March 17, 1961

SAINT PATRICK'S DAY

MR. MCGRATH GREETINGS TO MR. SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE

PC

James Aloysius McGrath

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. A. McGrath (St. John's East):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege affecting most of the hon. members of this house. Today is St. Patrick's day, Mr. Speaker, and it is appropriate that on this St. Patrick's day we welcome back to this house from the commonwealth prime ministers' conference and his history making visit to Ireland our distinguished Prime Minister, the first Canadian prime minister to visit the land that gave Canada Thomas D'Arcy McGee.

On behalf of all Irishmen in this house and those hon. members who wish they were, and on behalf of all Irishmen throughout the length and breadth of this country, I wish you, sir, the top o' the morning. May I voice the age-old cry of Irish exiles and Irish patriots everywhere and say "Erin go bragh".

Topic:   SAINT PATRICK'S DAY
Subtopic:   MR. MCGRATH GREETINGS TO MR. SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE
Permalink
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the official opposition may we be permitted to associate ourselves with the remarks of affectionate admiration for Ireland and St. Patrick, coupled with the name of that distinguished Irish visitor, Mr. John Patrick O'Diefenbaker.

While we are lauding St. Patrick from the old Emerald isle, let us not forget St. George, St. Andrew and St. David.

Topic:   SAINT PATRICK'S DAY
Subtopic:   MR. MCGRATH GREETINGS TO MR. SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE
Permalink
CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. H. W. Herridge (Koolenay Wesl):

On

behalf of this group I shall now do something that I rarely do; I endorse wholeheartedly the remarks of the leader of the official opposition.

Topic:   SAINT PATRICK'S DAY
Subtopic:   MR. MCGRATH GREETINGS TO MR. SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE
Permalink

STANDING ORDERS


Seventh report of standing committee on standing orders-Miss Aitken.


COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE

REPORT BY PRIME MINISTER ON RETURN

PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, may I first thank the Leader of the Opposition for the way

in which he welcomed me back and the designation he gave me. I am sure it was hardly realized that on this day I would be one of those who would owe so much to St. Patrick.

In that connection I might say that in the last few days I paid an official visit to Northern Ireland and also to the republic. In Northern Ireland my wife and I were the guests of the Prime Minister, Lord Brooke-borough and Lady Brookeborough. I had the privilege there of addressing a luncheon meeting in the parliament building. From there I went to Dublin at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Ireland, Mr. Lemass. Everywhere I went there was a warmth of feeling for Canada. All were aware that one tenth of the population of Canada is of Irish origin. When I was there I paid a debt that Canada owes to one of the fathers of confederation, the prophet of confederation, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, and there gave to the Irish people a plaque from the people of Canada. On this day all of us, whether of Irish origin or not, join in the tribute paid by the hon. gentleman and those who have followed him to a race to which Canada owes so much.

Mr. Speaker, my primary purpose in rising today is to bring before the house something of the events of the last two weeks. The meeting of the commonwealth prime ministers began in London on March 8 and, as the house knows, I was accompanied there by the Minister of Justice and the Secretary of State, and was assisted during the conference by the high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Hon. George Drew.

The prime ministers' conference is a most unusual convocation. We sit around a small table with practically all the races of man and five of the leading religions, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Mohammedan represented there. While during the discussions there are always disagreements in detail, there is that feeling that came to me as I visited the commonwealth countries in Asia and Australia and New Zealand some years ago, a feeling that defies explanation or understanding. It is just impossible to believe that any of the members of the commonwealth could ever be at war with one another.

We met in an international setting not as dark as in May, 1960, when the last meeting was held, but there are disturbing elements. While the Soviet campaign of vilification against Washington has subsided, and this is

Commonwealth Conference encouraging, there has been no sign of restraint in other ways by the Soviet leaders. They have relentlessly pursued Communist aims in countres as far apart as the Congo and Laos. I am not going to deal today with the Congo except to say that there the United Nations is on trial, and if it does not succeed in restoring law and order in that country the hopes and aspirations of mankind with respect to that institution may very well be diminished.

While all of us know the situation in Laos, those who live in Asia regard it as fraught with terrible danger.

The Soviet have maintained with increasing vigour their assault on the United Nations and also on the secretary general. Notwithstanding smiles toward Washington, there is much evidence that the Soviet union is not preparing genuinely for a period of calm and conciliation.

