Alistair McLeod STEWART

STEWART, Alistair McLeod, C.A.

Personal Data

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
Birth Date
October 2, 1905
Deceased Date
April 3, 1970
chartered accountant

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 225 of 228)

October 23, 1945


May I suggest that the

hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Maybank) should know much better than to accept the Free Press as being accurate. What I said in my letter was correct. I am not responsible for what the Free Press says.

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October 19, 1945

Mr. ALISTAIR STEWART (Winnipeg North):

I should like to add my voice in support of the motion that we approve this charter of the united nations. I do so, realizing all the implications which there are in this document. Twenty-five years ago we had the intelligence to create and the wit to devise the league of nations, one of the greatest instruments for good in man's history, but we never had the will to use that instrument, and so the edifice which we built crumbled and collapsed in the midst of a global war.

There were implications in the league which we refused to accept, as there are implications in this charter of the united nations, and it is well that we should recognize them because they are grave, they are onerous, they are great. If we accept this charter, as I hope this house will do unanimously, we say that we are determined to reaffirm faith in fundamental rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person.

What is one of the most fundamental of all human rights? Surely it is the right to live; and yet that right is to-day being denied people in Europe. We talk about the dignity and the worth of the human person, but what dignity and what worth is there when human beings are existing all the time in constant fear 47696-84

of death? If we mean what we say we shall have regard for all these things and we shall take active steps to implement our word.

I have spoken before in the house about minorities in Canada. I now raise my voice again, this time on behalf of the oppressed minorities in Europe. I think of some Ukrainians. The Ukraine is a land which forms a part of the territory of an ally of ours, the Soviet Union, and it is over this land that perhaps the worst of the war has raged. The dark face of science ha^ been turned on it and there is little left but desolation and ruin. The people of the Ukraine fought with consummate gallantry and with great devotion against the nazi invader. They fought at times, it seemed, in vain. They were pushed back yard by yard, mile by mile, until finally at the veiy confines of their territory a stand was taken at Stalingrad, and there the armies of our ally, spear-headed by the army of the Ukraine, fought back the invader, repelled him, repulsed him, and threw him out of their land. But even while the war was raging over the Ukraine the nazis were in occupation and asking for volunteers for labour service in other parts of Europe. There were no volunteers forthcoming, and so they commandeered human labour. They took men away from their families. The nazis destroyed the weak and the helpless, the young and the old. They took the men and women away to Belgium, to France, to Italy, to Holland, to every part of Europe where they could be used to staff industry.

Many of those who were thus forcibly ejected from their homes have been taken back, or have been sent back; but there are still countless others, thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, whose only memory of their homes is one of tragedy, of seeing loved ones die in front of their eyes, and * who because of those unhappy memories have no desire to return, and for whom there is apparently no place to go. For those people who were our allies I raise my voice. To the Minister of Mines and Resources (Mr. Glen) I would say this: when the time comes, as come it must soon, for us to reconsider our immigration policy I hope that he will look upon immigration with a more generous eye than the department has in the past for those unfortunate people. In the meantime they live by the mercy of the Red Cross, which is doing tremendous work in Europe. They are helped to some extent, but most inadequately by UNRRA. And here again. I would ask the Acting Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. St. Laurent) to request our delegate to UNRRA to make representations that UNRRA be responsible for those people so that they

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may be allowed to live and eventually find some permanent home. I say. sir, that that act is implicit in our acceptance of this charter; it is an act of human decency, an act of humanitarianism.

There is one other group about whom I should like to speak briefly, the Sudeten Germans. There were in Czechoslovakia some three to three and a half million.? of these people. For seven centuries they had lived there on the borders of Czechoslovakia and Germany. They were the very backbone of the opposition to Henlein. The Sudeten Germans fought with great courage against the onslaught of fascism. But let us remember that there were collaborationists among them; there were fascists among them; there were those who welcomed the entry of Hitler. But let us also remember this before we condemn too freely. I am bound to say that had Hitler landed in Canada, had fascism invaded this country, we, too, would have seen who the collaborators were and who were the supporters of fascism, and we would have been appalled by what we would have seen. We perhaps are not guiltless. Therefore, let us look upon the situation of the Sudetens with a. generous eye. These people fought against fascism, and now all of them are to be expelled from Czechoslovakia. Where are they expected to go? Who are these people who are to be expelled? May I quote here the words of one of His Majesty's ministers at Westminster, Mr. Noel Baker, who in 1938, before the shame of Munich, was sent over on behalf of the British Labour party to meet the Sudetens, to talk with them, and he did so. He gave them whatever encouragement he could in the face of that bitter betrayal. Later he made a broadcast in England on July 3, 1940, and this is what he had to say about those Germans and about the meetings he attended:

They were Germans, these party comrades, Germans by language and tradition and race, but Germans who were loyal to the Czech republic; Germans who hated the cruel Prussian militarism which Hitler had revived; Germans who believed in democracy and freedom; Germans who were prepared to die for freedom, Germans who day by day, and hour by hour, had to face the bestial terror which Hitler and the nazis had organized against them. I can still hear the deep fierce cheers resounding through the hall when Jaksch declared they would rather fight and die for liberty than yield.

