- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 18 Sep 1919, p. 318-330
- Finlay, Lord Robert, Speaker
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- Item Type
- The Crown as a bond of Empire. The British connection that is a fervent feeling of attachment. The advantages to all parts of the Empire that is carried with the union of the Empire. An appeal to stick together. The magnificent part played by Canada in the war. The desire for a closer union between such great Dominions as Canada and the Mother Country. Improvement in the means of transit across the Atlantic. The more formidable means of communication with Australia and India. Working on the foundation which has been laid during the war through an Imperial Council for the purpose of considering all questions of an Imperial nature. The need for parliaments in Canada and in Great Britain. What can be done in the way of closer union. The strength of the tie to a great extent consisting of its looseness. The experience in aviation which was gained during the war possibly in the days of peace being employed for abridging the time occupied in the passage of the Atlantic. Canada's foremost position in using the air as the medium of conducting military operations during the war and possibilities for future development. The question of the appeal from the Courts of the Dominions which now lies to His Majesty in Council. Advantages arising from one final tribunal of appeal, as witness in Great Britain. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The desirability of establishing peace not only between the nations but also between capital and labour. Taking great care in devising schemes for the benefit of the workmen that we do not frighten away capital. Some suggestions for involving employees in a share of the business. Some comments on freedom, and on the right to work. The issue of strikes. The importance of sea power. The Empire's sea power, vital to the Mother Country which depends upon the sea for its supplies of food; the existence of sea power vital to the Dominions who want protection from those powerful neighbours who will be envious of their prosperity. What might have happened to the British Empire if it had not had the predominance of the British Navy during the great late war. Having won the war by union, now winning our way through the difficulties of peace by union.
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- 18 Sep 1919
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- SOME IMPERIAL PROBLEMS
AN ADDRESS BY LORD ROBERT FINLAY, ox LONDON,
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
September 18, 1919.
LORD ROBERT FINLAY, on rising to speak, was greeted with applause and said: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,-I am indeed proud to be here today to listen to what your chairman has said and to receive such a welcome as that which you have been good enough to extend to me. I feel that in extending that welcome to me you are really expressing your attachment to the Empire as a whole. You realize that it is for the good of the whole Empire that the different parts of it should get to know one another better. We are always glad to see Canadians in England and in seeing them there we are able to realize better what a great country it is that fate has indissolubly, I trust, linked with Britain in the history of the world. You are pleased to express pleasure at one, who has borne some part in public life in England, coming to Canada, and I can assure any of those who may consult me on the subject that they will find a trip to Canada one of the most delightful and one of the most enlightening experiences that any public man can possibly go through. I have, I think, had more pleasure in the days that I have spent in this great Dominion than in any period of my life. I have put into a comparatively small number of
Lord Finlay of Nairn came to Canada to attend the meetings of the Canadian Bar Association in Winnipeg. He is well known both from his legal and political associations, as one of the most prominent lawyers of Great Britain. He was SolicitorGeneral in the British Government from 1895 to 1900, Attorney-General from 1900 to 1906, and Lord-Chancellor from 1916 to January 1919.
days a vast amount of pleasure, and I hope-it will be through no fault of yours if it is otherwise-that I have learned something during that visit.
