March 25, 1938

CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

May I point out to my hon. friend that I was born in Canada. I am a British subject, and I am not ashamed of my opinions in this regard. I did my stint of service in the war, together with my comrades in this house. If the hon. gentleman cares to bring my loyalty into question, he may do so, but I shall let my record speak for itself. I have endeavoured to make it clear-and I have not uttered an offensive word while doing so -that I am: not advancing an anti-British policy. As was said by the Minister of Pensions and National Health, whom I quoted a moment ago, I am a Canadian and view these matters as a Canadian. But I realize that, in the final analysis, these matters affect Canada vitally and must be worked out not on the basis of false sentiment or any mawkish patriotism, but on the basis of national interest. The day has long gone by when people in this country say, "Britain is my country; Canada is my home." I say that due to the constitutional developments in which we take such pride in this house, Canada is our country, and we are responsible for the development of Canadian policies in this regard. So I am pointing out, as well as I am capable of doing, the grounds giving rise to suspicion and uneasiness in this country at this time.

These relationships exist. Of that there is abundant evidence, and they constitute tacit commitments. The greatest commitment of all lies in the fact that we have not relinquished that constitutional relationship, the constitutional law, which willy-nilly compels us automatically to apply economic sanctions against the subjects of those nations which

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may be at war with his majesty. That is a matter of constitutional law. All these things I say constitute commitments, and I feel that it is our responsibility to face the issues frankly and discover, in line with democratic traditions in Canada, just where we stand. We should know where we stand. As I said before, it is not good enough to leave these matters for settlement until we succumb to war hysteria. Then, in the event of war, of course to discuss any such matter as this would be secession, and I am not for one moment arguing for separation from the empire. I say this at this time, with all due sense of responsibility, that throughout Canada there is a growing and profound distrust of the policy of the present British government, and that does not mean disloyalty to British traditions or to the sentiments of the British people. Sometimes there is a vast difference between the policies of a British government and the wishes of the British people. Perhaps I may not with propriety attack the British government in this house to-night; but this fact is I think, clear, that the policies which they are following to-day are not in strict accordance with the mandate which they secured from the British people in 1935.

There are some reasons for this distrust. This is one: The British government has not given us any clear assurance of its intention to support a plan of collective security to stop aggression or to lay the basis for a collective peace. That assurance has not been given, and that is an important reason for the growing distrust. Many say quite freely that the recent statements of the British Prime Minister-

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Speaking of collective security, may I say to my hon. Iriend that for a long time I have been a great supporter of this principle. But how can he get collective security, and can he hope for collective security as a protection, when some of the largest powers in the world refuse to join in any scheme of collective security?

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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

For the moment I am not arguing for collective security, and I realize as well as does the Minister of Justice, that there is not much hope of effective action under the present collective security plan. But I think he will agree that we should not abandon the ideal of a collective peace policy for the world, and that while the league perhaps has failed-

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Meanwhile we cannot rely on it.

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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

Even if the league has failed, we should not abandon it entirely; for it may provide a rallying point for world opinion. But let us be under no illusion as to the mistakes which have been made by the league, and for those mistakes the great powers must accept responsibility; for the league could not function without the consent of the great powers, principally Great Britain. However, I shall not attempt to elaborate these reasons to-night. I have my own opinion as to that; but it is clear, I think, from the experiences of Ethiopia, Spain and China, that when the great powers might have stood by some form of collective action in restraint of aggression, no effort was made to do so.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

May I say this to my hon. friend: Is he quite sure that other nations which assumed an obligation in regard to collective security were equally prepared to play the part Great Britain was prepared to play in enforcing it? The hon. gentleman is putting it all on the shoulders of Great Britain. I am inclined to think that Great Britain was quite prepared to do all she could to further the doctrine of collective security, but she was not equally sure as to the support she would receive from some others.

