- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 1 Mar 1951, p. 262-281
- Whitton, Charlotte, Speaker
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- Item Type
- Strains and tensions in the world today. Two contributing factors: the acceptance, for more than a generation now, of a purely deterministic and materialist psychology that "man's destiny lies within his own will" and the natural pre-eminent importance attached to the acquisition of the means of livelihood and enjoyment of the physical facts of visible life by a people who in 35 years have known two terrible wars and an intervening depression in which the struggle for sheer physical survival became the besetting fact of life for themselves and those dependent upon them. A consideration of Canada, Canadians, where we came from, and where we are going. A detailed discussion follows, under these headings: The Nation's Purpose; Our Past; Equality Under the Law; The Decision of the Canadas; The Dominion of Canada 1950; Whither at Mid-Century; The Answer. During this discussion, many topics are addressed, including the following: what Canadians want; looking at and understanding our past; an inheritance of deep convictions from the two major races of Canada; the establishment of Halifax in 1749 and some other historical events of Canada's origins; the decision of the Canadas that this country would go from east to west, not from north to south; the preservation of the direct association with the British Crown; the preservation of the French language; Canada in 1950; political and economic autonomy for Canada; new resources of oil and iron; Government officialdom; national autonomy; Canadian culture; the role in this New World of the Western Hemisphere for Canada; maintaining the balance of power; effective partnership with the British Empire and Commonwealth; what being a Canadian citizen means.
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- 1 Mar 1951
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- "WHITHER CANADA"
An Address By CHARLOTTE WHITTON,
C.B.E., M.A., D.C.L., LL.D. Lecturer, Author, Senior Member, Board of Control, City of Ottawa
Thursday, March 1st, 1951
CHAIRMAN: The President, Mr. Sydney Hermant.
MR. HERMANT: Members and Guests of The Empire Club of Canada: We are to hear an address today by Dr. Charlotte Whitton, C.B.E., M.A., D.C.L., LL.D. Miss Whitton was born in Renfrew, Ont. Following her graduation from Queen's University she served in Toronto with the Social Service Council of Canada. From 1926 to 1941 she was Director of the Canadian Welfare Council. During that time Miss Whitton has carried out special assignments for the Manitoba Royal Commission and the Dominion Government. She has written more than 60 books and pamphlets on delinquency, community organization, social security and immigration, and presently writes regular columns for the Ottawa Citizen and the Halifax Chronicle. A life member of the I.O.D.E., she is a member of the National Executive and personally organized the Ottawa Chapter. It was at the request of the I.O.D.E. that Miss Whitton made the survey of welfare and adoptions in the Province of Alberta and as a result faced a charge of libel under the criminal code. After preliminary hearings the charge was dropped and later a Royal Commission endorsed many of Miss Whitton's findings and new laws of adoption have resulted. In December, 1950, Charlotte Whitton was elected as the first woman controller in the history of the City of Ottawa with the largest vote ever polled by a candidate in the civic elections there. A feature article on Miss Whitton, entitled "The Last of the Battling Suffragettes", appearing in Maclean's Magazine of today, March 1st, 1951, says "that in a life of sponsoring causes, social service work in its earliest stages, adoptions, nursing, health, housing and liquor problems, Miss Whitton's chief interest has always been women and their rights". Miss Whitton is the third lady ever to address The Empire Club of Canada, and it is now my pleasure to ask her to speak on the subject "Whither Canada".
MISS WHITTON: Mr. President, Guests and Members of The Empire Club of Canada; I want to thank the President for his very kind introduction, and I want to say, since he has referred to the fact that a great part of my half century has been spent in Child Welfare, what a gratification it is to sit to the right hand side of a President, whose parents, here present, have done such an extremely good social job.
This is an age in which nearly everybody displays a badge or button of some mystic association. The other day a friend told me of querying a man with "IATK" on a lapel pin. "Oh! that", he said is "I am terribly confused." "But", she said, "Confused begins with a C, not a K."
