March 29, 1927 (16th Parliament, 1st Session)


Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa



Very well, then, I am prepared to give it. For once hon. gentlemen opposite will hear true national Conservative doctrine which will show them what evolution has taken place in the Tory party in the last thirty years. Let me quote Sir Charles Tupper, speaking at Winnipeg in 1893; he said:
I deny that we are a burden to the empire. I say that if to-morrow Canada was dissevered from the crown of England, if to-morrow Canada became a portion of that great republic which lies to the south of us, England could not reduce her army by a man, nor her navy by a ship. She would want more soldiers and sailors and ironclads than she has to-day in order to maintain her prestige. I say, if this great continent was closed, as closed it would be to the ships of England, under the circumstances I have named, if they had no harbour in which to run or a place where they can obtain a ton of coal or a spar, instead of England being strengthened, she would be enormously weakened.
He goes on to describe that weakening process. Then,
I deny that we are a burden. There is not a pound of British money spent in the Dominion of Canada, from end to end, for any Canadian purpose.
He further demonstrated that the only contribution Canada could make to imperial defence, compatible with her own dignity and the principles of government, was to organize her own territory, to make stronger that portion of the empire for which she is responsible, and to refrain from meddling in the policy of Great Britain or to contribute in any manner to the imperial navy or the imperial army.
That view was upheld not only in theory but in practice as well by the Conservative

party until the new days of imperial gospel came. In 1885, for the first time, an appeal was made to the spirit of imperial cooperation; appeals were made to that false sense of colonial vanity which we call national dignity. "Oh, we must go to the rescue of England, because she is prepared to fight for us." That was at the time of the Soudan war; but the leader of the Conservative government at that time, - Sir John A. Macdonald, refused point blank, both to the English government and to the Canadian jingoes and quality niggers, to spend one cent of Canadian money in that war. He said, "This is not the understanding we have had with the British government; we have no understanding but to defend our own country."
Now, Sir, if it is a crime in our day to stand by the doctrines of the founders of confederation, I stand committed, because I stood for that principle before the South Airican war, during the South African war, before the great European and during that war, and I stand by it to-day. I am not expressing only the personal opinion of a few Quebec idealists; but I know from a correspondence covering the country from one end to the other and extending over the last five years that I am now openly expressing, and because I am accustomed to stand all the risks of the position I take, the growing feelings of a large number of Canadians of all races and origins in all the provinces of Canada, who are beginning to realize that if Canada is to remain worthy of her origin and is to be a dignified and worthy scion of British civilization, she must develop those principles of self-government and self-concem which have made Great Britain an example to all nations in the world in our day.
Sir, do we want to render a real service to the empire? Let us take the advice given to us by the present representative of Great Britain in Washington, Sir Esme Howard, who said last year, "The duty of Canada or rather the best service Canada can render to the empire is to interpret Britain to the United States and to interpret United States to Great Britain." Well and good, because on the one hand we are an American nation and always will be such, and on the other we are associated with Britain. Whatever the future of the empire, whatever the future of the other countries of the world, there can be no doubt that Canada will always be a nation in America. Therefore we have in common with the great nation to the south permanent interests stronger and more binding than any political bonds we can have outside of America. On the other hand, due to our dual

Imperial Conference-Mr. Bourassa
origin and to the maintenance in Canada of a French population speaking the French language and maintaining the foundation of the French civilization while absolutely and exclusively Canadian in feeling and British in political tendencies, along with a large population originating in the British Isles and new comers from the continent of Europe, we have here elements of civilization at once- European and American which must be the link between the great commonwealth to our south and the more retarded but perhaps more idealistic nations of Europe. But if we want to interpret Britain to the United States and the United States to Britain, we must speak in terms of peace; we must make it clear, either through the League of Nations or the Pan-American Union, to which we should have belonged for many years, that Canada, constituted as she is, is in a better position to advance the cause of peace than perhaps any other nation on earth One of the reasons is that any preparation for war we would make would be absolutely useless to us. Just a few weeks before Lord Fisher resumed command' of the Admiralty, he said to me, "It is foolish on the part of Canada to spend money in naval armaments or imperial armaments. It is foolish and useless, because you may rest assured that England will never fight for Canada against the United States, the only country which can successfully attack Canada-not because we are not willing to do so but because we cannot. Therefore why should you spend your money in participating in a defence which is useless to your country? If you want to make Canada safe from outside attacks, do not come here to London and talk with our shipbuilders, but go to Washington and make a working arrangement for the defence of your country in common with the United States." But I said, "Oh, Lord Fisher, we have such great patriots in Canada that they would never admit of such a shameful thing as having an understanding with a foreign country to defend us." He said, "Are you so foolish in Canada? Don't you realize that the world is made up of such dependency? Do you consider that we in England are humbling ourselves because we rely on the French army to fight for us on the continent, and because France relies on the British navy to protect her northern coast, as for years Germany relied on England to protect her, and as we relied on Germany to occupy France while we took her colonies? Do you think it is humiliation for Belgium to count on Germany to defend her against France, or on France to defend her against Germany? No country on earth can get along
without an understanding with some other country, and the most natural understandings are made between people who are neighbours and who have common interests." Therefore I say that if we are in need of defence we will not find it in Europe; we would do better to have a cordial and worthy understanding with the United States in time of peace and in view of war, and to rely on the United States for the succor which Great Britain will be unable to give us.
Mr. McGI'BBON: Why not have annexation?

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