May 24, 1938

LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Hansard will show it.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Hansard will abundantly clarify any difficulty there may be on that point, for the speech was prepared and typewritten; therefore it cannot be subject to any difficulties of expression. What was said, as

I took it down, was: Canada is Canada; South Africa is South Africa; Australia is Australia; the United Kingdom is the United Kingdom, and that with respect to the policies of the United Kingdom it was not for us to make representations or in any sense to interfere in their expressions of policy.

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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 to my right hon. friend that he entirely missed the point that was being made. I was at the time taking exception to the dominions being lumped together as one and to their policies being regarded as essentially one, to be described in that way. I did not even refer to the United Kingdom. I was pointing out that each dominion of the empire has matters of immediate concern to itself.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It is so unfortunate that it was not so stated in the speech. I think the Prime Minister should be very grateful to me for having, by not being able to follow him, afforded him an opportunity thus to clarify something that might be regarded as a little, shall we say, cloudy in expression.

If anything was clear during the progress of the observations made this afternoon by the Prime Minister, it was that it was for the people of the United Kingdom, of Australia, of South Africa and so on to determine their own policies, and that Canada was Canada, Australia was Australia, and so on and so on. I only desire to make clear that for good or ill this country saw fit in 1926 and 1930 to declare for free association between the component parts of the commonwealth of nations known as the British Empire. In order that there might be no misapprehension about that, I thought I would look up the Statute of Westminster itself during the recess. I find that the statute, which is chapter 4 of the statutes of 1931, contains this preamble:

Whereas the delegates of His Majesty's governments in the United Kingdom, the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State and Newfoundland, at imperial conferences held at Westminster in the years of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and twenty-six and one thousand nine hundred and thirty, did make certain declarations and resolutions, which are set forth in the reports of the said conferences. . . .

And whereas it is meet and proper to set out by way of preamble to this act, that inasmuch as the crown is the symbol of the free association of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and as they are united by a common allegiance to the crown, it would be in accord with the established constitutional position of all the members of the commonwealth in relation to one another that any alteration in the law touching the succession to the throne or the royal style and

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titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the parliaments of all the dominions as of the parliament of the United Kingdom.

The words there to which I direct attention are, first, "the crown is the symbol of the free association of the members of the British commonwealth" and, second, "they are united by a common allegiance to the crown." Compared with the language used in the declaration of 1926 we have only a reversal in words; that is, the allegiance to the crown is first and the free association is second.

All the nations that comprise the commonwealth, Canada, Australia and the others, agreed to the preamble to that statute. It is true that the present Prime Minister was the head of the Canadian delegation at the time of the declaration of 1926. It is true that another government was responsible for the acceptance of the preamble in the Statute of Westminster in 1931, following the conference of 1930. But I point out that, running through the whole, from the beginning of the conference of 1926 which had to deal with these matters because of the conditions in South Africa, is the commitment to a free association between the members of that commonwealth. I always like to refer to it in terms of a family. It may well be that many hon. members do not quite accept that view, but I have always thought that we might refer to this commonwealth of nations composing the British Empire as a family. Some might say it is more a partnership than a family, but I like to think that the members of the family are of varying ages and that they represent different forms of development of our common civilization.

The oldest member of the partnership, or the head of the family if you will, is Great Britain. We are the senior dominion, the other dominions being junior to us, and this family is scattered throughout the world. The partnership extends over the world, and freedom of association upon which the declaration is predicated is a freedom that, in my judgment, contemplates consultation. It contemplates solidarity; it contemplates unity of purpose and harmony, and it contemplates unity of action. That is how I have thought of this family, this partnership of ours in which we share with the oldest member of the partnership certain obligations and responsibilities; in which the oldest member, by reason of her great age and her long series of accomplishments, is looked to by us, as the minister speaking for the government said the other day, for support on the Atlantic; just as General Smuts down in

South Africa said, we have told the other members of this commonwealth that we can care, for our part, South Africa, on land, and we rely upon the other member of the family or partnership, namely Great Britain, to supply the navy. That is what we are doing here. But this, in my judgment, involves consultation. It involves not criticism after the event. It involves in every question that affects the well-being of the Dominion of Canada as a world entity consultation with those other entities which comprise the British Empire or the British Commonwealth of Nations.

That consultation at times is difficult; it is not as easy as some people suggest, and I am not for a moment minimizing the difficulty. But in these modern days of wireless telegraphy, in these days of the telephone, it is not very difficult to maintain communication between every member of this family, between every member of this partnership. I recall that at the imperial conference in London the Prime Minister of Australia was frequently in communication by telephone with his government. I recall that I was able to speak from Cape Town to Ottawa, without difficulty. I know how frequently we are in communication with Great Britain by telephone and by other means as well- because government communications on the wireless have priority.