Gentlemen, I think we are all realizing in these days what a bond of Empire the Crown is. (Applause.) We have among us here at present the heir to the Crown and I think I may say without fear of contradiction that he has endeared himself to everyone in Canada. (Applause.) I am sure that every one feels his loyalty all the more fervent because we have had among us one who some day will preside over the destinies of this mighty Empire. The bonds that unite the Empire are partly those of sentiment, the noblest sentiment that ever inspired any nation, and partly those of common duties and of common interests. It is a very fervent feeling that of attachment to what I might call the British connection. It is felt warmly in the great province in which I have now the honor to speak, and I am certain that that attachment proceeds from the most praiseworthy of all motives, a feeling of loyalty to the race to which we all belong, and of loyalty to the Crown which represents the union of that race. The union of the Empire carries with it advantages to all parts of the Empire. The Empire united is infinitely stronger than the different parts of the Empire if separated could possibly be. Let us stick together. The bundle of sticks is far stronger than any one stick individually, and you have in a united Empire that strength which a union ever brings, and which none but the foes of the Empire would desire to weaken. (Applause.) Gentlemen, that union has carried us triumphantly through the war. I have spoken of what in England we feel as the magnificent part which Canada has played in the war, and I should desire by your permission to say a few words to you, in the first place upon that desire which is often expressed for a somewhat closer union between such great Dominions as Canada and the Mother Country. Of course it is no new thing this idea of an intimate incorporation between what used to be called the Colonies and the Mother Country. A very distinguished writer in the eighteenth century expressed the view that the cure for all the difficulties that were arising on the farther side of the Atlantic, and I am speaking from the English point of view, on this side of the Atlantic, I ought to have said-would be there should be one parliament and that America should send representatives to that parliament sitting in London. Well, that proposition was made by a very great man, Adam Smith, in the year 1775. I think, having regard to the time that the voyage in those days from America to Great Britain occupied, it was perhaps a somewhat daring proposal. I dare say these difficulties might be surmounted, but we are all sensible that if anything of the kind were attempted the facilities of communication now would make the task a little easier than it was in 1775. It is a week, I think, from the Atlantic Coast to England, and it is another week from the Atlantic Coast over to the Pacific Coast, where the western frontiers of the Dominion are. That is a tolerably long way, but still the means of transit have enormously improved. But for all that I myself believe that there would be very great difficulties in the way of an incorporated union of bonds. I do not believe it is in that direction that we should seek to gratify the desire, although a most praiseworthy and legitimate desire, for closer union between the Mother Country and the Dominion. You would have, of course, to take into account all the parts of the Empire in framing any scheme of that kind. Well, whatever the facilities of communication now with the Dominion of Canada are, one must bear in mind that the difficulties of bringing into close relation such a Dominion or such a Commonwealth as that of Australia are in the very nature of things far more formidable. You have what at the very best, I suppose, must be a six weeks' voyage to get from England to Australia, and under those circumstances I think that most people would say that it was a very arduous task indeed to think of having one parliament for such a Dominion and the Mother Country. Then when you come to the great Dominion, if I may use the expression, of India, the continent of India, there are difficulties of a totally different kind which are absolutely insoluble. I think we ought to seek to gratify the desire for closer union in another direction and that is by working on the basis or on the foundation which has been laid during the war, through an Imperial Council, for the purpose of considering all questions of an Imperial nature, questions which do not relate solely either to the Dominion or to the Mother Country but relate to the Mother Country and either the whole of the Empire or to some considerable part of the Empire. In such a council as that you will find that you fulfill the natural purpose for which a closer union is desired. It is on matters that affect the Empire as a whole or any great part that you want closer council, that you want closer co-operation, and I should myself deprecate frittering away the energies of those who are enthusiastic for a closer union upon an endeavor to amalgamate the parliaments, which appears to me, in the nature of things, almost impracticable. There must be parliaments in Canada and in Great Britain. You must have assemblies on the spot, but then there are matters which concern both and if you carry on the work which was conducted during the war, the participation of a great Dominion such as Canada in the councils of the Empire in common with the Mother Country, you do what is wanted and you do not take in hand a gigantic task which might involve you in wholly unnecessary difficulties.
You all know, gentlemen, the very distinguished part which, during the war, Canada played in the conduct of the operations against Germany. I need not again refer to the brilliant services you rendered in the field, but the services that were rendered in council were most valuable to the Empire, and I trust that we have learned a lesson how much co-operation between the Mother Country and the Dominions in council, as well as in the field, really conduces to the greatness of the Empire.
I hope that I do not seem inadequate in my views as to what can be done in the way of closer union, but the truth is that if you look into the matter the strength of the tie to a great extent consists in its looseness. Do not try to draw it too tight, keep a freedom of action in matters concerning each part of the King's Empire, retain that for common action, and see that you have adequate consultation of those who, when the day of danger and difficulty comes, are ready to take the field in defence of the common interests of all. (Applause.)
Gentlemen, the services of Canada in the field were in no respect more strenuous than in what they did in commanding and in working the air forces, the aeroplanes. The proportion of Canadians serving in the aeroplanes that were used during the war by the forces of the Empire was, I am informed on the best authority, very great indeed, and they rendered most splendid service. War is a great schoolmaster and aviation under the stimulus of war has made tremendous progress, and it does occur to me that that experience in aviation which was gained in the most exacting of all schools may in the days of peace be employed for abridging the time occupied in the passage of the Atlantic. Of course we all know what a future aviation probably has before it and in abridging the crossing of the Atlantic by using the air as a means of transit I believe that Canadians will be found foremost, as they were found foremost in using the air as the medium of conducting military operations during the war now happily ended. We will welcome everything that tends to draw us more closely together. The more we can see of one another the better, and I do not know how far off the day is when people will be able to use the air for the purpose of taking a week end in England. (Laughter.)
