« PreviousContinue »
not be represented to-day. The business goes on from day to day. You must enter it gradually. We have not the experienced people. If we enter it, we must enter it slowly and gradually in a tentative kind of way. I do not think that we shall be robbed of anything. We have no place at all in determining these foreign affairs to-day, so that we cannot lose very much. Moreover, in these big matters numbers are not taken into account. If you send over one able man, he will outweigh ten stupid men who come from some other place. That is the real answer in these matters, and any one who knows anything about government knows that this is the way in which government is carried on. You do not estimate the importance of the Maritime Provinces in Canada and in the government of Canada by their population. That would be a complete mistake, and so it probable that you will be able to estimate the influence of Canada in the Council of the Empire by the number of representatives whom she sends there. If we send over the right sort of people, then we shall have all the representation that any one may need. There is not sufficient time to develop these two arguments further, but these are the two arguments which should be set over against all objections of this sort. The first objection is that Canadians have always been losers, which I am convinced is not true; the second, that Canadians would lose their autonomy, which also is not wellfounded.
There is a third difficulty which has been raised and which is very clear in Mr. Bourassa's Empire Club speech, as in all his speeches. It is the sort of difficulty that arises out of making difficulties, so to speak. If you stand off and look at the British Empire, an almost impossible aggregation of people, if you stand off and look at that and begin to make a picture of all the difficulties that that organization presents, you will be palsied, you will be paralysed, you will be struck helpless, and cannot move hand or foot. This is the main reason why Mr. Bourassa is afraid to move. Stand off and make difficulties and you can prevent any great achievement in any department of life. That has been very true of any political advance, such as the confederation of the United States or the confederation of Canada. There were any number of difficulties, and if people had given their attention solely to the difficulties, they would never have reached any conclusion. We must not stand helpless on the brink of a very great future. You must, if possible, correct this attitude, and it is to be corrected in only one way. You must go at this subject from another angle. You must persuade yourself, if you can do it consistently and logically, that there are common interests in the Empire and that the Empire has to be kept together. You can do it, of course, only by a study of the Empire. If you decide that there are common interests worth preserving, then the will to preserve these common interests will carry you over these difficulties. This is my real answer to Mr. Bourassa, and to Mr. Ewart, and to all his school. It is perfectly easy and it is a very common thing, as I say, to conjure up these difficulties and these obstacles, and you will never get anywhere, but if, on the other hand, after a study of the British Empire as it exists, you can convince yourselves it is worth keeping together, this very conviction will carry you over these obstacles.
It is not necessary to give reasons in an audience of this kind, why the Empire should be kept together, but it may be necessary in other cases. I propose to refer to some reasons, although I admit I am making a jumble of this important subject. There were used here recently two arguments of a certain kind intended for people who drew back from the Empire because it is a big and powerful thing. The first argument was that this Empire offers the best chance of keeping together nations inside some great political organization; that is to say, if inside this British Empire with its common traditions you cannot put together five great nations, then there is very little hope of reconciling the nations in the world at large. If you cannot remove the possibility of
quarrels and war between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, then your thoughts of international peace must vanish into air. I think that this is a very good argument. The Empire presents the best opportunity of uniting national development with a larger unity. It also offers the best opportunity of settling disputes and difficulties between black and white and white and yellow peoples; if these disputes cannot be settled inside the British Empire amicably, then how can they be settled outside in the world? This is the biggest chance—I do not say that because the Empire is a big thing, but because it presents big opportunities—this is the best chance of settling difficulties inside an area or inside a population at any rate, which includes one quarter of the world's population, the greater majority not of our colour. If we cannot work these things out inside that area, then I think even the most ardent lovers of peace will have to give the problem up outside the British Empire. These two arguments are receiving, and will probably receive in future, more attention that they have hitherto received, and I hope that they and similar arguments will be enough to convince people that the Empire has common interests. I do not ask any one to be convinced to-day, but you can at least study the question, and if you form a conviction on the subject, that these common interests are greater than the separate interests, then the constitutional difficulties will be solved for themselves.
THE DEFENCE OF THE EMPIRE
An Address by COLONEL JAMES ALLAN, Minister of Defence and Finance, New Zealand, before the Empire Club of Canada, on May 6, 1913
Mr. President and Gentlemen,
I wish to thank you, first of all, for your hospitality in asking me to be your guest to-day. I think that Canada almost vies with New Zealand in hospitality. (Laughter) Since I have landed on the shores of Canada I have received nothing but kindness from the Canadian Club, from the Overseas Club, and now from the Empire Club, and from those who are interested in Imperial questions. There has been shown to me unbounded kindness, and I wish to thank you for it to-day.
I come from the far away Dominion of New Zealand, where I happen to be Minister of Finance. To us, in New Zealand, this problem of Empire defence is perhaps of more interest than it is to any other portion of the great Empire to which we are all proud to belong. Now, look at our position, gentlemen. We are situated away down in the southern seas, the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Beside us we have a great continent, the Commonwealth of Australia, very sparsely populated, a large territory, not altogether ungoverned, but to large extent ungoverned. We in New Zealand have just about a million people. I suppose we can support, when we are thoroughly populated, from ten to twenty million, so you realize we are not a very large country.
Gentlemen, the question of whether the Empire is going to hold together or not, has come home to us, more forcibly than to any other part of His Majesty's dominions. Why? Because we realize we cannot stand alone. And so, as I go round this great Empire, it comes from the bottom of my heart when I say to every Britisher that I meet: “Gentlemen, the great problem before us is
the consolidation of the Empire and the standing together, every one of us.' (Applause) This great Continent and the people that inhabit it may not realize it as we do. You have a great country, you have a great neighbour just across the borderland-friendly to-day, friendly to-morrow, friendly, let us hope, for ever. (Hear, hear) And perhaps you cannot realize as we do what it is to be small and dependent upon the help of others for our existence, for the freedom of our people, for the liberty of those who live in New Zealand, in order that they may enjoy the privileges which are theirs to-day—and they are great privileges which we have in New Zealand. We live in a most beautiful country. I am not exaggerating when I say that we live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with varied scenery, with equable climate, and with all that goes to make man happy, except those troubles which occur now and again from legislation which is imperfect —and we do not say that all our legislation is perfectand from those troubles which arise now and then from those who are discontented, from those who won't work. We have those troubles amongst us—not to any very large extent I am happy to say, but still there they are. Take it on the whole, we are living in a place where men enjoy freedom and liberty and privileges which they must, if they think of it, be thankful to enjoy. We want to preserve these privileges to our people, we want to preserve our country for the flag under which we are all proud to serve, and we cannot do it alone. The question that I have asked elsewhere is this: "Can we rely on the other parts of the great Empire to stand all together and to stand by us if we ever want their help?” The answer, so far as I have gone through Canada, is unquestionable, and I have come through that portion of it where it might possibly have been thought to be doubtful, through French Canada. I do not hesitate to say from my short knowledge, perhaps it is not sufficiently wide, but from my short knowledge I do not hesitate to go back to my country and say: "French Canadians and all Canadians will stand by New Zealand if New Zealand ever wants their help.” (Applause)