July 13, 1943 (19th Parliament, 4th Session)


Thomas Langton Church

National Government


Just before eleven o'clock last evening I was discussing the estimates of this department and had called attention to the fact that in this item, which has to do with representation abroad, including salaries of high commissioners and so on, there is an increase of $211,000. With all due respect, Mr. Chairman, I do not see why we should have such an increase. This department has been growing by leaps and bounds. If it contributed to the war effort it would be all right, but I do not see that it does. I should like to see the Prime Minister's estimates, more than those of anyone else, go through as quickly as possible, but the opposition is not to blame for a discussion of these estimates lasting more than a day. Speeches have been made by government supporters, on July 1, on Monday of last week and again even more recently, about matters which I have said should be left until after the war, including a national anthem, a national flag and many other matters. The Prime Minister is a busy man and should receive some special consideration in view of the amount of work he is doing, but all along I have objected to the expansion of this department, to the opening of these legations and the sending abroad of ministers. We have always had trade representatives in these countries as well as other agencies, such as boards of trade and private organizations, looking after this work. It all began with the opening of the legation at Washington, when I first came into this house. I opposed that innovation, because I believed it was dividing Britain's representation.
The hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George stirred up a great deal of opposition to these estimates by the remarks he made in this house the other day. At that time he gave one good reason why he never should have become a parliamentary secretary; for his remarks have caused wide disunity not only in Canada but also in other parts of the empire. His words received extensive pub-. licity all over the United States. He was one of those favoured on the radio. He was also favoured with a visit to the United States, where he told the people, as Mr. Brockington told them, that King George did not declare
war for us but that we declared war for him, and all that sort of separatism in the midst of the greatest war in history. I have a great deal of respect for the Prime Minister; I have always had a great deal of respect and friendship for him, but friendship cannot alter my stand on principles which I have supported in and out of this house, before the war, in endeavouring to avoid the war, and since the war began. I represent in this house, as the former leader of this party, Lord Bennett, said, a very large body of public opinion in this country which believes in the need for the greatest possible cooperation and coordination with the mother country both for the remainder of the war and particularly after the war. If we are not linked with this great empire we shall have little say in regard to the peace terms and will be simply an outcast amongst the great powers of the world at the peace table.
Here we have almost a million dollars being spent in this way, and in addition we have the four or five million dollars we. have spent on the League of Nations, one of the agencies that caused this war. So far as these ambassadors go, they have not had any training for this work; they are just civilians who know nothing about foreign affairs. Our representative in Australia, Mr. Davis, is a very fine gentleman, but he went there and said that Japan, not Germany, was our principal enemy. He caused a great deal of dissatisfaction by those words, even in those dominions, because Germany is our main enemy; she pulled Japan, one of our old allies, into the war at the time of Pearl Harbor. The few mistakes Germany has made, in attacking Russia and in bringing about Pearl Harbor, no doubt will cost her the war sooner or later, but I do object to these amateur statesmen, for that is all they are. You cannot learn to be a diplomat in a day. The best diplomats we ever had in Washington were not the newspaper men we sent there, not the civilians but trained men like Spring-Rice and Lindsay. Then we have another representative, General Odium, a fine citizen and a fine soldier; he visited the city of Toronto and caused some disunity and criticism by the unnecessary aspersions and reflections he cast upon Toronto and Ontario, the empire province of the dominion.
I have wondered why no reference has been made to what was said the other day by Mr. Churchill in his letter to the former premier of northern Ireland, Mr. Andrews. Why has it been necessary to establish embassies in the north of Ireland and not in the south? It is said that southern Ireland is a part of the empire, but it has remained neutral and that step has been very costly to our shipping, our
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I read the address of Sir Keith Murdock delivered in London, England, when he asked for the creation of a war time cabinet, such as we had in the last war. It would not be necessary for the Prime Minister to go to London because someone else could fulfil his functions. But nothing was done and the result is that now on foreign affairs we are just moving from week to week and from month to month nowhere.
What Canada did in the last war was done voluntarily. Eor the last forty years we have helped the mother country when she was attacked, and we will do the same thing tomorrow and go to her help in her hour of peril. We will continue to do what we have always done as a unit in this empire. After all is said and done, we had a previous suggestion which was similar to that made by the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George. On March 31, 1939, a bill was introduced by the Hon. Mr. Thorson which declared to the world that if war came Canada would be neutral; she would have the status of a belligerent. This relying on status is just a pipe dream. We threw away our defences and our friends and the result was that when the war broke out we had to depend upon the mother country as in 1812 for all our defence. If it were not for Mr. Chamberlain and Munich and Dunkirk, long ago Washington and Ottawa would have had to make peace with the axis powers. When this bill was before the house on March 31, 1939, I expressed the same sentiments that I am expressing now. This bill sought to establish the status of Canada in war time. At that time I said:
The hon. member is evidently opposed to the former leader of the Liberal party, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who said that when Britain is at war, Canada is at war. Let me say to my hon. friend that Canada is not going to be talked out of the British empire. If Canada could have been talked out of the British empire, it would have been talked out long ago by some of those who came to Canada a few years ago and are enjoy-lng all the privileges and rights and liberties ot this country, but who refuse to pay tribute to the mother of nations who gave us these liberties .and the freedom and civilization we all enjoy. Everything we enjoy in this dominion to-day we owe to the protection of the British flag and the United Kingdom.
That bill did not pass and it did not come up again that session because within three months war was upon us. I agree with much of what my former leader, the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson), said yesterday about the duty of cooperation and coordination with the mother country until the end of the war and after. Any other remarks I may have to make on this matter I shall make at another time. This talk of our being
a separate unit and all that kind of thing is just a repetition of what has been said before. The other day we heard Mr. Benes say that he wanted to get back after the war to his own country, Czechoslovakia. There will always be nations; patriotism is the cement that binds nations together. The downtrodden countries will be rebuilt. There is no use looking to somebody else to establish economic units in Europe, because they will never come. As a great author said long before the war, this country does not belong to those who inhabit it to-day; it is an inheritance from the past; it is a possession for the present, a trust for the future. Do not forget that we are only here to-day and away to-morrow. I believe in the British empire, past, present and future, and in the colonial empire and all that it stands for down the ages. One of the most glorious things in the history of the empire is the way the colonial empire policy has been administered, and there will be a further glory after the war in the days that are to come in the new empire.
In my opinion some of the dominions before the war were nothing but a drag on the mother country. Canadians all shouting "status" from the housetops and isolation and separatism and all that sort of thing. The people of this country do not believe in any such policy as that. The policy before the war, in 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939 was special pleading, no overseas troops, no commitments, and so on. It would be far better if the people of Quebec knew the facts about these obligations that are being assumed by these proposed changes in the British North America Act. That is wrapped up with external affairs and the right to change our constitution from time to time. We are supposed to have separate status, which is wrapped up with the statute of Westminster. They say that they want another anthem and a flag, but the winning of the war should be the primary consideration to-day, not the secondary consideration of such matters.
This is the second time we have sent troops across the seas. This is the second time we have asked for a change in the British North America Act. We are the only dominion that has asked for a domestic change during the war. I want to draw just one other point to the attention of the Prime Minister. This is in connection with the lease-lend act and the state of affairs that will follow when we become linked up with that. It will be remembered that when the United States came into the war they loaned one hundred. General Grant tanks to the British eighth army. I should like to quote what Mr. Denys Smith had to say about this. He said;

