Mr. Jacques Flynn (Quebec South):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this debate, I realize of course the responsibility if not the risk I am taking, and the house will not expect me to venture into the intricacies of the diplomatic process. I do not intend to more than bring out a few general ideas which guide, as they must, our foreign policy.
In the light of developments in these last two weeks, it is appropriate, I believe, that our Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Smith) be warmly congratulated for the excellent job he has done in the interest of Canada and peace at United Nations. In my opinion, he has ably expressed Canada's position and like his predecessors, he was a credit to Canada.
The position taken by Canada in the field of foreign affairs can be expressed by two propositions. The first one, a positive proposition, is to promote understanding between all the nations and the second, a negative one, is to prevent armed conflicts and to maintain peace which is essential to the well-being of all nations.
The promotion of understanding between nations is quite in line with our belief that the state must serve the individual and not the other way around. It is in accordance with this principle, Mr. Speaker, that we have gradually come to reject the idea that international conflicts must be settled by force and by war. It is also that philosophy which made us realize the interdependence of nations and, as a consequence, the responsibility of the haves to help the have-nots.
Thus, Mr. Speaker, through the Colombo plan, through similar organizations within the United Nations and through the British Commonwealth oi nations, Canada has given help to underdeveloped or economically weak countries and has continued gradually to evolve a policy of assistance to those countries. In fact, I was glad to hear this morning the Secretary of State for External Affairs refer to the gratifying results of this policy of support, of understanding and of assistance to weaker and needier nations. It is a policy of the utmost importance, one that yields better dividends, because it is calculated to ensure world peace.
However, foreign policy aimed at preventing armed conflicts runs into more serious difficulties. It becomes so much more of a problem, due to the fact that our philosophy -and I mean the philosophy of Canada as well as that of other free nations-conflicts with that of the communist countries and their satellites.
But, Mr. Speaker, whether we profess our own philosophy or that of communist countries, the progress achieved in the field of nuclear weapons forces us to extreme caution in the field of international relations, precisely because of that danger, the possibility of a nuclear war.
Undoubtedly, the small conflicts arising here and there could lead to a conflict which might mean world destruction.
The current crisis in the Middle East is extremely serious. It illustrates this ideological conflict between free nations and communist nations. Even if it is not just like the one we had in 1956-and I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Pearson) that it is not of the same nature-I believe that both crises have resulted from the same cause and that the one led to the other. It remains, Mr. Speaker, that the situation in the Middle East is not serious simply because American troops have landed in Lebanon or because British troops are posted in Jordan, nor because there was a revolution in Iraq. It is serious mainly because all those events stem from the very strength of Arab nationalism which began to develop since the rise to power of Colonel Nasser in Egypt.
In itself, that surge of Arab nationalism would not be as threatening as it is, were it not that communist countries are using it as a pretext to move in and to substitute their influence in the Middle East to the traditional influence of France, Great Britain and the United States.
At the time of the Suez conflict, it was possible to confine that outbreak by creating a United Nations force but that force which was sent to Egypt, did not constitute an
adequate solution and no doubt, at that time, great hopes were entertained that the crisis had definitely been settled. It was indeed the opinion of the Leader of the Opposition who said on March 15, 1957, I am quoting from page 2351 of Hansard:
This Middle East problem has been almost continuously before the United Nations assembly since I spoke to this house on external affairs last November and that consideration by the United Nations I think has helped not only to bring the fighting to an end in that area but to prevent the conflict breaking out again or, even worse, spreading.
However, at that time there were reasons to fear that this first conflict might spread and break out elsewhere. May I be allowed to quote a statement made at the time by the then leader of the opposition, now the Prime Minister, in reply to the secretary of state for external affairs, as reported on page 2371 of Hansard. He said:
First, we said that if necessary we should extend the United Nations police action to cover not only the borders between Egypt and Israel but also the borders between Israel and Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, because we believe it is of the greatest importance that peace must be maintained in that area. We asked that there be a peace treaty arrived at between Israel and the Arab states, and we know the extraordinary difficulties which lie in the road of that. We are convinced also that no matter how annoyed we may feel at certain individuals in the Middle East, no matter how angered we may be by their actions, it would be folly to let either annoyance or anger change us from a settled course. This course must be to secure a settlement in that area, through peace treaties arrived at between the opposing countries.
