- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 20 May 1949, p. 1-19
- McCullagh, George, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club of Toronto.
The speaker's recent trip and his articles written for The Globe and Mail and The Telegram: some highlights of this challenging trip. Leaving home for the British Isles to get a first-hand view of Europe rising from the war. The speaker's personal impressions and the opinions gathered from many people. The speaker's conviction that war is far less a possibility today than ever since the cessation of hostilities. The Russian more hated than feared; Britain's and America's and Canada's moral prestige never higher. The easing of tension of war in Western Europe due to two things: the faith the countries of Western Europe have in the fact that Britain and America and Canada mean business, as evidence by the Atlantic pact and the remarkable improvement in the economic situation throughout Europe which has had a most comforting effect on retarding the spread of Communism within the countries outside the Iron Curtain. Recovery brought about in the main by the people, aided and encouraged by the Marshall aid. Marshall Aid eventually becoming an impediment to recovery. The duty of the authorities and administrators of the Marshall Plan to decide when it should be tapered off in the best interests of the beneficiaries themselves. The good-will that has accrued to the name of Canada as a result of the sacrifices of her bravest and best in two terrible wars. The value of such opinion. A testing time for all the world, and how that is so. Canada's part to play. The speaker's impressions of Socialism. Criticism against the Socialist doctrine, and his belief that a progressive, enlightened system guided by capitalist economy more nearly approaches the inherent rights of human beings. The situation in Britain. Understanding the strength of the British people. Economic difficulties facing Britain. Learning the lessons of English Socialism. A closer look at the Socialist doctrine in England. The "slippery slope of state coddling;" some consequences. The nature of security under the Socialist system. Combatting Socialism and Communism by amending capitalism and making it work. The danger of sacrificing freedom and dignity for so-called security. The need for room in society for severe extremes in either political camp. A look at radicalism and Conservatism. Italy, and the most encouraging picture of all Europe. The tragedy of Mussolini for the people of Italy. The contrast between England and Italy, between London and Rome. Germany, still not living in peace with itself or the rest of the world. The "something terrifyingly arrogant about this German in defeat." The speaker's conversations with, and impressions of, Germans and Germany. Canada taking an opportunity out of the plight of the German people through immigration. The threat to our peaceful world through Russia and Communism. The role of the Roman Catholic Church in fighting Communism. A discussion of the criticism aimed against the Church and the Pope. Some words about the old City of Florence. The cemetery in the Chianti Hills of Italy wherein lie many Canadians. Some remarks about Switzerland and its spirit of national unity; a lesson for Canada. The situation in France. The need for France to be assured that Germany will not rise again; the need for security. Watching football in England, and the speaker's impressions of the people. What the world situation means for Canada. Canada making more of her opportunities. Taking an intelligent interest in the affairs of our own country.
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- 20 May 1949
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- TESTING TIME
AN ADDRESS BY GEORGE McCULLAGH
AT A JOINT MEETING OF THE EMPIRE CLUB OF CANADA AND THE CANADIAN CLUB OF TORONTO
Chairman: The President of the Canadian Club of Toronto
Friday, May 20th, 1949
Your Chairman has already told of the countries I have visited since I left home a little over seven weeks ago. It does seem incredible that one could visit so many places in such a short space of time. The airplane made this one thing certain: what happens in one part of the world can no longer be a matter of indifference to people separated by oceans. All peoples are close neighbours now; all the problems which affect humanity have lost their boundaries of time and space.
As many of you are aware, I recorded the impressions of my trip in a series of articles which I wrote for those two old family journals-The Globe and Mail and The Telegram. Those who were good enough to be my readers will be somewhat penalized now, because some of the things I want to speak to you about have been referred to in the articles I have written. I want to cast my memory back and share with you now the highlights of a most interesting and challenging trip.
I left home to see once again the British Isles, which I know well and love so much, and also for the purpose of getting a first-hand view of Europe rising from the war. I had heard many and varied opinions about Britain, and they were coloured with the usual taint of pessimism that has been a companion of that nation's progress for centuries: England, they said, was through, washed up; the war had taken not only her material and human wealth, but had impaired the spirit of her people.
