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 5 of 228)

January 4, 1958

Mr. Stewart (Winnipeg North):

Mr. Chairman, the answer the minister gave to my last question was completely unsatisfactory and thoroughly disheartening. The only reason I excuse him is that, as he said and probably legitimately so, he was not dealing with his own department and this was really a matter for defence production. Nevertheless, when the Minister of National Defence tells me that the degree of co-ordination we have achieved after all these years is limited to the exchange of visits, the setting up of a group of advisers and frequent consultations, I should like to know what is the meaning of the word "co-ordination". However, I will ask him another question which I think he possibly can answer in view of the fact that we have in Europe a brigade and an air division. This arises again out of this awful communique from Paris.

Recognizing the rapidly growing interdependence of the nations of the free world-

These cliches are not mine, Mr. Chairman.

-we have, in organizing our forces, decided to bring about closer co-ordination with a view to ensuring that each NATO member country makes its most effective contribution . . .

Will the minister please translate those words into something tangible? Will he tell us what is actually happening in the way of co-ordination of the armed forces of NATO?

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January 3, 1958

Mr. Stewart (Winnipeg North):

Mr. Chairman, when the committee took recess I was discussing the suggestion of a NATO food bank and economic aid being given by the NATO countries to the less fortunate nations of the world, and I oppose it.

The reason for my opposition is this. No matter how highly NATO may be regarded as a means for our own defence, nevertheless in the underprivileged areas of the world it is regarded as an instrument of imperialistic powers, and I argue that if NATO is to administer aid that aid is going to be suspect. It

would be far better if we intend to help the underprivileged countries of the world, as we should do, to do it through the United Nations and through the agencies which are already there.

But I would like to think that we would do it in a more generous way than has been indicated by the government this year in the increase it has made under the Colombo plan. The government may take some pride in the fact that it is giving another $600,000 or so, but nevertheless that merely means that one cent per capita of our population is to be given every 90 days for further economic assistance to those nations which could do with more help, and I and my party are convinced that we are not doing nearly enough in this form of aid to less fortunate countries of the world.

Then there was another matter the Prime Minister mentioned. He talked of those who were behind the iron curtain, and all of us sympathize with what he says. We are just as concerned about those people as he is. The Prime Minister said in his speech, as reported at page 2723 of Hansard:

We thought of the people behind the iron curtain, people who believe in freedom as we do. Sometimes we are apt to forget them.

It is most unfortunate that the Prime Minister and the government apparently have already forgotten about many individuals who fought against communism, who left their homes and are now denied the right to come to this country. I refer, of course, to the Hungarians and to the orders which were issued this year preventing by and large any further entry into this country of Hungarian victims of communist persecution. The Prime Minister went on:

When the declaration was being drafted I had the honour to move that there should be the inclusion of a paragraph to give to those people, whether in the Ukraine, in Hungary, in Poland . . . some hope.

I should like to give them hope; I am sure every hon. member would, but I would like to see something practical done so that hope can be translated into fact. After all, there are displaced persons in camps in Europe today who are the victims of communist persecution, Ukrainians and Poles who suffered under communism yet who, because they are ill or old, are not able to come to this country. If we feel so strongly about those people, those victims of communistic persecution, then we have to do something more than just more or less hold out hopes. We have to couple those hopes with action.

In the communique itself there are quite a number of points which demand answers. There are too many words in it and nothing

much is at all clear. For instance, the communique contained the following:

We are therefore resolved to achieve the most effective pattern of NATO military defensive strength, taking into account the most recent developments in weapons and techniques.

Let me ask the Minister of National Defence this question. How does the government propose to go about this? Later in the communique we find the following; we have-

. . . decided to bring about closer co-ordination with a view to ensuring that each NATO member country makes its most effective contribution to the requirements established by the alliance.

But how are we to do so, Mr. Chairman? These are words. We want to have these words explained; we want to know what government policy is in this regard. Then later on we find the following:

As regards defence production, We have decided, in view of the progress already made, to take further measures within NATO to promote the coordination of research, development and manufacture of modern weapons including intermediate range ballistic missiles.

There are many of us who have been asking for this close co-ordination for a long time, and we have been promised it for a long time, yet nothing has been produced which we can really get our teeth into. The government owes it to this house and to Canada to explain many of the questions which arise out of the words used in the communique.

