July 17, 1964

HOUSE OF COMMONS DEBATES

OFFICIAL REPORT


Friday, July 17, 1964


COMMONWEALTH CONFERENCE

REPORT BY PRIME MINISTER ON RETURN

LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. B. Pearson (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to make a report to the house on the commonwealth conference which has recently concluded its work in London. I should like to thank my colleagues in the house for their warm welcome on my return. From what I have read, Mr. Speaker, perhaps I should stay away, since the house seemed to do very well in my absence. Nevertheless, believe it or not, I am glad to be back.

I was assisted in representing the government at this conference by the high commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom, an old colleague of ours in this house, and by a small group of officials. I believe ours was the smallest of all the delegations. However, so far as the officials are concerned it made up in quality what it lacked in quantity. I should like to pay a very warm tribute to their hard work, and it was hard work.

When I was on the point of leaving for London the right hon. Leader of the Opposition, who has had much experience with meetings of prime ministers of the commonwealth, remarked that I would find it a great experience. Well, he was certainly right, Mr. Speaker. I found it, as I am sure he found it in the past, to be a fascinating and stimulating experience to meet with the leaders of this world wide association or club, as it was continually referred to in the discussions, which has now reached membership proportions not dreamed of in early days.

There were 18 representatives of commonwealth governments who sat around the table this time, a considerable increase since the last commonwealth conference, and they included many new countries which have emerged to independence since that last conference was held in London. I doubt, Mr. Speaker, if anything can do more to bring home to one the problems with which the new countries in Africa and Asia are contending than to participate in the kind of meetings 20220-355J

that were held in London during the last 10 days. I doubt also, Mr. Speaker, if anything can do more to remove doubts about the value the commonwealth can have-and I hope and believe will have in the years ahead-as a link between races and cultures and continents, and as an agency to promote co-operation and understanding among men and nations.

With the permission of the house, Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to have the final communique of the conference appear as an appendix to Hansard today.

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

Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

Does the house agree?

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

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

[Editor's note: For text of communique above referred to see appendix]

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

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

The final communique which was made public on the last day of the conference, very late on Wednesday evening after a communique session which began in the morning and went through until nine o'clock in the evening, gives an indication of the nature and scope of the discussions and of the most important points on which agreement was reached and on which views were recorded. No previous meeting, I believe, Mr. Speaker, has led to so expansive a statement in a communique on so many subjects. I am now talking about commonwealth prime ministers' meetings; and no previous meeting, I suspect, went through quite so much debate in trying to agree on just what should be said in the communique.

There is nothing surprising about either fact. The communique is long because the discussions were far ranging, because the interests of the commonwealth countries are world wide and the problems for attention are varied. The long debate over the production of the communique was, I think, to be expected when there were participating 18 countries of extremely different views and often contending views on a great many subjects.

The commonwealth today is a far cry from the compact association of a few years ago. However, Mr. Speaker, I think it is a more representative reflection of the world in which we live today and of mankind as a whole

Commonwealth Conference than anything we have known in the past. The change in the commonwealth is perhaps more noticeable because of the character of the increase rather than the extent of the increase. The new members have come from Africa, the Caribbean and Asia; and because of the nature of the new membership, as well as its number, the search for a common denominator of agreement on policy and attitudes and like mindedness, if you wish to put it that way, I suspect is more difficult than it used to be.

But to the extent that this can be achieved the result is more important today, I believe, than it has ever been in the past, more meaningful in terms of the world in which we live. I think everyone who took part in those meetings was deeply impressed and in some cases surprised at the extent to which all 18 delegations sought to find value in this association and sought to strengthen it, irrespective of their background and past history; sought to use it for constructive purposes which could help move the world forward toward the resolution of some of its most difficult problems.

Another noteworthy feature is the fact that the expanded membership has not resulted in a dilution of the intimacy of relationship in contact and discussion which one might have expected following this kind of increase. With such a large membership representing such a wide range of interests, viewpoints and, indeed, emotions, one might have expected to find a dilution of the informality and the intimacy of the discussions which used to take place at commonwealth meetings. Fortunately this does not seem to have happened. I think the conference of last week and this week may go down as one of the vitally important stages in the evolution of commonwealth affairs. It is too early, of course, to state with confidence that this will be the case; it depends on what the various leaders who met and conferred together are able to do during the weeks, the months and the years ahead to carry out the substantial measure of agreement which was achieved in London. But I believe the potentiality for a great step forward by the new commonwealth is there.

As the communique indicates-and I am talking now about the first item on the agenda, which is the usual discussion of the state of world affairs generally-there was general agreement that the reduction of east-west tension which has occurred has helped to produce solutions to some of the most serious threats to international peace in re-

cent years, and that it at least provides an opportunity to work out some of the problems which remain dangerous and worrisome. At the same time there was general recognition that the competition between the free and the communist worlds remains a dominant factor in international affairs. Where once this was seen most sharply in the confrontation, between the Soviet union and the western countries, it emerges now in subtler forms with competition on the continent of Africa for influence among the peoples of the new countries both within and outside the commonwealth. It emerges, too, in the relentless pressure of aggression and subversion in Southeast Asia.

In the discussion of the situation in southeast Asia-and there was very considerable discussion about it-there was naturally a great deal of thought about the position of communist China, which is such a tremendous factor in this whole matter. The view was expressed by the leaders of certain commonwealth countries-and it was expressed without qualification-that the policy of the countries of the west, including Canada if you like, in refusing to extend diplomatic recognition to communist China was unrealistic and unhelpful, and that it did not assist in reaching a solution to the problems of southeast Asia which in this view, and I might add in the general view, could not be solved without the participation of the government of communist China.

Those who held this view without any qualification stated that the policy that had been adopted by certain governments was sterile and fruitless, and that the sooner that policy was abandoned and the sooner communist China was admitted to the United Nations, the better it would be for the solution of outstanding international disputes. This did not imply, on the part of those who held the view, any particular sympathy with the form of government in Peking or with the aggressive policy that China has followed; it reflected, rather, the opinion that the Chinese government should be in the world forum, where it would have to defend its actions and be subject to the pressures of world opinion.

I understand there was a reflection and a report of these discussions carried by a Canadian newspaper, which said that I had said in the discussions that China-and these were the words used-ought to have its place in the United Nations. I did speak along those lines, but that particular report does not reflect what I was attempting to

put forward at the meeting. I agreed that conditions should be such that the government of mainland China should be in the United Nations; but 1 pointed out to those who held this view without qualification that for many years communist China was an aggressor in Korea, which was an obstacle to this kind of recognition and admission, and at the present time there is another and important obstacle to this recognition and admission-this formal admission

to the United Nations in that there are many governments, including our own, that could not accent the extension of communist rule from mainland China to Formosa without the approval and consent of the people of that island, and until that difficulty in some form was removed it was not going to be easy to recognize the right of a government in Peking to be the government of China in the United Nations and extend its authority over the island of Formosa.

The meeting of the prime ministers received a very full report from the prime minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, on the difficulty between Malaysia and Indonesia and the efforts his country had made to end the fighting, through discussion with the government of Indonesia and other governments. In that connection-and I think this is a very useful paragraph in the communique-the prime ministers expressed not only their hope for an early termination of a totally unnecessary contest forced on Malaysia by a larger country but gave their support to the prime minister and the government and people of Malaysia in their effort to preserve and maintain their own independence against that kind of pressure. This was subscribed to by all 18 members of the conference. We will be welcoming the prime minister of Malaysia to Canada in a very few days, and I am sure we will then have an opportunity to express to him the admiration we feel for the strength and patience of his government in the face of the very difficult situation which confronts them.

