Our surprise was even greater when, amongst the other flags waving in the spring breeze, we saw the Canadian red ensign flying with pride and prestige amongst those of the other members of the Pan-American coffee bureau. The presence of these two symbolic emblems of our country made the absence of Canada all the more singular. We began also to wonder why Canada remained absent from such a large body as the organization of American states, when in fact it is a member of some of its specialized organizations. The problem still puzzles me because, after studying in detail the history and scope of the inter-American system, I am still wondering what motivates the absence of our great country from this regional organization.
There are two elements in that question, the inter-American system and Canada. What is the inter-American system? What is its importance in the world of today? What is its value for Canada? At the turn of the nineteenth century, when the winds of independence began to overthrow kingdoms and to tear the flags of the old colonial powers into pieces, the inter-American system was born. It was not meant to be a political doctrine and even less a weapon of domination in the hands of the American nation. On the contrary, the inter-American system was, and still is, an expression of the people's soul in search for freedom and peace under the sign of responsibility and grandeur.
In 1826 Simon Bolivar, the great liberator, called the first inter-American conference, the congress of Panama, which was followed by many others, the last one being the tenth inter-American conference held at Caracas in 1954. This long process of evolution in the relations between the American nations came to a logical and long-sought conclusion when in 1948 the charter of the organization of American states was adopted.
The charter of the organization of American states is not only a legal document binding together the nations of the new world, but it is and must be regarded as a monument erected to the victory of freedom over slavery. It represents the achievement of 150 years of struggle to ensure a climate of happiness, freedom and peace for the generations to come.
The principles of solidarity of the American nations, as conceived and expressed by the charter, are the following:
1. International law and order and good faith shall govern the relation between states.
2. An Act of aggression against one American state is an act of aggression against all other American states.
3. Controversies arising between two or more American states shall be settled by peaceful procedures.
4. Lasting peace and well-being and prosperity of the American peoples are based on political democracy.
In order to implement the basic principles of the organization of American states the following six bodies have been set up: The inter-American conference; the meeting for consultation by ministers of foreign affairs; the council; the Pan-American union; the specialized conferences; and the specialized organizations. Amongst the inter-American bodies which are connected with the organizations of American states there are some in which Canada has already shown a direct interest. By way of example, it might be recalled that the Pan-American institute of
geography and history and the permanent executive committee of the inter-American travel congress have reported the valuable contribution made by Canadian delegates and observers toward strengthening the bonds between the countries of our hemisphere. Our co-operation with the inter-American statistical institute has been so close that Ottawa was chosen as the site of its congress in 1954.
I should like to mention also the very important inter-American defence board organized in 1942. While Canada is not a member of this board, the permanent joint defence board formed by Canada and the United States would be the logical extension of the inter-American body on the North American continent. It is within the framework of the inter-American system that the inter-American treaty of reciprocal assistance was conceived and signed at Rio de Janeiro in 1947, the same treaty that later inspired the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which is now the cornerstone of peace in the world. It must be remembered also that the inter-American system has received such a good appraisal it can now be divulged that the U.S.S.R. foreign affairs minister, during the Berlin conference of 1954, hinted that a similar pattern of organization should be adopted for the European states.
In view of all these facts one cannot avoid wondering how it has been possible for Canada to remain outside of this continental organization for so long. The question of Canadian participation in the inter-American system has often been discussed amongst Canadians, and even in this house. I wonder if it is not a good time to reexamine the matter now, three years after the tenth inter-American conference, at which the case of Canada was openly brought to the attention of the delegates by the secretary general of the organization, Dr. Alberto Lleras Camargo. He concluded his report with these words:
The day is surely not far off when another great state, Canada, the only one not yet a member of the organization but just as American as any other, will take its seat in our councils and share with us the mission that providence appears to have entrusted to man in the new world, to achieve an order of peace and justice.
In two more years the eleventh conference will be held at Quito, and it is very likely that again our absence will be more than noted. It seems to me that it would be proper to reassess our policy and reverse, if necessary, our line of conduct. Why, many people will ask, is not Canada more closely associated with the other American states? Others will bluntly put the question, why does not Canada join the organization of American states?
Both the late prime minister King and the present Prime Minister have expressed views on the participation of Canada in the interAmerican system. Back on August 4, 1944, the chief of the Canadian government mentioned that our country had never received an invitation to that body which was meant for republics only. Such an assertion has been clarified since by political writers and corrected by the use of the word "state" instead of "republics" or "nations" in the charter adopted in 1948. A few years later, on March 27, 1953, the present Prime Minister made a similar statement to the effect that-
So far it has not appeared to us that there would be any decided advantage in a formal membership in the Pan-American union.
It is evident that the attitude of the Canadians who oppose the participation of Canada in the organization of American states is based more or less on the same arguments that had been used by Mr. Vincent Massey and which are quoted even today, even though they have lost most, if not all, of their significance. I even have the impression that in the light of some documents which have been brought to my attention recently, it would not be quite accurate to say that the government of Canada, or at least one of its prime ministers, had not tried to bring our country into the Pan-American union at a certain time.
The objections which are ordinarily mentioned in connection with the participation of Canada in the inter-American system are, first, that the Pan-American union has always been an association for republics only. That objection can no longer be made because in 1948, during the debates of the Bogota conference, the delegates agreed to refer to the countries of the continent as American states in order to avoid the term "republic" and leave the door wide open for Canada to enter.
