February 8, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Gawtress Raymond



The right hon. member says, " yes, they were," but if they were, why was it necessary afterwards to form a Union government? If the opposition had at that time been taken into the confidence of the government, we would have had a united government, and never would have had any cause afterwards to remedy the mistake, or to pretend to remedy it by forming what was called the Union government, but it will forever be looked upon by future historians as the greatest mistake that ever happened in the history of Canada, that party politics-I can call it nothing else-prevailed to such an extent that Sir Wilfrid Lautier and the Liberal party were not taken into the confidence of the then government of Canada, in order that they might turn their attention to winning the war. To me that is and always will be one of the most regrettable incidents in our history, and I think there is no man who remembers those times who will not say that the action of the then government was strongly coloured by that partisan spirit that hon. gentlemen have this afternoon deplored, or pretended to deplore from their seats in parliament.
But to go back to the incident of last September, I understand-and I think I do -the events that happened then and their sequence, I will endeavour to describe them without meandering through the circuitous paths of diplomatic language or crossing the plain highway of thought. I would ask the House to consider carefully this circumstance, because it was the actual circumstance by
which the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) had to be governed at the time. A telegram came, which was as a bolt out of the blue, asking the extent to which Canada was prepared to back up the British policy in the Near East. I think hon. members will agree with me so far that that is what happened. The Prime Minister had to consider from whom that telegram came. It did not come from the coolest-headed member of the British government; it came from one who has been considered rather impetuous, a very Hotspur, one who said, if you remember, Sir, at the beginning of the war, that he would send the British navy to dig the Germans out of their holes like rats if their fleet stayed in port. That was a bold statement ; but it was one at which the First Sea Lord and the men of the Admiralty smiled with their tongues in their cheeks. It was fiom a man of that impetuous disposition that this telegram came, and the reply of the Prime Minister, when he asked for further information that he might be informed more distinctly what the policy of Great Britain was in the Near East with regard to Turkey, sprinkled upon the ardour of the one who had sent the message those few cold drops of modesty that were necessaiy to cause a more deliberate consideration.
If as the event proved, it became unnecessary either that Canada should signify her distinct acquiescence in the policy of Great Britain with regard to Turkey, or state whether she would send a contingent to assist in the execution of the British plans in the Near East, it would have been absurd or ridiculous for the Prime Minister or the government to commit this country to anything of the kind. We should know exactly what we are going to do before we undertake to support any commitment. Some say: "Well, Australia did this, and New Zealand did it." I do not want the action or the attitude or the mind of Australia or New Zealand ever to influence the mind of Canada with regard to her destiny. We have a right to say that, amongst the various dominion-of the Empire, this Dominion, which was the one which solved the problem of Imperial government and made it possible for those other dominions to come into existence and exist as a commonwealth of nations, is not called upon to heed to their actions. Each one must act for itself, and it is for Canada to take her own place, her own part, to look at her own future and destiny in the decisions which she makes.
Some say: "It should have been done foi the moral effect." Mark the use of the word "moral"- the moral effect. If bluffing
The Address-Mr. Raymond

is a moral game, then it would be done for the moral effect. In effect, to back up a bluff, was what Canada was asked to do, and I should be very sorry if it ever was in the history or nature of this people to become bluffers, to become rattlers of the sabre, and in a great crisis to take that kind of attitude that would be brow-beating and boastful. I would rather that Canada were a nation that does not say too much, but that acts right up to what it says and does it. That is what the people of the nation after which we claim to model our institutions, to a great extent are n.ted for-not saying more than tiiey will do, but thoroughly doing that which t!, y say. That was the attitude of the Prime Minister of this country at that time, and we have every reason to be proud of him that he acted in the good old traditional way in which we would expect a Canadian government to act. It is not always hasty action, the showing of alacrity, that is the wisest course. There is an expression that came to me often in 1914 when I thought of the great crisis and how much was in the balance, when I thought how deliberately Britain took the stand that she did. I would apply those same words to Canada in September last and through her future history, and I hope it will always be the idea that will govern her statesmen. The words are these:
Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honour's at the stake.
Was honour at the stake? Our government did not stir without great argument. They did not see the argument in the matter, and they did not stir; but had honour been at stake, I feel sure they would have taken those steps that would have been necessary to protect the honour of this country. No, there was a reversal of policy. Almost immediately that those few drops of cold modesty were sprinkled upon the ardour of the British ministers, their policy was reversed, and newspapers came out in England applauding Canada for the stand she had taken. Resolutions were passed by city councils and other bodies, congratulating this Dominion that she was able to take the wise stand that she did. The election came off, and hon. gentlemen know what happened. That policy was reversed by a majority in that election, and that showed that the people did not back up the gentleman who was then Prime Minister of England, nor the gentleman who sent the message.
When the gentleman who sent the message, who was known, I believe, as I said, as a

Hotspur, to be of an impetuous nature, and who wished to play this game of bluff in the East, went north to his constituents in Scotland, why, Sir, he was beaten. The people showed him that they did not approve his policy.

Topic:   S, 1923
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