Thank you, sir.
I do give the promise that 1 will eventually go, and that is a firm commitment, with all the uncertainties of the present political situation. I can say that this parliament will eventually end, and that we will not need a Cromwell to say, "In the name of God, go". I think we will eventually be dissolved.
When I first spoke on this subject matter, Mr. Speaker, I sat on your right. I was a government supporter. I am about to leave the House of Commons when it seems that in a few months my party may again be given the opportunity of sitting on the Speaker's right. I have never felt like a biblical figure before, and I suppose I never deserved to feel like a biblical figure, but it reminds me of Moses, who could see but not enter the promised land. But 1 do see it, I see it clearly, and I am delighted with what I see.
My interest in this subject matter has not diminished over the years, as I have become more familiar with the people of the Commonwealth Caribbean and with the area itself. As I have been, I remain a committed believer in Canadian involvement in the outside world, even though at this time we have enormous and painful internal economic problems.
I have heard, as one is bound to hear, the mutterings, rumblings and grumbles of those who say charity begins at home. I have heard the sour notes of those who point to our own problems, and sometimes they indicate that one has pointed them out from time to time from public platforms. I have never been terribly upset by these people, because I have always believed that those who say that charity begins at home are not usually too charitable at home themselves, so they are not my advisers. I am convinced that despite our stresses and strains, our national problems and our crises, we gain perspective if we recall that we are a part of the greater world. That, I think, is the credo of a good international citizen and a leading member at its best of the international community, as Canada is.
It is never very profitable to spend much time in navel gazing, hand wringing, or problem gathering. This is not a useful exercise. As Mr. Pearson said more than once, in the face of our internal difficulties we gain strength rather than diminish ourselves by giving of ourselves to the outside world. Of course there are questions we should ask about our programs for the outside world. We should ask about the nature of these programs, the types of programs and, in general, our capacity to aid efficiently the developing world. I am happy that the Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, through an important and valuable subcommittee, has looked into this matter in a most searching way and intends to do so again.
To abandon the world because of our internal anxieties and weaknesses would, I believe, be a supreme lack of faith. There are questions which we should ask. One which I have often asked in the last 15 years is whether or not we have our priorities right. I will not use the terrible conglomeration of letters called "priorization". That word is even worse than the word disincentives or the word patriation. What we should ask is what we should do, how we should do it, and where. Even at its best, even at times of great economic strength, the Dominion of Canada could not mount, support, and sustain a meaningful program of assistance for 70 or 80 countries all across the world, so we must develop priorities.
1 have never had any hesitation in where I would place my priorities. Commensurate with our capacity, based upon our contacts, our knowledge, and our friendship, I would say that there is no place abroad where we could do more effective work, develop more meaningful contacts and be more significantly helpful than with the nations of the Commonwealth Caribbean. It seems to me that their needs are commensurate with our capacity, or perhaps it would be more graceful to express it the other way, our capacity is more commensurate with their needs. With this area we can see clear prospects of aiding them, even the weakest among them toward a state of economic viability and prosperity.
I think that it is only right and proper that in all such programs of aid we ask, "will our contribution make a difference, will it show up in developing those goals for the people to whom we are extending our aid?" This is a manageable thing to do. Indeed, it is possible that it might make the difference
between a strong and viable policy or a healthy economy and a depressed one.
We know that in our external contacts we have often made grave errors because we really did not understand the people with whom we were dealing. We did not know their customs. So much valuable time was lost and so much strength was wasted. However, we do know the people of the Commonwealth Caribbean, and they know us. We have had a long history of friendly ties with them. Even before we had the capacity to deal with foreign affairs, which I would place at around 1917 under the great Sir Robert Borden's leadership, we were developing contacts with the external world, and these were with the Commonwealth Caribbean. Interesting and valuable trade negotiations were carried out in Ottawa on more than one occasion.
To the historic ties we add the geographic propinquity. They are in fact in this global world, as it is still called, our neighbour. Perhaps more impressive than anything else-and here I show my bias as a parliamentarian-these communities have parliamentary institutions which are strong and which are in some cases carried out under very great difficulty, the highest goals for which parliamentary institutions are established.
I do not get too carried away by the views of those who say we should apply some litmus test to every country in the world and, if we do not approve of them morally, 100 per cent, we should have nothing to do with them. Because we draw our inheritance in a parliamentary way from the United Kingdom as do they, I believe this establishes a bond of extreme importance and immense value. They are sister members of the Commonwealth; they are neighbours, and it is heartening to see that in some of the islands in the Commonwealth Caribbean where the institutions are very small, they are able to carry on well and to develop a party system and all the institutions known to the British pattern.
They know us and they still like us. That is important, Mr. Speaker. Canadians from the private sector and the public sector have been going there for many years. I should like to see this bond strengthened along the lines I have suggested.
Over the years I have moved away from advising aid and toward developing a mutuality of interest and stimulating trade between our countries. That is why I asked for better ports in the east, better facilities for shipping and exchange programs for students, professionals, social workers, politicians and so on. 1 believe this is the positive way for us to help them and, in the long run, for us to help each other. 1 think there are great possibilities in this, and I should like to see the matter studied very carefully.
1 suggest this proposal should be examined by a joint committee. I propose a joint committee because the Senate of Canada has established an excellent reputation for the quality of investigation of its committees. In my judgment its methods are better than ours, its procedures much more effective, and its accomplishments generally far more substantial. In 1970 a
Senate committee made an exhaustive and interesting study of the Commonwealth Caribbean which added much to our deliberations.
I could say much more, Mr. Speaker, but I have spoken on this subject before. Knowing how hon. members hang on my every word in every session, I shall not repeat what 1 have said. Exactly one year ago on the Friday before the Christmas recess-I seem to be fortunate enough to get the opportunity to speak on a Friday-I remember speaking to hon. members in a parliamentary way. I again invite members who enjoy the fruit of the cane and the Caribbean high commissioners in the gallery to join me, after the debate is over and approval has been given by the House, in a little Christmas cheer a la Caribbean rum.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: COMMONWEALTH CARIBBEAN