Then there were the usual platitudes about economic collaboration and close co-operation among the countries of NATO, the need for greater unity, and so on. Yet, as the Minister of Finance pointed out, the United States is making a mockery of these high protestations which we hear and about which we read. What is the government doing to ensure closer economic co-operation with the nations of Europe? Well, there has been set up a European free trade area, and the government's only concern about it, apparently, is to see that we should not be excluded from its scope in regard to food, drink and tobacco. I would have thought, if the government was really desirous of improving the trade situation in this country, it would have made a much more decided attempt to get closer in an economic sense to the nations of Europe.

We have to do that for this reason if for no other. Earlier this session I spoke about the increasing United States economic domination of this country. We have to rectify this imbalance, and the only way we can do it is by trying to increase our trade, not with the United Kingdom only but substantially with this European free trade area. There there might be some hope for us; there, I am certain, will be the salvation of NATO.

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A lot of lip service has been given to article II throughout the years. But if there are doubts in Europe-and I at times share those doubts-I think they can be dissipated very rapidly by entering into the closest economic collaboration and co-operation with our European allies. When we do that, then I think we shall be much safer than by relying solely upon the words which we see in this communique.

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January 3, 1958

Mr. Stewart (Winnipeg North):

Mr. Chairman, it goes without saying that we are going to support this resolution, but we are also going to take advantage of the opportunity which it gives us to discuss some matters which some of us think are very important.

One of the matters we want to bring out is that of governmental policy toward NATO. The committee will remember that on the day the house adjourned the Prime Minister came before us and gave us his agonizing reappraisal of what had taken place in Paris; and that right hon. gentleman had many words with which to disguise what he probably felt were the facts of the case. He subjected us to a torrent of words; he inundated us with a Niagara of words, and it has taken some time to get the spray out of our faces, but we have succeeded in doing that today, due in no small measure, of course, to the Minister of Finance.

The minister, however, leaves me wondering exactly how many voices there happen to be in his cabinet. There are so many voices that at times it sounds like a hydraheaded monster. The minister tells us that the position of the United States, for instance, with regard to the restriction on oil is wholly untenable. He tells us that the attitude of the United States does not at all concur with the communique. Then I read these words of the Prime Minister telling us that the atmosphere in Paris was certainly one which indicated a new spirit of unity among the nations, although I gathered the impression that perhaps the Minister of Finance did not share that feeling of unity which the Prime Minister obviously had. Or, as the Prime Minister went on to say later at page 2722;

At the meeting this week the flowering of this concept of the Atlantic community was very much in evidence.

Sir, there are some weeds in this flower bed. The Prime Minister did not speak about them. The Minister of Finance does. How does he propose to eradicate these weeds? What course of action does he pursue? The hon. gentleman makes a press

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statement which he assumes that United States officials will read. I know the excuse which has constantly been put up by governments that nothing official has reached their ears. How do we know that this press statement put out by a member of the Canadian government has reached the ears of the state department?

The Prime Minister went on to say:

There was not a great deal of divergence of view as to the necessity of greater and more expanding developments.

That is economic expansion. This, I say, does not agree-far from it-with what the Minister of Finance said today, and I think we have to get some clarification on this. I suggested earlier that the minister was conducting diplomacy by press statements. Perhaps I was not altogether right, because according to what he said he was having negotiations and discussions with the United States officials in Paris. So perhaps what we are being subjected to now is cocktail diplomacy.

But I do not think we should come to either the diplomacy of the cocktail party or the diplomacy of press statements. What this house would like to see is an official protest made to the government of the United States. It is no use having a minister of the government telling this parliament what he would like to say to the United States. Let him say it to the responsible people there, not to the opposition in the Canadian parliament.

When the Prime Minister made his statement on NATO my leader, the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar, stated that there was not a concrete proposal in anything he had to say; in other words we were rehashing what had been said throughout the years with regard to NATO's hopes, aims and aspirations. We see now more than ever that those who are leading NATO have a Maginot mind complex, and we do not want minds like these in days such as we are going through now. I notice that the Prime Minister tried to defend himself from a very obvious charge, and I am going to say that the declaration from NATO, and his own speech, were a veritable mass and mess of cliches. The Prime Minister said:

I know what the cynics will say. They have done it all down through the ages. They will contend that the declaration and the communique are simply the same old tired cliches strung together in a different arrangement but leaving the old patterns substantially unchanged.

