OCTOBER 5, 1967
Using The Commonwealth
AN ADDRESS BY Arnold Smith,
The President, Graham M. Gore
Today we stand two-thirds of the way through the 20th century. And if we ask ourselves what are the special marks of a 20th-century man--the char acteristics that distinguish him from his fellows in other ages--we might say that he is a mobile man, a man who moves easily and often within many cultures and many countries. He is also a man with a variety of experiences, a man who communicates well, and very often a man who is no stranger to public service.
Such a 20th-century man is our speaker today. He is a native son of Toronto but he has lived and worked in France and in Russia, in Egypt and in Estonia, in the United States and in Belgium, in Great Britain and IndoChina. He is fluent in both French and Russian, and during a distinguished career he has been a Professor of Economics, a Foreign Service Officer, a Truce Commissioner, an Ambassador, and a United Nations Delegate. For over two years now he has been Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
Our speaker was born in Toronto and was educated at Upper Canada College, the University of Toronto, and in France. He was a Rhodes Scholar and spent a year at Oxford, England. In the succeeding thirty years his career has kept him close to the big events of our time. During the war years he was an attaché at the British Embassy in Cairo and later with the Canadian Embassy in Moscow. After the war he served with the Department of External Affairs and in the next fifteen years he represented Canada on the United Nations Security Council, at the Canadian Embassy in Brussels, as an International Truce Commissioner in Indo-China, as Canadian Minister to the United Kingdom, and as Canadian Ambassador to the United Arab Republic. From 1961 to 1963 he became a widely known international figure when he served as the Canadian Ambassador to the Soviet Union. We remember those years now as the Kennedy-Khrushchov years and we remember too that they included the Cuban Missile Crisis, a time when nations were close to nuclear war.
With that kind of background our speaker was uniquely qualified to take up his appointment in 1965 as the first Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. His chief re sponsibility is to promote greater understanding and cooperation among the 21 nations of many cultures that make up that unique organization, of which Canada .is a proud member.
In an article in Maclean's Magazine, Terence Robertson has commented on the fact that "the weirdness" of the Secretary-General's job lies in the nature of the Commonwealth itself.
"In it are monarchies and republics, socialist states and conservative states, white countries and black countries, big elderly nations and young small nations. They have little in common but a language and historic connections with the British Crown. They have no common economic or regional interests, no shared political ideals, not even a basic foreign policy to which each could subscribe at least in part."
Our speaker is in Toronto as a Centennial Visiting Professor of the Varsity Fund, and we are grateful to the University of Toronto for making his presence possible here today.
And now it is my pleasure to introduce to you a man who has represented this country for three decades in the far places of the earth, a man who is now chiefly con cerned with the historic concept of the Commonwealth of Nations, a man sometimes referred to as Mr. Commonwealth--His Excellency Dr. Arnold Cantwell Smith.
Thank you, Mr. President. It is true that, in the course of the last 30 years, and particularly in the last couple of years, I have had to shuffle around the planet a little bit. I have discovered, among other things, that there are rather a lot of time zones in my parish, and these past two years have not been very restful. I have averaged about 10,000 miles a month, someone calculated, and my wife keeps reminding me.
Now, in the past two years it has certainly not been dull, but it is good to be in Toronto today and good to have my second chance of being in Canada in this cen tenary year. It has been quite a centenary and it is not finished yet.
Now Canada, like other multi-language countries, has been going through a difficult period, but it is important, I think, to see these difficulties in perspective, and to realize just what it is that is involved. When Canadians of two founding races, or nations, or language groups, decide to make one federal state this, perhaps, seems an unusual thing to a good many political observers at the time, but as the events of the last couple of decades have shown, multi-language, multi-cultural and multi-national states today are not the exception; they are typical, and many of them have been going through a difficult time, but it is very important to see the problems in perspective, and I sometimes tell my African friends that we have tribal problems in Canada too, and sometimes they think I am joking but I am not.
It is important to realize that what is involved in setting our hands to making a plural society is one of the major tasks of mankind today. It is very salutary I think for Canadians when they sometimes feel a little overwhelmed at some of the problems of making a success of a bilingual and bicultural state, to realize that a century ago what we set our hands at has proved to be one of the essential tasks of mankind, and it is important to see these tasks in perspective.
If a country with Canada's material wealth and cultural traditions, and coming from two of the greatest cultures of our civilization and with our practical experi ence of self-government, cannot make the resounding success that I am sure we can make, and will make, of a multi-lingual, multi-cultural society, what on earth would we expect to be the prospects for such vaster more multilingual and multi-cultural states as India or Pakistan or Nigeria or such smaller or complicated ones as Kenya or Zambia or Malaysia or Singapore.