These consultations should be held and should be maintained, as I say, antecedently to action being taken, so that the free association, referred to in the extract of the letter of Sir Austen Chamberlain which I read this afternoon, which indicates responsibilities and duties, should not be lost. That is what I meant when I said that the foreign policy of Canada has been determined by the unanimous action of governments-in 1926, in 1930 and by the Statute of Westminster in 1931. But how that policy shall be carried into effect is a matter with which successive governments must deal. I think it is so abundantly clear as not to require discussion- the mere statement is sufficient-that the foreign policy of the government is not made by parliament antecedently to being a policy. I wonder if my right hon. friend the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) does not at once realize that the foreign policy of this country has been made by the governor in council and approved by this parliament during the last eighteen months?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

i do not know, but I should like my right hon. friend to illustrate what he has just stated, namely that the foreign policy of Canada was deter-

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mined in 1926, meaning that from 1926, on, we have had to abide by the foreign policy which is framed in Great Britain.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Oh, no, not at all.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Then what does my right hon. friend mean?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I am sure the right hon. the Minister of Justice is far too astute to assume that I would even suggest anything of that sort. I have already indicated to him that Great Britain is not making our foreign policy. I have indicated to him that we are not making Great Britain's foreign policy. But I have endeavoured to point out that in 1926 we undertook to be freely associated with one another, and that free association means just what it says-consultation, understanding and cooperation. That is what it means. I am not going to redevelop that point, but I would point out that we have a declaration of what we received, and the conditions under which we accepted it, namely that we are united in our allegiance to the crown and freely associated together as members of this commonwealth of nations, which sometimes I have referred to as our family.

The method of giving effect to a foreign or external policy is one which varies with the government which gives effect to it.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

The

foreign policy itself is a method. The foreign policy of the country is the aggregation of the measures and methods by which that country is dealing with another country.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes. I think perhaps my right hon. friend misunderstood me. For instance, we are the Dominion of Canada; we have imposed upon us the obligation to maintain its status and its integrity. The methods to be devised to accomplish that end vary with governments. Some practise one method and others practise another.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

That is different from a foreign policy.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

No.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Oh, yes.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It just falls within the ambit of my statement, namely that we in 1926 and 1930 made a broad and comprehensive declaration. That declaration involves (1) common allegiance to the crown and (2) freedom of association of the members of that commonwealth. That is the broad declaration. How Canada may desire to effect that purpose is a question that we shall describe as the foreign policy of the government. But

(Mr. E. Lapointe.)

the foreign policy of the government can never be antecedently declared, and no one has learned that better than the Prime Minister with his wide experience; for he established this afternoon that the government had passed orders in council dealing with questions of foreign enlistment, with questions connected with neutrality, and with questions of exports.

All these are matters on which the executive, the advisers of the crown, take action. These policies are the policies of the crown. His majesty's government in Canada assumes the responsibility for making the proper recommendations, and the orders in council that are passed are the visible evidence of that policy. Then it is for parliament to declare whether or not that policy meets with its approval. The Prime Minister knows that not only have those policies to which I have referred met with the approval of a majority in this house, but in the main they have been commended unanimously, because they represent the considered opinion of both the larger parties, and many members of the other parties in the house.

For instance, no one has heard a complaint from any hon. member with respect to the order in council concerning foreign enlistment passed by this administration. Then, with respect to the type of goods which might be exported we know there have been some comments and some criticisms on details- concerning nickel, lead and copper, with which the Prime Minister dealt this afternoon-but on the principle involved there has been general unanimity. Questions of licences, questions of authority, questions of limitations and of prohibitions-all these are questions to which the executive-and, mark you, the executive are the advisers of the crown

have given effect by order in council. And they have risked the approval of this house by their action. They have never had reason to contemplate any possible difficulty on the score, because they have always secured it.

That is what I mean when I endeavour to make it clear that foreign policy cannot be anticipated. It is quite clear the Prime Minister was right this afternoon when he said that you cannot declare the details of your foreign policy in anticipation. I have heard some suggest that it could be done, but obviously that is impossible. Why? Because from day to day events occur which necessitate the cabinet meeting together and discussing and considering just what action shall be taken, whether or not this or that shall be done, or whether some other action should be taken. All these are questions which the executive, the advisers of the

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crown, must consider. And they finally conclude to give their advice. That advice is not the advice of one man; it is the advice of the government as one government, the government as a whole, the advisers as one of the crown. Upon that you have your indication of policy. I submit there can be no successful denial of that fact. Every day this government has been formulating its foreign policies. It has been formulating its policies external to Canada and within the British Empire by orders in council, by the advice tendered and reduced into form by those orders in council. This parliament, if it had so desired, could have taken action to indicate its disapproval of the action thus taken. It seems to me that is the basis of the whole of our position.