I can faithfully report to you, now I have seen England, although rather briefly. I did work industriously, got about the countryside, saw leaders in public life and talked with a lot of plain, ordinary Englishmen, and as I proceed to tell you about my impressions of England and of Europe I want you to judge for yourselves whether England is through. With my own personal impressions are woven the opinions I gathered from many people, and I pass them on to you as an honest and considered digest.
I will answer one or two questions that may be paramount in your minds. I have come back with definite conviction that war is far less a possibility today than ever since the cessation of hostilities. The Russian is more hated than feared, and Britain's and America's and Canada's moral prestige was never higher. The war threat has eased off decidedly.
The easing of the tension of war in Western Europe is due to two things. It is due to the faith the countries of Western Europe have in the fact that Britain and America and Canada mean business, as evidenced by the Atlantic Pact. This creates an entirely different atmosphere as compared with the pre-1939 days. In addition, too, the remarkable improvement in the economic situation throughout Europe has had a most comforting effect on retarding the spread of Communism within the countries outside the Iron Curtain. I found this in every country-France, Italy, and markedly so in Holland. The Dutch people are repairing their damaged economy with an industry and spirit that are so characteristic of that highly civilized country. Holland was left bruised and bleeding. There is no doubt she is coming back fast and, due to the thrift of her people, she will be, relatively, one of the most prosperous countries in Europe.
This recovery has been brought about in the main by the industry, faith and application to hard work of people who had to work to live, aided and encouraged by the munificent Marshall Aid, which surely will be recorded as one of the noblest gestures of any community of citizens extended to those less fortunate.
I would like to emphasize, however, that at some point in Europe's recovery, when the physical and psychological situation is favourable, Marshall Aid will cease to be an asset. In fact, it could well become an impediment to further recovery. In its noblest conception, it was only intended as a crutch by whose assistance Europe could be helped back to economic health. Like any other crutch, if it is used after the patient has reached a certain stage of recovery, it can retard that very recuperation which we try to achieve.
You will agree, therefore, that it will become the duties of the authorities and administrators of this wonderful stimulant to decide when it should be tapered off in the best interests of the beneficiaries themselves. This will not only be a relief to the heavily burdened and generous American taxpayer, but it will also enable the patients of Europe to develop strong and healthy economic muscles of their own.
The second thing of greatest interest to this audience is that never in my life was I more proud of being a Canadian. The tremendous good-will that has accrued to the name of Canada, as a result of the sacrifices of the bravest and best of a generation of young manhood in two terrible wars, is an asset which cannot be appraised in dollars. True, it has its economic value. The name of Canada is like a magic word to the people of Europe. I found myself proudly protesting that I was a Canadian, and the reaction on the faces of those people was lovely to behold and would have nourished the ego of every one of you if you could have but witnessed it. I can only hope that we, the inheritors of this achievement, prove worthy of our bountiful legacy.
This is a testing time for all the world. In that great laboratory, out of which is either going to be produced a formula for peace or the millenium, this young and so very fortunate nation has a proud and noble part to play.
Therefore, today please bear with me, because I would like to challenge in you the spirit of public service so that we here in this very favoured land can occupy the role to which destiny is beckoning us. I will not shrink from criticism, but I mean to criticize constructively.
As one of you who has really seen the terrible aftermath of war firsthand and one who realizes, as never before, that the role we have to play is challenging and even exciting, the reward will be far greater than any of us can conceive.
Another impression I carried away from European impression firmly imbedded in my mind-is that Socialism is not the most desirable system under which to live. It is a well-known fact in my country that I have long believed that a progressive, enlightened system, guided by capitalist economy, more nearly approaches the inherent rights of human beings. Therefore, I make no apology for any observations I present to this audience which are vigorously critical of the Socialist doctrine. A system which gives free play to individual initiative and thereby nourishes that quality in every one of us--the desire to get ahead--is far more compatible with human nature than a regimented society. A patient and just study of England today has re-affirmed this--my belief.
The age-old adage "To the victor belong the spoils" is no longer applicable. Of all the countries I visited, excepting Germany, England is going through the toughest days. In far more grave days during the war-possibly because of the emotional stimulus that comes to one's rescue in those times-the Englishman was more cheery and carefree, and even optimistic.