We must, I think, see these problems in perspective, see them also, and deal with them also, in the perspective of where any sane man must realize we have to move as a world in the next generation or two and this, I think, can only be one goal, and that is to make a united world, an effective community with community institutions commuting on a global scale, and if we do not succeed in this the prospects that we may blow ourselves up are far from negligible.
A century ago, we not only embarked on what has proved to be one of the fundamentally decisive political tasks of mankind-the establishment and maintenance and development of a multi-lingual, multi-cultural state--but we also invented, in dialogue with the British, the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth, to a very great extent, has been a Canadian invention. It was shaped in a whole series of crucial decisions, and to a great extent by Canadian needs and Canadian pressures, and it is important to reflect that our motives have not been based on backward-looking sentiment in the past, but to forward calculations in the future. Originally, we wanted to maintain our association with Britain, but without subordination and inequality, in part for reasons of trade, and in part--a considerable part--for diplomatic and defence reasons. We wanted a counter-weight to our American neighbours who, at that time, were talking about their manifest destiny to liberate a whole continent to their particular version of freedom, and who tended, in those days, to make Canadians rather nervous.
In other words, we had good reasons of national selfinterest, and in the decisions that shaped the Commonwealth during the thirties Canada, which had to make the Commonwealth into a sort of an association in which peoples of non-Anglo-Saxon origin could also feel at home, played a pretty decisive part in first opposing and changing the original concept of diplomatic unity of empire.
I remember in my school days that the front spaces of the text books used to talk about one fleet and one flag and one throne, which was a worthy concept, but wasn't the concept that we insisted on, largely under the broadening of Winnipeg editor, Defoe. And, of course, if that concept had been accepted there would have been no possible chance that Asians and Africans and others, when they became independent, would have decided to apply for membership in the club, and in the decisions that have transformed the Commonwealth in this decade, the emphasis on the principle of racial equality, for example, in discussions that led to the withdrawal of South Africa.
The Canadian role was, I think, typical and the same thing applies in the discussions which were not easy, and the decisions which were not obvious, and very controversial, and sometimes agonizing, to tackle the Rhodesian problem, and to use the Commonwealth to hold and try to resolve this very difficult, very dangerous question of relations between races. In other words, we have a lot of responsibility for the shaping or association that we now have. It is also worth reflecting what this association has done for Canada.
I think it has been the most important single influence for many decades in leading Canadians to break out from parochialism; to see the cold war, for example, in the early fifties when it was raging heavily. In perspective, to realize largely the result of the continual emphasis of people like Jawaharlal Nehru, and the other Asian leaders of liberation movements-that the future of humanity wasn't going to depend merely, or perhaps mainly, on the issue of Western-Soviet relations--and I don't intend to downgrade the importance of that; I have spent a good deal of my life dealing with that problem-but that the future of humanity would depend, not less and perhaps more, on what we, mankind, should do about things like the struggle of colonial peoples for independence, the demands of non-white races for racial equality and removal of discrimination, and above all, perhaps, on what we do about the growing demands of the world's poor, who are the vast majority, and to rid themselves of poverty, disease and illiteracy.
Now, the modern Commonwealth, as I suggested, to a great extent has been a product of Canadian influence in these very crucial decisions. It seems to me this can be incomparably more important in the next 20 or 30 years than it has ever been in the past. It can be, and whether it will be or not remains to be seen. This depends on the vision and political will of governments and democracies; on the vision and political will of men like yourselves--the leaders of public opinion.
Now, the reason I say it can be more important is pretty obvious if you stop to think of it. The modern Commonwealth is a very different group than the original which it subsumes. The original Commonwealth was peripheral to what were the most dangerous problems of the first 45 years of our century--relations between nations and states in Europe. The Commonwealth association, as such, could not really do much decisively to prevent the mishandling of these problems though it had to play a very important part in fighting the two World Wars which mishandling led to. Again, the most dangerous problem, I think for some 18 years after 1945, was this question of WesternSoviet relations, and again in that issue, which very nearly led to a thermo-nuclear war, the Commonwealth association, as such, was peripheral, but today the Commonwealth is squarely in the middle of the most dangerous and difficult issues which mankind faces.