The second objection has been for a long time that Canada, being a part of the British commonwealth of nations, could not join another organization. Recent history has fully demonstrated the falseness of such an argument, because the idea of joining the United Nations and NATO was sold to the Canadian public without any reference being made to our association with the British commonwealth. The same thing could be repeated regarding the organization of American states.
A third objection is that Canada has not been invited to join the continental organization. Who will believe that if and when Canada expresses a desire to join any international body, there will be objection to it? It is well known that a nation can always hint that she wishes to be invited. On the
Supply-External Affairs other hand, we know from different sources that the participation of Canada would be welcome, and the recent unanimous decision taken by the council of the organization of American states to invite Canada to the travel congress in April is an eloquent proof of the good will expressed by the organization of American states.
For the record, it must be recalled that many times in the past our country has shown a direct interest in some organizations and conferences of the inter-American system. To mention just a few; the first Pan-American medical congress in Washington, 1893; the Pan-American road congress, Oakland, California, 1915; the first international congress of history of America, Rio de Janeiro, 1922; the fourth Pan-American congress of architects, Rio de Janeiro, 1930; the postal congress of the Americas and Spain, Panama, 1936; the eleventh Pan-America sanitary conference, Rio de Janeiro, 1942; the inter-American conference on social security, Santiago, Chile, 1942; the second inter-American statistical congress, Bogota, January, 1950; the fifth general assembly of the Pan-American institute of geography and history, Santiago, Chile, October, 1950; the fourth inter-American conference on agriculture, Montevideo, December, 1950; the fourth inter-American travel congress, Lima, April, 1952; the third Pan-American consultation on geography, Washington, July and August, 1952.
More recently, Canada sent its ambassador to Brazil as an official delegate to the economic conference held in Rio de Janeiro in 1954, and we all know that just last spring a cordial invitation was sent to our country to attend two important conferences in Costa Rica, namely, the sixth inter-American travel congress and the inter-American port harbour conference.
I should like to mention also that only recently an exhibition of Canadian artists was held in the patio of the Pan-American union building by a group called Le Retable, of Joliette, Quebec. According to people who actually saw the exhibition it was one of the finest ever held under the auspices of that continental organization, and it brought only praise and admiration for our artists and our country. If private individuals can sponsor and organize such demonstrations of good will and international friendship, there is no knowing how effective official co-operation would be.
At this stage it might be proper to recall that during his visit to Ottawa the vicepresident of Brazil himself expressed the wish of Brazil to see Canada join the organization of American states. Last week, during the Panama conference, with all the American
chiefs of state present, President Eisenhower invited all the American states to act in concert within the framework of the organization of American states to advance the welfare and happiness of their citizens. Last week also the Canadian under-secretary of state for external affairs declared during a televised interview that there was no obstacle to the participation of Canada in the organization of American states, and that such a decision rested with the government of Canada alone.
You have probably read also the report of the press conference given by Ambassador Jose Mora on the day this Uruguayan diplomat assumed his new post as secretary general of the organization of American states. On that occasion this well known internationalist said that Canada would always be welcome to the organization of American states, that this continental body is made for all the American states, and that Canada has taken part in inter-American meetings and is still invited to do so. This statement from the highest official of the organization of American states should leave no doubt in our minds about his attitude toward our country.
I have the impression the time has come for a reappraisal of our attitude toward the organization of American states. There are excellent motives supporting the close cooperation of Canada with the continental organization, and I would even go so far as to suggest a full membership in the organization of American states, for the following reasons.
First, there is not the shadow of a doubt that our economic relations would be improved and that our trade with the rest of the continent would be increased if we were using the services and the facilities put at the disposal of its members by the interAmerican economic and social council.
Second, the cultural bonds between the Canadian nation and the other peoples of the Americas can only be made better through the good offices of the inter-American cultural council. And when one considers that the real values of our civilization are those that rest upon spiritual and cultural bases we see in the cultural interrelation the best solution to many of the problems affecting the international situation.
Third, there are military reasons which alone would be sufficient to eliminate the strongest opposition because, as we said before, no efforts should be spared to strengthen peace on our continent so we can present this hemisphere as an example to the old world. The participation of Canada in the inter-American defence board would be a significant step in that direction.
Fourth, as far as political reasons are concerned, who would oppose any means of assuring political unity among the nations of the new world? The organization of American states has proved its usefulness in preventing conflicts, and its importance for 21 of the 22 countries of our hemisphere should be a guarantee to Canada of a more responsible role on this continent.
The organization of American states has an outstanding record of peaceful and useful years. By joining the organization of American states Canada would complete the continental unity with the framework of the United Nations, article 51 of whose charter recommends whenever possible the setting up of regional organizations.
We belong already to the United Nations, which covers all the world; we share the responsibilities of the Atlantic nations to NATO; why not at last occupy the vacant chair which has been reserved for Canada ever since the beginning of the interAmerican system? The role of Canada in world affairs will be great in the years to come. We know that all over the world present conditions have made it necessary for all the nations to assume their responsibilities and to face the future with hope and confidence. There is no doubt that through adherence to the organization of American states Canada would not only complete the continental solidarity but would at last contribute to the American community of nations her prestige, her experience, her objective approach to world affairs, and in so doing we would enlarge our own horizons in the international field and increase our influence among the other nations of the world.