Does Canada Take The League of Nations Seriously?
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 9 Feb 1933, p. 56-69

Grant, Principal W.L., Speaker
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How the people of Canada can be said to take the League of Nations seriously when we take the speech of our delegate so very casually indeed. The Sino-Japanese situation and the speech that our Canadian delegate, Mr. Cahan, made on it: a review. What Japan wants. Japan's need for markets for her ever increasing industrialization. The Government of Manchuria. The question of the way in which law and order is to be enforced. The speaker's comments on the British parallel of the British in India. The investigating Commission of the League of Nations with regard to the Japanese-Chinese situation. The report of the Commission. Recognizing fully the interests and rights of Japan in Manchuria. Words from the Lytton Report with regard to the way Japan was taking the law into her own hands in Manchuria. Mr. Cahan's speech with a similar argument. Warnings to Japan. An extract from Mr. Cahan's speech. Paying attention to his words. The need to "jolly along" Japan until financial stringency brings to her military men a milder mood. Japan now in the hands of a military gang. What might happen if the League took too strong a point of view with Japan. Canada's relationship with the League of Nations. The need for the Canadian delegation to keep in very close and intimate touch with the British delegation. Why we should take the League of Nations seriously: the speaker's personal consideration. Criticising the League, but taking it seriously.
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9 Feb 1933
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February 9, 1933

LIEUT.-COLONEL GEORGE A. DREW, the President, introduced the speaker.

PRINCIPAL GRANT: Mr. President and Gentlemen: To address The Empire Club of Toronto and the even larger audience symbolized by the instrument in front of me, is both an honour and a privilege and I thank you very much, Mr. President, for giving me the opportunity to put before this audience one or two views which I have. As you said, I have had but small time t to prepare and even in that small time I have had to give most of my time and energy to carrying on my regular work of running the somewhat improved little red schoolhouse up on the hill. Therefore, you will 1 not expect from me anything of the charm of diction, the real felicity of phrasing which was shown by the Honourable Maurice Dupre the Solicitor General for the Dominion, when he spoke here. I had the pleasure, not only of hearing Mr. Dupre but of reading after, his speech, and it is one of the admirable speeches which bears the test of being read afterwards, and coming out even better than when one first heard it.

The only thing I would venture to say--and it is a subject on which I wish that I had more time--is that I agree with him on everything except one point, and that was when he endeavoured to grapple with your President (Colonel Drew) on the question of the private sale of heavy armaments. It did seem to me that on n that subject, the view put forward by Mr. Dupre could have been fairly easily refuted, not only by your President, but even by myself. I should like in his presence--though it is hard to praise a man in his presence--to thank your President for the very noble stand which he has taken and the very splendid efforts he is making to end that running sore of civilization.

May I take an example for just a moment. Most of us who are older remember the open bar. There are some of us who might criticize, now and then, the system of the government control of the liquor traffic now in use in Ontario, but I do not think, if the people of Ontario were polled that two percent would want the old sale of liquor over the open bar brought back. That, I think we all agree, is gone forever, and well gone. And yet, today, we practically have the sale of munitions over the open bar. Anything which is made by it is a scandal! I can only say that, while the cessation of that scandal would not bring about the millenium, yet, at the sane time, it would make a definite improvement in the whole situation of the world and I am perfectly certain that we all take off our hats to your President for the noble way in which, both by the spoken and the written word, he has done what he can to make it cease. (Applause). I can only wish, although I fear it is unlikely to take place, that well as he does his regular work at the Parliament Buildings, my friend, the Premier, would set him free, if he would take leave of absence for six months of a year and devote his time simply to putting before us in Canada and our neighbours in the South, the need for solving this crying question--the need of introducing government control of armaments. But that is not the main subject on which I wish to speak today.

I have chosen the somewhat challenging title of "Does Canada Take The League of Nations Seriously?" and I speak, not like Mr. Dupre, as the member of a Government, not even like Dr. H. F. Munro of Nova Scotia who recently addressed the Canadian Club, as a recent delegate to the League of Nations Assembly. I speak, simply as a Canadian, interested in public questions, to my fellow Canadian, equally interested in public questions. I have never been a representative to Geneva. I have not even been a member of a governmnt or a part of it. I vote regularly, in one sense, but in another I do not--I usually choose a different party at each election. Therefore, I speak as a Canadian to Canadians.