With seven of the 18 commonwealth countries now on the continent of Africa, it was to be expected that a good deal of attention would be directed to that vast and important part of the globe, as indeed was the case at the last commonwealth conference. The main concern of the leaders of the African countries, as expressed at this conference, was with two things; first, the attainment of independence for those areas in Africa which still remain under colonial regimes; and second, the achievement of racial equality.

Commonwealth Conference

The discussion accordingly concentrated on three areas where independence has not been achieved, or where racial equality is not permitted, or both; the Republic of South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, and the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique. The African commonwealth leaders at the conference argued very strongly-indeed forcefully-and very emotionally for the imposition of economic sanctions against the Republic of South Africa in order to bring pressure on its government to end the policy of apartheid. The communique states the reaffirmation, in which all members of the conference joined, of condemnation by the commonwealth governments of that policy, a condemnation which was given at the last commonwealth conference. However, the communique also reflects the doubts of some as to whether a program of sanctions would be effective and whether, indeed, it might not have adverse results through hardening still further the attitude of the present government and the white element of South Africa against the racial equality that the African leaders want to see achieved in that country and in Africa as a whole.

As far as our own position, which was put to the conference, is concerned, we do agree that there should be sanctions in respect of military equipment and supplies. So far as total economic sanctions are concerned, this matter is now before the United Nations. A committee has been set up to investigate the effectiveness of sanctions, and we will certainly wait until we get the report of that committee.

As far as the expulsion, as a form of sanction, of South Africa from the United Nations and from international agencies under the United Nations is concerned, we felt that this was not a very helpful procedure to adopt from the point of view of those who deplore most vigorously the policy of South Africa. We felt it is better to have them in these international agencies, where they can be exposed to public opinion and where their policies can be attacked, than to have them outside of the international agencies, including technical international agencies.

As far as the Portuguese colonies are concerned, the view of the African leaders was clear. They want to see independence for those areas as for the rest of the continent; and in the communique there is an expression of regret-not a very strong expression but a little stronger than it may seem in a diplomatic communique covering 18 countries -

Commonwealth Conference that Portugal has not so far recognized the principle of self determination for her territories in Africa.

In its discussion of the situation in Southern Rhodesia the conference came to grips in real and immediate form with the problem of race relations. That is a problem which the conference also had to face in 1961. No more explosive problem can reach the conference table, and I think it is a tribute to the statesmanship of the African leaders and to the essential moderation expressed by all members of the conference that the exchange of views on this matter was temperate and constructive, and there could be agreement in a way which reflected itself in the communique.

The Canadian delegation, representing a country which is not directly involved in this problem-and I say "not directly"-tried to make a contribution which would be objective and helpful in the evolution of our multiracial community based on racial equality and non-discrimination. A firm stand was taken against racial discrimination and apartheid by the commonwealth conference of 1961. At that conference Canada played an important and very constructive part. I was glad to pay my tribute to the efforts of the right hon. Leader of the Opposition in this matter at that conference, and I am glad to repeat that tribute at this time.

I in my way, tried to follow and reaffirm the position taken then in regard to racial equality. I suggested to the present conference that we around the table were facing a very important moment of decision which would have far reaching implications on the future of the commonwealth, if at a meeting where the majority of the members were from Asia and Africa we did not, all of us, in some form meet this challenge of racial equality and non-discrimination. If we could not take a stand; if we could not reaffirm in the communique the principles of racial equality and non-discrimination-if we could not do that, then the commonwealth was not likely, in the form in which it is now, to go ahead or even to survive. The continuance of racial discrimination and the intensification in many areas of mutual fear between races are both most disturbing features of the present world situation and a great cause of the difficulty with regard to many remaining unresolved colonial problems. That problem exists in the commonwealth; it exists outside the commonwealth.

There has been a good deal of talk about interference or intervention in the affairs of

other areas or countries or colonies that were not represented in London; but the British government, quite rightly I believe-this is how we came to discuss this matter-put on the agenda an item, "Progress of dependant territories toward independence". It seemed to us that under that item we should face up frankly to the implications of the subject, and we attempted to do so; I think all delegations did.

Our contribution was to suggest that the commonwealth might adopt a declaration of racial equality very much along the lines of some of the statements which were made at the 1961 conference, and that we should reaffirm in our final communique the principles for which we stand in the commonwealth on this matter, principles on which our association must be based in the future if it is to go forward. Then we suggested that from this statement of principles we should go forward to discuss its application to particular problems such as Southern Rhodesia, British Guiana and other areas. The conference agreed to this suggestion, and the declaration of principles is included in the communique.

We then went on to suggest how these principles should be applied to Southern Rhodesia and British Guiana. The Southern Rhodesian situation is a very dangerous and difficult one. Southern Rhodesia has been self governing for a good many years in domestic matters. Its government is responsible to a legislature which is elected by only a small minority of its population, largely those of European descent. The constitutional responsibility for a change in the situation rests with the government of the United Kingdom, and all of us at the conference recognized that the authority and responsibility for leading Southern Rhodesia as well as other colonies to complete independence must continue to rest with Great Britain. There was no difference of opinion on this point. The leaders of the African countries in particular attached great importance to the point that it was Great Britain and not the present government of Southern Rhodesia which had this power and responsibility.

There have been many suggestions in recent months-and this was referred to in our discussions-that the government of Southern Rhodesia might seek to issue a unilateral declaration of independence without regard to the views of the African parties in that country or the views of the United Kingdom government. We made it clear in our communique that the other governments of the

commonwealth would not be able to recognize the validity of any such unilateral declaration of independence. That was subscribed to unanimously by all governments around the table.

In my own statement at the conference I had suggested that it might strengthen the hand of the British government and might support the moderate elements among Southern Rhodesian voters if all governments at the conference would let it be publicly known that this was their stand, that many of us feared that unconstitutional action by a minority in Southern Rhodesia would gravely diminish Southern Rhodesia's international status, might lead to economic and political internal difficulties and might also lead to disaster and violence and attempts to organize-this was mentioned at the conference as a possible result if something was not done-a Southern Rhodesian government in exile. We felt that such an exacerbation of differences would be a tragedy for all concerned. All the commonwealth leaders, I repeat, agreed that it would be prudent at this time to take such a stand on this matter and to make it public so there could be no misunderstanding anywhere about the position we would have to adopt if such a desperate and illegal measure were taken.

We also decided to express publicly, and this is in the communique, our welcome of the decision of the British government that for Southern Rhodesia, as for other territories, the existence of sufficiently representative institutions would be a condition of the granting of independence to such a territory. Most of us, including myself, expressed the view that an independence conference should be convened which the leader of all parties in Southern Rhodesia should be free to attend-the expression "should be free to attend", which is in the communique, is of some significance because some of the leaders are not free to attend anything at the present time-and that the object of this conference would be to seek agreement on the steps by which Southern Rhodesia might proceed to independence within the commonwealth, we all hope, and I am now quoting from the communique, "at the earliest practicable time on the basis of majority rule".