It is quite obvious, without tiresomely reiterating and restating it, that with respect to most nations of the world this country cannot develop a foreign policy until we are in position to be recognized as a power, about which I shall speak again when the estimates of the Department of National Defence are under consideration. All the nations of the world, even those with populations half that of ours, even those with populations one-third that of ours,, have found it esential to provide themselves with those means which are necessary for selfdefence. That is the reason why you find them able to speak through their consular agents at various places, whereas we have none. We have our trade commissioners, but we have no consular agents. We rely upon the assistance given by other members of the British commonwealth to help and sometimes even to guide us in our new ventures or endeavours. It seems to me that is all that need be said so far as those factors are concerned.

I should like to summarize my own appreciation of the situation, and I think I can do this by stating a few propositions. First, it is the duty of government from time to time, in the light of facts as ascertained, to determine its policy and to submit that policy to the judgment of the House of Commons, within which at all times it must be able to command a majority. Second, with respect to matters affecting our external relations with foreign powers, as well as with other members of the commonwealth of nations, I submit that we have committed ourselves, and properly so, to consultation and cooperation. From free association there arises the duty and responsibility of consultation, cooperation and maintaining at all times the fullest possible information with respect to every matter that has to do with

the welfare of the Canadian people in connection with foreign countries. And with respect to the nations that comprise the commonwealth, the same may be said, although it is impossible that the same results may accrue in the one case as in the other, from failure so to do.

The third proposal is that so far as it lies within our power, having regard to the obligations of free association which we have assumed, we should maintain our neutrality to the fullest possible extent, remembering that there can be no neutrality, in so far as being involved in conflict is concerned, where any part of this commonwealth of nations becomes involved in war. And lastly, that participation in any conflict always rests with parliament, which means the people. But no action that we can take while still remaining within that empire or within the commonwealth will preclude or prevent those who are opposed in conflict to the empire or to any part of it from taking such steps against us as they may be advised and think desirable as belligerents.

I conceive this to be not an unfair statement of our position. Far be it from me to indicate that it is a policy. It is not a policy at all in the narrow sense of the term because I have pointed out that policy changes from day to day in the light of events that control policy. But it is a broad statement of the position which the Dominion of Canada occupies in the northern half of this continent.

We have our alternative. We have always had an alternative. There is no power that keeps Canada within the British Empire or within the commonwealth of nations. Canada has had the right to withdraw from the British Empire, and successive British statesmen have said that if we so desired they would not raise a finger against our starting our own household and setting up our own establishment. It was said as far back as the days of Mr. Gladstone and it was said at one time by Disraeli, who modified his statement in his later days. It has been said by more modern statesmen. But let it not be forgotten for a single moment, that this must be the free choice of the Canadian people. For myself, I do not believe that in my lifetime they will make such a choice. I cannot speak for another generation.

I believe we were endowed with riches that were purchased at great price by men who gave their lives and their treasure to accomplish these things. It must not be forgotten for a single moment when we speak of our great mineral resources, as the Prime Minister did this afternoon, that at one time they were

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the property of the crown in the right of the sovereign at Westminster. But when the sovereign sent his representative abroad with the commission in his pocket to govern any part of his dominion, before confederation, he had the power to alienate the land, the mines, the resources, and he alienated them to those who were entitled to them under regulations made, not in London or "Downing street," but by his advisers in Canada.

So we Canadians were given this heritage. England, about which some critical reference was made by a gentleman not long since, spent not thousands but millions of pounds on fortresses and guns and ships, for instance at Esquimalt and at Halifax. Those fortifications were paid for by the British taxpayer. In the year after confederation-I will go back just to that year-the British taxpayer provided more money for the construction of defences in Canada than we did for many years afterwards. It is within my memory when British garrisons were withdrawn from Halifax and Esquimalt. I can recall also when the north Atlantic squadron ceased to be based on Halifax.

These were contributions made by the British taxpayer to the maintenance of Canada. These vast expenditures were the free gifts of the British people to those who settled and made here a new home. That leaves out, of course, the part of the province of Quebec where French sovereigns had made grants long prior to that time, which of course were recognized, at least to some extent, by the treaty of 1763.

So we to-day still have the choice-unity in common allegiance to the British crown, freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations or, for a time, an independent nation. And I believe, sir, rightly or wrongly, that as we preserve and maintain that association, so we shall assist in preserving the peace of the world.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

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

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

Mr. Speaker, let me say that I appreciate keenly the difficult position in which the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) is placed in these critical times. He must carry a very heavy responsibility. I congratulate him upon the general survey of the international situation which he gave in the earlier part of his speech this afternoon. It seems to me that the debate to-day marks a decided advance in the conduct of the affairs of our country. I have known sessions when the estimates of the Department of External Affairs were passed without any discussion whatever. Surely we have passed

beyond the stage where that ought to be possible.