Everywhere over that conference came the shadow of communist China, the leaders of which country show an even greater thirst for domination and influence in the uncommitted world than does the Soviet union. The prime ministers were acutely conscious of these uncertainties and dangers. We dealt at some length with the current international situation, and I will deal with that on another occasion.

What I intend to do today is mainly to emphasize the momentous change that took place in the future relationship of the Union of South Africa with the commonwealth. Some may say this is being emotional, but my mind goes back to February, 1917, when for the first time I had an idea of what this commonwealth might be. The expression was not in general use at that time, although it had been originally used some 25 years prior to that date. I saw the King going to open parliament in the darkest days of the war escorted by three or four troops of Boer cavalry, all of whom had served against Britain only a matter of 14 or 15 years before. All of us saw, too, the contribution made by the Union of South Africa in two world wars.

Even before the meeting it was very clear that this would be the focus of general attention. I do not think it is an overstatement to say that in the long history of these commonwealth or empire meetings-we have had ten since the war-no issue so severely strained or tested the flexible bonds of the commonwealth association as did the one which faced this conference.

You will recall that South Africa first raised the question of its future relationship with the commonwealth at the meeting of the prime ministers in May, 1960. The foreign minister of that union gave notice of the intention of his country to hold a referendum

[Mr. Diefenbaker.l

on the question of whether South Africa should adopt a republican form of government. At the same time he asked for advance approval of its continuance of membership, or readmission to the commonwealth. At that time we gave to this problem a twofold reaction; the prime ministers affirmed that the choice between a monarchy and a republic was entirely a matter for South Africa to decide, but they also agreed unanimously, and I intend to read this because it represented a change in the commonwealth relationship which had previously existed-*

In the event of South Africa deciding to become a republic and if the desire was subsequently expressed to remain a member of the commonwealth, the meeting suggested that the South African government should then ask for the consent of the other commonwealth governments, either at a meeting of commonwealth prime ministers or, if this were not practicable, by correspondence.

On October 5, 1960 South Africa's choice was made by a referendum which resulted in a majority favouring the adoption of a republic. Subsequently the government of that country announced that a republican constitution would be proclaimed on May 31. I felt and still feel that we had made it clear last May that there was no automaticity about the application of a country which was a member of the commonwealth and which changed its form of government to that of a republic; and that until the legislative processes had been completed the decision had not finally been made.

That view did not command general support. I should point out here that the first reading of the bill to set up a republic was given in the South African house of representatives on January 23, that second reading was given on February 9 and that then the bill was referred to a select joint committee of both houses, the committee to report to parliament on March 24. Hence the matter is still before the parliament of South Africa.

What in effect was being asked was advance approval prior to the final legislative decision being made, something that was denied last May. The wording of the communique in May, 1960 reflected the general view of the prime ministers that a positive act of concurrence was required on the part of each of the other member governments if South Africa's request for consent to remain a member of the commonwealth was to be granted. It was agreed by the foreign minister of South Africa that all governments would have to consent; at least that was the statement he made in May last. It was argued that even in the face of the wording of the communique last May, it was still a virtual formality for countries applying for continuance of membership to remain as

members. I think it was the consensus of a majority if not all of the prime ministers that more than a formality was involved. We met. The Leader of the Opposition, with the experience he has had, realizes that I cannot go into detail as to what actually took place but can give only a general outline.

Dr. Verwoerd, the Prime Minister, relied throughout on the argument that the consi-tutional issue should be dealt with separately, and that on the basis of the precedents there should be no question of South Africa's right to continuing membership. The discussion took a long time. All agreed that South Africa's constitutional change was not in itself an obstacle to continuing membership, but the view was strongly held that the question of membership could not be divorced from the international implications of the union government's racial policies. Apartheid has become the world's symbol of discrimination; and in the eyes of the prime ministers present, other than Dr. Verwoerd, to give unqualified consent to South Africa's application would be to condone the policies of apartheid.

That was the core of the issue which engaged our attention for three days. It was, I have been told, a discussion without parallel in the annals of the commonwealth association. It is a great organization where men- and a woman this time, the Prime Minister of Ceylon-with strong convictions, can sit down together and yet not speak to one another at any time with bitterness, virulence or in the manner described in some of the articles written by persons who must have secured their information from sources not present at the meeting.

I said, and I repeat, that it was a time for the exercise of the utmost compassion, and I have no apology to offer for that. That does not mean an acceptance of what is wrong; and I have found through life that if you follow that course you do not too often have to look back on events and say "If only I had acted otherwise". Compassion does not mean sacrifice of principle. It is based on a seriousness of purpose and a desire for accommodation. Though viewpoints were diametrically opposed, there was a determination to explore every possibility of a solution. If that attitude had not been followed the meetings might well have ended in an angry outburst of mutual recrimination.

