Mr. Gordon Graydon (Peel):
Mr. Speaker, may I just make one or two observations in connection with this proposal? As to a number of these conventions which arise out of the deliberations of the special agencies of the United Nations and of international organizations, it seems to me that a procedure such as that which has been recommended by the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis) ought to be followed. When the conventions come before parliament, they come in the form of a resolution, and there is no opportunity in committee of the whole to interrogate anyone in the government; they sometimes also come in fairly detailed form as does this convention. On previous occasions, when resolutions of a detailed nature of this kind have been before the house, I have felt that proper provision is not made under the rules for a proper and full discussion unless the matter goes before a special committee of the house.
As to the present situation, I only want to make one or two additional remarks. We voted first for this declaration in 1948, as I understand it, and perhaps the minister will tell us what has been done in the interval to take it seriously. A couple of weeks ago the hon. member for Eglinton (Mr. Fleming) made a suggestion in the house which I think might well be brought back to the memory of hon. members. He was speaking about the possibility of our doing something with our great stocks of wheat to try to help those who are in need of help. I mention that merely as being one of the practical things which we have to consider.
Look at the actual amount which we have contributed, which I believe is somewhere between $1 and $2 million this year, in the way of assistance to underdeveloped countries, and make comparisons. Of course if you start with nothing the subscription will seem quite large, and I am not saying for a moment that it should be larger or smaller. I hope the minister will say something to us about what he regards as our responsibility in this question.
I know there are two views. There is the view that it is possible, by giving assistance to backward countries, to slacken their efforts, and actually do harm. Personally I find it difficult to believe that, provided it is done wisely. But I should like to hear about that. As I say, if you compare this amount, what we are spending on what we might call construction, with the amount that we are spending on defence, in other words on destruction, the comparison would be so trifling that you would not dare to give the figure. Obviously that is not a fair comparison at all and I do not suggest for a moment that it is. I should like to hear from the minister what he has to say about that.
You cannot spend even the short time that I did at the United Nations without having these things rise up and strike you. Despite all the wrangling that goes on there, you
cannot help feeling that somehow or other there ought to be some means of understanding. I think it was Charles Lamb who had criticized somebody with great asperity and a friend asked, "Do you know the man you are criticizing?" Lamb replied, "No, of course not; I could not attack him like that if I knew him". I hope there is force in that, although I must admit that the Russians seem to be able to continue their sharp attacks even though they are sitting in the seat next to you.
I am afraid my remarks have been rather rambling. This declaration might be treated as a matter which just passes in the night, so to speak, something that means nothing to us, something about which in our hearts we are really bored to death. If we take that attitude it seems to me that we may have occasion to rue it bitterly. On the other hand, common sense ought to enter in. I hope the minister will be able to give us a view which will combine the common-sense approach with these obligations at a time when we can see that right decisions may involve blessings beyond what we can imagine, while on the other hand wrong decisions may lead to evils beneath our darkest imaginings.
Subtopic: MOTION APPROVING UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ADOPTED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF UNITED NATIONS