Now, does Canada take the League of Nations seriously? Let me take an example and show you. My fellow Nova Scotian, the Honourable C. H. Cahan, Secretary of State in the Government of Canada--and I am old enough and Victorian enough to think that a man can have no higher honour than to serve in the Cabinet which governs his country--Mr. Cahan is a gentleman about whom different opinions are expressed. He is not popular with everybody but I have not heard anyone express the opinion that he deserves to be disregarded. And those who most disapprove of him do not fail to admit that he is a man of great force of character and great legal ability. Just about two months ago, Mr. Cahan made what seemed to me a very important speech. Here is a speech made by the Secretary of State for Canada and made on, what seemed to me, a very important subject, setting forth with his usual clearness, views which were not those of everybody and nobody seems to have bothered about it. On the 9th of December" the day afterward, there was a very short paragraph in one of the Toronto papers; by the other three it was treated in absolute silence. The only reason T can find is that he was speaking on what is regarded by everyone as a fairly unimportant subject--he was only speaking on the SinoJapanese dispute. Everybody felt--the audience that he was speaking to--that is was too unimportant and uninteresting to be worthwhile. He was only speaking as the senior Canadian delegate of the special Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva.

Now that speech could easily have been obtained; the League of Nations publishes what we call its Hansard--a verbatim daily record--and when the record came over to Canada, one Canadian paper, an important one, it is true--the Montreal Daily Star--published the speech in full and had an editorial on it. I can find no other paper that mentioned it. In that I am not criticizing the newspapers'--God forbid! But if the newspapers fully represent--and they certainly try to represent the people of Canada--if they try to feed the people of Canada with the food they most appreciate, then can we be said to take the League of Nations seriously, when we take the speech of our delegate so very casually indeed?

Now, let me tell you something about it, if I may the SinoJapanese situation and the speech that our Canadian delegate, Mr. Cahan, made on it. If one looks at the SinoJapanese question, purely from the point of view of those two powers and their relations in Manchuria, I do not think that we can fail to have very great sympathy with Japan. The parallel, historically, is very striking (I owe this partly to the Honourable N. W. Rowell) between Japan in Manchuria and Great Britain in India in the last half of the eighteenth and in the nineteenth centuries. Just as India worked through that chartered company, the East India Company, so Japan has worked largely through the Southern Manchuria Railway--a great railway, not running in connection with railway hotels only, as they do here, but running schools, hospitals, and practically governing large sections of country, just the old East India Company used to do in India.

Now, what does Japan want? What does Japan need in Manchuria? To a certain extent she needs protection for her citizens, because while the great portion of the population of Manchuria is Chinese, there are about one million Japanese subjects. There are not so many nativeborr4 not more than a hundred thousand; but there are between eight and nine hundred thousand Koreans, who are Japanese subjects and who have come over into Manchuria. But, more than protection, Japan needs markets for her ever increasing industrialization.

The Government of Manchuria is extremely bad. The government is infested with brigands; they even had their influence over Field Marshall Chang Hsueh-Liang, who carried on a sort of feudal government, and when he had no better soldiers, he took brigands into service, and trouble was constantly arising, now with Nanking, now with Pekin, now with the government of Soviet Russia in Siberia, and especially with the government of Japan. After Field Marshall Chang Hsueh-Liang's somewhat mysterious death in a railway accident, his son, Chang the Second, took over the same thing. This was really a very unsatisfactory situation for Japan. If you want to carry on trade on a large scale, if you want markets for your business, you have to have a more or less orderly country to deal in, and a more or less orderly court of law. Japan found it very hard to get those in Manchuria, and, therefore, when she finally picked a quarrel with China and proceeded to go in and pacify the country and put down brigandage, if it were merely a question as between the two powers, one would have very great sympathy for Japan. As a Canadian, it is perhaps open for me to feel that once Japan had Manchuria thoroughly pacified, there would be very scanty opening for any trade except that of Japan; the market would be strictly for the Japanese and any Canadians attempting to deal there would receive a very cool welcome. But a rigorous attempt was being made to enforce law and order, and this, I think, is essential.