"Madam", he replied, "you just don't know how confused that Konfused is meant to be."BACKGROUND
Throughout the world today there is uncertainty, and wherever there is uncertainty, there is nervous fear and tension. Tensions break within individual lives and they break between nations and there is conflict and strife within a state. If they continue there is disintegration and inevitably in the flaring out of these dissensions, there is chaos and the break-down of Society with the result, very often war.
Now the strains and tensions in the world today are the direct product of the decay of other than material values, with the loss of faith and, so, of hope, throughout a great part of western civilization.
Two factors have contributed largely to this end. One has been the acceptance, for more than a generation now, of a purely deterministic and materialist psychology, which has taught and is still teaching--right within many of the universities of this country--that man's destiny lies within his own will.
The other factor is the natural pre-eminent importance attached to the acquisition of the means of livelihood and enjoyment of the physical facts of visible life by a people who in 35 years have known two terrible wars and an intervening depression in which the struggle for sheer physical survival became the besetting fact of life for themselves and those dependent upon them.
Now individual life, in and of itself, does not offer man sufficient for courage today and hope tomorrow, and consequently, an age, which has driven material wealth to unprecedented records, finds itself one of the most frustrated and fearful that history records. Men and nations are thus everywhere tired, tense and unsure; they are fearful of mounting costs of living and extending threats of open armed conflict. The "cold war" has become a warm and irritating rash upon the whole body of our modern civilization. We can not think, we can not live comfortably with it.
Canada and Canadians are caught up in this sickness of weariness, fatigue and a sense of insecurity, dogging men everywhere. But with us, there is an added and ill-defined "unease". There is a feeling, growing apace, that we Canadians are being hurried on the path of destiny along a strange, if not indeed a contrary, direction from that by which we have so far travelled on our way to a not unworthy place in the roster of free states. Our people are beginning to feel that they just don't like it and that they are not going along any further or faster until they review and chart the course.THE NATION'S PURPOSE
"A nation, unlike a man who is subject to death, can get what it wants if it wants it long and strongly enough." So writes Arthur Bryant in "English Saga".
Now what does Canada want? What does she seek for herself; for her people? What qualities and what place in human destiny does she crave for this oldest of the self-governing Dominions and newest of the nations of the West?
Bryant provides, too, I think, an effective answer: "The key to a nation's future is in her past. A nation that loses it has no future. For men's deepest desires--the instrument by which a continuing society moulds its destiny--spring from their own inherited experience. We cannot recreate the past, but we cannot escape it. It is in our blood and bone."
Part of the very bewilderment and frustration, in which we Canadians are floundering, stems from unnatural pressures to deny the experience of our own history and to disown or escape the truth of our own past with its demonstrable debt and affinity to much that is best and abiding in what civilization knows as British concepts of freedom, justice, mercy and decency and their expression in British traditions and institutions of life and government. So long as we Canadians fumble about unwilling to admit our ancestry and to seek the fulfilment of our enlarging destinies in unison with a past, which has given us our character as a people and our mould as a nation, we shall be standing as a man before a door to which we cannot find the key.OUR PAST
That past is one of which none of the elements therein need have cause for anything but pride. It is a story of peoples and nations of an old world, giving of their best to the creation of a new, and of the new, in its strength and vigour, honourably mindful, in its turn, of the needs of the old.
It was good blood which opened the pathway from Europe westward to new lands, and it all had the Viking strain. Lief Ericson's half-mythical voyages were based in Iceland, the North Atlantic outpost of European voyageurs in his day, as it is the most easterly of the defences of our new world of the West in 1951.
