September 8, 1939 (18th Parliament, 5th Session)

CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

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

Mr. W OODSWORTH:

The Prime Minister is probably within his legal rights in having brought into effect the War Measures Act. However, I would remind him that that act was first brought into force when a war was actually in progress. The phrasing of that act may permit the government to take certain preventive actions, but I submit that if we are not at war there has been no need so far to resort to the elaborate measures and the enormous expense to which this country has been committed. I want to thank the Prime Minister for his great courtesy to some of us who belong to the minority groups by telling us of the serious situation that existed. I say in all sincerity that I appreciate this very much. I want to say also that I think the government is to be commended for 87134-41
having called parliament promptly. I do not know that it can be said, as I had almost hoped it could be said, that it should be commended for laying down a government policy.
There are several matters which I should like to consider, some of which have been touched upon already by the Prime Minister. First of all, I should like to know Canada's responsibility for the result of British policies. On other occasions in this house I have tried to take my stand with those who have said that we were no longer colonials. I have felt that we should have an independent policy, and yet until the recent statement by the Prime Minister apparently this government has been slavishly following the lead of the British government. The League of Nations has not been functioning during recent times. Theoretically Canada is an independent nation. However, in practice, in our foreign policy we have been very closely associated with the United Kingdom. If I understood the Prime Minister aright, the policy in the past has been for Canada to refuse to have anything to do with any imperial council. Yet he would have us support Great Britain in the results of policies in the formulation of which we have had no part. I do not think that can go on. I think I speak as anyone living in Great Britain would speak. Living under British institutions we claim the right to decide our own policies and not have them decided in any degree outside. I hope the Prime Minister agrees with that. But if he does, I am afraid the leader of the opposition (Mr. Manion) will not.
Let us be clear on these matters. In my judgment the immediate situation has been due almost entirely to the bungling of Mr. Chamberlain.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   ADDRESS IN REPLY, MOVED BY MR. H. S. HAMILTON AND SECONDED BY MR. J. A. BLANCHETTE
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