An Address by RT. HON. JAMES G. GARDINER, P.C.
Minister of Agriculture
Thursday, November 15th, 1951
CHAIRMAN: The President, Mr. D. H. Gibson.
MR. GIBSON: The Honourable James G. Gardiner, born on the boundary between the Perth and Huron Counties, of Scottish parents, worked on a farm as a boy until 1901, going west on a harvesters' excursion; graduated with a Degree in Political Economy and History from the University of Manitoba in 1911.
In 1905, the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were set up, and our distinguished guest and speaker made his home in Saskatchewan. In the Saskatchewan Legislature, The Honourable James G. Gardiner served from 1914 to 1935twenty-one years. For five of those years he was the Premier of that province.
From 1935 until the present, he has occupied the honourable position of Minister of Agriculture--a span of sixteen years. This means, gentlemen, a farm boy has risen to render thirtyseven years of service within his province and the Cabinet of the Federal Parliament.
When we take upon ourselves the proud position of nationhood, we take upon ourselves also all the responsibilities and duties which nationhood implies.
We in Canada have perhaps per population the largest area and immensity of assets of any land on earth. I am told Australia comes next to us, Great Britain has a population of eight hundred to the square mile-Canada three.
People of other lands, crowded and pressed on all sides for various causes, are turning with longing eyes to Canada, and some of these people say-"What is your title?". We say "We are domiciled here." We must prove ourselves worthy of our heritage-the land to which we have fallen heirs through the earlier years of British influence and authority. In the light of a great background of experience, our distinguished guest and speaker will address this gathering on his important subject "Canada".
MR. GARDINER: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of The Empire Club: When I became Premier of Saskatchewan over twenty-five years ago you invited me to address the Empire Club. You have invited me to address you about once every five years since, and I consider it an honour to have the privilege to appear before you at this time.
I have chosen to speak on the subject "Canada". I have selected this subject because I believe that what Canada does in the next twenty-five years will have a greater effect upon the future of the human race than what is done in any other single country in the world in the same period.
Canada is part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The growth of that Commonwealth has occupied the central place on the stage of history for about four hundred years. The agencies which pushed it forward were the adventurous spirit of the British people which led them to be explorers; the desire to trade which resulted in development of resources and colonization wherever they went; and the ability to inspire confidence, a feeling of security and a love of freedom wherever they went.
The period of exploration and colonization extended from the discovery of America in 1492 until the Seven Years' War which ended in 1763. Five maritime powers, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Britain encouraged explorers and traders to search the earth for new fields to be developed. Because of constant wars over religious differences and in an effort to establish national boundaries on the European continent Britain was able to concentrate upon colonization in America and trade with India. The result was that at the end of the Seven Years' War she had consolidated her position in North America and in the Orient. From then until now there has only been one setback in the march of world influence by Britain and that was the loss of the American Colonies. It would appear at present that the close working arrangement between the United States of America and Britain has removed any harm which might have resulted from a division of the English speaking nations.
Nothing could have more completely proven the versatility of the Anglo-Saxon than the fact that they succeeded in both India and America.
India was a densely populated area with a well established and organized ancient civilization. India was the wealthiest country in the world. The British trader lived among these teaming millions for the most part without friction and accumulated the results of their labour for shipment to the outside world. They taught the outside world to desire these commodities, the spices, the tapestries, the jewels, the tea and mineral wealth. They encouraged these dense populations to take the products of their factories and of the farms of the Commonwealth and thus became the greatest trading nation in the world.
But they did more than that. They brought young men and women from India to the Universities of Britain. They sent missionaries to India. They so influenced the government of the country as to establish in the heart of the educated Hindu and Moslem a desire for the freedom which is most evident where the democratic institutions born in Athens and nurtured in Britain prevail.
The result in that when India and Pakistan were encouraged to form themselves into independent states they expressed a desire to do so as partners in the British Commonwealth of Nations. We in Canada should feel proud of the fact that it is the degree of independence and freedom enjoyed by Canadians under that relationship which greatly influenced these eastern nations toward that decision.
