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


Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa



The only way by which we can prevent the absorption of Canada by the United States is precisely by having the best possible understanding with that country. If we continue to do as we have done in the past and build upon dreams, delusions and alliances against nature, upon reliance on racial sentiments legitimate in themselves but insufficient; if we disregard the economic and social conditions which will determine our future policy just as economic and social conditions have determined the policies of European countries, in the last century particularly, one of these days we will wake up in a fool's paradise. It would be far better to maintain a spirit of Canadianism and to prevent the social, economic, mental and moral penetration of Americans into the souls of our young people, and then have an understanding as between government and government such as all countries have.
In doing that, Sir, we would simply be continuing what has been the British policy ever since the days when George Canning concluded with President Monroe an alliance or an understanding under which the United States made good for England on the remainder of her possessions in America, providing England took care that neither France nor Spain would endeavour to possess any portion of America again. That was not quite idealistic, but it was a very sensible and practical policy, which has held good ever since. It is one of the strangest things I have ever experienced in my lifetime: whenever I go to England I meet Tories, Liberals, statesmen, diplomats and journalists, disagreeing on all points of policy, except on the Monroe doctrine. They consider and have considered for a century that the Monroe doctrine is the permanent basis of British politics in America; but this great Canadian nation, ready to swallow up the whole of the empire and to fight with, nations in Africa or elsewhere to make the Union [DOT] Jack float everywhere; oh no, we are too big,
Imperial Conference-Mr. Bourassa
too proud and too dignified to do what these little English statesmen have been doing for centuries.
I think, Sir, if we do that and raise the voice of Canada in favour of peace and disarmament, not only would it be the best service we could render to the empire, but it would be the best protection Canada could have. Provided, of course, we couple it with a declaration, an unequivocal declaration, that Canada means to stand neutral in wars declared by England to which this country is not a party.
That again may scandalize some people; but the idea was propounded by one of the leaders of the Tory party before confederation, one of the founders of confederation, one of the men whose statues adorn the grounds which surround these buildings. D'Arcy McGee was elected as a minister of the crown, then entered the government which made confederation possible, by declaring in Montreal West, represented in part by my hon. friend opposite (Mr. Bell), that Canada should look in the near future to a declaration of neutrality acknowledged in international law, not only by Great Britain and the United States, but by the rest of the world. Nobody was scandalized at that. The leader of the Labour party in Ireland, Mr. Johnson, took exactly the same position at the Interparliamentary congress held at Washington two years ago. That is my ow7n view, and I think it will be the policy of the British Empire before long. It will be a consequential development of the declaration made in London last summer along the lines of self-government. Are we going to wait until after the dominions that are less favourably situated than we are take the lead in these matters? In the past it was the pride of all Canadians that Canada had taken the lead in the development of self-government, that Canada had been the pioneer in the assertion of the rights of all self-governing British communities to rule themselves according to their own ideas. It was the pride of Canada to be the eldest daughter in the galaxy of nations that were born out of British liberty. Are we now going to step backward and wait until the South Africanders, until the Irish, lead us on the path of liberty? Surely that is not the ideal we are going to give to the next generation, to the new generation of Canadians-either French, or English or foreign born-who have come to this country because they thought they would find here the principles and policies

which exemplified their ideas of progress and advancement. Therefore in the name of British tradition, in the name of what is best in our French-Canadian traditions-but in the name especially of our Canadian homes, in the name of the generations yet to come-I would ask, if something had to be asked from this government, that there be ratified in this pronouncement of the conference of the empire everything which makes for progress, which makes for more liberty, which makes for peace-peace in the empire and peace outside of it. But I would stand decidedly opposed to every retrogressive measure, to every equivocation which has been put into that report in order to becloud the issue and satisfy at the same time those who want to go forward and those who want to step backward. My hair is white but I am still young enough I think to look to the future and to speak to my fellow citizens in the spirit of the future. It is from that youthfulness of heart that I speak as I do in all sincerity as a Canadian, as one who admires and loves British institutions-not blindly, not for what they cover of the sins which England has committed just as any other nation, but for what they contain of nobleness of purpose and of breadth of aspiration, for what they contain of hope, of peace, and of liberty for the world at large and Canada in particular. I stand upon that ground to-night as I did in all the years of peace and war, at the expense of my political advancement but because I thought I owed that duty to the country I love, to the country in which I was born and in which I expect to die.
On motion of Mr. Lapointe the debate was adjourned.

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