Of course when you mention the word "time" you really get to the heart of the difficulty, because it is a problem not of objective but of timing. I think we all appreciate that rash and premature action in these matters can cause trouble. We have had some experience of that in recent years. But it was the feeling of the conference, and I

Commonwealth Conference

shared this feeling after listening to the views expressed, that the greater danger was not speed but delay, and that unless some early progress is made in Southern Rhodesia the African majority might be driven increasingly to despair and to the acts of desperation that despair can engender.

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, I was very impressed by the warning given by one of the most moderate African leaders that the continued imprisonment of Mr. J. Nkomo and Rev. N. Sithole and many of their associates would weaken the control that the more responsible African leaders have over their followers and would drive the latter toward increasing extremism. I therefore put forward the suggestion that the commonwealth conference should issue a reasoned appeal that the African leaders in Southern Rhodesia be released as a contribution toward the holding of those discussions that must take place soon, and on which the hope for agreed and early achievement of independence must inevitably be based. Most of the other prime ministers associated themselves with this idea, and this appeal is included in the communique.

At the same time we called upon all leaders and their supporters of both races to exercise moderation and abstain from violence. In this connection I was very impressed by the emphasis placed by the African representatives at the conference on the importance of allaying the fears of the white minority in Southern Rhodesia, perhaps by saying something in our communique to reassure them about their security, and to let them know that their co-operation would be essential in the development of an independent state. We agreed to the inclusion of this point in the communique.

I have gone in some detail into this question of Southern Rhodesia because as I suggested at the conference it is of importance far beyond the interests of its people. What is done about it has now become a symbol, and the stand the commonwealth leaders decide to take on this matter is likely to be, and I am sure will be, considered a test of the seriousness of the commonwealth members about a principle which we have all adopted and on which we now stand.

Perhaps I should mention also, Mr. Speaker, that on behalf of the government I stated we would be glad to provide technical facilities or resources to help in the training of Africans from Southern Rhodesia to take on the new responsibilities of administration, if that should be desired and if those concerned

5606 HOUSE OF

Commonwealth Conference wished to make arrangements with the Canadian government. This can be done out of existing appropriations that will be before parliament or in some cases have been before parliament, if parliament approves of them. It can be done, if necessary, by the transfer of some of these appropriations to Southern Rhodesia. We are already doing a good deal in this regard, but I suggested we might do more.

I have taken a good deal of time, Mr. Speaker, in reporting on this question of race relations because at this conference it was crucial to the success of the conference. I think the communique represents a considerable achievement in regard to the handling of this very explosive and difficult matter. It will take time to weigh the value of this achievement, and it is foolish to be final and dogmatic in our conclusions at the present time. The long term assessment of its importance must depend upon the implementation by those concerned of the principles on which we agreed and on the influence on the thinking and future actions of the governments represented in London.

It is still a convention of the commonwealth prime ministers' meetings that we do not discuss disputes between commonwealth countries, although that convention is becoming a little shaky in the light of the experience of the last two conferences. We faced this convention on the question of relations between India and Pakistan, particularly of course in regard to Kashmir. There is no specific reference to this dispute as such in the communique, but we were all conscious at the conference of the importance within the commonwealth of this dispute, and what a wonderful thing it would be if the conference could do something to encourage the settlement of this dispute which has been making relationships between the two largest members of the commonwealth difficult for some years. At the same time we did not wish to do anything by any formal intervention which would make such a solution more difficult. It is rather apparent that at the moment there is not much an outside nation can do, but the commonwealth conference gave the two governments concerned an opportunity to talk about this in London, an opportunity which would be easier to take advantage of, perhaps, than by arranging a special meeting at this time in Pakistan or in India. I think some progress was made in that direction.

The conference also directed a good deal of attention to two localities, small in area but large in problems and in potential dangers,

Cyprus and British Guiana. The paragraph in the communique on Cyprus includes an appeal to the countries concerned-and we had in mind particularly the countries most concerned, Greece and Turkey-to refrain from any action which might undermine the task of the United Nations peace keeping force to which members of the commonwealth are contributing, or might prejudice the endeavours of the United Nations to find a solution in conformity with the charter of the United Nations. So far as British Guiana is concerned, it is almost a hopelessly confused situation down there, and it is very difficult indeed to see what can be done by the intervention of the commonwealth to clear up that confusion, remove the danger and bring back some order to that very distracted colony.

It was suggested at the conference that perhaps the United Nations could move in there and in some way hold the line while elections were being held. But it became clear from the evidence we received that the basic difficulty, and the underlying danger in that difficulty, is the fact there are two parties in British Guiana organized completely along racial lines, one Indian and one African, and that the leaders of these parties are getting their support entirely from one race or the other. This has aroused emotions, prejudices and fears that can only be removed by some kind of arrangement between the leaders to bring the people together in the way they used to be together before this division occurred. There is no difficulty about independence. The British government is only too anxious to give this colony independence as soon as any government can assure order. In our communique we made an appeal to the leaders of the two parties, that is the leaders of the two races, to get together and do something about this.

There was considerable discussion of trade and economic questions, but I do not propose to go into those in any detail. They are referred to at some length in the communique, and the substance of the matters dealt with in our discussions has been covered in reports to the house by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Trade and Commerce at various times during this session. The developing countries attach the very greatest importance, according to their statements and according to their policies, to the United Nations trade conference which has been meeting in Geneva. They called attention to the fact that along with race relations, one of the serious problems and dangers in the world today is the division of nations into the haves and

have nots. We all know that. We have been aware of this for a good many years. However, it was pointed out that this division now sees the "haves" almost entirely synonymous in their view with the whites, and the "have nots" clearly synonymous with the other races of the world.

This lends sharpness to racial as well as economic tensions. The developing countries were at pains to emphasize that while they appreciate the technical and financial help, what they appreciate even more, and I think we can sympathize with them in this, is improved terms on trade for their primary products exports and increased access to the major markets by the developing countries for such manufactures as they are able to produce and will presumably increasingly produce in the future.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are in the communique a number of proposals for increasing co-operation in the technical and economic fields inside the commonwealth. There is the proposal, for instance, for working out a scheme of commonwealth development projects. We have already some of these under the Colombo plan. There is, I believe, one project in Pakistan now which has been organized and worked out by three commonwealth governments. It was thought perhaps we could extend that. A proposal was made by the British government to that effect.

There was also a proposal for helping new countries by giving administration training to those who will be responsible for administering their governments at a time when there are very few natives who have that experience. At the same time we realized that a good deal of this is being done now by separate commonwealth governments. To set up some new, large commonwealth administration in London might be confusing rather than helpful in this regard.

Then there was a proposal for establishing a commonwealth foundation to administer a fund for an increasing flow of information and contacts in professional fields. There was a proposal to increase the resources available to the commonwealth parliamentary association and give it an opportunity to do even better work than it has done in the past. There was a proposal put forward by Canada to establish consultation and to help the developing countries in the field of satellite communications. That was received with great interest and is going to be examined.

There was one other proposal, which appears at the end of the communique, which in some respects is the most interesting of 20220-356

Commonwealth Conference all the concrete proposals made. It became quite clear from the beginning of the conference that there was a strong desire on the part of the newer countries of the commonwealth, the new African countries, to have some kind of commonwealth machinery, some kind of commonwealth institution, a commonwealth secretariat, established for the service of the commonwealth as a whole.

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

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

Shades of Mackenzie King.

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

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

My hon. friend from Digby-Annapolis-Kings says "Shades of Mackenzie King". I understand exactly what he means, and when this proposal was made I thought it was time for me to commune with those shades.

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

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

How did you get along with them?