America was the opposite to India before 1763. It was a continent only sparsely settled by wandering Indian tribes. The resources of the broad areas had scarcely been scratched. If there were going to be trade with this area it had to be colonized and developed. This they proceeded to do with such effect that when the Seven Years' War came there were two million British in the American Colonies. They lost these colonies thirteen years later, but their ideals as expressed in religion, literature, institutions of government and learning and even in trade and industrial development were so successfully established with those two million people that there are three times as many people living in the United States of America under their influence as live in Britain itself.
The British have had an experience in Canada which marks them as the most successful nation builders of all time. The Seven Years' War left them with an area they would not have been interested in had they not already colonized the. thirteen colonies farther south.
It was the Seven Years' War between Britain and France in Europe which caused war between the British and French in America. The British were interested in removing from the borders of their American colonists the dangers of attack, but when the American colonists won their independence there was no longer any such interest. They had a colony in the cold northern half of the continent occupied by a few people of another nationality who spoke a different language. Little was known of its resources. Its form of government was modeled after the most autocratic which European countries had experienced, namely, the absolute monarchy of Louis XIV. With this as a beginning, the British proceeded to influence the building of a nation.
Their instructions to governors was to proceed cautiously in proposing changes and only to impose upon the new subjects British customs and forms when they were willing to accept them.
Under this plan it took them one hundred years to introduce into Canada representative, responsible democratic government. It required an experience of trial and error under three constitutions and a final union of all British North America in a Federation to weld Canada into one nation under the Crown.
Canada is now as independent and free as any nation in the world, but of her own free will she gives allegiance to the Queen and in so doing forms a very important part of the Commonwealth.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century Canada had a population of only a quarter of a million-today her population is over fourteen million. At the beginning of the nineteenth century her population hovered about the St. Lawrence. Today it is scattered from coast to coast and north to the Arctic Ocean, over an area twice as large as Europe and as extensive as the United States.
Forty years ago when I entered politics one was afraid to risk a prophecy that Canada could ever have more than an agricultural, fishing, lumbering, and, in a limited way, mining population. Today one does not hesitate to claim that we have the greatest nickel deposits, the greatest iron deposits, and the greatest uranium deposits in the world. We do not hesitate to claim that our power development, our coal supplies, our oil possibilities and our aluminum production is comparable with that of any country. We say without any hesitation Canada can become one of the greatest industrial countries in the world.
Our agriculture has great possibilities. Our fisheries are unsurpassed. Our forests are still yielding great wealth. Our transportation systems are a fitting answer to the challenge of our great distances. It only requires the opening of the St. Lawrence waterway and the finishing of the Trans-Canada highway to make it complete.
These wonderful possibilities are bound to induce population to this area from everywhere, but more particularly from Britain and Europe. The end of this century should find Canada with a population equal to that of Britain.
The natural unit of the human race is the family. When sparse settlement permitted those occupying an area to move from place to place the families were organized into tribes or clans. When it became necessary to have a population associated with the development of agriculture and industry in a given area those in that area were organized into a nation. As means of transportation increased, boundaries have been removed to form larger nations.
The steamship, the railway, the aeroplane, the telegraph and now the. wireless have raised the question as to whether there should be a further adjustment of boundaries. Most of the outstanding leaders in Europe, led by Churchill, favour a Federation of Europe. We in Canada are joined with others in a North Atlantic Treaty. There are those who suggest a North and South American Federation. All these suggestions are put forward as ways and meaning of promoting peace in the world.
It seems to me that the strongest political influence for peace throughout the world in the last two hundred years has been the influence which extended the British Commonwealth. It began with the Peace of Paris when the nations of Europe agreed that the development of Canada and trade with India were to be carried on under British influence.
Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, together with many smaller areas, have come under the same influence until today there are at least three-quarters of a billion people who live at peace with one another because of the existence of the Commonwealth of Nations. The friendship of the United States and her allies raises the number to about a billion.
The existence of the British Commonwealth and Canada's membership in it is the greatest influence for peace in the world today. As Canada grows greater and stronger through the development of her resources and growth in population, her continued association as an Independent Nation under the common Sovereign with all parts of the Commonwealth and the fact that she lies to the north of the United States of America could be the greatest influence in maintaining peace in the world.
THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. H. A. Newman.