The Cabots, sailing under charter of an English king in 1497; Jacques Cartier almost a half-century later; Martin Frobisher entering our Arctic in 1578 and having at Hell's Furnace in Baffinland, the first service in Canada in the new English Prayer Book; Samuel de Champlain probing up the Saint John, the Saint Lawrence waterways, and even the Ottawa-Nipissing routes, in the same decade as Henry Hudson entered the inhospitable bay of his naming and William Baffin explored our ice fields; the English settlers founding Jamestown in Virginia a twelve month before Quebec; the Connecticut venturers proclaiming their "Fundamental Orders", four years after Champlain's death--these were all the records of men of a oneness in high adventurous spirit and bold intrepidity of mind.
More, they were essentially of a common ancestry, for the tribes who centered about the Baltic Sea and the Lowlands of Europe were "Northmen" and the progenitors of Norman France as well as of Anglo-Saxon Britain. The Bretons were refugees of the original "Pretani" who fled across the English Channel as the Jutes, Angles and Saxons swooped down upon their islands, following the disintegration of the Roman Empire.
Angles and Saxons and Danes, Celts in Cumberland, Wales and Cornwall, a mixed, unblended race they were, until the Norman Conquest fused them all in one, but not until the fourteenth century did wholly native Courts and an English Parliament emerge, their language English, enriched by the Latin strain of the Norman French. The people of Britain became a "blended brand".
Basically country stock, says Trevelyan, they were hard, clear-headed, tough and liberty-loving. From the Celtic strain came an imaginative quality; from the Norman a sensitive culture and a skill in leadership and the handling of the mass of the people, who were manageable only as they were dealt by justly.
Kipling puts it, with charming clarity, in his picture of the old Norman dying in his own Normandy and telling his heir of the nature of the men whom he will find on his lands in England:
"The Saxon is not like us Normans His manners are not so polite,
And he never means anything serious Till he talks about justice and right; But when he stands like an ox in a furrow, His sullen set eyes on your own
And mutters 'It isn't fair dealing', My son, leave the Saxon alone."
The island breed grew into a race of warrior-farmers, equal in their freedom and speech to their kings and lords.
"A free obedience to their chiefs, according to custom, gave them quiet in peace and power in war", Trevelyan further puts it, "and they developed the mental habit of a free loyalty."
"As a result of long and unbroken Christian usage, it became native to the English to live and work in a society in which moral responsibility existed", Bryant summarizes it. When their concepts of freedom and of justice were violated they reacted in two ways--by migration to other lands, as in their fathers' time, and in rebellion against unjust rule.
It is the inheritance of comparable deep convictions, not mere circumstance, that the two major races, from whose building the Dominion of Canada has emerged, the British and the French, in their own homelands both rebelled against anointed kings and beheaded them in the establishment of free and responsible government.EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW
"The poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he", declared Col. Thomas Rainborowe, in controversy with Cromwell in 1647, and that was of the very essence of the spirit and attitude of the founders of the New England colonies. It was the basic belief too of the doughty British and Hanoverians who, a century later (1749) established Halifax and there, under the terms of Cornwallis' Commission, participated in the first general election, in Britain's possessions overseas, on October 2, 1758 almost a full year before the capture of Quebec.
Nor should it be accounted of no amazing merit that in the terms of capitulation, the subsequent military government, and ultimately the Quebec Act, there was granted to the new subjects of the British Crown (who, incidentally, could not be succoured by an Old France then speeding headlong to her own political disintegration), the most generous and considerate terms ever recorded in the treatment of a ceded foe by the conquering power.
The expulsion of the Acadians was neither hastily nor ruthlessly executed: it was a twice deferred act of military necessity, insisted upon by the threatened colony of Massachusetts, and, for its day, carried out with humanity comparable to our own war-time evacuation of Japanese from the Pacific coast--and there was not nearly as much profit made out of it. Those, not collaborating with the enemy and those, removed from the lines of transport and communication, were left largely undisturbed, the progenitors of the hardy Acadians of today's New Brunswick and indeed of the three mainland Maritimes.