The speeches which have been given thus far in the debate by the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) reveal very divergent points of view with regard to what ought to be the foreign policy of this country. It seems to me that nothing is gained bj' minimizing the differences which exist in Canada. The Prime Minister speaks about the policy of his government being one of peace and friendliness. Well, I assume that we can all subscribe to that, but as soon as we begin to get down to concrete cases we shall differ very widely indeed. I would urge that to-day phrases are not enough; that the situation is too serious, and that we must try to outline much more definitely than we have yet done what is to be our policy in future. Personally I am inclined to think I would be much nearer the policy of the Prime Minister than to that of the leader of the opposition, -I was going to add' if I knew what the Prime Minister's policy really was!

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Hear, hear.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

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

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I would, however, say very frankly that I appreciate the forthright way in which the leader of the opposition has set down his policy. We know where he stands; and I think it is time that the whole country knew where the government stood as regards this and also some other matters.

There was one thing said by the Prime Minister which, I think, was advanced for the first time, and that is that foreign nations are not likely to pick out Canada for attack. I am glad he has taken that position, because in a great many quarters the main reason for an enlarged defence program has been that we might be attacked in force by Japan or by some other nation located a long distance away. If the Prime Minister is correct, we may very well ask why we should have any very considerable defence in this country, and we should require that what defence is necessary in the opinion of those who advocate defence, should be limited to one particular kind.

The Prime Minister, I thought, stated one matter very clearly when he asked, are we likely to be drawn into war through our connection with the league? And he came to the conclusion, after considerable argument that he did not think we would be. I might point out that if we in Canada interpret in future our obligations as lightly as we have done in the past, I can easily understand that the keeping of our obligations is not going to

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get us into any difficulty. However, that was the conclusion arrived at by the Prime Minister.

But there was another proposal which he did not put quite so clearly, and that, is this: Are we likely to be drawn into war through our connection with the empire? For me that is a much more important question. I think the leader of the opposition is right when he said that that is the vital point. Yet that point, in my judgment was evaded, consciously or unconsciously, in the Prime Minister's speech, and that is the thing which sooner or later will have to be settled. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to say that the solution of our relationship to the empire has been worked out so far as peace time is concerned, and he has no doubt that some solution as to our relationship to the empire in war time will also be worked out. But it is going to be a great deal more difficult than that, and now is the time to set up whatever machinery is necessary or to come to whatever understandings are necessary so that, if war should come, we should at least know where we stand.

I am not sure that the leader of the opposition is right when he says that there are simply two alternatives-either that we must be wholly in the empire or that we must withdraw. As a practical matter, I do not believe that we are faced with these alternatives, but I do urge that the present relationships between the dominions and the United Kingdom are very unsatisfactory and may lead at any time to considerable difficulty. If we do not propose to participate actively in another war, that is, if we are not, to use the Prime Minister's phrase, going crusading again to Europe as we did in 1914 to 1918, then we ought to advise Great Britain to that effect and to do so now. That should be clear-cut. If the British depend upon Halifax or Esquimalt as ports into which their ships may come and we declare our neutrality, what will be the situation? There will be a complete mix-up which neither we nor any other nation will understand. It seems to me that the first step which should be taken now if we are indeed a thoroughgoing autonomous nation is to ask Great Britain to revise the agreement with regard to Esquimalt and Halifax and make these entirely Canadian ports. Then we shall be in a better position to say whether or not we wish to maintain our neutrality.

The Prime Minister praised the policy of Great Britain since the war. I shall not attempt in the time at my disposal to enter into that matter; but from my standpoint, I

suggest that Great Britain's policy since the war, like the policy of all the great nations, has been one long succession of blunders. I do not think we can very well study the history of Europe since the war without coming to some such conclusion. The Prime Minister is quite right when he says that the war did not end promptly when peace was concluded. The war has not yet ended. If we had been wiser we would have taken a different course. The last war sowed the seeds of the war that is to come.

If I understand the Prime Minister aright, he rather deprecated that in this country there should be discussion of United Kingdom affairs. I cannot quite understand that. If he is going to praise the United Kingdom and suggest that everything it does is for the best, then surely some of the rest of us who have different opinions have a perfect right to voice these opinions, and that more particularly when the action of the United Kingdom, under the conditions that now exist, may drag us into another war.

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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:

I have never

tried to put any bar upon discussion of any question in this house. I have repeatedly said I hoped that the tone of discussion would be such that it would not embarrass very critical situations in other parts of the world. That is the extent to which I have tried to direct discussion. I have no objection, if my hon. friend thinks it best to criticize British policy, present or past, for him to do so; but so far as I am personally concerned, and speaking for the government, I feel that in the light of the knowledge we all have of the situation as it is in Europe to-day, we cannot be too careful of the manner in which we express our criticisms.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

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

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I quite agree with

the Prime Minister in that statement.

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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:

That is all

I suggest.

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May 24, 1938