When I first arrived in England I observed a slight trace of defeatist expression-just a mild evidence of hopelessness. However, when I left that old Island I had a feeling that any defeatism which I may have observed was slight indeed. Undoubtedly this state of the ordinary Englishman has been brought about by the combination of tragic circumstances of the last fifteen years: the insecure days preceding 1939, the beating he took for six long years during the war, and the deadening hand of a Socialist state during the last three years.
It would be unjust to attribute it all to any one of these factors alone, but it does seem tragic that a nation of gallant people, by whose efforts the stamping heel of the tyrant was turned away from all our throats, must now spend long and weary days in the tight grip of bureacratic regimentation.
The enterprising ability and the uncanny genius for improvisation and adjustment in difficult circumstances have stood this breed in good stead through centuries of wars and peace. There isn't the least doubt in my mind that the Britisher has been irked beyond description by the irritation and deadening influence of state regimentation and the countless bureaucratic Peeping Toms preventing the ordinary person from pursuing the even exercise of his own will.
But what is most striking to one coming from the New World is the apparent absence of rancor, backbiting, and mud-slinging, although the political passions at times run very, very high. Perhaps it is this which the visitor from the New World mistakes for a possible lack of stamina or inability to rebel. Perhaps the vigorous, well-fed and boisterous man of the New World is a little too sure of himself to understand the strength of that which the Englishman possesses and for which there may be no special phrase except "being English," and having a thousand and more years of history behind him, standing pat, taking the blows as they come, and working hard while waiting until the whole thing blows over.
There is little doubt that economically England is very weakened and psychologically stunned but, believe me, don't sell this nation short. There is no substitute for character and brains and those of that Island have these two ingredients in astounding quantities. The breed that produced a Shakespeare, a Wellington, a Drake and a Mr. Churchill still has much to give to civilization.
What lesson has English Socialism for us who live so carefree in the lush fields of Canada? No one is certain when the British election may come; opinions vary--from this autumn to next spring.
While in England I read the latest manifesto of the Socialist party. This is likely to be the catalogue of promises on which the election will be fought if the Socialists have their way. It is an extension of the new way of life for the inhabitants of that Island. It is the most incredible insult to free spirits. It is a further extension of the Socialist doctrine. Housewives are virtually told they have not the talent to buy their own foodstuffs, that they must be advised by a government employee. Of necessity there will be more and more regulation and regimentation of everyone's life.
It is a startling reminder that once you start down the slippery slope of state coddling, the expression of human dignity inherent in our nature must be sacrificed. If you abdicate your right to think and act for yourself to some member or official of the government, you surely help to produce a castrated society.
There is one thing that stands in bold relief as a result of the latest Cripps Budget. The demagogic claim of "soak the rich" has now revealed itself in its true colours--it is phony and shockingly disingenuous. The Labour Government's latest Budget is living proof that the large body of taxpayers-the wage earners-will have to bear the load. First, the votes are garnered in the wake of preachment of class hatred; then they are called upon to pay heavily for an inefficient system of inequalities and questionable emoluments.
Security can be achieved only by the assiduous application of the principles of human dignity, hard work and thrift, and consequent success. There is no substitute for this type of security. Man's best hobby is his work. Ridiculously short hours cut a serious slice out of the economic fabric of the nation and reduce its wealth and the products of natural resources automatically as if an epidemic or plague had come and devastated them. There is no difference.
Those of us who live in this rich and privileged country should see in all this a great lesson. Every time you hear a member of a political party, and it doesn't matter which party, preaching class hatred under the guise of "soak the rich," go wary on him. It is a phony appeal to avarice and envy. It doesn't pay off.
There might be some excuse for England drifting into Socialism after she had spent her material and human wealth so lavishly for the defense of all our freedom. But if political leaders espouse this social doctrine of security to a young and rich country like ours, it is nothing short of wicked.
Security?--Yes, for the aged and ailing, but as a philosophy of life, surely not! The way to combat Socialism and Communism is to amend capitalism and make it work.
To sacrifice freedom and dignity for so-called security is contrary to the best there is in human nature. It is the way of the improvident. No decent human being wants to see luxury and privilege existing alongside poverty and want, but certainly no group of individuals constituting a nation, no matter how small or how large, can succeed with a philosophy of penalizing the industrious and subsidizing the lazy.