Recognition withheld from the Crown's Roman Catholic subjects in England for another half-century was accorded all those remaining in the ceded territories of Canada in 1763, while they were also given full enjoyment of a civil code and system of land tenure to the resentment of the Crown's own British subjects then in Canada.
In the alternative, amnesty and transport to Old France were assured for all those who wished to retain another allegiance and return to it.THE DECISION OF THE CANADAS
That was generous statesmanship in any day; it was unprecedented in 1774 and it was appreciated and reciprocated within the short spell of little more than a year. Too little is made of a date that should be remembered as the first and most significant in the story of our determination to build here a Canadian state, which (defying all natural geographic, and their determining economic, considerations to the contrary), would flow east and west, not north and south; would blend peoples of different blood, language and religion and, by sheer force of determination, create and maintain a self-contained nation of British sovereignty from the eastern waters to the western sea. That date is New Year's Eve, as 1775 turned into 1776, and the newly acquired colony, having declined the representations of Benjamin Franklin's mission, (in fact he was carried home in a litter) urging association with the revolting North American colonies, repelled Montgomery's attack on Quebec. (I have always said that if American psychologists had been as far advanced as they are now, they would never have attacked a colony of Scotch and French on New Year's Eve and any hoped to survive.)
From that significant decision, the people of Canada have never turned back. Through the sharp divergence of outlook and desires which caused the creation of Upper Canada, as a separate province; through the War of 1812 when again a small, unarmed Canadian people resisted the aggression of a rich and greater people who outnumbered them fifteen to one; through the turbulence of civil war in Upper and Lower Canada; through the finding of reconciliation in the mature statesmanship of Britain's experienced Lord Durham; through the uneasy partnership of those two differing central Canadian provinces; through the patient, long compromise of conference and agreement, on Confederation, again under the tutelage of an older British nation's elder statesmen, our life moved on "in unapparent growth", to John A. Macdonald's speech in the Canadian Commons on February 3, 1865:
"It seemed to all the statesmen assembled that the best interests and present and future prosperity of British North America would be promoted by a federal union under the Crown of Great Britain;" and to Disraeli's introduction of the British North America Act in the British Commons in February 1867: "We are laying the foundations of a great and noble state."
The rest has been but development from that great grafting, a people extending their domain from sea to sea by purchase, creation and adhesion of new territories and always in a consciousness of purchasing this autonomy of a British North America at a price. There was the price of money payment--a huge sum for a small young people--to the Hudsons Bay Company, to redeem our prairie heritage. There was the heavy cost of railway and water transportation to keep open the flow of settlement and trade and commerce, in a less natural east-west movement than the powerful tug southward offered. There was the ingenuity of an entire tariff and subsidy structure to make a northern land's lop-sided economy more self-sustained.
And, what gave us dignity, stature and maturity beyond our small population and our North American isolation, there was association with the responsible mightiest state of Europe, Great Britain, in the maintenance of peace and justice in other lands than our own. As long ago as 1884 the first Canadians left this land in the common defence of a common justice as rivermen, in Kitchener's expedition to relieve Gordon on the Nile. Of those 400 men, a third were from the Ottawa, three gangs from Quebec, two from the St. Lawrence, four from the Northwest, and only two men, I believe, from Toronto. Of course one of these was in command of the Expedition.
To hold the Land of Canada, we shared it with peoples of our own and all the other races of the world. In good comradeship with the older land of senior sovereignty, and in that strength secure, though small of people and great in the resources of half a continent, we grew into the present Dominion of Canada "our plenteous nation still in power extending."
