame the failure on France or alternatively on Italy, or, if this fails, on Japan. But the real reason is that the delegates have all been thinking about "unthinkable wars" and trying to bluff each other and finesse each other for some slight advantage on agreed building programs.

I think anyone who has read anything about the naval conference must recognize that the great fundamental questions were not discussed and that essentially the greater part of the conference was devoted to technical questions. I should be very glad indeed to think that what the minister said in the latter part of his speech were true, that the naval conference had marked anything like a real id vance.

Now, with regard to our part in naval disarmament, in looking over the treaty I note that on page 4 the following wording occurs:

His Majesty the King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British dominions beyond the seas, Emperor of India; for Great Britain and Northern Ireland and all parts of the British Empire which are not separate members of the League of Nations;

There follow the signatories for Great Britain. Then later on we have these signatories "for the Dominion of Canada." This is in accordance with the phraseology adopted by the Imperial conference of 1926. Further, on page 29, we find the same phraseology in section 2:

As soon as the ratifications of the United States of America, of His Majesty the King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British dominions beyond the seas, Emperor of India, in respect of each and all of the members of the British commonwealth of nations as enumerated in the preamble of the present treaty

And so on. Here again we have equality of status recognized, as at the Imperial conference of 1926, but now I turn to page 24, and in the schedules I find this phrase:

.... for the British commonwealth of nations ....

That is a new phrase, and in article 16, subsection 3, the same phrase occurs again, allocating so many cruisers to "the British commonwealth of nations." In this case the use of the term, "commonwealth" is somewhat ambiguous. Does it mean the empire? In 1926 the phrase seemed to mean the selfgoverning dominions; now it appears to be

equivalent to the empire itself. This is no small matter. It is not merely a technicality in phrasing but involves the question as to how far we in Canada are responsible for imperial defense. The statement is made that we are to have a maximum of fifteen cruisers. I will read the text, which is subsection 3 of article 16:

The maximum number of cruisers of subcategory (a) shall be as follows: For the

united States, eighteen; for the British commonwealth of nations, fifteen; for Japan, twelve.

How are these to be allocated? Supposing Australia built two and in that connection it may be asked whether the Australian is to be scrapped, as has been suggested. If so, is Australia to build another cruiser? Supposing Canada should build two or four cruisers, and I believe the latter number was suggested by Mr. Borden. Does that mean that the total for the British Empire is to be only fifteen, and that this number is to be diminished by the cruisers provided by the various dominions?

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

That would leave only seven for the British commonwealth of nations.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yes, my hon. friend suggests this might mean only seven for the British commonwealth of nations. Will the allotment of the British Empire be cut down by the number provided by the various dominions? From my point of view, this is the important question: is there any understanding between the Dominion and Great Britain as to how the fifteen ships are to be allocated? No indication of that is given in the report now before us, and no indication has been given by the minister himself.

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

There is no understanding.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

It seems to me that this arrangement is a very loose one, and my former question still stands. I am glad that there is no understanding, but in case of Australia or Canada building any ships, does it mean that the number allotted to the British commonwealth of nations, that is fiftteen, is to be cut down by the number built by the self-governing dominions?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

The agreement is that our naval requirements will not be such as to cause the collective total for the British commonwealth of nations to be exceeded. There is nothing loose about that, that makes it absolutely certain that there cannot be more than fifteen of these particular eight-inch gun cruisers afloat on the seas for the whole British commonwealth of nations.

Naval Conference-Mr. Irvine

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

There is no arrangement as to the allocation as between Great Britain and-*

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

None.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

In the event of Australia constructing four cruisers, which is quite possible when we realize Australia's attitude towards this question, that would leave Great Britain with only eleven? Is that satisfactorily understood?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

There will be no danger of Australia or any other nation constructing any vessels coming within this treaty without consultation with the other parts of the British commonwealth of nations.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I would like to

ask one more question before taking my seat: AVe have participated in this conference and it is proposed that we participate in this naval treaty; we have agreed to this particular number of ships-does that mean that we-that is, Canada-are under obligation for imperial defence?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

We have agreed to a

certain number of ships; there is no agreement or any obligation further than the obligation we had before we went to the conference.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

The very fact that we are parties to the limitation seems to me to imply a certain moral obligation to live up to that agreement. Supposing Great Britain should find herself in difficulties about providing for the fifteen ships, or faced with some other crisis; would that mean that because we have participated in the conference we would be more or less under an obligation for imperial defence?

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

The British commonwealth of nations have agreed, not that they shall have fifteen ships-they may have only five- but that their total collective strength shall not exceed fifteen ships. There is no obligation of any kind to contribute to any greater extent than the obligation which existed before we went over to the conference.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

That is a very

satisfactory answer. Although there are many things I would like to discuss in connection with this whole question, I do not desire to detain the house any longer.

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May 26, 1930