Gentlemen, will you allow me in this connection to pass to another topic which is suggested by the considerations that have been passing through my mind, and that is the question of the appeal from the Courts of the Dominions which now lies to His Majesty in Council. I myself value that appeal as a great element in the well being of the Empire as a whole. We have there an institution which is, I believe, valued by the Mercantile community in Canada. (Hear, hear.) It tends to a great extent gradually, insensibly and without any encroachment upon what would be the function of the Legislature, to assimilate commercial law which in its essence is the same or ought to be the same all over the world, and to assimilate commercial law all through the British Empire. In retaining that appeal I think in Canada you have the satisfaction of knowing that the great questions which arise in so prosperous and so progressive a country as Canada are submitted to a tribunal which from its familiarity with questions of a similar kind coming from all parts of the Empire is able to attain to a breadth of view which may be useful in promoting the development of the law and through the law promoting the development of the Dominion from which the appeals come. The first and the great consideration is to insure the most thorough efficiency of the tribunal and, as far as I can form an opinion from what has been said to me by Canadian lawyers, I think the general opinion in Canada is that the tribunal is an efficient one and does its work well. (Hear, hear.) At the same time I think there is no reason why it should not do its work even better and I should certainly welcome any well considered proposal for bringing the supreme court of Imperial appeal into closer touch with such a Dominion as Canada by securing the presence at the Board of those who are familiar with the working of the law of Canada upon the spot and are able to bring their special experience to bear upon the matters which come before that tribunal. I think that anything of that kind, if carried out, would tend to the advantage not only of the Dominion of Canada but of the whole of the British Empire with regard to other parts of which similar provision might be made. We have seen to a certain extent in Great Britain itself the advantage arising from one final tribunal of appeal. The law of England and Scotland in many respects is different. You have one tribunal of appeal, the House of Lords, where you have Scotland adequately represented,-some people say too largely represented, (Amusement.) but one great advantage has flowed from cases from Scotland and cases from England coming before that one tribunal, and that is this, that insensibly and without any undue attempt to alter the law, there has been an insensible approximation in mercantile matters of the system of law in Scotland and the system of law in England, and you get the very same thing throughout the whole of the Empire as long as you have the appeal to one central tribunal, that of the Privy Council.
Then there is another thing I want to say about the judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It has lately shown what an admirable tribunal it is in questions of prize which have arisen during the war to a very great extent. You must have on questions of prize, where you have prize courts scattered all over the Empire, one central authority to which appeal should lie. You cannot find any better tribunal than the Privy Council with the functions of an Imperial Court of Appeal from the ordinary courts, and the functions of the supreme court of appeal in prize matters will, I trust, ever remain with the Judicial Committee. Now, gentlemen, these are matters which do not concern merely lawyers for the judicial Committee has in exercising its prize jurisdiction asserted its independence in a manner in which the courts of the Empire may well feel proud. They have laid down in most explicit terms that the judicial Committee sitting on appeal in prize cases is bound to administer the law, that it is not subject to have the law altered by Orders in Council or by anything except the authority of Parliament, and that the judges sitting there are bound to exercise their duty freely and fearlessly and that they are not as is the case, I regret to say, in some countries, to take their orders from the executive. (Applause.) It is a great thing to have had the independence of the judicial Committee so authoritatively declared as it recently has been and in asserting that independence the judicial Committee were but asserting the independence which always has characterized and which ever will continue to characterize the Bench of every part of the British Empire. (Applause.)