Two factors, one now sees clearly, kept us in the last century of our early growth intact and an identity, though small and sparsely settled in a great land. One was the preservation of the direct association with the British Crown: the other was the preservation of the French language. Both became characteristics of a separate Canada, distinguishing the northern half of the continent from its dynamic powerful Southern neighbour.THE DOMINION OF CANADA 1950
The country which passed under British rule in 1759, after 150 years of France's sovereignty, held 70,000 people, 65,000 of them of the old French stock. A century later, at Confederation, it comprised roughly 3 million, one million of them of French descent. The census to be taken in this coming year of the new half-century will record some 14 million people, of whom (if we measure the Canada of the nine provinces prior to Newfoundland's entry) for the first time in modern story, those of the British races will be in a definite minority, probably 46 to 47 per cent of the whole. The French strain will approximate over a third and from nearly 30 other races the other 20 percent or so of the Canadian people will have been drawn.
There are today over 100 foreign language papers published in 19 different languages, and in Jewish and Yiddish; there are 24 Canadian, 10 U.S.A. journals in English with foreign language sections. That is the mosaic of 14 million Canadians.
Less than one-half of one percent of the world's people, we occupy nearly 7 percent of the world's territory and control the largest resources, held by any single nation, of some of the world's most strategic needs, with a capacity of production of essential foods incredibly greater than any possible ability to consume them--and this in a broken seething world.
Of that world's problems and in its counsels, of our own free will, we Canadians have long assumed a responsible part. For, in the association of free nations of the British states, Canada's growth was not of stature only: it was of understanding, particularly of the understanding of the indivisibility of freedom throughout the world. That we learned young from that other association.
"To whatever ideology a people may submit itself--that is its own concern" said Rt. Hon. The Earl Baldwin of Bewdley in 1939. "But when that ideological system is imposed on other free countries that is the concern of all free men."
So we were in Flanders Fields and the Lowlands, in Italy and North Africa; on the Rhine and in the North Sea patrols; in Britain's flaming towns, and in the North West Pacific. In 1950 our ships were in the Korean waters and it was not the weakness of the public will which explained the absence of Canadian men-at-arms in the columns that entered Seoul in the early autumn of 1950. The fact that the Princess Pat's are actively engaged in the United Nations forces in Korea in the spring of 1951 is testimony of that.WHITHER AT MID-CENTURY
Whither, now, O Canada, in the grave new world of mid century 1950, in which there are only two great powers left, capable of waging warfare on the annihilating scale which modern scientific conflict enjoins, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., with our good, strong young land lying on the ledge between them, engaged with or without her will, whether or not any other state be involved, in any thrust of offence or defence, the one against the other?
In two wars, Europe has been broken beyond early recovery to her historic position of strength and power. In her titanic effort of spiritual, no less than material, mobilization of the free peoples of the world to the defence of liberty, the United Kingdom all but exhausted herself, and let there be no doubt about it, purchased the time for the Dominions, for the United States, for India, and a good part of Asia, to furbish themselves to the preservation of the freedom which they today enjoy. Only now is the world beginning to realize how long and justly Britain "held the keys of such teeming destinies."
It was a German; Wilhelm Dibelius, who put most clearly the secret of her success of keeping free and open and at peace, so many of the danger points throughout the world:
"The English state rests on two specifically English assumptions, common sense and the transformation of the antagonist into a privileged colleague . . . England's contribution to civilization is this free state. It is a structure in which free play is given to the natural forces that go to the building of society. It rests on the instinctive forces of humanity."
Now that the firm grip of those keys may be slipping from weary hands, it is peculiarly enough contemporary United States' historians who most frankly voice their fears of the fullness of calamity which that may mean. In "Man in Motion", Henry J. Taylor, five years ago wrote
"Considering its scope, the British Commonwealth of Nations is the most remarkable political achievement in history. It has overcome more tyranny, supplied more safety, removed more fear, taught more justice, and given more freedom to more people than any other institution on earth. It is not only worth preserving, in the interests of free men, but unless Britain preserves her so-called Empire there will be no freedom for millions upon millions who are now as free as they can safely be . . . Talking about colonial freedom is one thing. Supplying it is another. Furthermore 80 percent of the colonials of the world could not, or would not, use their freedom to maintain freedom. Eighty percent of the world's people are not ready for what we are talking about."
