March 31, 1927 (16th Parliament, 1st Session)


John Evans


Mr. JOHN EVANS (Rosetown):

I have
listened, Mr. Speaker, with some interest to the speeches which have already been made, and I would like to refer to one in particular, namely, that of the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa). I must say that that hon. member never speaks in this chamber without engendering some heat, not only on his own part but on the part of some of the others who listen to him. The hon. member asked some very pertinent questions regarding our connection with the rest of the empire. Why, he asked, should we partake in Britain's wars brought on by a policy in the making of which we had no share? On the face of it, answering that question, I would say we should not be held responsible and should not be obliged to furnish men and money to fight any other nation's enemy which is not an enemy of ours. But somehow in the past we have been a part of this empire, whatever we shall be in the future, and I have never been able yet to separate myself as a Canadian from responsibility for empire matters, seeing that we ourselves are a world-trading nation. Our greatest customer in the past has been Great Britain, and no doubt she will be for some time to come. But our commerce has gone throughout the whole world, over the seven seas, in safety, as free as Britain's own commerce, practically without 32649-112
any effort on our part or any expense to this Dominion. I am sure, Sir, that had we not a friendly country to the south of us in the United States we would have appreciated the connection with Great Britain in the past far more than we have done.
The hon. member for Labelle denounces imperialism. He is scandalized that the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) should quote even Lord Balfour, and he uses the word "colonials" in a derisive sense to show the attitude of British statesmen 'towards the representatives of the Dominion. In reply to this, I should like to say that Britain has sought for many years to get the Dominion to take a greater share and assume more responsibility in the forming of her foreign policy. For many years it has been shown that the difficulty in this connection arises from the world-wide extent of the British Empire, making almost impossible an adequate means of conference on all international matters requiring prompt decision. Canada no doubt has felt this to some extent, but she has felt it a thousand times less than Great Britain. It was that feeling which in the end led us to appoint a representative- a minister or plenipotentiary-to Washington. If it can be said that Britain has not appreciated our problems on this hemisphere, much more might the same be said of the Dominion regarding international affairs. Whatever may be our status henceforth, I hope we shall still cooperate and share each other's burdens as a commonwealth so far as such cooperation may be found practicable.
As for myself, Mr. Speaker, I am British born, and I am proud so to declare to-night. Indeed, Sir, if there was any inclination on my part or on the part of many of my friends in this corner of the House to forget it, we are promptly reminded that we are simply "imported" Canadians. I question if in any country in the world to-day there can be found more men imbued with tihe spirit of rabid imperialism than in Canada, and I include in this category my hon. friend1 from Labelle and many who sit on the same side of the House with him. The principle of cooperation of the overseas dominions with the motherland has been due to that equality of freedom and status enjoyed by each part, and our Canadian imperialists to-day-I say this in all seriousness-might well take a lesson to heart from this fact. It is because of the very freedom that has been allowed each part that the different races that compose the population of Great Britain are loyal to a central authority to which they each in turn contribute.

Imperial Conference-Mr. .Evans
It will be remembered1 that at the last session of parliament an agreement was entered into by the government with Alberta to give that province control of its natural resources. The agreement was laid on the table of this House. The bill in its original form was unobjectionable, but when the hon. member for Labelle examined it 'his imperialistic spirit burst forth in all its fury, and he threatened a revolt unless the bill was amended so as to bind the province to maintain separate schools for all lime to come. Imperialism! We need to examine ourselves even to be honest in argument. The very spirit that prompted the speech of my hon. friend is exactly the same spirit that sent the French army into the .Ruhr. The spirit that demanded a contract of Alberta in those terms is exactly the same spirit that dominated France when she repudiated her obligations to her chief ally and saviour in the Great war, and instead of reimbursing Britain as she should have done, she kept her factories going night and day to furnish twenty million rifles and other munitions of war to Poland-all actuated by that spirit of domination. The same arrogant spirit of domination of one part of this Dominion is dictating to some of the other provinces how they shall administer their internal aflairs, particularly education. That to me would indicate a desire to teach our children loyalty and subserviency to ideas contrary to the considered welfare of the people themselves.
The Dominion government has assumed to itself the imperialistic power of dictating to the provinces, and I say frankly that I am still looking to the Privy Council as a possible means of securing the rights to which we are entitled in the western provinces. Because of . this I am in accord with the spirit of the amendment ; and so far as I can learn from the remarks of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) the government itself is going to accept the amendment, for he has already said that no changes can be made in the constitution-he goes even further than the amendment-without the consent of the provinces. I am glad he has laid down that principle as a guide for the future.

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