But it is not a question between Japan and China; it is not a question of the enforcement of law and order. It is a question of the way in which law and order is to be enforced. If you take the British parallel of the British in India, I can only say this: this is not the eighteenth century, but the twentieth century. There was no League of Nations in the time of Warren Hastings. It is not a question of Japan and China but a question of her duty to observe her Treaties, especially the great Treaty of the League of Nations. Now, Japan has most flagrantly broken the Nine Power Treaty of Washington; the conduct of Japan with regard to the Kellog-Briand Peace Pact is that she has most flagrantly neglected to observe it; with regard to the League of Nations, she has absolutely and deliberately broken Article 10, supposed to preserve the sanctity of Chinese territory. Moreover, she had promised China not to aggravate the situation while a Commission of the League was investigating the situation, a Commission which Japan had endorsed" and indeed had been one of the proposers of. And even before the report of the Commission had been put before the League, and after Japan had promised China not to aggravate the situation, she proceeded to set up and recognize the independence of the puppet state of Manchukuo.

The report of the Commission was unanimous. Its members were: The Right Honourable, the Earl of Lytton, representing Great Britain; H. E. Count Aldrovandi, representing Italy; General Henri Claudel, representing France; Major General F. R. McCoy, representing the United States; and H. E. Dr. Heinrich Ochnee, representing Germany. And these five representatives of five great powers sent in an absolutely unanimous report, known as the Lytton Report, asked for by the League with the approval of Japan. And at the debate at the Assembly, this was the argument: it was not a question of Japan enforcing law and order; it was that Treaties, and more especially the Covenant of the League of Nations, must be maintained or world chaos would again be upon us. I could quote passage after passage, from speech after speech, from delegates of country after country, but I think that it was put best by Lord Lytton, himself, in an address which he gave in London on October 19th, 1932, before the Institute of International Affairs. I shall ask you to listen to a quotation. Speaking of the report called the Lytton Report, he said: "Our, Report recognizes fully the interests and rights of Japan in Manchuria, but we say to Japan: 'You have tried to secure those interests and to maintain those rights in a way which is inconsistent with your treaty obligations We cannot accept your way of doing this, but there is a world's way, and if you will accept the world's way, it can still be done.' In this connection I should like to tell you the argument which I addressed to the Foreign' Minister of Japan on the subject in our last interview I said to him: 'You have told us that you have very solid interests in Manchuria; you have historical associations with it; you have fought two wars on its soil; you have ties which bind you indissolubly to the country. You have said to us that Manchuria is the life-line of Japan, and you are very sensitive on this point and resent the idea that anybody else should question the standpoint you take up. We recognize all that. We know of your treaties we accept what you have told us about your economic interests, we know from history of the wars you have fought, and we respect your sensitiveness on this subject. Will you allow me to tell you that there are some things about which other nations are also sensitive, some things in which they take a pride, some things which they feel as strongly about as you do about Manchuria? There are some States who fought to the very death in the Great War, States that staked and lost everything You say you have spent a billion yen in Manchuria; well, these States spent much more than that in the Great War and incurred debts which will cripple them for generations. You lost 200,000 lives; these people lost many millions. And they got nothing out of it except one thing. The only thing which these nations have saved from all their sacrifices in the War is their collective machinery for maintaining peace and preventing a repetition of such horrors. They are proud of it and sensitive about it. It is to them a lifeline, the life-line of their civilization, and it counts for them as much as Manchuria counts to you. I ask you, therefore, to remember this. You are up against a very difficult task; do not make it more difficult by flying in the face of world opinion. The world is ready within its peace machinery to reconcile your interests with those of China. You are a member of the League; the League is under an obligation to help you in this crisis; it will do so if you will trust it, if you will submit your case to it, if you will proceed in conformity with its machinery and not against it. That is my request to you.'"

That, then, was the argument that ran all through the special session of the Assembly, not that Japan had not a Treaty right and a moral right in Manchuria, but that she was taking the law into her own hands and flouting the world's way.

Now, Mr. Cahan, in his speech, also repeated this argument strongly. He warned Japan that to fly in the face of the League might have for her the most regrettable consequences, but all through his speech there ran a note of sympathy for Japan, a desire to minimize her offences against the Covenant, and an absolute neglect of the risk her policy runs. of bringing her into fierce conflict with the Soviet States, with the United States, and thereby raising a world war. There ran those significant omissions and those significant sentences which made Mr. Cahan's speech more agreeable to the government of Japan and less agreeable to the government of China, than any other speech in the long debate, except that of the Japanese delegate, Matsuoka.