James Truslow Adams wrote something similar but even more prophetic, during the last war:
"In recent centuries the greatest political factor in the modern world has been the British Empire. This is particularly true of the last hundred and fifty years. It is not merely that the Empire rules a quarter of the globe territorially, and a quarter--500,000,000--of its inhabitants. Its trade and financial influences have been equally important and above all its political. 'The Mother of Parliaments' in London has brought into being the free governments in all quarters of the earth which now make up the British Commonwealth of Nations. Its story, with all its shadows, is the story of the steadily increasing freedom of the individual citizen and of the free human spirit ...
"We in America were not only a part of the British Empire for a longer period than we have been independent, but since achieving independence our history touches that of the Empire at almost every point, decade by decade. The greatest Dominion in the Empire is our next-door neighbor, our younger sister with whom we divide almost the whole of the North American continent in friendliness . . . We are linked to the future of the Empire as to that of no other nation. Its history and destiny have a deeply intimate relation to ourselves . . . Different peoples may have different ideals of government but for those who have been accustomed to freedom of person and of spirit, the possible overthrow of the British Empire would be a catastrophe scarcely thinkable. Not only would it leave a vacuum over a quarter of the globe into which all the wild winds of anarchy, despotism and spiritual oppression could rush, but the strongest bulwark outside ourselves for our own safety and freedom would have been destroyed."
Adams wrote of "the possible overthrow of the British Empire"; he did not write of its possible disintegration from within, in a niggling, gnawing process in which certain definite influences in Canada, in recent years, have been as subtly active, as certain elements in the Irish Republic and powerful forces in India have been openly engaged.So now, Whither Canada?
We have now come I think face to face with the harsh fact that not the United Kingdom, nor Canada, nor the Dominions of themselves, in single units, can exercise the stabilizing power for good and justice and decency which the free federation of the British states had exerted in all recent years. The very freedom to associate or disassociate, which each enjoyed, was of the essence of their influence in the world.
"How are all these communities and races jointed together?" Churchill asked. "Why is it they wend their way along the stony uphill road in company? There is only one answer to that: it is because they want to. In fact, they want to very much. If it were not so there is no means to compel them. But they want to. They want to not only in the piping times of peace but even more closely they draw together in the most horrible shocks and agonies of war."
Churchill could have added: "and in the fear and shadow of war", for that, I think, is operating as an influence in both Canada and the United States today, directing the minds of our people as to what way lies safety, with freedom, for Canada and for such part of the world's peace and freedom as may be caught up with our own. There is only one power in the world today, strong and integrated enough to maintain a balance of power between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., and that is the association of British States, acting in unison. Which way, Canada?
This Dominion cannot stand aloof or alone in conflict nor in the danger of conflict in this changed and shrunken world in which air power, radio communication and the application of atomic energy have brought life into such a close and terribly congested compass. These new forces have synchronized with the conscious policy of a certain sector of Canadian opinion which has persistently sought to detach us from that quarter of the world's orbit and the world's people comprised in the British federacy.
These anti-Empire Canadian autonomists have not perceived that, in this centrifugal release, this Dominion is being powerfully drawn into another less flexible and diverse organism in which, by the simple fact of our smaller and comparatively much weaker numerical and economic power, our role is inevitably subordinate, not equal.
Political autonomy is more apparent than effective if it be not grounded in economic autonomy.
Canada's economic autonomy has been based in the traditional trade triangle with the British Empire and the United States, her position sustained by British investments in this country. In the weakening of one, the other element in this stability has been endangered; and economic penetration of this country by the United States has been proceeding apace.
Two tremendous new resources of this country--oil in the West and iron in Labrador--are not only being bought into heavily by United States capital, already dominant in much of our pulp and paper development. But the projected plans of piping out gas and oil, of exporting the Labrador ore, completely around our Maritimes, down the St. Lawrence waterway for import and manufacture in the United States, would confer the greatest benefit and growth of the processing of precious national resources of this country upon the people of another country. That way lies the danger of economic subservience.