And I remember how President Benes. in his lovely palace on . the hill at Prague, told me that these German social democrats were nothing less than heroes; that they had shown us all what resolution, what nobility of mind, the fight for human freedom could evoke.

And now, with the hysteria which seems to be possessing so many parts of Europe, the

innocent and the guilty alike are being punished. Just the other day, September 6, the prime minister of Czechoslovakia, Doctor Fierlinger, at a press conference in London recognized only two categories of Germans still remaining in the country, those whose behaviour justified their internment in concentration camps, and less noxious ones. There, Mr. Speaker, in front of our eyes is the tragedy of a people. There is a people to whose assistance I think we could come. Whatever moral assistance we can give under the terms of this charter we must give. And they do not ask for much; they merely ask that the policy of deliberate starvation be abandoned; they ask that forced labour without pay be stopped; they ask that a minimum of human rights be observed, and they ask that UNRRA feed them and clothe them and assist them until they can be settled.

There is one further group of whom I must speak. I have already in this house, and only recently my colleague the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) brought again to the attention of the House of Commons the tragic plight of the Jewish people in Europe. Even now, when fascism is beaten, they still suffer and languish in concentration camps. Even now, while I speak, innocent people are dying because nobody will stretch out a hand to rescue them. So long as we carry on in this inhuman and heartless way, so long as those days and months go by without help, then our own hands must become even more encarnadined with the blood of the innocent and the guiltless.

The Jewish people were the first to suffer under fascism. What a tragic requiem indeed for them to be the last to suffer under the allies; what an epitaph that would be and what a shame to us! Let us remember that they were never attacked, they were never persecuted as citizens of Poland, or Germany or Roiimania; they were persecuted as Jews. If they are to be persecuted as Jews, then I say they must be rescued as Jews; and what place of rescue is there to-day in this most Christian world? Is there a Christian nation which would stretch out its hand to save them? Not even this Christian country. Therefore, there is only one source of aid, and that is Palestine. We have been told that the Arabs will object, perhaps even to the length of going to war. I think we should view those objections with some suspicion, especially the quarters from which they emanate; they come from kings and princes and effendis who throughout all the years have been our active enemies as well as the active enemies of the people over whom they rule.

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They have exploited the people, the Fellaheen. The Arab workers in Palestine, the socialist workers in Palestine, have asked that the gates of Palestine be opened to give the Jewish people refuge and succour, because under the Jewish people Palestine has grown and flourished. The standard of living of all groups has been immeasurably increased. The number of Arabs has doubled, and there has been security for the Jewish people. Should these words of mine make no impression, perhaps I might quote an extract from this letter from Dachau prisoner No. 80939, Chaim Cohn:

For every country the conflict with razism was a war, a balancing of strength with alternate victories and defeats. For Jews it was only annihilation, for there can be no war with the aged, with women and with children. It was a slaughter such as Jewish history has not known for the last five hundred years. We have come out of this enormous struggle as the "winner", but so broken and so weakened that we have neither the strength nor the energy to rejoice. On all fronts Hitler has lost-on the Jewish front he remained the victor. The Jewish people mourn the destruction of the Jewish communities and the Jewish settlements in Europe. Each and every Jew mourns murdered parents, children, brothers and sisters.

. . . We hope that we. who had suffered so much, would at least have a slight recompense for all the troubles, sorrows and pain we had undergone.

This has become an empty dream; an absolute disappointment. Lonesome we wander to-day in a world which has been cursed. No one stretches out his hand to the people of Israel, no one comes to our aid. With certain excep-' tions the world looks upon us as upon a ghost which' haunts them and disturbs their peace. In a cold manner and with official statistics is the approach to our tragedy.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, I say that under the terms of this charter we are in honour bound to come to the assistance of the * oppressed. In article 55 we pledge ourselves to create conditions of universal respect for the observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. If we mean these words, then in God's name let us act on them; and if we do act on them, then we shall have achieved something revolutionary in our life, something sufficiently revolutionary to match the revolution of the atomic bomb. Here we have an instrument of destruction for which we are unprepared, ethically or morally. Here we have a weapon of war created, again by our own intelligence, for our own obliteration. Let me remind hon. members of the fact that weapons, once invented, are always used. It i3 wrong that this atomic bomb should be the private preserve of two or three nations. It belongs to the united nations; and whatever secret there may be left about it should be given immediately to the united nations 47696-844

for the benefit of all the people of the world, so that the united nations, bound together by this covenant, may use the bomb to deter an aggressor from violence.

