May 24, 1938

CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

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

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I think we all recognize that the League of Nations did not have the support of the nations. Mr. Woodrow Wilson, who was so largely instrumental in forming the league, could not carry his own country with him. The great nations of England and France for many a year after the war took the stand that Germany must be punished. I do not need to go into all that. There were the forces on the Rhine, the ships that were sunk, the trade that was destroyed and the colonies that were taken. We were out to punish Germany. In my judgment it was the action of the great empires towards Germany that produced Hitler. One thing has led to another. If we had been a little bit stronger in the case of Manchuria, we should not have had the difficulty which to-day exists in China. However, I do not intend to go into these matters; the house has been very patient.

Undoubtedly the league has failed. The league was based on the idea of force. Perhaps centralized force for such a purpose would be preferable to the national armies which are being set up to-day, although I do not think that primarily the league should have been based upon force. However, if the league has failed, why cannot we reconstitute it?

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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 says "we." That is the point I am trying to get at. Who is "we"?

Foreign Policy

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

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

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

The world.

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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:

If the hon. member means the world, I agree with all he says, but if in saying "we" he means Canada I fail to see the point at all.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

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

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

We in Canada can give our assistance.

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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:

We always

have. We have done the best we could.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

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

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

No; I'm afraid we have not. We have not done the best we could. We have followed almost slavishly the lead of other nations; we have not even been in the forefront in some matters which might be named. I hope the house will not think that I am trying simply to blame. I am not talking party politics at all. If the league has failed, instead of in desperation reverting to the old isolationist position, with the idea of certain groups of nations getting together, of achieving a preponderance of power and playing the same old game again, why should not we in Canada patiently and definitely set ourselves to try to discover some other way.

To-day we are living in peace alongside the great American republic to the south of us-a wonderful example of how nations can live in peace. I venture, however, to say that if cannon were placed on the international border along the forty-ninth parallel we should have trouble. We are at peace because of the very lack of any armaments or border patrols. Think of the effective work of our International Joint Commission. There is not a better example anywhere in *the world of what can 'be accomplished through having a joint body to deal with troubles as they arise. I had intended to go further into that, but I have not time tonight. Why cannot we extend the application of such a principle?

Surely we can do something. If we cannot attain to a world wide league, which perhaps is too much to expect all of a sudden, at least we can build up very friendly relations with a number of the democratic nations, not with the idea of enforcing our own purposes and points of view, but with hand outstretched even to some of those nations whom to-day we must denounce because of their actions. Call this pure idealism if you will, but after the experience of the last war and the misery and tragedy which has come since, surely we ought to try to find some other way. If to-night I proposed to spend $34,000,600 upon a peace program, setting up a peace department, people would simply laugh, and yet, in allocating this money to 51952-204

defence, we are merely going along on the same old lines that in the past have led to disaster. Cannot we use our imaginations a little; cannot we begin, even though in a small way, along lines which may mean material sacrifice to us and which may even be risky? Somebody has to take risks. We take enormous risks when we go to war. Why not take some risks in an effort to bring about peace?

Mr. Speaker, I thank you. I think this is the only time that I have so far transgressed the rules of the house, but the occasion is an important one. I appreciate very much the courtesy extended to me by the house.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Minister of Justice):

I have neither the will nor the time to offer any extended observations. I merely desire to say a word in answer to one or two remarks of my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) and to one remark of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth). I should not even say "in answer"; I am going to direct a word or two to my hon. friends.

First, I was surprised to hear the right hon. leader of the opposition commend in rather kindly terms the declaration of the conference of 1926, and speak of the obligations which he contends it involves, because of the "free association" which is mentioned in it. Those who were in this parliament in 1927 will remember that my right hon. leader and I were strongly criticized, not perhaps by my right hon. friend-for I do not believe he took part in that debate; he was absent from the house-but by the then leader, the Hon. Mr. Guthrie, and the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan). The description which was then made of the work of that conference was that it was a sort of separatist movement from the British commonwealth, and far from being a bond of association, as my right hon. friend has described it to-day.