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

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

I got very good advice. When I say this proposal was in a sense surprising, we remember it is not long since proposals for a secretariat were regarded with fairly general suspicion as a reflection of a tendency toward centralization, which in those early days was interpreted as meaning rule from Downing street. It is significant, then, to realize that the pressure toward this kind of consultative centralization, if you want to call it that, comes from the newer countries which in many ways are or should be most suspicious of the older members in this regard, but they have no fears of any such implications from a proposal of this kind. They are very much aware of its practical value to them in providing a broad range of information which it is difficult for them to obtain with the inadequate diplomatic and government services they now have or perhaps can afford; and so we supported this proposal.

I think the situation has changed a great deal since the early days, and it is something we should try to work out on a genuine commonwealth basis. Yet at the same time this should be done without interfering with the existing channels of communications, without confusing what is already in many respects a very satisfactory method of co-ordination and exchange of information. We must be sure the basis of this new secretariat is sound, and that we are adding an institution of value and not simply an additional agency available for the free play of Parkinson's law; but we will be glad to take part in the study of a possible basis for such an organization, which will be taking place very shortly.

Mr. Speaker, in recent years fears have been expressed-and they were certainly ex-

Commonwealth Conference pressed on the eve of this conference-that the commonwealth had outlived its real purpose and had become simply an amiable club with no real objective, depending largely on the emotional recollection of past imperial greatness. I believe the recent conference has shown that those fears are unfounded, and that the sense of the value of the new commonwealth is felt most precisely and most importantly where one might have thought there would have been the greatest doubt; that is, among the new countries in Africa and Asia. They recognize in the commonwealth an agency of real value to them, and we must try to keep it that way. They realize that it can provide a bridge between the continents and between the races and this, I think, is going to afford a great new role for the commonwealth in the years ahead. In a world in which the associations of peoples and nations are all too frequently on the basis of a common ideology, a common race, a common language or a common geographical location there is, I submit, a unique merit in an institution which transcends all of these and brings countries together on a wider basis than the ones I have mentioned, on a basis which is really founded on a common adherence to human rights and free institutions and a desire to settle our problems by consultation, co-operation and agreement.

One of the most impressive political figures it has been my privilege to meet for some years-he is one the right hon. Leader of the Opposition knows well-was the prime minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who suggested, in what I thought was a very profound statement to the conference, that it would be well for this new commonwealth to try to work out a statement of general principles on which it stands and on which it could go forward, not only a statement of principle of racial equality but a statement of general principles, and include in these principles this adherence to free institutions, this respect for basic law and basic rights, as well as respect for racial equality and non-discrimination. In serving these principles and in providing a forum for an intimate and friendly exchange of views among nations and among virtually all races of mankind the commonwealth is embarking on a new era in which it could have, and I hope it will have, a value broader and deeper than it has had in the world at any time in the past.

May I conclude, Mr. Speaker, by reading just one short sentence from the communique

which expresses that point of view. Referring to the commonwealth the communique

says:

It is, indeed, a cross section of the world itself; and its citizens have an unparalleled opportunity to prove that, by mutual co-operation, men and women of many different races and national cultures can live in peace and work together for the common good.

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

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, my first words must be to express a welcome to the Prime Minister on his return from the conference, a welcome that is most sincere, one that from time to time in the cross fire of political difference is not spoken. I am glad to see him back. I am glad to see him looking so well, although I am sure he needs a holiday after the very trying and onerous responsibilities that rested on him as the representative for our country. I am sure he will now be able to look over some of the things he said just before he departed and will remove from the agenda one of those matters he said must be dealt with before parliament can enjoy a vacation and he too can have that holiday and respite that I am sure the work of the last two weeks demands.

I must say that his recital of the prime ministers' conference does bring to me a nostalgia of other days. The conferences meet. They are all different, but they all have a sameness about them; deeply impressive, most significant, ending with a communique which is generally of nebulous uncertainty; a conference which makes no definite decisions as such but which, in that spirit to which the right hon. gentleman referred in his concluding words, brings about within a family relationship decisions which are not decisions in fact but which do represent something of the philosophy of the peoples who are joined together in this difficult to interpret commonwealth relationship.

Indeed, one has but to look over the record of the years. These conferences began during colonial days. The first was held in 1887. Sir John Macdonald was most anxious to have such a conference. It met on the occasion of Queen Victoria's jubilee, and the records of the time show that it was not taken very seriously by the British government of that day. Then there were the subsequent colonial conferences, three or four in number, followed by the imperial conferences, five in number, beginning in 1921, and finally by the prime ministers' conferences, 13 in number, which have taken place since 1944.

The Prime Minister has placed before the house something of the atmosphere of these conferences. He spoke of the representation of various races and colours, of the representation of four or five of the world's greatest religions. Sitting around that table there were men who were extremists in their day. Their extremism in the light of subsequent events became a virtue as they led their countries first to freedom and then to membership within the commonwealth, the greatest tribute they could pay to that institution. As I listened to the Prime Minister I could only detect an admiration on his part for the commonwealth and all it stands for. That represents the viewpoint of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, and has during the years. It is a commonwealth without organization, without centralized machinery, anomalous because it has no authority. But, strangely enough, it works.

When the right hon. gentleman spoke of various prime ministers I thought of one, Dr. Banda. I saw him during one of the conferences when he was in London. We chatted together for a while, and finally he had to leave. I asked him his destination. He said "I am going to the palace". Two weeks earlier he had been released from custody. That has been the course of many who were sitting around that table; men who were prosecuted for fighting the battles of extremism are now united in that bond which knows no description.

The commonwealth represents all types of government except communist. I am one of those who believe that the commonwealth can and will encompass all the various forms of government, but I do not see the day when it will ever accept a communist nation as a member. The Prime Minister has referred to the secretariat which was recommended. It is a far cry from some of the views he expressed in the past; it is a still farther cry from the views expressed by Mr. Mackenzie King, who feared anything of this kind as a modem prototype of the family compact of 1835, 1836 and 1837. But changes take place in thinking. I recall on one occasion mentioning something of this kind in one of the conferences, and the general feeling was that the time was not appropriate.

The Prime Minister said timing is so important, and in that he is right. The change in a few years in this regard, brought about in consequence particularly of the requests of the African members of the commonwealth, is indicative of one characteristic which one 20220-356J

Commonwealth Conference sees everywhere among the coloured races of the commonwealth. When they were in a colonial status the United Kingdom represented the antithesis of all that was reasonable and responsible; it was subjected to the most extreme tirades of condemnation. But with the passing years and the attainment of independence, that criticism has almost been obliterated and in its place has come admiration for the great contribution Britain has made to the elevation of standards and to the advancement and enhancement of freedom everywhere in the world.

I recall so well, and the Prime Minister referred to this, that at one or two conferences I advocated a declaration of commonwealth rights. I realized the difficulties in the way of such a declaration. Representatives were present from governments of all types and varieties, as I said a moment ago, some of them not having the parliamentary system that we have, others not accepting the Queen as part of their constitutional systems save in her designation as head of the commonwealth.

There is one thing that has represented my view over the years, and it is unchanged now. It is that this commonwealth cannot survive unless it is colour blind, with five of every six people in its population belonging to a coloured race. I contended that discrimination by any nation within the commonwealth as a principle of government was inconsistent with membership in the commonwealth. This was generally accepted in 1961, and I quote in summary what I said in the house at that time.

We -were opposed to racial discrimination and made it clear 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.