The endangering of political autonomy is not only from without but from within. As Professor Alex. Corry of Queens' University pointed out this week to the National Liberal Federation, the control of the people over their elected representatives in Parliament and Parliament's control over the policies and expenditures of the Ministry both are endangered in the exclusive and confidentially exercised powers, entrusted, in emergencies, solely to the Cabinet.
In the complicated processes of modem government, a technical officialdom develops under whose advice and direction even the Ministers of a specialized democracy move. Government officialdom is a greater threat to democracy than government by Order-in-Council for a Ministry must eventually face a people at the polls.
When the organization of government, on the one hand, and of large scale private enterprise, on the other, and much of the latter, located in another country, become so removed from the knowledge and control of the people, both political and economic autonomy are undermined. The operation of a free society in the democratic British process is as surely endangered as by direct attack from without or infiltration of subversive forces from within. Canada is in danger of losing national autonomy in control of her own private capital enterprise. Comparably subordinating, to our national entity and autonomy, is the dominance of the greatest single resource of this or any nation--its man and woman power--by labour and professional organizations "land-based" in the United States and, therefore, controlled as to policy, strategy and, indeed, funds, by organizations and personnel, extraneous to our citizenship and but partially subject to our laws.
Canada is in danger of losing national autonomy in control of her own labour force.
Our culture, struggling to be born, is dominated, in all but its French and foreign language areas, by the smotheringly overwhelming strength of United States publishing, press, radio and film interests, while our leisure time services are daily being ceded to occupation by United States commercial interests. Canada's national cultural autonomy is threatened, if not gone.
Not only is Canada's defence in danger of, or passing into the periphery of another power, but the laneways of the North Atlantic, as well as the Armed Forces of the twelve nations in that pact, are, by the association of the United Nations, being entrusted to the supreme direction of the most powerful nation in the world. Of course there are difficulties in any other arrangement, as an Ottawa paper points out this week
"Winston Churchill wants to know if there is no British admiral capable of taking over command of the Allied naval forces. If one could be found who could not only command forces at sea but also face investigating committees of the United States Senate, and make speeches to Congress when necessary, then there is such a British admiral."
In that nation's beneficent will and intentions today, the free peoples have no concern, indeed great confidence, but what if, as only this week's despatches suggest, other forces with other beliefs should succeed in possessing themselves, by constitutional means of the domination of that nation's policy?
In the most essential sector of a nation's integrity and autonomy--the organization of defence--Canadian resources are being necessarily integrated, but, in certain areas and aspects, dominated, if not dictated, by the military strategy of our great, if good, neighbour. The autonomy of our own defences is in danger of being endangered,--let us put it--at present.
All in all, Canada's internal, as indeed her external, affairs are being swung (so far more by our will than against it) into unison with the life and policy of the United States of America.
But the undertow of present "tides in the affairs of men" can well prove beyond our strength and control unless we will it otherwise in a definite and conscious Canadianism, conscious and determined as to the nature, purpose and direction of our national destiny.THE ANSWER Whither then, O Canada?
Does not "all our past proclaim our future?" The fullest, richest of partnerships with the U.S.A. is required of us in our patrol of this continent, in our union for freedom in the Atlantic Pact, in the association of the United Nations, but that partnership should continue to be one of mutually independent equals--Co-operation ever! Incorporation, never, in the United States of America.
Does not, indeed, the world's future and hope of peace depend upon Canada, in her young and growing strength, taking upon herself, and a small but determined people, the role in this New World of the Western Hemisphere which, for centuries, the Mother Country assumed and discharged, to the undoubted good balance of peace and civilization, in the continent of Europe?
That is, the role of maintaining the balance of power. May it not be Canada's destiny to show no hesitation in maintaining that balance, if necessary, between the U.S.S.R. and the United States of America, the two great powers whose boundaries we alone touch and share, and whose clashing destinies can meet in our skies?
