January 25, 1937 (18th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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

Mr. T. C. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

In rising to support this resolution, Mr. Speaker, may I say that I feel the mover (Mr. Woods-worth) has rendered a distinct service in having this question discussed. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has clarified the situation to a remarkable extent by the statement he has made to-night. The danger of war and the increased preparations for war since this house last met are marked. It seems a remarkable thing that less than twenty years ago we completed one of the greatest wars in

Foreign Policy-Mr. Douglas
the history of mankind; that around a hundred thousand cenotaphs people pledged that never again would there be war, and that to-day Europe should be an armed camp. It has been estimated that in Europe at the present time there are fifty per cent more men under arms than there were in 1913. Practically every nation in Europe is increasing its armaments at an amazing rate, Great Britain herself having being compelled within the last few years to resort to an extensive armament program.
It might be well to stop and ask ourselves the reason for this remarkable change since 1918 and 1919, When we really believed we had started to build "the parliament of man and the federation of the world." It can be seen quite clearly that during the past five or six years one crisis after another has arisen in international affairs, each a little harder to avoid than the one before, and in each case a compromise becoming a little more difficult to arrange, with the area within which peace was possible gradually becoming smaller. First, it was the Japanese aggression in Manchuria, which for a time looked as though it would cause a war in the Pacific. A compromise was arranged, but only by allowing Japan to retain the part of Manchuria it had occupied. Eighteen months ago another crisis arose, when Italy began to appropriate Ethiopia. Again there was every indication of a war in the Mediterranean, and again war was averted only by a compromise under which the aggressor was allowed to retain his booty.
At the present time we are in the throes of another international crisis. Evidence has been brought forward again and again to show that outside powers are actually giving military assistance to rebels in their endeavour to overthrow a properly constituted and properly elected government. In this case international war is being averted only because we are compromising. The civil war is being allowed to continue.
In view of the gathering clouds all over the world I maintain that a real service is being performed to-night by this discussion and by the fact that the Prime Minister has seen fit to make so clear a statement.
The possible foreign policies which might be adopted may be divided roughly into three classifications. I am not going to go back over the ground already covered except to say that most of us would fall into one of the three classifications. I imagine that these will cut across party lines and racial and religious differences. There are those who follow a more or less imperialistic policy which would commit Canada to war in the event of Great Britain or the League of
Nations becoming involved in a war. It would mean that in the event of Great Britain or the British commonwealth of nations becoming involved, Canada would be obligated to send a military contingent across the Atlantic. I think I can agree with the hon. member for Grey-Bruce (Miss Macphail) when she says that such a course would not find favour with a large section of the Canadian people. I do not think I am alone in being delighted with the statement which the Prime Minister made at Geneva to the effect that only the parliament of Canada could declare war for Canada. I do not propose to take up time in reading his speech as he has already quoted from it. For the information of those who have been unable to obtain copies of this speech, may I say that I secured mine from the League of Nations Society. Copies can be obtained there for ten cents, and they are worth at least half that amount, if not all.
The Prime Minister's statement showed very clearly that Canada was not prepared to adopt the imperialistic position. We were not prepared to accept the position that Great Britain, the League of Nations or anyone else might precipitate Canada into a major conflict. When one considers the defence estimates which have been brought down, one wonders whether the government has decided to veer away from that original stand. I do not think it can be stated too often that Canada needs a foreign policy far more than she needs a defence policy. The Prime Minister stated to-night that these defence estimates were purely for defence purposes. They are increased over the estimates of last year, so that must mean that the need for defence has increased since that time. If the need for defence has increased since last year, we as members of parliament ought to know what potential aggressors have become more aggressive than they were last year, and against whom we are increasing our defences. Far more than we need to talk of a defence policy do we need to know what our foreign policy is and igainst whom we are required to increase our defences.
The second classification referred to by the Prime Minister is based upon the isolationist point of view. There are those who believe that we should refrain absolutely from making any international commitments because of the danger of such entanglements bringing us into a war. Those who are truly isolationists would refuse to utilize any type of peace machinery which would involve the use of force in any shape or form. The best example of this is the United States.

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