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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

I think the Prime Minister is right in some respects, but not entirely so. There were other powers who shared the responsibility for the failure of the league, it is true; but British statesmen at Stresa, as the record now shows, were well aware of Mussolini's intentions with regard to Ethiopia, and at that time they gave no indication that they disapproved. It was not until the peace ballot was held in Great Britain in 1935 that the British government attempted to restrain Mussolini. The Prime Minister well remembers the statements made in the British House of Commons at the time Japan first contemplated its raid into Manchuria, when prominent supporters of the British government attempted to defend the action of Japan, and so on.

I cannot see how anyone can defend the actions of the British government with regard to Spain. The non-intervention pact has proved to be a farce. It has not limited the area of conflict or protected democracy. I know there is a difference of opinion on this matter, but many people feel that to-day the British government is not truly representative of the opinion of the British people. Of course, the truth of this will be determined at the polls, but this is one of the reasons for the growing distrust. There is no likelihood that the next war will come as a result of any

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attempt to maintain collective action in restraint of aggression. The next war will come when the great powers determine that they must defend their imperialist interests.

I shall not take up the time of the committee any longer, but I should like to deal for a moment with the constitutional difficulties of our relationships within the commonwealth. It would be difficult to justify Canadian participation in any external war on any basis or for any cause, even in defence of the commonwealth. We must consider that, in the event of trouble, the British navy will be engaged, not on one but on three or four fronts. To dispatch troops overseas from this dominion might be a magnificent gesture of empire solidarity, but in my opinion and in the opinion of many military experts it would be nothing less than sheer nonsense. Great Britain could not divert sufficient naval strength successfully to convoy troops across the oceans.

Furthermore, as has been pointed out forcibly in The Economist recently, the protection of our resources are of vital consequence to the commonwealth. To dispatch an expeditionary force of five, six or seven hundred thousand men, three or four divisions, would certainly definitely wreck our defences in Canada and at the same time invite reprisals from abroad. These are matters that must be taken into consideration when we consider any preparation for participation in an external war. In spite of this, there is the presumption that we must prepare for overseas war. What will be the position of Canada should we engage in an external war in which the United States is not definitely concerned? Canada's position would be a most unhappy one, particularly in view of the recent neutrality legislation of the United States. There would be considerable difficulty in attempting to finance a war in which Great Britain was engaged without access to Wall Street credit. We would jeopardize our economic life if all the commodities purchased in the United States were placed on a cash and carry basis, because at the same time our sea-borne trade across the Atlantic and the Pacific would be handicapped and interfered with. Consider the results upon our relations with the United States of attempting to force the rights of belligerency against neutral shipping. We cannot afford to have anything in the semblance of a rupture with the United States, and that would certainly occur if we engaged in a war which would not be considered by that country as one of self-defence.

I think this was recognized by Great Britain when she accepted naval parity with- the

United States and when, in effect, she agreed to share with that country the responsibility of defending the sea lanes across the northern Atlantic and Pacific. What is still more important, this means that Great Britain is depending upon the permanence of friendly relations with the United States. From the practical standpoint we cannot safely engage in a war such as would jeopardize these relationships. Sentiment is all very fine; but, as one writer has said, geography is always with us. It would be the greatest tragedy, not only for Canada but for the British commonwealth, to have these relationships jeopardized in any way. I suggest that, as a matter of defence and to prevent this undermining of our natural advantages, we should give first consideration to the first line of defence, that is, our external relations.

In my opinion we have not done all that might be done in this connection. The reason I brought up the question of our relationship within the empire is that it is essential that Canada should gain freedom of action if we are to make an effective contribution to world peace. There must be freedom of action within the commonwealth. As far as I can interpret the report of the imperial conference of last summer, that issue was to the fore. Australia certainly suggested a non-aggression pact. It was clearly understood that South Africa probably might not be interested in a non-aggression pact on the Pacific. There was a definite suggestion that there should be a regional regrouping within the empire as determined by geographical requirements. I think it is clear from the statement made last year by the Prime Minister that Canada did not accept any definite commitments, because our policy must be determined in a large measure by our relationship with and proximity to the United States. I think the time has come when we should be given greater freedom of action.