The Commonwealth today is 26 nations -it was 21 when I was elected to this post, and there were people who thought that it was going to diminish rather rapidly not many months after, but actually, it has grown, and now we have 26 members. I look forward, within a matter of some months, to welcoming in the 27th, another Frenchspeaking country. I am speaking of Mauritius. These 26 countries are, in effect, a cross section of mankind, and of the problems of mankind. There are peoples of every race, or virtually of every race from every continent: very big countries, such as, India, Pakistan and Nigeria, and very small ones, such as, Zambia and Singapore; very rich ones, such as, Canada and Australia -that's a booming place; I was there last May and I found that everytime a man put a shovel or spade in the ground it turned out he was likely to find a multi-million-dollar resource--and it includes very poor countries far too numerous to mention.
Now, there are people who think that this cross section of mankind is rather anachronistic, rather an illogical grouping. It is not. This, I think, is straight nonsense. It is a group of countries which represent every kind of diversity and problems in race, in economic needs and necessities, but which, nevertheless, has a great deal in common in the way of traditions handed down largely by the people of Britain-that astonishingly creative little offshore island-not only the ability to get along in English, as one of the working languages, although English is not the mother tongue of the vast majority of us, but a lot of traditions in political methods, administrative methods, and particularly, I think, in this matter of administrative methods, civil service practice, and so on, which is so important in the terms of governmental understanding; similarities in legal and judicial traditions, in organization and ethic of professions, the similarities in the organization of educational systems, and the whole network--the criss-cross network of friendship.
These things, if properly used, can make the international understanding not easy--I don't think it ever is easy--but a good deal less difficult than otherwise it would be. If properly used it can do a great deal to expand people's awareness, sympathetic understanding of each other, and a great deal to lead to practical co-operation. If you reflect on what the Commonwealth association has done for the expansion of Canadian awareness, and therefore, the development of Canadian policy, you will see what I mean in suggesting its potential importance for future influence, as well as present influence, on the development of the thinking of a good many countries far newer than we centenarians are to independence.
Canada wasn't really an isolationist in the 19th century, and it is significant, I think, in 1914 and 1939 Canadians considered that the German threat to democracies in Western Europe was a threat also to democracies in North America, and therefore, entered World Wars I and II within a matter of days of Britain and France. But if our assessment of the threat to democracy in North America was a valid one, and I think it was, it applied equally, and it was equally valid for our American friends, but it took them two and a half years in each case to recognize the validity of Canadian assessment of common interest. The effect of the Commonwealth, I think, in keeping our horizons rather larger than they otherwise might have been was important there. But it is especially, I think, since the war that the Commonwealth associations have done so much to expand Canadian horizons, awareness, and therefore, policies. It is largely as a result of the membership of new Commonwealth countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, that Canadians developed diplomatic missions in Africa and in Asia and the Caribbean -not entirely, but very largely.
Now, again, it is entirely as a result of Commonwealth meetings, and the pressures and sympathies they engendered, that Canada got involved in 1950 in the external aid program. This was considered a pretty radical idea at the time, that the Canadian government tax Canadian electors to help poor countries develop their economies. There was a lot of opposition to it. It was not accepted--it would not have gone through Cabinet or the top civil service that usually things have to go through before they get to Cabinet, had it not been for the pressure of a few men of vision who had been at that Colombo meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers, and the recognition by other Cabinet ministers and top civil servants, that the Canadian public would probably agree to this radical new departure in policy as a gesture of Commonwealth cooperation.
Now, of course, we should have opened up diplomatic missions in Africa and Asia, Commonwealth or no Commonwealth. We should have gone into the aid game, if I can call it that, because it is a very important thing in the long-term national interest of any inhabitant of the world. We should have gone into these things, Commonwealth or no Commonwealth, and we probably would have sooner or later, but it probably would have been much later. However, the fact is that it was the Commonwealth connections and the effect of these things on our vision and awareness that led to Canada developing into a much less parochial nation than we otherwise might have been.
I think if you reflect on the real needs, if we are going to develop a kind of global society that we have to for safety over the next generation or two, the real needs in the evolution of the thinking of Africans and Asians and others, it is essential that they too should maintain and develop broad horizons, broad vision, and it is, I think, pretty obvious that the Commonwealth contacts, Commonwealth meetings can serve mightily as one instrument to encourage and nourish this enlargement of horizons--this expansion of vision and the mutual adjustment of policies which the situation requires.
