March 27, 1945 (19th Parliament, 6th Session)


Vincent-Joseph Pottier


Mr. V. J. POTTIER (Shelburne-Yarmouth-Clare):

Mr. Speaker, I have been- following with interest the speeches of hon. members during the present debate, and I think it can be said, speaking generally, that except for hon. members in the Social Credit group, and a few independents, members of the house are in- agreement in their support of the proposals for the establishment of a general international organization, which subject is to be considered at the coming San Francisco conference. The Social Credit group and the few independents referred to, although perhaps for different reasons, fear that by joining the world organization we will lose our independence or sovereignty. Hon. members who have indicated that they will support the resolution on the order paper favouring our taking part in the San Francisco conference appear to- me, quite frankly, to be holding too idealistic a view. I am afraid that a practical observer looking on would come to the conclusion that there are too many who, as in the case of the league of nations, fail to realize that high ideals are only of immediate value, in a matter of this kind, up to the point where they are possible and practicable in their application.
I wish to make one passing observation, however, with reference to the remarks of the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green). At page 117 of Hansard he is reported to have said this. .
The government's policy has been and is to-day based upon a false premise, with the result that now Canada finds herself in a humiliating position. But she can still get out of it. The way to get out of this humiliating position is not to shout for a seat for herself on the security council and to give more trouble in that way. The way for her to get out is to ask that in the charter provision be made for a permanent seat on the security council for the British commonwealth rather than for the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
There is nothing new in this thought. It is one of the things already discussed in the house and, as indicated, one of the things which was considered when the league of nations was formed. It was considered and discussed when the post-war policy of the league of nations was under consideration. The question was then, as perhaps it may be said it is to-day-and I quote from G. M. Carter's pamphlet, "Consider the Record":
Should the commonwealth act as one unit or should nations of the commonwealth become particularists in policies, each determining its attitude toward commonwealth issues out of its own immediate interest.
I oppose the idea of one vote for the commonwealth. We have gone too far along the road of nationhood to retrace our steps. There would be danger of quarrels within the commonwealth, with the consequent possibility of the parts breaking away from the whole. It
is, moreover, not difficult to visualize occasions arising when one member, with power to vote for the entire commonwealth, would be faced with one of the following possibilities: on the one hand he might find that one or more of the dominions would oppose any proposed stand, and threaten to leave the com- . monwealth; on the other hand he might find that the threat might be of such a nature that it would prevent the views of the other parts of the commonwealth from being put into effect in the proceedings of the security council.
I believe the Dumbarton Oaks plan shows some indication that it was going to follow what happened in the league of nations. When we examine how the security council of the league was formed we find that from September 15, 1927, as long as the league council remained operative, one of the dominions sat as a member. From the record there would seem to have been an understanding in that regard. We might describe it as a rotating member from one of the dominions, the rotation placing Canada first, Ireland second, Australia third, New Zealand fourth, and, I take
it, if it had carried through, South Africa would have come next.
For a three-year period each dominion in its turn had the right to be and as a matter of fact was a member of the security council of the league. This meant that from 1927, as long as the league existed, the commonwealth had two members on the security cSuncil, one of whom was from the United Kingdom, sitting as a permanent member, and another from one of the dominions, each dominion taking its turn. As I indicated, the result was that, from 1927, on the security council of the league there were two members who had at heart the interests of the commonwealth, if we wish to put it in that way.
If we follow the suggestion of the hon. member for Vancouver South, and ask for one member for the British commonwealth as a whole, striking out the membership of the United Kingdom, we would stand a great chance of losing one member on the security council. I cannot see any other conclusion from what took place and, having in mind that in large measure the Dumbarton Oaks plan will follow what took place in the league of nations, it seems to me that the same can be anticipated this time.
So much for that phase of the matter. May I now proceed to indicate that the greatest