Last night at the hour of 11.30 there were gathered in London the prime ministers of the commonwealth-and South Africa is still a member of the commonwealth-and you could not have detected there the tremendous effect of what had taken place a few hours earlier.

Commonwealth Conference

We tried to do whatever was humanly possible to avoid a break without making a sacrifice of basic principles. South Africa sought consent on the ground that continued membership was a virtual formality. I took the position that if we were to accept South Africa's request unconditionally our action would be taken as approval or at least condonation of racial policies which are repugnant to and unequivocally abhorred and condemned by Canadians as a whole. Speaking for Canada-and I do not have to say that this attitude represents no recent conversion-I pointed out that we were opposed to racial discrimination, and made it clear that I could not approve any formula or solution which did not maintain beyond any doubt that non-discrimination in respect of race and colour is an essential principle of the commonwealth association.

This was not a stand which was taken then and not before; I have followed that course over the years. All but the Prime Minister of South Africa were in agreement that no expression of consent to South Africa's continuing membership was possible without an expression of the strongest views on their part regarding apartheid.

I shall not go into detail in this connection. We spent a long time on this. The general attitude we took was to criticize strongly and deplore the racial policy of the Union government and the anxiety which we felt it was arousing in the hearts and minds of millions of people throughout the world. We expressed our deep concern about its impact on the relations among the member countries of the commonwealth and on the cohesion of the commonwealth itself as a multiracial association. I took the stand then, and I have taken it before, that the United Nations answers to these principles, and that the commonwealth cannot do less.

The Prime Minister of South Africa stressed strongly the positive aspect of the Union government's policy. He deplored the accusations of racial discrimination and contended that the other prime ministers did not understand the situation as they should. As I have already said, there was a patient and exhaustive search for a formula which would encompass frank criticism of apartheid. Somebody said "We do not want compromise". Well, the countries which feel discrimination most strongly, and which were the most outspoken critics, showed a desire and readiness at all times to come to agreement without sacrifice of principle, and I say in no bitter sense that there was no corresponding readiness on the part of Prime Minister Verwoerd. When I say that, I do not want

3082 HOUSE OF

Commonwealth Conference hon. members to conclude that he was lacking in forbearance. He is a wonderful personality; he is a kindly burgher. In the face of strong and sometimes provocative criticism he maintained throughout an impressive courtesy and calm.

Was there ever a prospect of a constructive outcome? There might have been. There was a time when discussions seemed to give promise of a mutually acceptable solution. Dr. Verwoerd seemed ready then to acquiesce in a formula which would have been coupled with a declaration of principle by the cumulative conscience of the other prime ministers. That formula might have been accepted. But as discussion proceeded the basis of the compromise dissolved and it was impossible to find language capable of bridging the gulf. Again I say this; it is a lesson to those in this house who sometimes speak about what they would do if they were there. Those who belonged to non-white races showed an attitude of endeavouring to bring about some compromise.

When that hope ended, criticism continued. With some evident regret and without any advance notice-although he read from a document which I observed was somewhat dog-eared-Dr. Verwoerd formally withdrew South Africa's request to continue membership. In the tense drama of that moment little remained to be said. The true depth of the cleavage between him and the things he represented and the other members of the commonwealth was revealed, stretching to the breaking point the will to bridge it.

As I said a moment ago, South Africa remains a member of the commonwealth until May 31. Dr. Verwoerd made it clear that traditional ties with the commonwealth countries will continue. It is difficult to convey the picture of only a matter of 12 or 15 hours ago, when we were together as guests of the Queen and when such a change came about with so little apparent ill feeling.

Was the result unavoidable? I think it was. Over the years I have contended that in a multiracial association it had to become clear beyond doubt that if the commonwealth is to be a force for good, as it should be, there must be a measure of general agreement that discrimination in respect of race and colour shall not take place. I do not think we can compromise that principle if we believe that the commonwealth has a mission for all mankind. It would lose its power to meet challenges and opportunities in the future. I am more convinced than ever as to the power of this institution touching every part of the world.

I am not going to deal today with the conclusions on disarmament, but I think the discussions on that subject brought about a new relationship among the members of the commonwealth; but not an institutionalization, or anything that would interfere with the sovereignty of any of us. The influence of India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Ghana, Nigeria and Malaya joining with the other members of the commonwealth on a subject that has divided the United Nations and on which there has not been that progress that the Secretary of State for External Affairs would have hoped for, represents a major step, as indicated in the appendix on disarmament, toward a realization that only through action now can we save mankind from ultimate selfdestruction.