Freedom of action does not mean separation from the commonwealth. It would mean an escape from what appears now to be an attempt to enforce artificial unity within the empire. One scheme of empire defence is something that is not consistent with the practical requirements of the situation. Freedom of action such as I have suggested would open the way for natural development of policy, for cooperation and association in those matters in which we are mutually interested, and for the entry into a definite international enterprise leading to a collective peace policy. I am not suggesting that we have any strength as a military nation or that we should do other than the Prime Minister has suggested, that is, take a back seat in measures of coercion. As a trading nation we have economic importance, and I think on that basis

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we can make a definite contribution to economic appeasement and international cooperation. I hope that during this discussion the minister will make it quite clear that nothing exists in the way of tacit commitments-

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I can make it clear now; there is none.

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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

-that there are no tacit commitments which will put us in a position where we could not withdraw from participation in an external war.

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IND

Martha Louise Black

Independent Conservative

Mrs. MARTHA LOUISE BLACK (Yukon):

Mr. Chairman, what we have heard from every side during the past few weeks reminds me of what we heard just over a quarter of a century ago. I remember being in the Yukon at that time of rumours of war and saying to my husband, "Do you believe what Borden is saying, that there is a danger of war?" My husband replied, "Personal!}' I do not believe it, but the Prime Minister says there is danger of war, and if I follow him I must believe what he says." So, when I hear the government say that we must prepare for eventualities, I am led to believe that the government in power must know that we have to prepare for eventualities which may not happen, which we hope will not happen, but at the same time we must be ready.

This is the third session that I have been in the house. I have refrained in the two previous sessions from taking any part in the debate on the militia estimates. I had to. My youngest son was in the regular army; my oldest son was a naval reservist in the United States forces, and I felt that under no circumstances could I say anything which would lead anybody to believe that I was inclined to a military mind, because I was not. I consider that I am an average woman and an average mother. I brought up my children to obey discipline and orders when the discipline and orders were necessary. I did not bring them up to be cannon fodder;

I brought them up with the idea that if a country is good enough to live in, it is not only good enough to live in but good enough to die for if we have to die for it. None of us wants to. We all want to live. We all want to enjoy the sunshine and God's free air; but at the same time I believe every thinking man and woman want to feel, if the call comes, that they are ready. The call might come for one of us to fight; the call might come for another to remain on the farm; the call might come for another to cook, to do all sorts of menial labour; but as men and women, when that call comes, we must be ready. I do not doubt this for one moment.

In preparing for war, for the horrible eventuality as it is nowadays, we are doing as we do when we take out a life insurance policy, or fire or burglary insurance. For years and years I have kept on paying insurance, not that I expected my house to burn, not that I expected to die immediately, not that I expected burglars to enter; but at the same time I was going to be ready, and I think the minister in his speech has made it quite clear that he wants to be ready in case of a horrible eventuality.

We in the north have felt until the last few years that we were free from fear; but now when I go to my door in the summer and look overhead and see perhaps twelve or fourteen aeroplanes in the air at one time; when I hear over the radio five minutes after a crime has happened in China, that it has happened, I think, What may this all mean to me? What may this all mean to those of us on the outposts of the empire if we are not prepared, if we are not careful? Heaven knows I do not want war. I do not want to go through what I went through in London for three and a half years, when I listened to the shrieking sirens and saw the aeroplanes and those horrible zeppelins on fire and falling in flames, with many men jumping from them. I do not want to see that again. I do not want to visit those hospitals again and see men and boys near and dear to me, as I saw so many. But with the dictators to-day doing as they are, can we do anything but prepare and be ready for what may come to us? We have a country to the south of us which in self-defence will help us; but if she helps us she expects us to help her, and we have all been taught that the Lord helps those who help themselves.