I think this charter, with all its errors, perhaps with all its imperfections, holds out tremendous promise for the future. It is perhaps the highest common denominator of international cooperation we can expect at this moment. Therefore we should appreciate that and in the time we have at our disposal should do all that is within our power to remove the imperfections and make it more nearly the instrument we would desire to see. That is why I regretted so much the speech of the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Low) yesterday. I heard it with great amazement, certainly with interest; and after I had listened to it and had read it I was astounded. Here in front of our eyes was a most remarkable and amazing example of atavism. Here wras the perennial Bourbon, who learned nothing and who seemed to forget nothing. Here w;as one talking in terms of isolationism in a world in which isolationism is impossible. Here was one. indeed, who seemed by the very things he said to insult the dead and to deride. the living, because no more is there time for isolationism in this world. He said that Canadian participation should not be ratified until the people have an opportunity to learn what the charter is all about. Does he not know that ever since this war started, the minds of our people have been occupied with two major issues, the winning of the war and the winning of the peace? The shape of the world to come, the nature of our international obligations- these things have been discussed for the last five or six years by Canadians all through this country. I do not know what sort of election campaign my hon. friend conducted, but I do know I was never permitted to speak without being asked by my constituents, about the foreign policy of Canada? By and large I heard no objection at all to the policy in support of this new organization of the united nations.

Further, the hon. member said that in the light of the charter the preamble could not possibly be sustained. What is the preamble, Mr. Speaker? It is the hope of humanity for the future; it is the aspiration toward those things which are within our own hearts. It is an ideal toward which we must struggle and strive with all our ability. That is what the preamble means. If I might give the hon. member for Peace River an analogy, it is perhaps not dissimilar to the ten commandments. The preamble is a way to live in international life; the ten commandments are a way to live in all life. Because they are broken, forgotten and violated every minute of every

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day, would he therefore in the same cursory way dismiss the ten commandments as he would dismiss the great ideals enunciated in the preamble?

Again, he seems to object because there is no mention of God in the charter. I do not know why he should bring up that fact. He speaks of whose god? Would he, because there is no mention of has God, exclude from the councils of the world the 400,000,000 human beings in China and the 350,000,000 human beings in India? Would he say, with insufferable conceit, that these are "lesser breeds without the law", and that therefore we should have nothing to do with them? I think the hon. member for Peace River has piled illogicality upon illogicality, absurdity upon absurdity, Ossa upon Pelion. There was nothing constructive that I could see in his speech; only attempts to sow seeds of dissension at a time of critical international crisis, when responsible men should speak with much greater care.

Then, as the piece de resistance, the hon. member said he would find it hard to cooperate with other nations because they were not perfect, as he would have thein perfect. This is not a world of absolutes. It is a world of relative things, and it is in that light we must look upon this charter. I should like to bring to the attention of the hon. member for Peace River certain lessons which I hoped he would have learned from the war through which we have just passed. Let me talk simply and plainly. It is not enough to talk about preserving the peace, for peace in itself is not enough. We were at peace during the thirties, but it was an uneasy, unjust and suspicous peace, which most of us knew was but the prelude to war. I suggest that it is more important to preserve law and order and fundamental human decency than it is to maintain peace. In our own community we are ready to use force to punish an aggressor or a lawbreaker. We have peace among ourselves, but only because we have a superior force to see that we behave. This superior force is collectively employed by the citizens of the community. We surrender our individual sovereignty for the good of all. We surrender our individual sovereignty so that we, as individuals, can be so much safer. Let us learn the lesson then in the field of international affairs, and surrender our national sovereignty so that all of us can have the same safety. In the same way we must use our collective force to restrain the lawbreaker on the international scene. That is what we, as members of the C.C.F. believe. That is collective security.

And yet it presents us with the most terrible paradox of our time; to preserve the conditions of peace we must be prepared and ready

to go to war. If a potential aggressor knows beyond a doubt that he will be punished, he may conceivably be restrained. To achieve such security we must accept the responsibilities, as well as the privileges, of a peaceful world.

I should like to quote these words of Archibald MacLeish:

There has been destroyed in the minds of men and women in this country the superstition that what is done beyond three thousand miles of water is not really done at all; the ignorant superstition that violence and lies and murder on another continent are not violence and lies and murder here, the cowardly and brutal superstition that the enslavement of man in a country where the sun rises at midnight by our clock is not enslavement by the time we live by; the black and stifling superstition that what we cannot see and hear and touch can have no meaning for us.

I accept this charter, i ask the house to accept the charter, with all its imperfections and with all its implications.

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October 16, 1945


In view of the fact that the hon. member might stumble across a conclusion, may I remind him that he has fourteen minutes to speak yet.

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October 15, 1945

1. What amounts have been paid by the federal government to, (a) Canadian Pacific Railway; (b) the Canadian National Railway, for the transportation of military personnel of the three armed forces for each of the years 1939. 1940, 1941, 1942. 1943 and 1944, and for the first eight months of 1945?

2. What amounts were paid for the carrying of mail to the Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway for the same years?

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October 10, 1945

Mr. ALISTAIR STEWART (Winnipeg North):

I find myself in the same position as the previous speaker. My motion asks for a bill of rights dealing with certain aspects of the citizenship of the people of Canada. In view of the fact that the Secretary of State is going to introduce his bill, and I have some assurance that the things I should like to see in it will be discussed in this house, I am quite willing that this motion should be dropped.

Motion dropped.

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