Those views expressed then by me were regarded as extremism. Those views, that were then considered as heresy by some, have today become orthodoxy. In the communique there is a declaration that once and for all represents the acceptance by all the members of the commonwealth of this abiding principle. In the present communique these words appear:

The commonwealth has a particular role to play in the search for solutions to the interracial problems which are threatening the orderly development of mankind in general-

Commonwealth Conference

Sir, what happened in 1960 and 1961 was this, and I summarized it in a report I gave to the house on March 17, 1961:

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.

Everywhere throughout the world among coloured peoples Canada's stand taken then, and again by the Prime Minister in the recent conference, represents the viewpoint of Canadians. If we as a country had made no other contribution to the commonwealth than this, I believe in that contribution we have made possible what the Prime Minister said in his concluding words, namely an ever strengthening commonwealth and an ever strengthening commonwealth relation.

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

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Now, sir, I am going to deal with one or two other matters to which the Prime Minister made reference. He dealt with the question of Rhodesia. I recall so well that in 1961 there was criticism of the stand taken by Canada at the commonwealth prime ministers' conference in relation to South Africa. It was said in this house that there should not be intervention in the affairs of any nation. At that time, speaking as leader of the opposition, the right hon. Prime Minister said this:

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.

Then he went on to say that a position had been taken far beyond non-intervention in the affairs of another nation. Those are the changing things that take place. What was regarded as extremism when we took the stand respecting the maintenance in every part of the commonwealth, including South Africa, of non-discrimination is today regarded as orthodoxy and was respected and approved by the prime ministers at the recent conference. So we go, following this course; and what in the past was regarded as unorthodox becomes, in the light of experience, accepted doctrine.

In so far as Southern Rhodesia is concerned, I wonder whether it might not have been more beneficial to the conference and to the solution of this problem if the prime minister of Southern Rhodesia had been present at the conference in much the same

position that was occupied by Sir Roy Welen-sky, who of course had greater authority and a larger area of responsibility. I say- and this derives from a remark made by the Prime Minister-that if we want to get solutions in regard to difficult matters, the way is to confront one another. In other words he has said, in reference to communist China and its admission to the United Nations, that the view expressed by several of those present at that conference was that if communist China was in the United Nations she could be faced directly respecting those matters that would be subject to criticism. We always have a higher capacity of understanding in looking back, but I do feel it would have been better, using the analogy placed beore the house by the Prime Minister, if Southern Rhodesia had been present.

It is very interesting to read that part of the communique. It indicates that the British government asked for insertion in the communique of its expressed views. I am one who doubts whether, no matter how beneficial it might be in the present case of Southern Rhodesia, the nations of the commonwealth should intervene in matters peculiar and of domestic interest only to a particular country, whether a member of the commonwealth or a colonial possession of one of the members of the commonwealth. I realize the frightful potentialities of what has taken place in Southern Rhodesia, but I wonder- and I am expressing this as a question-will not the prime ministers' conference tend to weaken itself, to destroy its effectiveness, if it acts in respect of domestic matters?

Immediately someone will say, "You did not take that view as to South Africa". That was not a domestic matter, sir. That was a matter that affected peoples everywhere in the world. Apartheid was a denial of the principles of brotherhood that are essential to world peace. Does the situation in Southern Rhodesia compare in any way with what took place in South Africa? I think not; but I hope that the words of admonition and the suggestion by the prime ministers will be given full and sympathetic consideration by the prime minister of Southern Rhodesia.

I remember so well when we were discussing South Africa saying to the foreign minister of that country, in effect, "We are not trying to interfere with you, but you have 12 million blacks and 2J million whites. Give them some representation in the parliament of your country". There used to be three representatives in the days of Smuts and Botha, and I said "Give them that representation".

"No", he said; "nothing". That answer on his part distressed me greatly, tor it represented a viewpoint totally out of keeping with recognition of the fact-that man whatever his colour has the right to equality. That was emphasized again today by the Prime Minister, and it cannot be overemphasized at this time.

Now I come to the question of communist China. Certainly the prime ministers' views are not those which were in general circulation at the last prime ministers' conference or at the several other conferences which I attended. The views then, as I recall them, were that it would have been appropriate to recognize communist China away back in 1950, and it should have been recognized at that time. Recognition is simply the legal application in international procedure of acceptance of the fact that the government which has taken over will be able to continue for a reasonable time in the future. But recognition not having been granted as it should have been at that time, with the passing years it has come to be interpreted, and was being interpreted at the last conference I attended, among peoples in Asia and Africa as the acceptance of communism rather than the application of a principle of international law which dates back some 300 or 400 years.

I should have liked to hear the Prime Minister tell us something of the views of the representatives from Asia, who apparently have changed their attitude since the conferences I attended, as to what measures should be taken, and must be taken, to preserve and maintain the integrity of Taiwan before any action is taken which will result in the sacrifice of the people there who have stood against communism, who have maintained their position through the years, and who have been a bastion for democracy alongside a great communist nation. Certainly one cannot forever place 500 or 600 million people in a position of ostracism; but you can demand as a principle to be accepted in advance that when there is recognition or admission to the United Nations, that recognition or admission shall be preceded by a declaration by communist China assuring the maintenance and preservation, and the lives themselves, of those who have stood with us on Taiwan for so many years.

Another question which was raised concerned the state of affairs in southeast Asia. The Prime Minister said that the communique indicated that the prime ministers had assured the prime minister of Malaysia of their support. The wording of the communique is

Commonwealth Conference slightly different, in that it says that they assured him-

-of their sympathy and support in his efforts to preserve the sovereign independence and integrity of his country.

I should like an explanation of this circumstance. Apparently yesterday in the external affairs committee the Secretary of State for External Affairs stated that Canada was still giving aid in various forms to Indonesia. I should like to find out wherein there is consistency in giving aid or assistance to Indonesia, whose objective and purpose, according to the declarations of Sukarno, is the removal of Malaysia and the extirpation of the government of Tunku Abdul Rahman. I would think that this is one matter which should receive early attention; and any assistance in this regard, to which allusion was made yesterday, should end here and now.

I should also like the Prime Minister when he has an opportunity to do so to let the house and the country know what support Canada undertook to give to Malaysia. The prime minister of that country will be visiting with us in a few days, and I hope at that time it will be made very clear what, if any, are the undertakings given by Canada to carry into effect the particular section of the communique to which I have just made reference.

Now, sir, there is one other matter which is strangely missing from the communique, and that is the subject of peace keeping forces under the United Nations. The communique says the prime ministers undertook to consider practical measures. What about the suggestion which was made by the Prime Minister to the effect that forces should be mobilized in various countries who are members of the United Nations to act as a standby force? That was certainly brought before the conference in London according to the references in the press. What was the attitude of the countries of the commonwealth to that matter? On its face it would seem that the failure of the communique to mention any serious consideration of peace keeping activities as envisaged by the Prime Minister would indicate that there was division in this connection among the prime ministers. These are but one or two matters on which I feel we should have information.

As to the future, I was interested in the recommendations made to education. Certainly when we were in office we advanced the concept of an exchange of university students within the commonwealth. I brought

Commonwealth Conference up this matter myself at the trade and economic conference in Montreal in September of 1958. Two educational conferences were held during our period of office. Another is about to take place in Ottawa in the month of August. All these things are beneficial. All of them, as the Prime Minister showed today, are being expanded, are being altered by being enlarged.