Further, after the conference of 1929 on dominion legislation, when we discussed the report of that conference in 1930 I well remember the strong words of my right hon. friend at that time with regard to its work. Of course I am not proficient in the English language, and I learned some words as I listened to my right hon. friend. I clearly recall his speech at the time because it was the first occasion when I heard the word "painter." He said that we had "cut the painter and let the mooring go"; that we were drifting from the little island in the North

Foreign Policy

sea, and that sort of thing. That was the description he gave at that time of this beautiful work which now he describes as an association and which confers the obligations of which he has spoken.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Will the right hon. gentleman permit me? He will recall that in the Statute of Westminster we had inserted a provision that no power was conferred to amend the constitution of Canada. That was the whole point.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

That is right, but I do not think it has much to do with what I was just saying. We have the right to frame our own policies. We are, as my right hon. friend has said, an association of free states. He said we have to carry on the obligations of the free association. Well, "obligations" and "freedom" do not go very well together. We have the right to devise our own policy in everything; we are autonomous in matters internal and external, and that includes defence policies. I believe that I am really serving the aim of the preservation of that association, of that bond, by claiming absolute freedom in all matters of policy whether external or internal. There could be no more deadly blow to the preservation of the free association than the claim and the contention that Canada or any other dominion should be bound blindly by any policy of the United Kingdom or of any other part of the commonwealth with which we would have nothing to do.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Has anyone suggested that?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Well, it is really an inference. I am glad that my right hon. friend does not suggest it. If he does not, we are more in agreement than I was afraid we were. I am always pleased to be in agreement with the right hon. gentleman.

Freedom is the bond, and it is the safest guarantee of association and of union between the various parts of the commonwealth. My right hon. friend says, no criticism after the event. Well, the foreign policy of Britain is criticized there every day after it has been devised and framed. Anyone who has read the newspapers lately must have read the violent, bitter words of Lloyd George, of Mr. Attlee, and of other prominent members of the commons with regard to the measures which had been taken by the British government. Is it to be said that here we cannot even criticize the policy, that we have to accept it without having anything to do with it and without having any policy of our own?

With that I cannot agree, and if my right hon. friend will permit me, I will say it is very different from the Canada-first policy which I heard so eloquently expressed in 1930.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

And I still make the same contention.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

I am more Canada-first to-night than my right hon. friend.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Not a bit.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

And now a word to my hon. friend from Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth), for whose views I have every respect. The leader of the opposition is at least logical, but I cannot see the logic of the stand taken by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre. He does not like our attitude of saying nothing, doing nothing, not criticizing other countries that are invading some other parts of the world. We ought to be aggressive at least in our words, in our attitude, in our stand; but he does not want us to have anything to do with preparing to defend our own country, or with preparations to guarantee the security of our coast from attack. We will defy the world; we will challenge other countries, but we must not be ready if they take up our challenge.

There is another thing. My hon. friend says that the policy of Great Britain since the war has been a succession of blunders. I do not agree with that. Great Britain has saved the world from war at least twice. The policy of Great Britain has averted war. I have no hesitation in making that statement. I know the criticism that has been leveled against the British government on two or three occasions, and I know that criticism has been most unfair. I will allude to one of them, at the time of the invasion of Ethiopia by Italy. Great Britain has been criticized bitterly even in this parliament. I do not know whether I have the right to say something which is rather of a confidential nature, but I have heard two ministers connected with the foreign affairs department in Great Britain, in answer to a criticism made by one delegate of one dominion with regard to that very matter, make this statement: "Yes, we have done all we could to prevent war, but at a certain time when we were urged by other countries to go to war on that question, we said, 'All right, what help will you give?' And not one of them was ready to give any help." They all wanted Britain to go and wage war in a certain part of the world, but none of those who were so free to offer advice was ready to help. I say that Britain since the war has not deserved the

Halifax Inshore Fishing

criticism which we have heard in this house and seen in the newspapers and in other countries. I repeat, I believe with all my heart and soul that if the world has been saved from war since 1921, Britain is responsible for having maintained the peace of the world.

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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:

And it is

equally true to-day.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

I think

the same is true to-day. It is now eleven o'clock, and I shall conclude with this question: What is the foreign policy of Canada?

The foreign policy of Canada is to keep Canada out of war; to try to keep Canada at peace; to be peaceful with all the countries of the world; to have those family relations, of which my right hon. friend speaks, with the other members of the commonwealth; to avoid offensive language towards other countries, and to save Canada for the destinies which are ahead of her.

Motion agreed to and the house went into committee of supply, Mr. Sanderson in the chair.

Progress reported.

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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Wednesday, May 25, 1938


May 24, 1938