Gentlemen, we have other problems which will confront us for solution in the days of peace upon which we are entering, and I should like to say a few words, if you will allow me, as to the great desirability of as far as may be establishing peace not only between the nations but also between capital and labor. (Hear, hear.) Peace is essential in the interests of both. War industrially is just as detrimental to the employers and to the employed as war between nations is to all classes of every nation concerned. It has been said, and said with great truth, that war is the only game from which both nations concerned rise losers. Well, we are able to realize that even when we have emerged triumphantly as we have lately done. We find that the burdens of war are not inconsiderable and the tax payer is able to realize the truth of the old saying to which I have ventured to refer. Just as war is bad for both nations concerned, so is strife which sometimes takes place between capital and labor bad for both interests. The first necessity for the recuperation of this Empire after the great and exhausting war through-, which we have passed is that there should be increased production. (Applause.) It is an absolutely fatal policy to think of restricting production by way of increasing the remuneration of the workmen. He has nothing to gain in that way but he has everything to lose, and I trust that that truth is being realized, and I trust that every day it will be more and more realized by every workman who is entitled to consider and to have consideration by others the interests of his class as a part of the whole community on the prosperity of which the greatness of the Empire in the result depends. It is not as if there were locked up in some sort of warehouse a store of good things to be distributed if you could only get hold of the key. All that we enjoy, all that we have is the result of labor from day to day, and unless you go on producing day by day and producing more and more you dry up the springs of national prosperity, indeed you dry up the springs of national existence. I have often thought of the desirability, and the thought is not a new one for it has been widely discussed and widely acted upon I know in this great Dominion, of diminishing the difficulties between capital and labor by a system of profit sharing. I think it would be of inestimable advantage if the workman could feel that he was interested in the successful conduct of the business in which he is engaged, if he felt not only that the more that was produced the more his own individual interests in the shape of a share of the profits would be increased but if he could realize that it is necessary and proper in his own individual interests as well as in the interests of the employer and in the interests of the country as a whole to be economic in the conduct of his labor. If a man has an interest in the profits he will say to his mate if he sees him wasting, why, don't you know, you are wasting what would yield a profit to you and to me individually as well as to our employers? Let it be even a small profit, the stimulus of that thought that it is putting something into his pocket for the benefit of himself and his wife and his family, that will more perhaps than anything else stimulate the workman to the efficient and economical conduct of his part in the great forces of the industries of this country. I am aware in saying that I am only saying what has been said by many others and what has been acted upon by many others, particularly in the Dominion of Canada. The experiment was made, I think, first on a great scale after some great strike in connection with the supply of gas to London, and it was conducted with brilliant success. Objections have been raised against any proposal of the kind on the ground that if there is to be a share in the profits there ought also to be a share in the losses. Well, gentlemen, it seems to me that that, if it were true, would be a very formidable objection because if the partnership were of such a nature as to entail bearing a portion of the losses you, no doubt, would have a very great deal of friction and inconvenience created, but it seems to me for the successful working of any plan of that kind what you want is not really a partnership; what you want is that the workman should have something, an interest, in the nature of fully paid-up stock or shares in a company, if it is a company. I think that is the shape the experiment took in connection with the Gas Works in London. If the workman has one or more fully paid-up shares in the company given him as a bonus or as part of his remuneration then he will share in any profits that accrue and his dividend will be increased by increased production and by the prevention of waste in manufacture which goes to insure that production. In that way, of course, you will avoid any of the difficulties which, to my mind, seem to be inherent in any scheme for the complete partnership between workmen and employers.
There is one thing that must ever be borne in mind, and it is this: you must take very great care in devising schemes for the benefit of the workmen that you do not frighten away capital. If anything is done which would prevent money being put into new industries or being put into industries that exist, you would be dealing a blow not only at the prosperity of the country as a whole, but you would be dealing a very heavy blow at the interests of the workmen. The more industry can be extended, and for its extension capital is necessary, the more the workman will benefit, and if legislation with regard to such matters took a shape that frightened capital away instead of helping the workman you would hurt him.
Now, gentlemen, I have put before you frankly what I think about these matters. I do think it would be of very great assistance to the conduct of business if by some such scheme as I have suggested, if it is a company by giving fully paid up shares or if it is an individual carrying on business, or a firm carrying on business, by giving an interest of the same nature to the workman, then you could put a sort of bonus upon good and efficient work on the part of those concerned and it would very largely tend to prevent strikes. I mean men do not want to strike if they feel that they are injuring their own interests in so doing.