Let me read one extract from Mr. Cahan's speech. As I said, he warned Japan that to fly in the face of the League might result in serious consequences. Here is one extract: "It seems to me that the institution and maintenance by the Chinese Government or with its passive approval of attempts at intimidation against the citizens of any State which is a party to that Treaty, or any attempt by unilateral action to abrogate or diminish the Treaty rights of any other State in or in respect of China, must be regarded as a grave infringement by China of the existing rights of other States and manifestly provocative of emergency action by such other State for the purpose of protecting such rights. In our law, we affirm as an invariable maxim of good conduct that he who seeks equity must first do equity". When a speech, differs so much from that of the prevailing tone of the 11 Assembly surely it is worth more discussion than it has so far had in Canada. And, remember, I am not criticizing Mr. Cahan. Still less, am I criticizing the Prime Minister of Canada who, since that time, on the first day ,' that the House met, more or less endorsed Mr. Cahan's speech. There is a great deal to be said for Mr. Cahan's point of view, but when a Canadian delegate has a point of view differing from any other delegate, except the delegate of Japan, we might, at least, pay more attention to his words than we have done. I think that there is a great deal to be said for Mr. Cahan's point of view.

I feel strongly that Japan must be, shall I say, jollied along, until financial stringency brings to her military men a milder mood.

Remember that Japan is now in the hands of a military gang. Japan, alone, of all the great nations fought comparatively little in the Great War, for which I am not criticizing her. They were our Allies and they did in the most workmanlike way all they had to do. They did comparatively little. They lost not enough to realize what war means. I can not put the present situation better than it was put by Lord Lytton, himself. It certainly seems that the fact that he became head of the Royal Institute of International Affairs is a most significant thing. He was asked about the so-called Liberal opinion ire Japan, which, I need hardly say, has no reference to Canadian party politics. Lord Lytton said "With regard to giving support to Liberal opinion in Japan, at the moment Liberal opinion was completely suppressed by a terrorist movement. Liberal politicians had either left the country or were under police protection. It was quite impossible for them to say anything in defence of their point of view except at the risk of their lives." When you get a country in that state there is a great deal to be said for what I call 'jollying her along' until her financial interests teach the military men that what they are doing does not pay.

What might happen if the League took too strong a point of view with Japan? I will tell you what might happen. We might wake up some day and find in the newspapers, not a speech of Mr. Cahan's, but the news that Hong Kong, Singapore and the Phillipine Islands, the three great naval bases of the United States and Great Britain in the Orient, had been seized over night by Japan and that Great Britain had a first class war on her hands, and all the small states, Czechoslovakia, Denmark and Guatemala, now so loud in their demands for the sanctity of the Covenant, would be quite unable to help and Great Britain would be left with a war on her hands and with her naval bases gone; at most with the United States as her ally, Honolulu her nearest base., and the other nations growing rich on the sale of munitions. I do not think that this is likely to happen but the thought that it might happen is agonizing every foreign office in Europe and the thought that it was possible might well have been in Mr. Cahan's mind when he spoke, and in that of the Prime Minister when he justified his speech. The fact is that Mr. Cahan took a more pro-Japanese position than the representative of any other power except Japan. Perhaps I should not say a more pro-Japanese position, but a less proLeague position. This is one instance of how seriously Canada takes the League of Nations and it seems important enough to merit attention.