I think one of the benefits of regular meetings of the prime ministers' conference is that instead of going from precedent to precedent, as Tennyson described the British constitutional course, the prime ministers' conference goes from declaration to declaration, ever adding strength and variety to the concept of the commonwealth and ever, in the Prime Minister's concluding words, strengthening that family of nations which defies definition but which in essence represents the greatest body in the world today, which brings together men and women of all races, colours and religions in peaceful association. Indeed, whatever the difficulties between India and Pakistan are and have been over Kashmir, whatever problems have arisen between various countries of the commonwealth, never has there been a suggestion that the peace of the world would in any way be interfered with by these differing countries. This is a tribute that the commonwealth has earned by the informality of its relationship.

The proposal for the expansion of development projects is one that I am sure will command the support of members generally in the house. I suggest that in the future there should not be an interval of well on to two years between prime ministers' conferences. I think it is most necessary that it should meet annually, for the length of the communique indicates that a vast variety of subjects was considered. Instead of waiting for the accumulation of problems, I believe that if there were regular annual meetings the spirit of good feeling, of co-operation, of frankness to which the Prime Minister alluded would add further strength to the commonwealth relationship.

I realize the difficulties, but as I have said before I should like to see a rotation of the meetings of the prime ministers' conference in various parts of the commonwealth. By rotation I do not mean each following the other, for I feel that most of the meetings should be held in London, but occasionally it would be the course of wisdom to have some of these meetings held in other capitals of the commonwealth.

[Mr. Diefenbaker.J

I conclude by referring to one other matter, the informality of prime ministers' meetings. There are 18 members now. When I first attended the prime ministers' conference I believe the number was 11. We were very close. As the membership expanded that closeness, that clubbiness, if I may adopt the expression used by the Prime Minister in describing it as a club although not accepting that definition or description, seemed to be in danger of being lost. He has told us that the fears expressed in this regard in 1960 and 1961 have proved to be without basis.

We faced a very great problem in 1961 when for the first time the coloured races of the commonwealth had the majority. As I saw the situation, if the commonwealth prime ministers' conference had had a vote forced on it to determine our attitude to apartheid, to declare our support for nondiscrimination, the commonwealth might well have foundered there. To have a vote at these conferences would destroy them, for no nation within the commonwealth would accept the determination of its policies on the basis of the majority opinion of the commonwealth membership. As I saw it, we came close to a vote in 1961.

I took a stand against discrimination that was widely criticized at the time. I believe that stand on behalf of Canada made its contribution to the strengthening of the commonwealth. I believe that the conference just ended will add to the strength of the commonwealth relationship, and I express to the Prime Minister my thanks and the thanks of the opposition for representing Canada as he did. When the prime minister of Canada speaks at the commonwealth conference he speaks for Canada. Therefore we must always endeavour so to speak at these conferences as to be able to have the almost unanimous support of Canadians. In what he said and did at the conference he followed the course taken when I had the honour to be prime minister, namely of trying at all times to do our respective parts, to speak for Canada within the commonwealth, to speak in accents authentic, strong and, above all, reasonable. I express my thanks to him for the remarks he has made today.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. T. C. Douglas (Burnaby-Coquitlam):

Mr. Speaker, the members of this party join with members in all parts of the house in extending a very sincere welcome to the Prime Minister and saying how pleased we are to see him back and in such good spirits after a very strenuous conference of the com-

monwealth prime ministers. I can assure the Prime Minister that the fact the house has made very considerable progress in his absence is purely coincidental. I should like to tell him that he had a very able substitute in the Acting Prime Minister, who handled the opposition very efficiently mainly because we were unable to either decipher or or interpret his answers. At the present time the interpretation is about three days behind delivery.

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

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

I wish I could do that.

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

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. Douglas:

Canada, Mr. Speaker, has always been fortunate in the stature of the men who have represented this country at commonwealth conferences. This conference certainly has been no exception. I should like to tell the Prime Minister that all of us as Canadians are proud of the serious diplomacy and moderation of voice which he brought to this important conference. All of us as Canadians were pleased to have him there to speak for this country and represent this country at this great conference of the commonwealth.

This commonwealth, Mr. Speaker, is one of the great experiments in human relations. In the lifetime of many of us, we have seen the largest empire the world has ever known gradually change into a free association of free nations. The fact that some 20 nations, representing 700 million people, with a minimum of bloodshed and violence have secured their independence, is a tribute to the courage of some of our statesmen and to the wisdom and moderation of others. Whether this free association of free people can continue to exercise an influence in world affairs only time will show. It will depend to a very large extent on the kind of leadership which is provided.

I should like to say first of all that I am sure all of us are pleased at the declaration of human equality which was enunciated by the prime ministers' conference. I believe these two paragraphs of the communique are worth putting on the record.

The prime ministers affirmed their belief that for all commonwealth governments, it should be an objective of policy to build in each country a structure of society which offers equal opportunity and non-discrimination for all its people, irrespective of race, colour or creed. The commonwealth should be able to exercise constructive leadership in the application of democratic principles in a manner which will enable the people of each country of different racial and cultural groups to develop as free and equal citizens.

I am sure the people of Canada will endorse these principles. Since there is an old adage

Commonwealth Conference that charity begins at home, I hope we will set an example to the commonwealth by beginning to apply these principles of nondiscrimination, of free and equal opportunity for all people irrespective of race, colour or creed, to those within our own borders, particularly our Indian and Eskimo populations.

I think it was important that this conference should have dealt with the matter of Southern Rhodesia. It seems to me the conference had to deal with this subject. If apartheid is a matter of importance to all members of the commonwealth, surely representative government is equally important to all parts of the commonwealth. Surely it was incumbent on the prime ministers at that conference to make it very clear that they could not accept into partnership in the commonwealth any country which did not grant representative government to all the people within its borders. I am pleased that the prime ministers' conference went on record as saying that they could not accept Southern Rhodesia unless it had sufficiently representative government for all its people, and that they would not recognize any unilateral independence on the part of that country.

When this question of human equality is raised, of course the matter of South Africa immediately comes to the fore. Many of us will regret that the conference did not support the idea of economic sanctions against South Africa as the only means of registering a vigorous protest against the discriminatory policy of apartheid. I think there will be those who will feel that when gainful trade was at stake we were prepared to forego our ringing declarations of human equality and our repugnance against racial discrimination. Even if we could not agree about economic sanctions I would have hoped, and I still hope, that some vigorous steps will be taken to see that arms at least are not supplied from any part of the commonwealth to South Africa.

Of course when we speak about discrimination against black people in South Africa we have to carry the principle all the way and be equally concerned about the imprisonment of black people by black people. I refer to states like Ghana, where it would appear democratic principles are being set aside and that discrimination, not on racial grounds but on political ideological grounds, is being practised.

Commonwealth Conference

The rather tepid condemnation of Portugal does not go nearly as far as we had hoped. I trust that in the not too distant future the members of the commonwealth, especially those who are members of NATO, will exercise their influence to see that arms from the commonwealth and from the NATO countries are not supplied to Portugal, because there can be no way of assuring ourselves that these weapons are not being used in the cruelly repressive measures which are being carried on in Angola.

I was delighted to see the ringing declaration of support for the United Nations which came from the commonwealth conference. I was pleased to see that they advocated dealing with the Cyprus situation within the framework of the United Nations. This is a great improvement over the suggestion that was being made some months ago that this problem should be dealt with either by the commonwealth itself or by the NATO organization. It seems to me that if these matters are to be dealt with, if there are to be international peace keeping operations, then they must be carried on within the framework of the United Nations. I am sure all of us are glad that the prime ministers' conference underlined that necessity.