The question naturally arises, has the commonwealth been weakened? Dr. Verwoerd says it is the beginning of disintegration. There are some who view with apprehension the shifting composition of the association. It is a strange thing, but out goes Verwoerd and in comes Archbishop Makarios to represent Cyprus. Sierra Leone was accepted, and other countries will be making application to join within the next year or so. The close intimacy of the days when the present Leader of the Opposition was secretary of state for external affairs, with a few members gathered about, is ended.

There are those who see South Africa's decision as the forerunner of further withdrawals as a result of campaigns of criticism related to national policy. In that connection I should point out this. All of us agreed that no national policy of any country should be examined or considered without the consent of that country. Dr. Verwoerd himself undertook the explanation of the policies of his country.

I do not minimize the risks inherent in the emerging trends. The task before the commonwealth is to reduce the risks by building firmly on new foundations. What has happened might be epitomized thus. We have declared that non-discrimination on the basis of race and colour is the foundation stone of a multiracial association composed of representatives from all parts of the world. No foundation could be broader or more solidly based than the fundamental principle which, though unwritten, has emerged from this meeting.

I have advocated in the past and I continue to advocate a declaration of principles. When I spoke in the house on May 16 last I referred to the possibility that the time might not be far distant when acceptance by custom rather than by the declaration of certain basic principles, including the equality of all mankind irrespective of race, colour

and creed would be assured. No document was signed on this occasion, but that does not diminish the importance of what happened. I reiterate that we accepted the basic principle and established it as a commonwealth custom for the future. This is the bedrock of the modern commonwealth, the assurance as I see it of a stronger commonwealth in the future.

You will have noted, sir, that shortly before the meeting began the chief minister of Tanganyika, Mr. Julius Nyerere, published an arresting statement in which it was said that in so far as Tanganyika was concerned there would be no question of applying for membership in the commonwealth if discrimination were condoned. That statement and others by African leaders in territories shortly to achieve independence foreshadowed the course and the promise of the future.

There will be some who will say, and they will speak with great energy, that we should have pressed for the expulsion of South Africa. I remind those who speak in that vein that Ghana, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Malaya and Ceylon did not follow that course. I think the fact that this break had to come and that South Africa should have withdrawn its application was the best course that could be followed. It provided a clearer opportunity of registering the principle of non-discrimination; for the prime ministers would not have been satisfied with less.

As the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom said yesterday in the British House of Commons, I regret that South Africa made this choice instead of adopting the attitude of a reasonable acceptance of a primary fact in the world in which we live.

I have seen the commonwealth in a different light than ever before. We took the course that anyone who recognizes the fact that communism marches on the application of discrimination, wherever it is practised, must take. I shall detour a moment to tell hon. members that, in the midst of the argument the day before yesterday, Dr. Verwoerd handed me a clipping regarding the denial of admission of two negroes to a hotel in the city of Edmonton. I do not think I have to make any further observation in that connection.

This is a fair summary of what took place. I thank the house for hearing me so patiently. I do not think there is any immediate necessity to discuss the other matters that were dealt with, but I will do so if the house grants me that privilege when the estimates of the Department of External Affairs are before the committee of supply.

Topic:   COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   REPORT BY PRIME MINISTER ON RETURN
Permalink
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, my first words must be to reiterate what I have already 90205-6-195

Commonwealth Conference said to the Prime Minister personally, namely that it is good to see him back in the house and looking so hale and hearty after what must have been a very exhausting and in some respects, I am sure, a trying experience at the prime ministers' conference. As a matter of fact, when I was passing the Chateau this morning I had thought of dropping into the hotel and taking advantage of one of those machines that are scattered around the lobby to give him the message on film and signing it in that way. Perhaps this is a better way of doing it.

The Prime Minister has spoken with moving eloquence about the nature, the character and the history of conferences of commonwealth prime ministers; how in the past it has been possible to maintain the informal, friendly character of those meetings, sitting around, as he put it, a small table, which will now have to get larger, and talking together as members of a family. It has been possible in the past to keep those meetings on that informal family level; prevent controversial subjects coming up in the kind of discussion which would bring about public statements and reports.