I perhaps may not always agree with everything the minister may say, but at the same time I know him to be a cautions, canny Scot. I know he is not going to rush us into an expenditure of life or money unless it is absolutely necessary, and so with all my heart and soul, while praying that there may be no further trouble in this country, I shall support him.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. PAUL MARTIN (Essex East):

Mr. Chairman, I sincerely trust that the hon. member for the Yukon (Mrs. Black), who is not only an hon. member but, I trust she will allow me to say, also a lovable one, will permit me to extend to her my very sincere congratulations upon her excellent speech. If I do not spend any time in discussing her important statement, it will not be because I do not regard it as having a proper place in this discussion.

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I feel, in taking part in this debate, that there is the difficulty of making sure not only that one's words and phrases are well chosen but that one's temper as well is held in proper restraint. I think the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil), who spoke preceding the hon. member for the Yukon, is likewise deserving of congratulations upon a speech which revealed a great deal of research and, if I may suggest, a speech which can be differentiated from the one he made last year in discussing this matter by a display of good temper, which I shall endeavour to follow. He presented a point of view almost the direct opposite of that presented by the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Massey), and I think my contribution can best be made by an analysis of these two points of view.

First of all, the hon. member for Greenwood made a speech that should occasion sincere congratulations for the manner in which it was delivered, and if I do not agree with its content it will not be because I have not a high regard for the hon. member. I suspect that he was dominated essentially this afternoon, not by a lack of appreciation of the seriousness of the problem, but by the difficulty that while, on the one hand, he wanted to agree with the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie), he did not find it a wise expedient in all the circumstances to do so. When he said the present estimates are inadequate, he gave us one indication that those who say they are wholly adequate will find themselves with at least one opponent. But if these defence estimates are inadequate, surely there is a responsibility on the part of the hon. member to indicate in what respect.

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CON
LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

Well, he did? The hon.

member made generalizations. He referred to the fact that the Statute of Westminster had imposed upon us as a nation responsibilities which were not being lived up to in the level of the present estimates. The Minister of National Defence is guided by experts; it is to be assumed that he is carrying out their recommendations, and I do not believe it is in the interests of a solution of this problem to take an extreme view in respect of either higher estimates or lower estimates.

Again, may I suggest this, that when the hon. member for Vancouver North was speaking, and again when the minister was speaking-and I say this as one who has no pretensions at being a soldier-I felt like making an interjection as to the wisdom of discussing in this chamber details of our military operations or of our armed strength.

Surely there is another place for that, and there should not be in this chamber a discussion of details of this kind. Parliament is the place to discuss policy. Parliament is the place to discuss the foreign policy upon which the present estimates, inadequate or adequate, should be based.

Regarding the charge of inadequacy made by the hon. member for Greenwood, we might as well face the realization that this country could not adequately defend itself in a major conflict. I do not know whether the Minister of National Defence would agree with this statement, but I believe there is no question that in the event of a serious war on any front this dominion could not hope adequately by itself to defend itself, and the level of defence which we now have must largely be dictated by that circumstance. I certainly disagree with the hon. member for Greenwood when he says now that we are a nation; now that we are a member of the family of states, the stamp of our nationhood should be determined by our military, naval or air strength.

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CON
LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

If the'hon. member says

he did not, I suggest that he should reread his speech.

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CON
LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

I have before me his actual words. If I misunderstood the hon. member, I certainly withdraw what I have said. Assuming that he is correct in his correction of me, and speaking generally, I repeat surely that is not the test of nationhood. It may have been at one time part of the concept of sovereignty, but to-day we are not to be characterized as a nation in proportion to our armed strength.