Then, gentlemen, there is one other matter on which I should like to say a word, and it is this: We all in this country, in this Dominion, prize freedom. Freedom is an inestimable boon, and all compulsion to work, all slavery, of course, is abhorrent to every instinct of men of our race; but there is another form of compulsion which, if all tales are true, is sometimes employed. That is not compulsion to work but compulsion not to work. Every workman ought to be absolutely at liberty in the exercise of his rights to work if he desires to work in his own interest and in the interest of his family, and it is the duty of the State to see that every workman is allowed to exercise that right without interference by those who have no legal right to interfere with it. (Hear, hear.) I have heard it said when this matter has been discussed, that a certain amount of compulsion of this kind is necessary in order to make a strike succeed. Well, I do not believe it. The strike is a very serious matter and it is a matter that ought only to be engaged in if there is a pretty clear case for it. It is, as I said before, in the nature of an act of war. Where there are circumstances which justify a strike you will have either the unanimous consent on the part of the workmen with whom the strike will lie, or so preponderating a consent on their part as to render compulsion wholly unnecessary, but I say, however that may be, it is a wrong and an immoral thing tat any man should be prevented from doing his work if he has the ability and the desire to do it. (Applause.) To my mind nothing can excuse it. The right to use the physical strength and the brains with which the workman has been endowed is his by a far higher title than any right of property. It is a sacred right, and to my mind it is the duty, the first duty, of the State to protect every man in the enjoyment of that freedom, to protect every man who works if he desires to work, from any molestation by those who desire he should not work.
Gentlemen, this war will occupy a very great place in history. I have often felt some regret that the great American historian, Mahan, who dealt so ably and so convincingly with the influence of sea power in history, has not lived to write the history of this war. We have realized in this war that sea-power is vital to the Empire and to every part of it. (Applause.) It may be said now, as it has long been said, about Britain, that our home is on the deep. The home of the Empire is in the deep. It is the ocean that links together the Empire. It is the ocean that provides the means of communication, and if the control of that ocean were lost, if the sea power trident ever fell from the paralyzed hands of a British Government, why, there is an end to the greatness of the Empire; there is an end indeed to the existence of the Empire. We do not mean that anything of the kind should happen. (Applause.) The Empire's sea power is vital to the Mother Country which depends upon the sea for its supplies of food to a very considerable extent, though not quite so much as it did before the war, and the existence of sea power is vital to the Dominions, more particularly the more distant Dominions, who want protection from those powerful neighbors who will be envious of their prosperity. What would have happened to the British Empire if it had not been for the predominance of the British Navy during this great late war? We all realize that, and we are not going 'to listen to any talk about freedom of the seas, (Applause.) Which in most cases is merely a design to weaken the British Empire camouflaged under a show of regard for humanity. It is the British Navy that asserts and has always asserted the true freedom of the seas, (Applause.) and when any German statesman ventures to talk about the freedom of the seas one is tempted to tell him, do you call it having free seas that submarine outrages shall be perpetrated such as your submarines perpetrated under the direct orders of your German government? Gentlemen, the British Navy in this war was able to exercise a silent pressure upon Germany which was in its way almost as effective as those exploits in the field in which the whole of our Empire played s0 brilliant a part. We won on the sea as we won on the land and our victory, but for the work of the Navy done as efficiently as it was done in Nelson's days and with circumstances of as great heroism as ever marked the days of Nelson, would be lost. (Applause.) The efficiency of our Navy is a thing of which every one of us may well be proud and indeed every citizen of the Empire feels most legitimate exultation when he considers what the disregard of danger was, what the disregard of those long weary days and nights of watching in the North Sea and on the ocean were, what the sufferings of those who day and night looked after the safety of the country and of every part of the Empire were, and what was the devotion of those sailors of the merchant marine who defied the dangers of the submarine and went on with-their duty as calmly as if the seas had been as free as they were before the submarine was invented. (Applause.)
Gentlemen, we have won the war by union and we will win our way through the difficulties of peace by union. Let us stick together, all parts of the Empire and all classes within every part of the Empire. "Let us stick together, Highlanders, shoulder to shoulder," was the old saying and with the British Empire and all parts of it shoulder to shoulder, all members of each part of it, shoulder to shoulder, we will be as triumphant in peace as we have been in war. (Prolonged applause.)
An eloquent vote of thanks was moved by Mr. Justice Riddell, who among other things said that to do away with the appeal to the judicial Committee of the Privy Council would be one of the greatest calamities that could happen to Canada.