danger in international policy, when plans for international peace are being worked out, is idealism. There are too many well-meaning people desiring to see world peace who work themselves into the belief that human nature can be suddenly altered, and forget what history has shown over and over again.
The idea or the attempt to stop world wars is an old story, and one which can be traced back for centuries. Not going too far back, we see the league of the great powers after the Napoleonic wars, and the need for a wider plan was felt after the first great war, a plan which would join all self-governing countries not , only with a view to bringing about international peace, but also with the thought of bringing material gains to the agreeing nations.
Not only have we now a new plan under consideration for a still broader attempt to maintain international peace, but still greater stress is laid upon international cooperation for the purpose of greater social and material gains in the different countries of the world.
The organization proposed by the Dumbarton Oaks plan is practically the same as the organization in the league of nations plan. We find the organization of the league of nations consisted of an assembly, a council, a secretariat, a permanent court of international justice, and technical organizations and advisory committees, dealing with financing, economics and the like.
The organization of the Dumbarton Oaks plan, instead of calling the large body an assembly calls it a general assembly; the council is called a security council and the secretariat goes under the same name. Then, there is provision for a permanent court of international justice. And in considering the material and social matters in the various countries we have under this plan a proposal to establish an economic and social council.
In the Dumbarton Oaks plan provision was made for eleven members, of which five, namely the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United States, France and the republic of China are permanent, and the remaining six are elected by the general assembly.
Under the league of nations plan the council of the league, in 1935, was composed of fourteen members. Of these, four, namely France, Great Britain, Italy and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were permanent. The remaining ten were elected by the assembly.
I could1 go on and- show the similarity between the two plans in regard to the proposal for a permanent court of international justice, for technical committees of the league for the social and economic councils proposed1 under the new plan.
San Francisco Conjerence
I am not overlooking, of course, the fact that in some important particulars the jurisdiction of the general assembly and1 security council has changed, as well as the voting power, particularly of the permanent members of the security council. These are made to correct what were thought weaknesses in the league of nations plan and meet what the great powers demanded before they would join in an international organization. _
I have gone to some detail in comparing the plan of the league with that of Dumbarton Oaks because I wanted to impress upon this house that the league of nations failed, and I am not sure that this plan is going to succeed. I am sure it will not succeed' if the men who have the responsibility of -this international organization lack the power of -practical consideration and the capacity of practical application in the working of the plan.
I am not one of those who believe that you can by this plan or any other plan, in one year, ten years or a hundred years, -make various peoples differing in races, environment and resources, propelled by impulses and power, and the frailties of human nature, become one great happy family. _
Let us not be deceived- into thinking that human nature has so completely altered that all that is now required is a new plan.
Lord Birkenhead, in an address to -the students of Glasgow university, put it in this way:
Summing up this branch of the matter we are bound to conclude that from the very dawn of the world man has been a combative animal. To begin with, he fought violently for his own elemental needs; later, perhaps in tribal or communal quarrel; later still, with the growth of greater communities, upon a larger and more sophisticated scale. And it is to be specially noted that there have nevertheless almost always existed men who sincerely but very foolishly believed, firstly, that no war would arise in their own day; and, secondly (when that war did arise) that for some reason or other it would be the last. At this point the idealist degenerates into the pacifist; and it is at this point consequently that he becomes a danger to the community of which he is a citizen.
I -heard a few d-ays ago a very wise clergyman make the statement that this old world was a hard place to live in. There is no doubt that that is true. We are intended to survive by work and struggle. We cannot change overnight the forces that have been working for centuries in opposite and conflicting directions for survival. The league of nations failed because its too high ideals could not be worked out. Every nation was willing and- ready -to applaud slogans, dogmas, cure-alls and liberty plans, but we saw a dismal failure when the testing time came. It came, for example, when an investigation was requested through the