The communique on this particular conference which was issued this morning and to which the Prime Minister alluded briefly- and I can understand that the reference should be brief on this occasion, because we shall have an opportunity later to debate the international matters referred to in the communique as well as in greater detail the commonwealth questions involved-referred to the international situation which he mentioned as one in which the atmosphere happily is somewhat better. I do not think however, that any of us can take very much comfort out of that, however, because, as the Prime Minister has put it, cold war policies have not changed. Even the atmosphere after the inauguration of the new administration in Washington has unfortunately clouded again recently and, if I may put it this way, coexistence seems to be returning unhappily to normal.

The communique has an interesting reference to the importance of making progress in disarmament. It is to be regretted that understandably the commonwealth prime ministers on this occasion were not able to co-ordinate the resolutions which now are before the United Nations, including the Canadian resolution designed to, as the communique put it, promote disarmament negotiations, so that the commonwealth could have acted in this respect through a single disarmament resolution.

The Prime Minister referred to the discussions-and they are mentioned in the communique-about the United Nations structure

3084 HOUSE OF

Commonwealth Conference and constitution. There is an interesting paragraph in the communique on that. I regret that it was not found possible-I can understand why it was not-to include in the communique some expression of unity and strong support for the secretary general in the work he is doing under the vicious attacks that are being made on him by those who are even more interested in destroying his office than they are in destroying the man. However, I am glad to see that there is in the communique a reference to the desirability of upholding the purposes and principles of the charter and the preservation of the international and independent character of the secretariat. In that connection I cannot help but feel some relief that a proposal which appeared in the press at least and which may have appeared in the conference, to change the structure of the higher level of the secretariat by surrounding the secretary general with three deputy secretaries general does not appear in this communique. I cannot myself feel that this would be a helpful change at this time.

There is no reference in the communique, although I am sure it is a matter under continuous consideration, to the desirability, and perhaps even in the future the necessity, of modifying in some way the structure of consultation and discussion among members of the commonwealth at commonwealth conferences in the light of the new constitution of the commonwealth. New members are coming in at each commonwealth prime ministers' conference, and that is all to the good; but of course it does alter the nature of commonwealth meetings, as the Prime Minister himself has pointed out. As he said, the old days of a small, intimate, informal association around a small table seem to have disappeared.

The most important and difficult matter, and one of the most dramatic that has ever come before a prime ministers' conference, was the situation that arose in regard to the application of South Africa to remain in the commonwealth consequent upon the adoption of a republican constitution to take effect at the end of May. It was decided some years ago, and the decision is not likely to be reversed, that there is room in this commonwealth of nations for nations of every constitutional form and character. Yet it has, I think, become a part of the conventions, because there are no laws of the commonwealth, that if a member of the commonwealth changes its constitutional structure or character, or if a member of the commonwealth seeks to enter via colonial status, the application should be agreed to by all the existing members of the commonwealth. That was required previously, and it has been required in the application made by South Africa. That application has

now been withdrawn, and there is no reason to believe that South Africa will not now be leaving this association of nations at the end of May.

It is impossible not to regret deeply that the diplomacy of conciliation and mediation was not successful at the meeting in London in finding a formula which would have maintained inviolate a principle without bringing about a separation. No one, Mr. Speaker, can surely take any satisfaction out of the withdrawal from the commonwealth of the country of General Botha, the country that produced in the person of Field Marshal Smuts one of the greatest statesmen and leaders in the commonwealth, the country where the transition in a few years from military defeat to self government, to partnership, has always, and rightly, been heralded as one of the glories of the commonwealth association. Whatever may happen to South Africa, Delville Wood and Tobruk will always be in the commonwealth, and perhaps even now we may be able to look forward to a day when changing policies and changing conditions and the acceptance of those changes in South Africa may make it possible and desirable for South Africa to ask for readmission into the commonwealth in circumstances which would ensure a welcome for her by all the other members of the commonwealth.

One can take no satisfaction out of this withdrawal, but one can take even less satisfaction out of the fact that it was brought about by the uncompromising adherence of the South African government to a policy of race discrimination which was bound to be deeply repugnant to and opposed by other members of our multiracial association of free nations. The feelings of Canadians inside and outside the house about such discrimination have already been expressed. They have been expressed by the Prime Minister and other members of the government. They were expressed by me last April 27 prior to the conference of that year, and they were expressed formally in a resolution by the national convention of the party I have the honour to lead, a resolution passed unanimously last January, which reads as follows:

The commonwealth has recently undergone rapid and important changes which have brought colonies to independence. Canada should continue to foster and support all such moves inside and outside the commonwealth toward responsible freedom. We should uncompromisingly oppose policies or trends based on racial or other forms of discrimination, including apartheid in particular, which not only are bad in themselves but are incompatible with the nature of the commonwealth as a multiracial association of equal, independent and freely cooperating nations.