With regard to what the hon. member for Vancouver North has had to say, I could not help noting that there was a great change in his attitude this year as compared with last, not only as regards temper but with respect to what I may call a tacit acceptance of these defence estimates. He spoke of tacit commitments, and he gave me the impression that he had tacitly although reluctantly declared himself in support of these estimates, although perhaps he would have preferred to see them distributed in a different manner. I do not think the hon. member is doing justice to the committee, to the problem or to our people, in saying, what has been inferred on several occasions during the present session, that there is a suppression of debate in respect of foreign policy. Before I resume my seat, I propose to make some statements

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with which, I am sure, the government will not altogether agree. There is no restraint upon me in making these observations, any more than there is a restraint on the hon. gentleman opposite. What the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has indicated in the leadership that he has given in this matter is simply that which characterizes all public assemblies throughout the world at the present time, that whatever we say should ;be stated not without some serious consideration of what is to be said, not without some serious appreciation likewise of the intensity of the present situation.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My hon. friend might add-and how what is said here will be construed elsewhere.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

And how what is said here may be construed elsewhere. I think that addition is proper. I share in no less a manner what the hon. member has said by way of characterization of the deplorable situation in which the world now finds itself. There is no question that this view is shared by every hon. member. The fact that the heads of certain states, particularly the totalitarian states, are able, by the employment of force, not only to violate covenants and treaty obligations but to violate the whole tradition of the post-war world, should not prevent a clear recognition of a fait accompli, or preclude an attempt to deal with foreign policy in the light of those facts.

What we in this chamber should not fail to do is to make a differentiation of function. In this house the hon. member for Vancouver North is not speaking as a professor or as a mere student of the problem; he is speaking as a member of parliament. What he states here should be from a different point of view from what he would say if he were in the lecture hall of a university or making a public lecture apart from his responsibility as a member of - parliament. I mention this in order to set out what I think is the position of the Prime Minister in this respect. The Secretary of State for External Affairs in this country, like the minister of foreign affairs in any other country, is charged at this time, not with what ought to be, not with what has been, but with what is. The conduct of foreign affairs, then, is definitely related to questions of expediency, of commitments in the interests of peace. By that I do not mean that "peace at any price" should always be the excuse of those charged with the conduct of foreign affairs. I agree that one has some justification in such an instance to ask if peace at any price, does mean peace.

The hon. member for Vancouver North this year, as last, has spoken of commitments. It will be remembered that when he made that charge last year, I asked him: Against which countries are we committed to prosecute a war of aggression? And on the basis of his speech to-night he can speak only of a war of aggression. Against what countries are we preparing to fight? Against the United States? Against Japan? Against France? Are we preparing to fight Germany? The hon. member has a responsibility as a member of parliament, and in his sincere approach to the problem I think he should be in a position to give an answer to a question of this kind. The fact that we have defences to the extent we have is in itself no implication, open or covert, that we have commitments. Further than that, it seems to me that unless public life in this country has been reduced to a negligible quantity, we should assume that, when the Prime Minister speaks, and when his ministers speak and give us repeated assurances of the sort that the Minister of Defence has given to-night, we should accept them.

I propose to recall to the committee the statement of the Prime Minister at Geneva a year and a half ago- As far as I can recall, it has never been placed on Hansard. I myself heard him speak from the tribune of the League of Nations. The British delegation, made up, as I believe it then was, of Lord Halifax, Mr. Eden, Mr. Malcolm Macdonald and Mr. Morrison, Viscount Cran-borne and Mr. Shakespeare being present as alternate delegates, were seated in the assembly of the league along with representatives of the greater powers and other countries. What was the statement the Prime Minister made? It was not made in this parliament in the absence of the British ministers. It was not made simply to foreign ministers with the British ministers absent. It was made in the presence of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and the then leader of the government in the House of Lords now the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Our Prime Minister stated to them and to the world that Canada had no commitments with any unit or with any body, and in respect of a conflict she reserved for' herself through her parliament what she would do in the case of war. Surely a serious declaration of that sort, pitted against the statement of the hon. member for Vancouver North, clearly indicates that if it is a question of accepting words, there is no question as to what this house or this country will do.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

Can the hon. member tell us what the Prime Minister said in Haris?

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March 25, 1938