The greatest dangers in the world today, it seems to me, are three-fold, I suppose. One is the nuclear proliferation problem, and that certainly is a world problem and not
a Commonwealth problem as such. Secondly, and not less important, the dangers that decline into merely regional thinking. The development of neo-isolationism, and you will find lots of signs of this trend in North America, in Asia, in Africa and very much in Europe.
Thirdly, the dangers involved in the growing gap between the rich and the poor; the dangers that the richpoor dichotomy could coalesce with the division between the white races and the other races of mankind. In the line they are largely, although happily not entirely coinciding, and if developed on a global scale something that could become very dangerous and very ugly.
If you will reflect on the race riots in the American states during this past year you will see what I mean. It has been suggested by McKone, the former head of the C.I.A., that these race riots could destroy the United States unless the root causes are effectively tackled. It seems to me far from fanciful to suggest, that in a decade or two, unless we can reverse some present trends, we can get a very dangerous irrationality and violence based on racial hatred and frustration on a very large scale--on a global scale--and this could be of profound danger.
It is important to recognize the gap between the rich and poor of the world has been widening--it still is widening. This decade was called or christened, hopefully by the United Nations when it began, the decade of development, but there are dangerous prospects that it will end up the decade of frustration for two-thirds of humanity. This can involve very serious political dangers for us all.
Now, as I say, the Commonwealth--the modern Commonwealth-is squarely in the middle of these problems of trust and confidence, and relations which can only be based on equality between races, and this is a problem of maintaining dialogue and using the dialogue for fruitful and constructive purposes between the rich of the world and the poor of the world. We are squarely in the middle of these problems, and it is to the extent that we can use this association to help deal with these problems that will matter. Many people have thought of the Commonwealth as a sort of relic or hangover of the past, and as something to curtsey to if you feel piously inclined and then pass by on the other side. This is nonsense. From the beginning it has been the product of hardheaded decisions of statesmen all over the world based on forward-looking calculation. It has been based on what responsible statesmen saw could be made of such an association as an instrument to help shape the future. I mentioned some of the original Canadian decisions which have been so crucial in shaping the evolution of this association from original groupings that could have been conceived of as one of kith and kin into modern multi-racial groups that subsumes the old Anglo Saxon grouping-all but those few that rejected the wider ideal that subsumes that group into a wider family that include peoples of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean in an association that is something important to prefigure the family of man. I have been pretty closely associated with the leaders of the new Commonwealth governments over the past few years and I know that their decisions to apply for membership in the association have been based on forward-looking calculations, not sentimentality in the past which, to them, often meant unhappy memories of periods in jail and periods of discrimination and inequality. It was based on rejecting temptations to pursue the policy of nation-building which is the main task of these leaders of liberation movements when they finally get the power, to reject the temptation to build that on nourishing resentments about the past on negative emotions which is so easy and so tempting for the cheaper kind of politicians, and to base it instead on using an association precisely because they saw value in the association that brings together, from time to time, leaders in various fields of some European countries, some North American countries, African countries and Asian countries and so on. They have based their calculations partly on vision for a united world which they recognize is essential to their peace in the future and also, of course, on hardhearted calculations as to what they can get out of it in the way of aid opportunities and trade opportunities and diplomatic contacts and friendships, and what they can put into it using it as one of the channels through which they can try to influence the thinking of others, and therefore, help to shape the decisions that will determine the future of our world. Very often the leaders of national liberation movements, the first prime ministers or presidents of new independent countries, are men of quite unusual vision and spiritual force, and of course, it is not surprising. It is not surprising, I think, that Nehru has become a legendary figure in the folklore of his country and I think we should recognize that people like Jomo Kenyatta and Kenneth Kaunda and Nyrere will become legendary figures in the folklore of their societies in Africa, and I think deservedly so. They are men of vision. Now, the Commonwealth, like other international associations, United Nations and NATO, Organization of African Unity, has been going through an extremely dif ficult period during the last two years. Naturally, we have stresses-what would you expect? International associations, meaningful ones, are precisely designed to deal with difficult international problems, but it is very important, I think, not to take the future of any of these associations for granted although the potentialities of the Commonwealth Association can be far greater over the years ahead than it has ever been in the past because we are far more relevant to the problems. Problems are bigger and tougher, and let's face it we can't take for granted the vision and political will of governments and peoples. These things do vary from time to time and some of the trends have been going in the wrong direction.