San Francisco Conference

league for the international control of raw materials. Very little progress was made, and a sense of frustration was felt on the part of the countries suffering from that problem. I have in mind Italy in that particular field. The same was true when the testing time for collective security came when the Japanese took Manchuria in 1931, and also when Italy went into Ethiopia. In the raw materials case, the countries which thought they would suffer from international control objected.
In the case of the Sino-Japanese conflict several things were demonstrated1. We saw first that great powers would not risk fighting each other for the sake of preventing aggression were they not directly involved. Second, powerful countries preferred looking after their own interests and would not compromise for the sake of the league. Third, secondary powers had little influence to bring about force. Fourth, great powers must be in agreement before pressure can be exerted.
In the case of Ethiopia the same things were demonstrated, with emphasis on the point that you cannot enforce a decision unless you are ready to use force. It was found that there had been a lack of previous planning and understanding of what the realities of the situation might be. The league had not developed a system to use force when it was necessary. To secure peace on a world scale may mean war, and if Canada joins the plan under discussion, we must 'be ready and willing to face this possibility,
I am afraid there may be too many people, as in the case of the league of nations, who believe that we are seeing the last world war, if we can arouse public opinion; in other words, that public opinion is sufficient to stop aggression without the necessity of force. If that takes place, they may succeed in arousing public opinion to an extent, but these ideals will build a house upon sand, and in the future it will be said-and I quote from the Good Book:
And the rains descended and the floods came; and the wind blew and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.
Let no one in this house assume that the millennium is promised by this measure.
The day is far distant when one note of concord or love will stir all mankind to a harmonious response. Nations will go on quarrelling and may come to fighting. There will be great resentment against the police power among peoples it restrains. There will be big problems to be solved and the solutions may involve violence in order for any part of this plan to succeed.
Canada, to take advantage of any benefits that may arise from time to time, must be prepared to give at times in material things more

than she will get. She must also be prepared to insist upon plans that are practical; she must not allow the idealist to degenerate into the pacifist, leading nations into a slumber away from the possibility of armed force, where the world will grow soft and our nation will let go from its own hand adequate means for our own protection.
I do not want to be misled by peace organizers who are premature. The world is ready for some things, but let us realize what they are. Expecting it to go beyond its strength will only bring wreck and ruination. A world meeting place should be encouraged, and it will:
1. Make a world affair of any proposed conflict.
2. Bring world judgment on any troublemaker.
3. Bring about the only possibility of all countries joining against an aggressor.
I was not surprised to find that the question of voting power in the Dumbarton Oaks plan was one of the last things made public, nor was I surprised that the great powers were realistic enough to protect themselves by making provision for the power to veto, if I may call it such, an attack upon themselves. I doubt if the conference is able to change this provision and, if it did, I think ,it would be a mistake at the present time, in that when the testing time would come, a great power would either disregard the organization or leave the organization. In other words, better give them power, if they cannot be coerced, than take that power away from them and have them break away from your organization, for you will then have no organization at all. Let no one deceive himself; unless we can by some plan keep these great powers together there will be another war, and sooner, perhaps, than anyone in this house imagines. This plan must be realistic enough to keep the great powers together. That is why I am in favour of the provision giving any great power the right to veto-if I may use that term-any steps which are taken against it.
In conclusion, I hope my remarks will not be interpreted, first, as from one who is opposing the proposal for the establishment of a general international organization, or as from one who is a pessimist in thinking that the organization itself will not succeed. I believe there is a duty cast upon us, as one of the great freedom-loving countries, to join a world organization such as is proposed, and that by our ways of life and influence we can,

San Francisco Conference
in a measure at least, bring to the other countries of the world something which will be helpful and beneficial.
Our common experience with the United States in developing a great civilization on the north American continent, through the processes of idealism and realism marching side by side, will be of value in trying to set up a better world civilization.
We shall in turn profit from our association with other countries, and in the final analysis, by joining minds and hands in an open world, we shall in an increasing measure, as the years roll on, be striving to lessen man's combative instinct, replacing it with a growing conviction of universal good will.

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