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A hundred or so General Grant tanks sent to the British eighth army to aid in the defeat of Rommel were obviously welcome. A hundred or so tanks and also tank crews to man them would have obviously been even more welcome. But the lesser contribution becomes lease-lend aid and a charge against Britain, while the greater contribution would not. The Lease-Lend Act, in brief, has saddled the United Nations with an illogical principle which means that a certain type of the United States military effort is segregated and assumed to be the financial responsibility of others.
It goes on to say:
Nobody can tell what type of American Congress and administration will exist after the war or how it will employ the pressure weapon provided by lease-lend accounting. A great deal has been said about reciprocal lease-lend. It is undoubtedly useful to keep the American public aware of the fact that every nation provides its allies with aid without immediate cash compensation. But the material aid provided to the United States is never likely to be as great as that which the United States provides. It is time more attention was paid to the fundamental fallacy underlying lease-lend accounting or there may be a danger after the war of the world once again being saddled by a stifling blanket of inter-governmental debt.
It goes on to say, referring to Mr. Churchill's remark that he had not become the king's first minister to preside over the liquidation of the British empire.
What a terrible remark to make, these two groups complained. It would have been perfectly all right for the British prime minister to announce that the United Kingdom was fighting to prevent the liquidation of anybody else's territory, but to try and prevent the liquidation of British territory was the acme of selfishness.
I believe that the great masses of the American people have been right with us from the start of this war and before. But we must not forget that the United States is a cosmopolitan country. As the Manchester Guardian said before the war started the United States has quite a large population from Europe, Chicago being the second largest German city in the world. We rejoice in having this great country as our ally.
I appreciate what the Prime Minister has done. I have a great respect for him. He is a man of affairs and has worked hard on our external policy. I do not wish him to take anything that I have said this morning as spoken in a critical but constructive spirit. I am simply pointing out certain dangers to him. One of the members on the government side made a speech which I did not think was in the interest of inter-imperial relations but would tend rather to cause wide divisions among the dominions, and would not make for the good conduct of the war. I have taken a great deal of interest in foreign affairs for a number of years, and I want to say that the Prime Minister has been consistent
from the start on his status policy, while I have opposed it. We never wanted this war and it was not the Prime Minister's fault alone that it came.

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