It is pretty clear, if you look around the world as our planet shrinks, and it is shrinking, there are increased pressures on all of us to make certain adjustments to take account of the needs, hopes and fears of others, and as these pressures increase, and they are increasing, and they are going to go on increasing, it is not surprising that sometimes the reaction, instead of enlarging intellectual horizons and broader sympathies that the situation requires, is one of increased mutual irritation, intolerance with others, increased hardening of hearts. You will find lots of evidence of this in all parts of the world, and thoughtful men will recognize that unless these trends can become minor trends the prospects for humanity are not going to be all that bright.
Now, I don't want to suggest that the Commonwealth is going to save the future. Of course it is not. The most important international association, I think, is the UN precisely because it is supposed to be, and is, nearly universal, but the Commonwealth is far more intimate an association. Its methods of operation are very different: quiet meetings without complicated procedures, taking decisions by the process of consensus which is a very sophisticated process. It is not the same thing as unanimity. In the last few years we have held prime minister meetings that were strongly opposed, and indeed, boycotted by a couple of heads of government, but it is a very sophisticated and very flexible and subtle process, and it has so much to build on in the way of similarities often of habits, political habits, administrative habits and so on, and the things I have mentioned.
Its goals are the same as of the United Nations and it has made, and can make, tremendous important contributions to nudging humanity forward to the goal of a united community of mankind if we keep our eye on the ball, but that's a big "if". I think it is important to see the Commonwealth pretty clearly for what it is--an instrument to help shape the future in co-operation with others, and not in rivalry to them, and to avoid falling into false images which particularly, I suppose, in the Commonwealth abound so much. There is the old kith and kin image, which I referred to, and some people I think often refer to--I know I have often referred to the ghost-of-empire image. If Anglo-Saxons support the Commonwealth mainly for reasons of sentimentality because it reminds them of an empire of which they rightly feel proud, it is not surprising that French-speaking Canadians, and sections of Africa and Asias opinion, if they think of it in these terms of the past, should feel allergic to it. They wanted to forget that particular aspect of the past. Both groups remind me rather of the Jujube bird that I learned about when I was at Upper Canada College. That is the bird that always flies backwards, I was told, because it is more interested in where it has been than where it is going. Now, we have got to avoid that kind of image. We have got to avoid too, I think, the idea which is widespread in parts of my rather vast parish, that the Commonwealth is sort of a surrogate or placebo for a vanished empire -something designed to ease the psychological shock of the British of having given independence to so many peoples all around the world, but something which, while psychologically useful for its period, has now served that function.
We have got to recognize that the Commonwealth is a two-way street of influence -influence coming in and influence going out, and it is precisely therein that its real value lies.
Now, Canadian responsibility, which is very great, has been rather crucial to changing the shape of the Commonwealth from the old, and apparently, the Anglo rich man white man's club, into a modern multi-racial group of 26 nations of which peoples of European origin are only 15%. It is important, I think, that Canada should continue to play a full part in using the association, and we have been doing that. The decisions to use the Commonwealth to deal with the Rhodesian problem were tough decisions. Parliament is not yet resolved, and I don't intend to go into it here except to say it is essentially a matter of political will.
The prestige now of the United Nations and of the peace articles in the UN Charter, the mandatory sancttions articles, are engaged, and if, not for technical reasons but through lack of political will to follow through, they fail, as they may, that following on the failure, for reasons of political will, not technical reasons, of the League of Nations sanction against Italy during its aggression against Abyssinia in the 1930s, could be pretty serious in terms of the prestige and influence and credibility of the United Nations and international laws as a whole. It is a serious issue, but I don't want to go into that issue at great length.
I do want to say something very briefly about the importance, as I see it, of using the Commonwealth as one of the instruments for assistance in development. I men tioned that the gap between rich and poor is growing. The growth rate of the developing countries of the world is slowing down. There are some exceptions, but over-all they are slowing down rather markedly. The total flow of resources from the rich countries to the poor countries has been about constant in the last six years of about 6.6 billion dollars, and as a percentage of the significantly increasing wealth of the industrialized countries of the world has, of course, been declining markedly-in terms of the amount of aid per capita to the development countries it has been declining markedly. Even this absolutely increasing amount is being offset by return flows in interest payments and amortization and so on and, of course, some of it is offset by price increases.
In other words, if we are going to really tackle this problem of development--and of course, the main responsibility has to be with the peoples in the developing coun tries themselves, but they do need help--if we are going to tackle the problem effectively, and when I say "we" I mean mankind, we've got to lift the whole problem on a new plateau, a new plateau of vision, goodwill and energy and resources. We must also find some new and more flexible and more effective techniques.
