April 1, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)

LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. PAUL MARTIN (Essex East):

Mr. Chairman, when I resumed my seat the other evening I had been commenting on the speech of the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil). Before I come to the matter I was discussing at that time I should like to take this opportunity of correcting, if that is necessary, an impression that might be gained from something I said in respect of the functions of a member of parliament as compared with those of one who does not have the responsibility of membership in this house or the responsibility of a minister of the crown. What I obviously meant was not that we should turn this place into a citadel of hypocrisy; but that what any hon. member said at this time in this House should be with an appreciation of the existing international situation. I did not mean that we should say things here differently than we would outside this house.
Regarding the statement of the hon. member for Vancouver North that we should acquire the legal right to assert neutrality, I should point out that as a matter of history, in respect of at least minor wars in which Great Britain was a participant, we have always taken the attitude that this was not our business. I could refer to the Fashoda incident of 1884, in which Sir John A. Macdonald refused to have Canada involved. Then one could make reference to the Chanak incident, when the present Prime Minister as Secretary of State for External Affairs took the stand of Canadian non-participation. I further contend that in the Locarno treaties there is an implied non-participation on the part of Canada in any major European war in which Great Britain should be involved. I also suggest that if the famous Balfour declaration of 1926 means anything, there is no question about our right to assume a position of neutrality. I do suggest to the house, however, that in any event neutrality is rather a matter of policy than a matter of legal debate. I agree with the hon. member for Vancouver North

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE
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