Nothing has happened since then, Mr. Speaker, to change my views and those of my

party on this matter. Before the last commonwealth prime ministers' conference, which was in May, 1960, I believe, the Prime Minister said that he feared "for the future of the commonwealth if the prime ministers' conference should become the judge and jury of the conduct of member nations". He repeated that view at a Canadian Club dinner in London a week or so ago, according to press reports.

Well, Mr. Speaker, the commonwealth conference has now decided that there must be such judgment including, according to press reports-and the Prime Minister confirmed those reports this morning-the requirement that every member of the commonwealth accept certain principles, among them being condemnation of racial discrimination. According to the London correspondent of the Toronto Globe and Mail, as found in the issue of March 15-until the Prime Minister spoke this morning this was the only quoted text I was able to get on this subject-Mr. Nehru put forward this requirement in a declaration which included the following:

We the prime ministers of the commonwealth recognize that the principle of racial discrimination is inconsistent with membership in the commonwealth.

I take it that now applies to the commonwealth association. Last May 1 stated in the house that the conference of that time had merely "postponed a showdown". That showdown has now taken place, presumably on the basis of the declaration I have just quoted or the one from which the Prime Minister read this morning, because when such a declaration was pressed to a decision the result, it is now perfectly clear, was inevitable. I take it from what the Prime Minister has said this morning that the choice had to be made in London between South Africa and apartheid in the commonwealth and the Asian and African members remaining in the commonwealth. In the circumstances which made that choice necessary, the processes of conciliation and mediation having regrettably failed, there was, I believe, only one course for Canada to follow and she followed it.

But let us not deceive ourselves. The implications of the procedure that has been followed and of the results that have flowed from it at this conference are very important and very far reaching. On May 16 last the Prime Minister had this to say in the House of Commons as found on page 3899 of Hansard:

... if we ever arrive at the point where we will

discuss-

He was referring to commonwealth prime ministers' conferences.

-the internal affairs of other countries and determine the course by a majority, then there 90205-6-1954

Commonwealth Conference will be problems that will arise and it could only mean that several countries in the commonwealth could not accept the decisions of the majority. I need not go into particulars in that regard: I think a number would come to mind immediately, including the question of migration.

The commonwealth has now reached and passed this point of non-intervention.

Topic:   COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   REPORT BY PRIME MINISTER ON RETURN
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

If I may be permitted to say something, and I do not want to interrupt the hon. gentleman, I pointed out that Dr. Verwoerd himself introduced the subject for discussion at London and said, "I am prepared to discuss this". Otherwise we would have found ourselves in the position that we always have, that internal affairs of any nation shall not be discussed.

Topic:   COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   REPORT BY PRIME MINISTER ON RETURN
Permalink
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Speaker, the Prime

Minister has made an interesting intervention to the effect that-I hope I am not misinterpreting what he said-if Dr. Verwoerd had not himself agreed at this meeting to the discussion of the matter, it could not with propriety have been, discussed. That is very interesting and very significant in terms of the future of the new commonwealth association. Undoubtedly we have had indication that this will happen; that questions concerning racial discrimination in all its forms, if they should ever arise, will in fact be subjects of discussion. I would have thought from what happened in London that it has now been established that the policies of any of the members of the commonwealth which affect racial discrimination in any form, or constitute a violation of human rights or human dignity, are now subjects for examination at the commonwealth conferences. This change comes at a time when new members are being added to the commonwealth who are sensitive to a degree in regard to these matters especially and to any suspicion, even, of racial discrimination, but who do not-I say this in no spirit of criticism at all in view of the circumstances that they face in these countries-all apply in the conditions that face their countries those concepts of personal liberty and political democracy which, in the case of our own country and others, are the result of long and slow development over the years, which is no doubt why they work so well in our country.

We are indeed approaching a new and testing era in commonwealth relations. A great deal of understanding and good will is going to be needed by all the nations concerned if the test is to be met successfully. It is imperative that it should be met. If it is, then the commonwealth can perform now a role of great and increasing value as a bridge between Asia and Africa on the one hand and the west on the other, when there are

Commonwealth Conference very few if any such bridges in the world. I would think that the commonwealth is now, because of what has happened in London, put in a stronger rather than a weaker position to perform that particular role.