Now, precisely because the United Nations, at the time, failed to consider settlement of the whole problem, Arab nationalism, abetted by Russia, broke out once more, this time by way of indirect aggression. It is in the face of this indirect aggression, somewhat reminiscent of what happened before world war II, that the role of the United Nations organization becomes most ticklish.
We are a long way from the scene but surely we must be interested in the solution of this problem because today, the interdependence of free nations is an acknowledged fact. In the face of this difficult situation, what has been the policy of Canada and on what principles was it based?
Mr. Speaker, I think that it would not be hard to prove that our attitude in those circumstances has been consistent with our philosophy which rejects the settlement of conflicts by force. We have demonstrated our confidence in the United Nations. However, the United Nations is no stronger than its moral authority which, in turn, depends upon the support of all member nations. We know that this moral authority can fail when one or two great powers withhold their support
and also because, too often, the United Nations cannot apply in a practical way the authority it holds from the majority of its members. And 1 do believe that, if it were possible to solve the technical and practical problems involved, it would be an ideal solution to put a permanent force at the disposal of the United Nations. However, in such circumstances, there would still remain the difficulty of deciding at what time, in case of indirect aggression, this permanent force should step in.
As far as Canada is concerned, it seems to me that our policy should first be determined on the basis of unity of thought.
It is essential that we work out our international policy first on a non-partisan basis, seeking unity of thought within our country. And I believe that, in this field, the present government has continued to apply the principles applied by the former government, seeking the unity of all men of good will in the determination of our policy. I was glad to hear, last Monday, the Prime Minister thanking the Leader of the Opposition for a suggestion he had made, inviting all hon. members to present theirs and assuring them that any of their suggestions would be seriously considered by the government.
Not only should we endeavour to achieve unity of thought throughout the country, but we should also strive to achieve the same unity of thought with our allies, within the British commonwealth and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The British commonwealth, as a result of the diversity of nations which it includes and the diversity of economic interests of these various nations, is a body through which it is possible to work efficiently in favour of peace and understanding between nations. Within the commonwealth, precisely on account of Canada's action to which I referred a moment ago, we contribute, I think, towards greater understanding between peoples of all parts of the world. If within this organization we do achieve some unity of thought in the working out of our foreign policy, I am sure that in the United Nations we shall carry more authority over other member nations. And the situation is almost the same with regard to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which is, of course, a defence organization. However, the latest developments, in my opinion, call for more frequent consultation between all nations belonging to that organ-
ization, in order that no unilateral action may be taken, and in order that any decision taken by one member of that body may be communicated to and approved by the others, in advance. In fact, here as well as abroad, we must promote understanding, we must try to understand others and make them understand our point of view.
Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I believe that our international policy must be realistic. It must be based on facts. Let us be guided by principles, but those principles must be applied to individual facts in all cases. Of course we have reached full nationhood, we are in a position to hammer out our own international policy, and we are doing just that. It would be naive to contend that our decisions are merely dictated by a feeling of subservience to Great Britain or the United States.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, since reality prevents us from taking decisions based on sentimentality, the danger at the present time is rather that, due to our economic interdependence with the United States, we might be inclined to submit to their dictates.
On the other hand, even if we have reached our maturity, we should harbour no illusion as to our ability to prevent conflicts.
Canada should not repeat the mistake of the frog that would bloat itself bigger than the ox.
It is important, Mr. Speaker, that we realize that our role should be that of a mediator, of a go-between and arbiter within the British commonwealth of nations and within NATO. If we succeed in being accepted as conciliator and mediator within these two organizations, I believe that we stand a much better chance of commanding respect for our views at United Nations. I repeat, it is important that we fully realize that ours must be a personal role, but it is also important that we do not overdo it. As long as we have a proper understanding of this role, and if we are content with it, Canada, in my opinion, will be in a better position to contribute to world peace and to the well-being of nations.
Topic: BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS