March 10, 1936

ELECTORAL DISTRICT OF SOURIS

REPORT OF JUDGES DECLARING SITTING MEMBER DULY ELECTED

LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I have the honour to inform the house that I have received from the Honourable Mr. Justice Prendergast and the Honourable Mr. Justice Richards, two of the judges selected for the trial of election petitions, pursuant to The Dominion Controverted Elections Act, a report relating to the election for the electoral district of Souris, by which the sitting member was declared duly elected.

Topic:   ELECTORAL DISTRICT OF SOURIS
Subtopic:   REPORT OF JUDGES DECLARING SITTING MEMBER DULY ELECTED
Permalink

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

PRECEDENCE FOR GOVERNMENT BUSINESS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, MARCH 16

LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) moved:

That on and after Monday the 16th of March next to the end of the session, government notices of motions and government orders shall have precedence on Mondays over all other business except introduction of bills, questions by members and notices of motions for the production of papers.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   PRECEDENCE FOR GOVERNMENT BUSINESS ON AND AFTER MONDAY, MARCH 16
Permalink

Motion agreed to.


IMPERIAL DEFENCE


On the orders of the day:


CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

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

Mr. Speaker, while I realize that Canada is not a signatory to the Locarno pact, in view of the critical situation which has developed in Europe, and especially in view of the statement made by Mr. J. H. Thomas, I should like to ask whether Canada, either as a member of the League of Nations or as part of the British empire, is committed either directly or indirectly to any defence policy.

Imperial Defence

Topic:   IMPERIAL DEFENCE
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

My hon. friend concludes his question with the words, "any defence policy." Does he mean any defence policy with respect to Canada?

Topic:   IMPERIAL DEFENCE
Permalink
CCF
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I rather imagined that some hon. member would ask a question with respect to what appeared in the press this morning as having been the answers made yesterday in the British House of Commons by the Right Honourable Mr. Thomas, Secretary for the Colonies, to certain questions asked of the ministry. Perhaps I had better anticipate possible further questions in connection with that press dispatch by making clear exactly what was said by Mr. Thomas: also what the position is with respect to Canada's attitude on the matters referred to by my hon. friend.

I received this morning from Canada's high commissioner the text of the exact words used by Mr. Thomas in replying to the questions asked him yesterday on dominion cooperation and policy arising out of the white paper on defence. The text is as follows:

The first and most important (question asked) was with regard to position of dominions and colonies. When, at the jubilee celebration last year, the whole of the dominion premiers were in England, the government took the opportunity of consulting them frankly and freely on the situation. They explained to the whole of the dominions the defence position, since which full contents of white paper had been communicated to them, and without a solitary exception every dominion not only acquiesced but felt that this was a policy that ought to be supported.

As far as collective security is concerned, the whole of the dominions are members of the League of Nations. They have given their support to the league. They are parties to every step taken by the government and, in addition, a number of them are taking steps for their own internal defence.

It will be observed that Mr. Thomas' answer deals with two distinct matters, first, with what transpired in London at the time of the jubilee celebration last year, and, second, with reference to Canada's position as a member of the League of Nations in respect of present day questions. With regard to the first let me read again what Mr. Thomas said:

When, at the jubilee celebration last year, the whole of the dominion premiers were in England, the government took the opportunity of consulting them frankly and freely on the situation. They explained to the whole of the dominions the defence position, since which full contents of white paper had been communicated to them, and without a solitary exception every dominion not only acquiesced but felt

that this was a policy that ought to be supported.

There is a reference there to the contents of a white paper having been communicated to the dominions. Let me clear up a possible confusion that may arise in that connection. There has been issued within the last fortnight a white paper dealing with the British government's defence policy, but that is not the white paper to which reference is made here. As far as I am able to gather from the context, the white paper to which reference is made is a white paper that was tabled in the British House of Commons during the month of March of last year, just a year ago. I have a copy of it in my hand. It is entitled "a statement relating to defence"; it was issued in connection with the House of Commons debate in England on March 11, 1935. This white paper was communicated to the Canadian government on March 18, 1935.

In regard to actual or possible commitments of Canada at the conference at the time of the jubilee celebrations, hon. members will recall that when my right hon. friend the present leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) returned from England I asked him, I think, on the first day he was in the house after his return, whether any commitments had been made by the Canadian government through him or through other ministers at the time of the celebration, and in reply thereto my right hon. friend made a statement which appears in Hansard of May 20, 1935. The statement is quite explicit and will I think answer any question that may arise with respect to the first part of Mr. Thomas's statement:

Mr. Bennett: I am grateful for having had the opportunity to represent this country at the recent jubilee celebration, about which I shall make some further observations at another time. To the other matters referred to by the right hon. leader of the opposition, in connection with the discussions that took place in Great Britain between the prime ministers of the various overseas dominions and the Prime Minister and ministers of the motherland, I shall also refer later. It is sufficient for my purpose to say to this house this afternoon that the European situation is one of great difficulty, and at times it gives evidence of being very dangerous. But 1 am hopeful that the efforts which have been made during all these years by the government of the United Kingdom to secure, shall I say, a collective security pact and peace _ with disarmament, may prevail. Great Britain has disarmed to the point of insecurity; at this moment she finds herself in a position of very great difficulty. I think that is not too strong a statement to make in view of the knowledge we have all obtained from the press as well as from other sources. At this moment I shall not do more than say that I think it very desirable that I should at once make it clear

Imperial Defence

that so far as this dominion is concerned no commitments were sought with respect to the matters to which reference has been made, nor were any given. I say that because it is desirable that there should be no false conceptions and no misstatements or misunderstandings abroad with respect to matters of such importance to us all.

I might use, Mr. Speaker, exactly the same words with reference to any communications which the present government has had with the British government with respect to defence matters. A summary of the white paper which was recently laid on the table of the House of Commons at Westminster, describing the proposal of the government of the United Kingdom for the strengthening of its defence forces and the reorganization of the committee of imperial defence was communicated to us. The summary reached us at the same time that a full statement appeared in the press of the contents of the white paper. But we were not asked our opinion of the white paper, nor were we asked to give any approval of it or any commitment with regard to it. I shall quote the words of my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition and apply them as my reply to the representations of that part of the statement which might seem to refer to recent correspondence: " I cannot make it too clear that so far as this dominion is concerned no commitments were sought with respect to the matters to which reference has been made, nor were any given."

My hon. friend from Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth), who has just asked the question, addressed to me on the 10th of February last, a question in the following words:

May I ask the Prime Minister what commitments, if any, have been made by Canada with regard to imperial defence?

To which I replied:

I would have to have a conference with my colleague the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) before I could answer my hon. friend. I am not aware of any commitments, myself, at the moment.

Then on the 12th of February, two days later, I replied further, quoting my hon. friend's question and my previous answer, and added:

I now give my hon. friend the answer, having taken up the matter with the Minister of National Defence:

While declarations on behalf of Canada on the subject of the defence of Canada have been made at various imperial conferences, as may be seen from the results thereof published from time to time, I am not aware of any commitments made on behalf of Canada with regard to imperial defence. At such conferences it has been expressly recognized that it is for the parliaments of the several parts of the British commonwealth of nations, upon the

[Mi. Mackenzie King.]

recommendation of their respective governments, to decide upon their course.

I would say that my answer would be the same to-day. There are no commitments made that I am aware of or that the government is aware of on the part of Canada with regard to imperial defence.

As to the part of Mr. Thomas' question which refers to the League of Nations, may I read again what was said there:

As far as collective security is concerned, the whole of the dominions are members of the League of Nations. They have given their support to the league.

No exception can be taken to that part. The last sentence reads as follows:

They are parties to every step taken by the government and, in addition, a number of them are taking steps for their own internal defence.

I wish to say that so far as the government of Canada is concerned, as a member of the league we are responsible and take responsibility for only those steps which we have taken by ourselves and on our own behalf. What we have done we have done on our own, as a member of the league. What these steps have been was fully given to the house in the papers which were communicated to parliament in the form of a white paper only a few days ago.

As to the Locarno treaty and obligations arising under it, I might quote the following, which is article 9 of the Locarno treaty, signed on October 16, 1925:

The present treaty shall impose no obligation upon any of the British dominions, or upon India, unless the government of such dominion, or of India, signifies its acceptance thereof.

A Liberal administration was in office at the time the Locarno treaty was under consideration and we took the position then that we had not participated in any conference with respect to Locarno and that we did not think we should be asked to sign the agreement. We allowed the final decision to stand over until after the imperial conference of 1926. The matter was discussed at the conference and Canada's position was made quite clear at the conference, that we were not prepared to sign the treaty, and that we recognized no obligations under it whatsoever. That expression of Canada's position was communicated to parliament at its next session here. There can be no question that as respects the Locarno treaty there is no commitment or obligation upon Canada through the action of its government.

I should add that we have made clear at various conferences that any action in the nature of military obligations of any sort

Canada-TJS. Trade Agreement

would be entered into by the government of the day only after such had been recommended to parliament by the government and approved by parliament itself.

Topic:   IMPERIAL DEFENCE
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Speaker, I think there was one statement made by the right hon. gentleman that possibly should be modified. He said with respect to the League of Nations that we were bound only by such action as we had taken. We are also bound, of course, by action that may be taken by the league of which we are a member, although we may not at the moment agree with what has been done, if it is done by the majority or by the requisite number as provided for by the covenant. That, of course, is the essence of it.

I think it should be made abundantly clear that, although we may not ourselves be taking the action, if action were taken by the league as such or by a committee of the league as such, we would be bound by that action, although we might not personally agree with the action taken.

Topic:   IMPERIAL DEFENCE
Permalink
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

If my right hon. friend will look at my remarks, he will see that what I said had specific reference to Locarno. I did not attempt to discuss our obligations to the league generally. We have our obligations under the covenant. I think we have recognized all of them, and will be prepared to consider each new obligation as it arises, in the light of the circumstances which may then be prevailing.

Topic:   IMPERIAL DEFENCE
Permalink

ST. LAWRENCE WATERWAY


On the orders of the day:


CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Broadview):

I would like to ask the Minister of Railways and Canals if the government will be represented at the annual convention of cities and towns and harbours of -the great lakes in reference to the St. Lawrence waterway; also whether he will be shortly in a position to inform the house if there are any negotiations going on between the two countries for the seaway, so that when the depression is over there will be a basis of agreement.

Topic:   ST. LAWRENCE WATERWAY
Permalink
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Marine; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Railways and Canals):

The government will not be represented at the meeting. We have had no notice of such a meeting other than that given by the hon. member in the notice of question he sent across a few minutes ago; and beyond that, so far as we are aware the meeting is entirely unofficial. In reply to the second question, I may say that I know of no communication of recent date between Canada and the United States in the matter of the St. Lawrence waterway.

Topic:   ST. LAWRENCE WATERWAY
Permalink

CANADA-UNITED STATES TRADE AGREEMENT PROPOSED APPROVAL SUBJECT TO LEGISLATION MAKING PROVISIONS EFFECTIVE

March 10, 1936