I too, Mr. Speaker, hope we will get some clarification from the Prime Minister of the statement in the communique that the members of the commonwealth are giving their sympathy and support to Malaysia in its desire to preserve its sovereign independence and integrity. I would like to know whether this support is to be military, and what is entailed in this support. For here again it seems to me while we are all anxious to protect Malaysia, or any part of the commonwealth or any other nation in the world, against aggression, such action must be taken within the framework of the United Nations if it is to be effective and if it is to strengthen the United Nations rather than weaken it.

The conference looked at the question of southeast Asia. The communique says they discussed the great significance of China for south and southeast Asia, and also discussed the question of relations with China and her membership in the United Nations. I was sorry that in making his statement today the Prime Minister found it necessary to qualify this idea of commonwealth support for the seating of China in the United Nations. The Prime Minister was quite right, as was the conference, in saying that we should work toward having mainland China seated in the

United Nations, recognizing that it is not possible to have a quarter of the earth's population outside the world community, and that we cannot permanently ostracize a nation of this size.

Today the Prime Minister made reference to the difficulties of nationalist China, but to me this is not the main problem this country has to face. We are quite right in saying that the nationalist government of China, which is now virtually the government of Formosa, must also recognize as the de jure and de facto government of Taiwan. But if mainland China is prepared to enter the United Nations as the government, both de jure and de facto, of mainland China, and is prepared to accept and abide by the charter of the United Nations, then we ought to be pressing for her admission to the United Nations and we ought to begin with the diplomatic recognition of communist China.

It seems to me that constantly referring to the difficulties rather than enunciating a principle is weakening our stand. If the Canadian government were prepared to say publicly that we feel mainland China should (1), be recognized and (2), should be seated in the United Nations representing the people of mainland China and mainland China only- and if she is prepared to come into the United Nations on that basis and abide by the decisions of the United Nations-we are prepared to support her admission on that basis, it seems to me this would be a much more constructive approach than merely raising all the objections.

I am sure all hon. members of the house will approve the steps which are planned to provide assistance to the developing countries of the commonwealth, assistance in the fields of education, medical training and the training of administrative staff, which is one of the great needs for many of these emerging countries. We will approve steps to provide technical assistance in helping them train the kind of personnel they need for the technological development which must take place in these countries if they are to raise their living standards.

The great need of many of these emerging countries is increased trade and greater access to the markets of other commonwealth countries, particularly for primary products. Their great need is for capital, both social capital and economic and resource capital, capital from other governments and private capital as well, to help them develop their resources and establish new industries. It seems to me this is a field in which Canada

could make a major contribution. When one considers that this country is spending in assistance to undeveloped countries only about one half of 1 per cent of our gross national product we must realize we are not doing all we could do to assist the less fortunate areas of the commonwealth.

I had hoped that Canada would have been prepared to put before the conference that has just been held a bold and imaginative program for financial and economic assistance to the developing countries of the commonwealth. I hope that even yet the government will work out a program which can be put before the commonwealth. Instead of scattering our assistance over a very wide area we could make a much more effective contribution by selecting those parts of the commonwealth which lie at our back door-I am thinking particularly of the West Indies and British Guiana-where by means of technical assistance, public and private investment, trade concessions and training programs to bring many of their potential leaders to this country to train them in education, medicine, engineering and administration, we could do a great deal to help those parts of the commonwealth which are in the western hemisphere.

If we were prepared to adopt that part of the commonwealth, if we were prepared to spend a very considerable sum of money, we would not only raise the standard of living in those areas but would demonstrate to the rest of the commonwealth what can be done in a concentrated program and, in the long run, we would develop a market for many Canadian products in an area which is a natural economic one in which Canada should be interested.

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, all of us wish to convey our congratulations to the Prime Minister for the very able report which he has made to the house. I am sure all of us want to assure him that any proposals which the government cares to bring down to advance the propositions that have been outlined in the communique will receive our wholehearted support.

As I said when I started, only time will demonstrate whether this free association of free peoples can wield a decisive influence in world affairs. Today three great powers, the United States, the Soviet union and mainland China, tend to hold the centre of the stage because of their vast populations. I still think it is possible for the commonwealth, though not a unitary organization as are these other nations to which I have referred, if it has the vision and the imagina-

Commonwealth Conference tion and the leadership, to demonstrate to the world that free people by consultation, moderation and co-operation can bring about freedom without violence, can bring about independence, and can establish democratic institutions in their respective countries. We have a chance to prove that democracy will work in meeting human problems. We assure the Prime Minister that any steps his government cares to take toward reaching that goal will receive our full support and endorsation.

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

Robert Norman Thompson

Social Credit

Mr. R. N. Thompson (Red Deer):

We join very sincerely in welcoming the Prime Minister back to our midst. We assure him that as we followed the reports of the prime minister's conference during the first few days we shared even at this remote distance some of the concern about just how this conference would turn out. Then as we read of his own prominent part in the proceedings, and as what was rather a gloomy picture began to develop into a more positive scene, we were pleased at the stand he himself took and at the part he played as the representative of Canada at these meetings. I assure the Prime Minister that he had our support in his efforts to further the cause of world peace and world development, particularly as they relate to the commonwealth. We were interested and concerned.

One thing which disturbs me is this. As I listened to the enthusiastic report, if I may call it that, from the conference and the remarks made by the leaders of the others parties, it seemed to me that our fault with regard to the commonwealth is that we talk about it with great warmth on occasions such as this and then we forget about it between times. In fact I think we have missed a number of most important opportunities during the last several years to take a more positive approach to questions raised and opportunities offered by commonwealth membership. Certainly the time is most urgently with us when the positive recommendations of this conference must be carried out in every possible way so as to further the principles which the commonwealth represents, and discharge our responsibility to them.

The commonwealth is not just an organization. It is something which has grown. The commonwealth, because it is a living institution, has grown even as plants and animals grow. It has grown from a vital principle within it, without conscious direction from man. In this day of organization perhaps that is difficult to understand but I believe my

5616 HOUSE OF

Commonwealth Conference statement is true; just as we are beginning now to realize that man himself is something more than a cog in an economic machine, something other than a mere mechanism. The time has come for us to recognize that this is so with regard to many of our national institutions. In the commonwealth we have something far superior to a mere organization of governmental authority. Instead, we have an institution which contains within itself something which no machinery can have, namely the principle of life; and with life, growth; and with growth, purpose.

This is not a new commonwealth which we have at the present time; it is just a phase in the continuing growth and development of this living organism. Sometimes we forget the great power and potential of living, growing things. I think we often forget that a block of cement or a piece of concrete paving can be broken by the power of a growing mushroom as well as by a pneumatic drill. Neither we ourselves nor our fellow men are automata to be flitted into convenient economic or political principles. We forget we enjoy the divine gifts of life, human nature and free will. This is one of the reasons the commonwealth could be particularly strong at this time.