South Africa's announced withdrawal raises certain questions for its former associates in the commonwealth, questions of preferential trade and commonwealth status which it is not necessary to go into now; we will have an opportunity to discuss that before long, I assume. The withdrawal raises one other question which I am sure is in all our minds. What will it do for those African people who are the victims of that policy of apartheid which in the event, because the South African government clung so stubbornly to it, forced South Africa out? Will it hurt or help them? In any event, surely it is to be hoped that South Africa's new isolation will not give her a feeling of immunity from world opinion in this matter of apartheid and racial discrimination.

The commonwealth will soon lose one of its founding members in circumstances that can cause no satisfaction to anyone. One old member will go and two new ones will now come in, one from Africa and one from the Mediterranean. Let us hope that this association which has done so much in the world since it was formed will now be stronger and have a deeper meaning for those that remain in it and for the new ones to come into it.

Surely there can be no difference of opinion in this house on this score, that the strengthening of this association should be the objective of every member nation in the commonwealth whose full equality with every other member in rights and in race has now been confirmed, I think it is correct to say, as a condition of membership. There is no certainty, in the new circumstances of the old commonwealth, that this objective of strengthening can be achieved. It will not be done merely by speeches and declarations; it will be done only by the closest co-operation among all its members based on mutual respect and understanding.

Topic:   COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   REPORT BY PRIME MINISTER ON RETURN
Permalink
CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Hazen Argue (Assiniboia):

Mr. Speaker, I want to add my voice at this time to that of the Leader of the Opposition in extending to the Prime Minister a very warm welcome home. We welcome him today, along with the people all across our country, as the Prime Minister of our nation who has returned from a very important international conference.

I think we all regret exceedingly that South Africa found it impossible to start along the road of changing its policies of discrimination based on race. We regret that South Africa gave no indication that she

was prepared to amend those policies. We believe, that being the situation, the members of the commonwealth had no other course but to express strong opposition to those policies, strong to the point that South Africa withdrew her application for readmission to the commonwealth. If the commonwealth is to survive and grow, as I am certain it shall, then it seems to us essential that this principle of nondiscrimination should be spelled out and strengthened.

The commonwealth, to make a contribution to peace and to the welfare of humanity, must be based on nondiscrimination. I suggest therefore that it must be based, for its main strength, on free institutions. The principle of the equality of human races is being accepted more and more throughout the world, and those who would continue a policy of the dark ages of the past will find themselves, in our opinion, in a smaller and smaller minority. Survival of humankind itself depends on the removal of discrimination in all its forms.

If the prime ministers at the commonwealth conference had decided, which was the alternative, to allow South Africa to remain in the commonwealth I should think there would have been great danger that other nations might leave the commonwealth. It would seem to me that this very act would carry the danger of turning the peoples of Africa and Asia against the commonwealth itself. There is no doubt that the course taken by South Africa is a very dangerous one and that this small minority, the white population, is in increasing danger because of the policy that South Africa has followed. If that minority is to have any hope of survival it must be in a community where racial equality is accepted, and it will have to be in a world where the white nations have determined that racial discrimination shall be removed.

We naturally regret these unhappy events, but we think the maintenance of the commonwealth has not in fact been jeopardized. On the contrary, we think history will show that although this was one of the most frustrating days for members of the commonwealth, it will eventually be found to be a turning point from which the commonwealth will gain greater and greater strength.

There is, of course, one question which I think is in the minds of most of us and which has not been dealt with today. I refer to the economic policies that will be followed as between South Africa and the other members of the commonwealth beyond May if this extremely difficult and apparently inevitable step is now to be taken. I am not one of those who think we should necessarily discriminate because one action has been taken which

we do not support. However, it seems to us that it must not be possible for a member to remove herself from the commonwealth of nations while at the same time retaining the economic advantages that go with partnership in the club. We think it would be a bad precedent if a member could be removed from the club while still allowed to enjoy commonwealth trade preferences.

Topic:   COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   REPORT BY PRIME MINISTER ON RETURN
Permalink
PC

Daniel Roland Michener (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but it seems to me that he is introducing a new subject which is beyond the scope of the statement and which might better be reserved for the time when debate can take place on these matters.

