November 30, 1910 (11th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Thomas Wilson Crothers

Conservative (1867-1942)


agreement with the United States. The last word he had with the people of Canada was, that we will make no more efforts towards securing reciprocity with the United States, and, therefore, before he does anything more, he should consult the people of the country. We all understand, as the right hon. Prime Minister said the other day, that if the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Customs go to Washington and bring back a treaty, it will be submitted for ratification to the people's representatives in this House. We all understand that very well, but we also know that such a procedure is very unsatisfactory. I do not want to say anything that may appear to be harsh, but I will just say that a treaty made at Washington by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Customs that would not be ratified by this House, as it is now constituted, would make interesting reading indeed.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not desire to say anything further with regard to reciprocity. I have only a word or two more before I am through with reference to the navy. I do not propose to go over the arguments that I presented to this House last year on this question. It seems to me that a great deal of that sort of thing has been done during this discussion and some might think it was difficult to point out the difference between the Liberal party and the Conservative party on this question. It seems to me there is no difficulty whatever about it. To me it is perfectly clear that the difference between the Liberal party and the Conservative party on this question is that the Conservative party desires to render some effective aid towards the. strengthening of the British navy, and that the Liberal party does not desire to do anything for the strengthening of the British navy. Why? Do we desire to remain in the British Empire? Is there anything in the British Empire for us? Almost every man says, certainly, we want to remain in the British Empire. The British Empire, constituted as it is, with nations and colonies surrounding the globe, with thousands of miles of high seas between the centre and the various parts, is it essential to the progress and prosperity and safety of this great empire of which we form a part that she should continue to be mistress of the seas? Is it essential to the prosperity of this part of the empire that the great highways of the seas should be protected and kept free? Is it so that the British navy has protected us for the last 150 years, and that if we were attacked to-morrow we would call upon the British Empire to assist us with its navy? My right hon. friend said the other day, as a reason why we should build this navy: We have a Pacific coast, and the time may come when Japan, or China, or Russia may

attack us. Well, Mr. Speaker, suppose Japan were to attack us to-morrow, where would you get your defence? Who would protect you? It has taken Japan 40 years to construct the navy she has to-day, and it would take this country 50 years to provide a navy as strong as the present navy of Japan; and if during those 50 years we were attacked, as the Prime Minister apprehends we may be, who would protect us? The British navy, the greatest weapon on earth to-day, as was truthfully said the other day in this city by a great American, for the advancement of peace and civilization, and it belongs to us. I have no patience with those men who talk of defending the coasts of Canada and the trade routes of Canada, while doing nothing for the British navy. The Minister of Militia and Defence (Sir Frederick Borden) said last year that our proposition was to send $25,000,000 to England, where we would have no possible advantage from it, and the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) said, during this debate, that had our proposition prevailed and we had sent $25,000,000 to England to strengthen the British navy it would have been sent out of this country to no purpose. Why, Mr. Speaker, I submit that these hon. gentlemen, in making these utterances, show that they have never grasped the idea of empire. The difference between the Conservative party and the Liberal party is that we desire to do something effective for that great central weapon that protects Canada, that protects New Zealand, that protects every part of the British Empire; that great weapon which the leaders of both political parties in England, Mr. Asquith and Mr. Balfour, in the British House of Commons, spoke of as being not merely for the defence of the coasts of the United Kingdom. What did they say? They said: We must have a navy sufficiently strong to protect not only the coasts of the United Kingdom, but every part of the British Empire. That includes us. Can we, a population of eight millions of people, retain our self-respect in these circumstances, that we have accepted that protection for 150 years and have never contributed a dollar towards it, and that we propose for the next quarter of a century, if we are attacked by China or Japan or any other foe, to accept that protection from the British taxpayers without contributing a cent towards it? I do not believe it, Mr. Speaker. I have conversed with hundreds of farmers during the last year, since this matter was up in this House, and I have never found the man in the province of Ontario who was not prepared to stand up at once and say: Yes, certainly, we must make a contribution to the strengthening of that central weapon, not to be frittered away on wasps and hornets, as the ' Globe ' characterized the little ships which the government propose to build. The right hon.
leader of the government tried to show that he had been consistent in the position he had taken. You will remember that at the Colonial Conference of 1902 the right hon. gentleman told the British authorities that his government was prepared to consider a naval defence as well as a milita defence. Well, he came back to Canada. Five years transpired. I fancy that during those five years he did consider the question of naval defence in his cabinet. He did not promise to do anything more than consider it. I fancy that he carried out his promise when he came back to Canada, and that in the cabinet councils he did consider with his colleagues the question of naval defence, and it is fair to assume that they reached the conclusion that they would do absolutely nothing towards naval defence, and why? Because we find the right hon. gentleman going back to England to attend the Imperial Conference in 1907, and we find Dr. Smartt, Commissioner of Public Works for Cape Colony, moving this resolution, to which I ask the close attention of the House:-
That this conference recognizing the vast importance of the service rendered by the navy to the defence of the empire and the paramount importance of continuing to maintain the navy in the highest possible state of efficiency, considers it to be the duty of the dominions beyond the seas to make 6uch contribution towards the upkeep of the navy as may be determined by their local legislatures.
Notice this now:
The contribution to take the form of a grant of money, the establishment of local naval defence, or such other services, in such manner as may be decided upon after consultation with the admiralty and as would best accord with their varying circumstances.
There was a proposition submitted to the conference in favour of the various dominions beyond the seas doing something, not confined to a monetary contribution alone, but, a monetary contribution, a local naval defence, or such other service as the local parliaments might determine. Was not that broad enough to let in anything that had for its object the strengthening of the British Empire? But, what do we find the Prime Minister of Canada saying to that proposition, he says:
I am sorry to say so far as Canada is concerned we cannot agree to the resolution.
He could not agree to a monetary contribution, he could not agree to construct a local naval defence, he could not agree to render any service under heaven towards the strengthening of the British navy. And then, the Prime Minister of Canada went on to say:
I am sorry to say that so far as Canada is concerned we cannot agree to the resolution. We took the ground many years ago that we had enough to do in that respect in our

country before committing ourselves to a general claim. We have too much to do otherwise. . . . For my part, if the motion were pressed to a conclusion, I should have to vote against it.

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