Well, when it comes to the Atlantic community and the fundamental concept of NATO, I am not a cynic. Throughout the years in this parliament I have been one of

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the protagonists of an Atlantic community. I have gone even further and asked for an Atlantic federation. It is not a matter of cynicism with me; it is a matter of disgust at this brutal use of the English language. I think the NATO declaration ought to be sent to every high school and every university in Canada as a grim example of how not to use words. Let us examine this declaration and see how many cliches there are in it. It begins:

We, the representatives of 15 nations of the North Atlantic alliance, believing in the sanctity of those human rights which are guaranteed to all men of free nations by their constitutions, laws and customs, rededicate ourselves and our nations to the principles and purposes of the North Atlantic Treaty.

Here is a startling new thought, something which must make us all shiver with expectation. The declaration goes on:

We have agreed together upon means to give added strength to our alliance.

Here again is a brand new idea, something we have really never thought of before, and I am sure it excites us. And it continues:

We are always ready to settle international problems by negotiation.

Surely that too is an exciting new discovery, and I am certain that the hon. member for Algoma East must be kicking himself because he never thought of that during all the time he was secretary of state for external affairs in this country. Then the document goes on:

The free world faces the mounting challenge of international communism backed by Soviet power.

What an amazing piece of research. Who else could have discovered it? This is the sort of research which, perhaps, makes the friends of NATO tremble with apprehension while making its potential foes quiver with hope. The declaration goes on to say-and I hope the Minister of Finance is listening-"for this purpose we have agreed to co-operate closely." This is a magnificent new concept never revealed to this house before. All new ideas, and not a cliche amongst them.

And then:

We shall reach this goal only by recognizing our interdependence.

Mr. Chairman, what a blinding vision has been given to men, something which has never been thought of before. To give another example:

We are an organization of free countries.

Surely this is revelation according to St. John. Or let us look at something which, I am told, the Canadian government took pride in having inserted in the declaration:

If the free nations are steadfast, the totalitarian menace that now confronts them will eventually recede.

"If the free nations are steadfast", Mr. Chairman. They have been steadfast long enough; steadfast for doubt, steadfast for cross purposes, and steadfast for confusion. What we need now is to be steadfast for imagination and some leadership, and that certainly was not given in Paris by this Canadian delegation. "If the free nations are steadfast the totalitarian menace will eventually recede." What an example of pre-sputnik thinking. What an example of the Maginot mind which, I said earlier, was working in full force.

This declaration is an insult to the intelligence of the people of the western world. I say it is full of cliches. I could go on and quote more; I could quote as many from the speech of the Prime Minister himself. The relation between the Prime Minister and the cliche is not that of master and servant; it is that of master and slave because he beats these cliches and bruises them, sets them dangling before us, and then having bludgeoned them with such violence he buries their bleeding bodies in the pages of Hansard. If we want to find out what is happening we have to disinter these victims of verbosity, and when we conduct a post mortem we find that nothing has been happening.

But there are some statements in the communique with which we can agree. For example:

The aim of the Soviet bloc is to weaken and disrupt the free world.

We are agreed on that. That menace confronts us. The Soviet union is the leader of one of the big power blocs, and as an individual I am supremely suspicious of great powers and power blocs. We in the western world have seen how power can be taken and abused, but there is always the safeguard of public opinion to act as a brake and put a stop to it. On the other hand, in totalitarian nations there is no such safeguard and no such brake, and so we are faced today with two great power blocs in a world of anarchy which may mean yet a world which is at war. The consequences of this situation can be tragic for people all over the world. The one thing that saves us is that both sides know that war would be a matter of mutual extermination and anihilation. And so it is possible that both blocs, or the peoples of both blocs, want to come to terms with each other.

There has been a certain disinclination on the part of the west to come to terms with the Soviet union for reasons which in the past were perhaps good. But the situation today is so precarious that we believe it is essential that another attempt be made to test the sincerity of Russian intentions. We know what has happened in the past; we

know the disappointments we have encountered, but we still have to make another attempt. We have to be prepared to negotiate but not on the broadest basis, because that, I think, would mean failure. Rather we have to take two or perhaps three cases in which we can negotiate, those which are probably the most perilous to mankind. We have to see if we can come to some modus vivendi with the Soviet union in this connection. The following is mentioned in the communique:

We have especially in mind the problems of the reunification of Germany in freedom-

Many are convinced that unless this problem in the centre of Europe is solved there will not be much hope for peace, and therefore it is essential that we try and have Germany reunited, not on the basis of western terms and not on the basis of Soviet terms but on the basis which perhaps the Germans themselves want. In other words there has to be a compromise between the two groups.