Topic:   COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   REPORT BY PRIME MINISTER ON RETURN
Permalink
CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

Mr. Speaker, this is certainly a question which must be dealt with, on which statements must be made and as to which policy must be determined. South Africa having taken this course, we are of the opinion that it may be possible for more liberal elements within that country to exert themselves and that from this unhappy situation will grow a modification of the apartheid laws. We believe that economic pressure may become an effective means of bringing to bear on the government of that country the kind of influence that may lead to a modification of those policies. The future we cannot see, but certainly as a result of the events that have taken place Canada is now in a position to exercise stronger and increased determination to lead middle powers in the world along the line destined to bring about peace, racial equality and the removal of discrimination in all its forms.

We express the hope that the voice of Canada will speak out more loudly in this regard. Although these are very difficult times, we think the United Nations will stand us in good stead. With conditions in Africa as they are and with the possibility of deterioration, we think now is the time for members and supporters of the United Nations to strengthen the instrument of the United Nations in every possible way.

As to the step that has now been taken, we believe history will show that it indicates a growing support of the basic dignity of human individuals and a growing respect for the equality of races; we believe that in the days ahead it will lead to a strengthening of free political institutions. Although it is a difficult time for all of us, we think eventually this step will go down in history as one of the great events to its credit in the evolution of the commonwealth, and as one of those great historic events to which mankind will refer and say "Here we made great progress".

Centennial Anniversary of Italy EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

Topic:   COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   REPORT BY PRIME MINISTER ON RETURN
Permalink

CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY OF ESTABLISH- MENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY

PC

John George Diefenbaker (Prime Minister)

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to draw the attention of the house to a significant anniversary observed this year in the history of a nation which has been closely associated with Canada in friendship and history, and whose traditions and culture have contributed much to this nation. On March 17, one hundred years ago, the parliament of Piedmont met at Turin, Italy and proclaimed Italy a kingdom under Victor Emmanuel II. This act created the first national government of united Italy and the present parliamentary republic which came into being in 1946 was the successor state to the constitutional monarchy established in 1861.

To commemorate the centenary of this historic event celebrations are being held this year throughout Italy, and major Italian cities will solemnize the occasion with appropriate ceremonies. This occasion provides us in Canada with an opportunity to pay tribute to the major contributions made in so many fields of Canadian endeavour by nearly a million and a half Canadians of Italian descent, among whom are two distinguished members of the house, namely the hon. member for Hamilton East (Mr. Martini) and the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Badanai).

As a manifestation of the deep-rooted friendship and good will which Canada cherishes for Italy and for its people, I should like to suggest that it would be appropriate for the Canadian House of Commons, on this the one hundredth anniversary of Italy's independence, to pay tribute to what has been done and also to have placed before it an appropriate motion. I therefore move, seconded by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Pearson):

That the Speaker of the House of Commons convey to the president of the chamber of deputies of the parliament of Italy, the good wishes of the Canadian House of Commons on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the proclamation of Italy as a unified state at Turin on March 17, 1861.

Topic:   CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY OF ESTABLISH- MENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY
Permalink
LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Leader of the Opposiiion):

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured by being able to second this motion of tribute to one of the lands from which Canada has secured so much strength and colour in the person of Canadians from that land. I refer to the land of Italy to which the world owes so much as the source of the civilizing mission of Rome, of the mission of the Christian church, as well as the source of so much that has contributed to civilization in the arts and letters, especially from the Renaissance.

Inquiries of the Minister

As the Prime Minister stated, one hundred years ago the nation of Italy was established. It was due to the work of men like Cavour, Mazzini and Garibaldi. During that one hundred years Italy has had its ups and downs, and there have been times when we in Canada have not found ourselves on the same side as Italy in international events. Happily those days are over, and we now work together with the government and the people of Italy in the friendliest possible cooperation as allies in the Atlantic community.

As the Prime Minister has mentioned, we owe a great debt of gratitude to that country for those who have come to Canada from it and whose industry, initiative, intelligence and colour have added so much to our national heritage.

Topic:   CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY OF ESTABLISH- MENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY
Permalink
CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Hazen Argue (Assiniboia):

This is another subject, Mr. Speaker, about which there is unanimity in all quarters of the house. I am pleased on behalf of the C.C.F.-New Party caucus to associate ourselves with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. We are pleased to pay this tribute not only to Italy as a nation but also to our fellow Canadians who have come from that land. It is easy for us to pay this tribute at this time since our relations with Italy are so cordial, and we are fortunate as a country to count among our citizens so many thousands of people who have come here from Italy and who are becoming in such a short space of time Canadian citizens in the very best sense of the word.

Topic:   CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY OF ESTABLISH- MENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY
Permalink

March 17, 1961