Like all growing things, the commonwealth has grown from a seed. That seed goes back to the British empire, but it goes back further and deeper than that. It goes back to the basic principles which developed in the empire as far as government and the freedom of individuals are concerned. This seed has been planted in different lands even as it has been planted here in Canada. For all their local differences, those nations which have grown up from it bear a strong family resemblance. We talk about the differences which exist between the new countries and the old, between the underdeveloped countries and those with highly developed technical resources. Nevertheless they all bear a strong family resemblance. This has been a good seed, because the fruit has been nations respected throughout the world for their civilization, their culture, their prosperity, their peaceable conduct in world affairs and, above all, for the basic principles of parliamentary government which we ourselves uphold.

So while this commonwealth has not really been organized-like Topsy, it has more or less just grown up-while it has no clear constitution, no regular schedule of meetings, no clear order of precedence, no binding contracts or agreements, it has something which in my view is even more important. The

fact remains; it is still here. It still exists, and in times of crisis and trial its members have an amazing way of presenting a common front in the interests of the type of civilization they enjoy. I think this has been brought home to us in the words we heard from the Prime Minister today.

So as a means of preserving our common interests the commonwealth may be stronger than many much more carefully organized bodies such as the old league of nations or the United Nations organization today. I think some of the immediate results of this conference will be obvious, even though they may not be apparent to us now. A large number of the heads of government attending this conference left immediately for Cairo to attend a meeting of the organization for African unity which opened today; I am thinking particularly of those who attended from the African countries. I do not think there is any doubt that the effect of the commonwealth conference on the attitude of these men will have a profound relationship to the decisions and discussions which are taking place in Cairo. Perhaps there will be many other far reaching results which are not immediately apparent.

I am sure, too, there will be long range results, but these will only become effective if we follow the spirit which was apparent at this prime ministers' conference by some positive action. One of the most definite opportunities which lies before the commonwealth today is in the realm of economics. It was only a few years ago that we turned out backs on an offer by Britain to take a step toward freer commonwealth trade, and it seems to me that this opportunity still presents itself. It is good to talk about freer trade which may develop from the Kennedy round, but as we consider the objective which we believe is necessary in the field of trade at the present time I think it is necessary for us also to realise that this objective cannot be reached in one big stride. The more logical way of growth and development is to take the step you can at a particular moment. In the commonwealth today there is an opportunity to reach some of the objectives we have in mind on a world basis as far as trade and economics are concerned.

This applies to the underdeveloped nations within the commonwealth. I agree with the hon. member for Burnaby-Coquitlam that we in Canada do not do enough as far as trade with and assistance to the underdeveloped nations of the world are concerned. There are many ways of helping these nations other

than just giving technical and financial assistance. We could provide assistance by lowering some of those trade barriers that today prevent many of the underdeveloped commonwealth nations disposing of their primary products, and at the same time we could send to them more of the manufactured products they are unable to produce.

I suggest to the Prime Minister that one of the steps that could be taken to follow up this conference would be to call a commonwealth trade conference and bring together the economic committee of the commonwealth, which committee exists at the present time, to prepare the way for such a conference. We should ask that this conference be convened right here in Canada; we should invite the commonwealth countries to come here. As I have previously mentioned in this house, I am sure if such a procedure were followed, within six months we could have a trade conference relating to the commonwealth which would do a great deal to prove to the newer members of the commonwealth the real benefits that could be theirs within the commonwealth. In this way we would certainly be reaching the objectives which we seek on a world wide basis with regard to which it is so difficult to get agreement. So it is urgent that we do not think just of the problems that are before us, but that in addition we make plans to move in an aggressive way to do some of the things needed to be done in the commonwealth, possible because of the type of organization the commonwealth is.

Mr. Speaker, briefly referring to some of the problems the Prime Minister has mentioned, we realize that the most delicate point of the discussions in London concerned Southern Rhodesia. I know personally a little of the very bitter feelings which exist with regard to this problem, and it is not an easy one to solve. But it is encouraging to know that a statement could come such as was issued in the communique, that states in no indefinite way that we stand upon the basic principle of freedom for all people, regardless of race, colour or creed.

While I do not want to take up more time in putting on the record again, as far as emphasis is concerned, some of the basic statements that were made, it is good that we refer to them. It was a unique, interracial experiment, as the communique mentioned; but it was more than an experiment. I believe it is practical proof that when men get together in a spirit of good will and with a

Commonwealth Conference common determination to solve their problems in an objective way, we can get positive results.

Again I would commend the Prime Minister for the very prominent part he played in this conference, because we realize that the communique contains many of the statements that he included in his presentation at the conference. Problems such as Kashmir and British Guiana are also difficult; but these problems, too, will be resolved only as we understand that within the commonwealth there is that understanding and determination to do what is right, and to do it in the right way. I believe the suggestion the Prime Minister made at the conference with regard to inviting the members of the commonwealth to join in this consortium of nations that proposes to establish a system of satellites around the world to further communications was an excellent one. If this can be brought to pass, then in a much greater way than the cable connections we have today between many of the countries of the commonwealth the communications between us will be speeded up and made much more effective. With all the problems we face, there is no doubt that communication between nations and peoples is one of the most important aspects in reaching understanding and getting along peacefully in the world.

The Prime Minister used this occasion to refer to the problem that centers on China and the recognition of communist China in the United Nations, and how important is the position of communist China in southeast Asia as it specifically relates at this time to one of the newer members of the commonwealth, Malaysia. I think the hon. member for Burnaby-Coquitlam is standing on rather delicate ground when he says it is not possible to have one quarter of the world's population outside the United Nations, and then lays the blame on our own doorstep. As hon. members know, I have spent a good deal of my life trying to clear up some of the mess that was left as a result of the fascist occupation of the country Ethiopia which we refused to stand with in principle and protect as a member of the league of nations. I am thinking now of the 11 million people who live on the island of Taiwan. Certainly we cannot sacrifice our responsibilities to them just because we believe that communist China must be a member of the United Nations.

It seems to me the real fault at this time, as far as red China becoming part of the United Nations is concerned, is her own; because if she would accept a realistic policy

Commonwealth Conference as far as two Chinas are concerned there is no nation or group of nations that would have any justification for preventing her from joining the United Nations.

This is one of the responsibilities that the government of China has to face up to. In this matter I think it is our responsibility to reaffirm our own convictions and our own principles as they relate to the freedom loving people of the world, and we should reaffirm the principles of free democracy and give the assurance to the people of Taiwan that we take a stand, even as the Prime Minister has mentioned, which will guarantee them their protection and their right to freedom. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I agree with what the Prime Minister said in this regard.

We are dealing with motions, and much time has been spent today in discussing this topic. However, I think we are justified in taking this time, because it is a very important matter. I would just close, reiterating that if the commonwealth is to amount to anything in the world and is to accomplish that for which I think it has the potential, we must show a more positive attitude toward the commonwealth at times other than the holding of conferences. I would like to see the enthusiasm, which I believe the Prime Minister has passed on to us in this house as a result of the conference, carried into a very definite program of planning that will put this spirit into motion and produce the results that can be produced and which every country of the commonwealth is seeking.

Again I would say that in a very special way this opportunity comes to Canada. The suggestion has been made by some of the newer members of the commonwealth that we should have a permanent secretariat. In the evolution of the commonwealth this is most significant, and I think there is another opportunity for Canada here. I believe we should move ahead and encourage the setting up of such a secretariat, and I do not believe there is a better place in all the commonwealth for the headquarters of such a secretariat than right here in the capital city of Canada.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I trust that the government will follow through on some of the points the Prime Minister has made so clear to us this morning, which will prove in a practical way just what the commonwealth can mean in our troubled world.

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

July 17, 1964