It might be worth while considering the suggestion that both East and West Germany and Poland and Czechoslovakia be to some extent neutralized in the hope that free elections can be held there, properly supervised, and Germany eventually united. I know there are many who oppose this. For instance, there is the pentagon type of mind. It was this group or clique, call it what you like, which was responsible for bringing Germany into the North Atlantic community. They argued that the defence of Germany and the creation in Germany of an army was essential to the safety of the west. Probably they were thinking in those days of the policy of containment, but surely the advent of the intercontinental ballistic missile has shown that containment can no longer work because we cannot contain those missiles.

On the other hand there is the economic argument, which may not be expressed but which I suppose is deeply felt in nations such as the United Kingdom; the fear that if Germany does not have to spend money on rearmament she may become a more intense competitor in the markets of the world, and the other fear that as the result of not spending money on rearmaments the standard of living of the Germans would so rise as to be an incentive to other nations to follow Germany's example. I recognize that these arguments have been made, and I think I know why they are being made. Yet I still insist that one of the most important things we must try and achieve is the reunification of that country.

There is another area and again the communique mentions it; that is the Middle East. The people of the United States had better realize quickly that Russia is in the

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Middle East and intends to stay there. To ignore that fact is to blind oneself to the true facts of the situation. If we are going to achieve peace in the Middle East, which I am sure is the wish and hope of all of us, then we cannot fail to recognize that Russia is a power in that area. Here again, I suggest, is another place or another area, if I may repeat the word, where possibly we can negotiat% with some hope of success, but at least we will find out how serious the Russians are in their desire for peace.

I think in many ways they are sincere. I think the Russians realize the havoc which would be wreaked with all-out war as well as anybody else, but we face the problem that in the United States we have a secretary of state who I have no doubt in his private life is a very estimable gentleman but who as secretary of state for that country is nothing short of an international calamity. The Russians certainly do not trust Mr. Dulles, and the words he has used throughout the years perhaps might give the Russians some valid reason for distrust. Nevertheless this distrust to some extent has to be removed if it is humanly possible, and a fresh attempt made to bring peace to the Middle East.

Then there is a third area in which there seems to be an opportunity for agreement at least between the east and west, and that is in the cessation of the production of fissionable material for weapons purposes, the reduction of existing stocks of nuclear weapons and the suspension of nuclear weapons tests mentioned in the communique. Great numbers of people in the west want these things achieved and it is possible that the Russians want them achieved, but we can find out only by trying to negotiate with them just how far they are prepared to go.

Now, how do we undertake these negotiations? The communique is completely unrealistic, I think, when it says we should try to promote these negotiations through the framework of the United Nations, bearing in mind the committee which has already been set up in the United Nations and of which the Soviet union is going to have no part whatsoever. The communique was equally unrealistic, in my opinion, when it suggested that we should welcome meetings at the foreign ministers' level to resolve the deadlock. Whether the meetings be between the foreign ministers of the 15 NATO nations or of a few-and I do not care how few- Mr. Dulles will be there, and I think his use has long since passed.

But perhaps there is something else we could do. Possibly we can beat the Russians

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at their own game of propaganda if we have the intelligence and imagination to do so. Why should this matter not be referred to the United Nations as a whole? We know perfectly well that this large number of nations cannot settle problems such as these. They will have to delegate power and responsibility. Is it beyond the bounds of reason to suppose that power and responsibility could be delegated to a representative of t)|e NATO powers such as Eisenhower, a representative of the Warsaw pact such as Khrushchev, and a representative of the uncommitted nations of the world such as Nehru? These three men would meet not with the intention of giving the world a blueprint as to what could be done but in order to explore a method in which diplomacy could carry these discussions even further.

The first meeting could be held. Of course there would be great fanfare, but it would be naive to expect any concrete results from such a meeting. However, it could pave the way to more harmonious relations. Afterwards discussions could be carried on, not necessarily at the foreign ministers' level but on a level appreciably below that so we could have open covenants discreetly arrived at. Perhaps there is a promise there, and we cannot tell how promising it may be until these meetings are held.

Another point where I again disagree quite strongly with the Prime Minister is with regard to the creation of a food bank through NATO. It is time we realized that although we regard NATO as a means for our defence and protection, it is regarded in the rest of the world as a tool of imperialistic powers. We may say that is not true and disagree completely with the idea, but this concept does exist and we cannot kill it.

May I call it one o'clock?

At one o'clock the committee took recess.

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January 3, 1958

Mr. Stewart (Winnipeg North):

Do I understand that this statement was a note of protest to the United States government?

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January 3, 1958

Mr. Stewart (Winnipeg North):

Was there any note of protest sent to the government, or is this a new method of conducting diplomacy?

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