Let me take another point on which I wrote six weeks ago in Saturday Night. It is just possible that some of you may not have seen the article, and it is possible that having seen it, you did not read it. You will pardon me if I repeat one or two things that I said there. Canada started off splendidly in connection with the League of Nations. The head of our first delegation, the Honourable N. W. Rowell, set such a mark, that when I was in Geneva in, 1930, I saw no one who did not speak still of the impression he had made. The first Treasurer, Sir Herbert Ames, did much when the League had hard sledding with its finances. Senator Dandurand was appointed for some years in succession by the Liberal Government and he did much through his perfect knowledge of the two tongues of French and English to spread the Canadian point of view among the representatives of Europe. That knowledge has done something to bring together representatives of those two great powers, the British and the French. He was worthily rewarded by being made for one year, President of the Assembly--position which he filled admirably. And right along, we have appointed excellent delegates. Mr. MacKenzie King, as Prime Minister, went once. The first delegate of the newly elected Canadian government in 1930 was Sir Robert Borden whom every Canadian, I think, names with honour. We have always appointed excellent delegates but there has been a tendency, in spite of the rather good record of the Canadian Government with Senator Dandurand, to lack continuity. Mr. Rowell went once; Sir Robert Borden went once; Mr. Hugh Guthrie went once; and Mr. Cahan went once. And if you turn to the women representatives, take eminent women like Miss Agnes MacPhail, or Mrs. Plumptre of this city--each went once. The difficulty is that at Geneva you don't have an abstract to deal with. You have a lot of men and women and you have to make what in business are called 'contacts'. This can not be done in one brief visit; you have to go again and again and make contacts strong and intimate. League Assemblies do not consist of a number of amiable gentlemen disseminating peace. The League Council consists of statesmen, skilled men" with a civil service inferior to none, and you must have, to deal with that, a delegation, one member of which knows them personally, and knows their problems. You cannot send first one man and then another, if you are going to have that personal contact.

And take another point in connection with that, which I need hardly stress before the Empire Club: if there is one thing the Canadian delegation must do, it must be to keep in very close and intimate touch with the British delegation. It is a fairly open secret, owing to the fact that our delegates are going over in this way, without continuity, that consultations are not quite as intimate as they began by being under Mr. Rowell and others.

What do other powers do? France always has a permanent delegate at the special Assembly. When Mr. Paul Boncour arose to speak, he spoke of the great privilege his country had given him in making him a permanent member of the League, in succession to Briand. In England, Lord Cecil of Chelwood is invariably a delegate to the League, and so that intricate weaving of national and international which must be watched so closely at Geneva is ever watched by Lord Cecil, as it was watched in France by Mr. Briand, and now by his successor, Mr. Boncour. It can not be watched by a man hurriedly briefed. I feel so strongly on this point that, speaking at Windsor recently, I let off some fireworks, and was naturally, very promptly rebuked. If what I said hurt any feelings, I am sorry. No one wishes to hurt anyone's feelings, but, frankly, I do not regret any word I said, because I think that I did something to bring this very important question before my fellow citizens, and if to do that it is necessary to hurt my own or anyone else's feelings, I am willing to do it.

Someone says, "Perhaps you have proved that we do not take the League seriously. Why should we? It is a very dull body and very uninteresting. It is a recent creation; its roots are very shallow; it seems to run contrary to the instincts of human nature; it has made more than one failure. Why should we take it seriously?" That is a subject on which I could speak for hours, but I shall content myself with one reason and I shall make it personal and I shall make it brief.

The first job I ever had by which I made my living when I left Oxford University was as a master at Upper Canada College. I taught there for four years, and then I went off at another job for fifteen years and then I came back as the Principal. When I look at the names on the scholarship roll of the boys that I taught in that first period--when I look at the names of the boys who were on the football teams I coached, or the hockey teams I watched--there are very sad gaps. They are the boys who, in their prime, died in France or Belgium. When I look at our Honour Board, with over a hundred and seventy names on it, and when I try to count up the male children--the sons whom those one hundred and seventy-five have left--I find that they have left about fifteen sons. Just the men who should have been the fathers of the next generation, their sons they gave--their immortality.

We talk now about the financial stringency which is on us. We talk about the world chaos and about the cracks that seem to be appearing in our civilization. We wonder if we shall pull through and where are ever so many of the men who should be here in their prime, helping Canada, helping Great Britain, helping the Empire, helping the world to pull through? Where are they? And now that I am again teaching at Upper Canada College, I do not wish to train another generation to share the same fate. And the League of Nations, imperfect though it is, shallow rooted though it yet is, is the only, the best defence which we have against another world war. And that is the unpardonable sin of Japan in this crisis and that is why the praise which Mr. Cahan has given to Japan needs some justifying.

Let us criticize the League as much as we will. It must grow in an atmosphere of criticism; the more criticism we give it, the better. But let us never take it lightly; let us never take it other than seriously. If you think of taking it other than seriously look first in the faces of your children. (Applause.)

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