Commonwealth heads of government said at their meeting last September, and in their communiqué, that they believed that the Commonwealth could play a central part in the strategy of economic development. Most Commonwealth aid goes, and I think this is as it should be, through bilateral channels, but in 1964 Commonwealth heads of government at the initiative of Sir Alec Hume, the British prime minister, said that they wanted to supplement this bilateral aid with some multilateral aid on specifically a Commonwealth basis, and when they set up a secretariat and appointed me, they wrote into my terms of reference that I was to advance and assist in obtaining resources for some development projects and technical assistance on a multilateral technical basis. That was fine, but nobody gave me any financial resources to do this. Now, last September I suggested to the prime ministers meeting, in some papers that I put up, that they should do so-that they should implement these fine words with some action. Most of the meeting was taken up with some rather difficult discussion about Rhodesia, and no decision was taken, but I was asked to call a conference of senior economic officials of Commonwealth countries and I did so last June in Nairobi, and there an agreement was reached by senior economic officials of the 26 countries on some practical proposals.
These were recommendations to governments and now have been approved by most governments, and we are setting out to recruit about a dozen top flight economists from various Commonwealth countries to provide the nucleus headquarters staff to develop a couple of new multi-lateral Commonwealth programmes which, while they will be small certainly to begin with, involve a breakthrough in method and can become very important in the future.
One of these is a technical assistance service concentrating on the fields of planning and public administration--fields in which, because of similarity of method, Commonwealth countries have so much in common, and working in little teams, and again because of the amount in common in these areas that Commonwealth countries have in making these teams relatively effective, I think. And the scheme provides that we will be allowed to recruit experts not only from industrialized countries, whose money we will use, but also from the developing countries where experts will often have experience more relevant to the problems of other developing countries than those coming from highly industrialized countries like Canada, Britain or Australia. That is one breakthrough.
Another one is to examine the feasibility in detail with costing and in depth to apply some aid resources to the problem of developing new markets for the exports of the poor Commonweath countries.
There has been a lot of emphasis put, in the last several years, in the slogan, and it is a good slogan "Trade not just aid", but so far only lip service has been paid to it. Businessmen, such as yourselves in advanced countries, know very well that to develop new markets you usually have to take a lot of sophisticated market research, packaging and design research and work, and then some pretty active and sometimes expensive trade promotion before you begin to sell.
Now, these things take sophisticated expertise, and they take the investment for foreign markets of foreign currencies before you begin to get returns, and both of these things developing countries are short of to the extent that if we can use some aid resources to increase the exports to develop new markets of developing countries, we will help them to stand much more on their own feet. We will increase what is called the private sector, the private business enterprise of these countries, and I think the multiplier effect, the return in development, in production, in earnings of dollars spent in this key area can be perhaps greater than in any other area. Thus far it has gone traditionally to things like helping people increase production or to socio-economic structure or to education or to health. All of these things are profoundly important and more is needed in these areas, but thus far virtually nothing has gone into modern practical business methods of helping developing countries learn how to sell.
There has been a lot of talk about the need of more access to the markets of developed countries, less quota restrictions, less tariff restrictions. COMTAD has been emphasizing, and will continue to emphasize the desirability of some preferences for developing countries for more access to markets, but the practical problem of developing a market, once the legal restrictions and administrative restrictions are removed, is a business problem and it seems to me that this Commonwealth initiative for some practical co-operative assistance in this business field may prove of real importance to the future. Well. I mention those two things merely as an illustration.
We have had, during the past couple of years, meetings of Commonwealth law ministers and trade ministers and finance ministers and health ministers, and we have another one scheduled for next year. Within the next few months we will be having a fourth triennial Commonwealth conference of education ministers in a great many fields: scientific co-operation, economic fields of all sorts, technical fields, civil aviation and others. Commonwealth co-operation is a very real and practical thing.
These are not the sort of activities--they are not the types of meetings--that usually get the headlines. These things go to prime ministers meetings where often there are great controversies and crises, and sometimes they are pretty wearing meetings I can assure you, but it is important to recognize that at the working level, and I mean by that, functional ministers and senior officials in a wide range of fields, the Commonwealth does matter. It is to the extent that we can focus on these things and use them and use them increasingly and nourish the new programmes, for example, for developing assistance through the Commonwealth--it is on all these things that the future of this association depends.
I believe, as I said, that the future can be more important than the past where it will depend on the extent to which the association is used and these programmes are nourished by the Government. I am not complacent but I am not a pessimist. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
Thanks of the meeting were expressed by R. Bredin Stapells.