Indeed, is this not the certain way to surest peace for the world? for the U.S.A.? for the U.S.S.R.? Our tremendous empty North cannot be effectively defended in all its incredible entirety. As a people, neutral or alone, we are as enticing and vulnerable to the thrust of a ruthless power as ever the Lowlands or Czechoslovakia. As part of the fantastically strong United States, in organic unity in that Republic, these north-western "states" which our provinces would become, would offer an easy way of access to an invading power, a chosen frontier of battle for a United States, naturally anxious to keep warfare on a far frontier.
But continuing as part of the association of the British Empire and Commonwealth, with its component states and nations, still in effective partnership over a quarter of the world's surface and comprising still a quarter of its peoples, any attack upon us either in offence or defence by another power would bring that whole great mechanism into play over the greater part of the world's seas and skies.
The peace and security of the United States of America, no less than of this Dominion, are the better served with Canada, within, than without, the freely associated nations accepting the sovereignty of a common Crown.
That, then, surely is Canada's greatest, truest destiny, the assumption of the balance of power in the new world, as Great Britain has historically assumed and discharged it through centuries in the Old. And, let there be no mistake, Britain is still the most potent force in maintaining it today, both in the old world of Europe and in Asia.
And the very people who cry out upon it, are the people who really realize it. I continue to get a lot of joy in the story of the Irish train travelling from Drogheda to Dublin, the week of Dunkirk. In a third class carriage were a group of Irish. (And I want to say that on one side of our house we glory in having been rebels for upwards of a thousand years, so I hope I may tell the story without offence). But here they were, the papers spread out, and one old Irish woman said, "The English are getting it this time! Look at them. Bate from land and sea and air. Blessed be God. Glory to His Holy Name". She did not get the applause she expected. She looked about for enthusiastic endorsation. An old man present said, "Look at the map. In another week the Nazis will be across St. George's Channel and on our necks". "Oh", she said, "sure the British Navy would never let them touch a hair of our head. Thanks be to God. Glory to His Holy Name."
As in our past, so in this present and into the future, a conscious will and sense of destiny can keep us intact and free, an autonomous unit, with a dual destiny--in one aspect, maintaining a balance on this continent, in the other fulfilling our past in the continuing, responsible partnership of the states of British traditions of free and ordered government.
Indeed, is there any other choice--a drifting, now well in course to a North American protectorate--economic, social, military, inevitably, in the end, political--under the pulsing, dynamic United States of America?
Or the retention of the identity which history has given us and our own character has fulfilled--the Dominion of Canada, a constitutional monarchy, acknowledging the sovereignty of the King of Canada, in the common Crown of the free association of the peoples of the British Empire and Commonwealth?
Not Commonwealth and Empire but Empire and Commonwealth: because, for many years now, Empire, in the concept and practice of the peoples of our common sovereignty, has not been an Empire of supreme and wide political power but an Empire of ideas and ideals, its essence the supreme importance of the life and soul of the individual human being and his freedom of growth in a disciplined assent to the voluntarily accepted will of the majority.
In such a concept no conflict of allegiance surely can arise for any Canadian.
My own answer I find in the words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, as valid today as when he uttered them forty years ago:
"I am a Canadian, first, last and all the time. I am a British subject by birth, by tradition, by conviction--by the conviction that under British institutions my native land has found a measure of security and freedom it could not have found under any other regime."
So, as a British subject, I accept the sovereignty of the Crown; as a Canadian citizen I accept the sovereignty of this Dominion; as a British subject and a Canadian citizen I am pledged to the service of freedom, justice and right for all peoples, those of other lands and sovereignties no less than of my own.
That, so help me God, is my answer to "Whither Canada?"
VOTE OF THANKS, moved by Mrs. Peter Sandiford, President, Women Electors' Association of Toronto.