It is out of this type of environment that the desire for a change in system is born. I am quite sympathetic with a man like Ernest Bevin and others who have worked and toiled with their hands and have seen poverty in their own homes as I have known poverty in my own childhood. They feel for the underdog, and the tugging at their hearts leads them to political extremes. All this is understandable. But for the professional intellectuals, who find in Socialism a convenient outlet for their hostility against the so-called privileged classes from which they sprang, I have no regard.
The labouring man who joins the radical party, whether it be called Socialist or some other name, usually does so with a good heart and sincere and noble aspirations. The other, the more schooled and dangerous individual, has fastened himself to Socialism as a result of a guilty conscience arising out of his own privileged life. In this, his inner atmosphere, he addresses himself to the task, not with a heart burning with the desire for the release of his fellow-man from economic bondage, but rather with the prejudice driving him to get even with those who are loosely termed the privileged or the rich at the expense of the whole nation.
There should be no room in society for severe extremes in either political camp. Perhaps it is fairer to say that the progress of civilization to date has been achieved by the radical's efforts while he was in opposition in parliament. He has provided a bur in the tail of the complacent office holder. As evidence of this, most of the social reforms that originated in Westminster and were passed on to the New World have been legislated by Conservative governments. It is equally fair to say that they have been agitated for by Labour and Socialists. Perhaps, therefore, it is more accurate to state that the radical opposition is a very necessary and useful instrument in our democratic form of government. While they shout for Utopia, they shake the complacency of reactionary laissez-faire, and "thus push society on the path of progress.
Perhaps the very qualities of good heart that spur the radical on to help his fellow-men are not usually combined with the administrative talents necessary to run a government. It might be equally true that the good qualities of heart are lost in many Conservative who are too obsessed with being efficient administrators. Perhaps, then, between the two, society is best governed by the more conventional party while the radical opposition spurs them on.
I must not dwell any further on England at the moment. I would like to portray for you a view of Italy, which to me presents the most encouraging picture of all Europe. We have long heard the expression--"Sunny Italy." I found this term most certainly appropriate for the climate and the people as well. It seems a tragedy that these peace-loving, friendly folk should have been led down the path by Mussolini. I would hazard a guess that, if the wishes of the Italian people can be made articulate through their leaders in the future, they will never again be willing to become engaged in war. The phrase current among the Italians is-"We have just won the most disastrous defeat in our history," and this witticism seems to reflect the true story.
I arrived in Italy from England to enter an almost different world. London seems drab, economically, as compared with the vivid, simple gaiety of Rome. I don't mean the frivolous variety of "night club" gaiety, but the one that is shown by the people in the streets, in the shops, in the restaurant lobbies and the railroad stations. As always, there is a lot of poverty in Italy. 'The largest export commodity of Italy has always been manpower. There the Marshall Plan has played a most magnificent part. In addition, Italy is not saddled with the tremendous load of taxes for armaments to defend the democracies of the world. The job of avoiding a new and disastrous war has been assumed by other nations. And so the Italian's defeat in war rather helped his unique plight from this point of view and improved his sense of gentle ease. Make no mistake, Italy is no paradise, but when you consider that a little over three years ago, she was one of the Axis powers and a battleground for the Hun invader who was being driven out by the Allied Armies, her present-day prosperity is nothing short of miraculous.
On the way to Italy, I stopped off for a hurried visit to Germany. In Munich I saw a tiny bit of Germany living in peace, but apparently not quite at peace with itself or the rest of the world. How different the Hun is from the Italian! The German seems bright, reasonably pleasant and even cheerful, but he is very bitter and I am afraid he is not particularly against Hitler yet. This is a view I found shared by every one with whom I talked about present-day Germany. It is a sad commentary, but I must faithfully report it.
There is something terrifyingly arrogant about this German in defeat. I talked with many of them. There was a young German doing police duty in Munich. In conversation I learned he was from East Prussia. I remarked on the shabbiness of his uniform, but told him how pleased I was to see the Swastika removed from the buckle of his belt. I said, 'That shows that you have no reverence for Hitler or his ideals." He turned, and with a wry smile said, "It's still inside there," and reversed his belt buckle and, sure enough, there was the Swastika emblem.
World statecraft was never faced with a more difficult human problem than the German race. After all, it would probably be unreasonable to expect the German to be anything but abnormal and bitter. The only prosperity that the Germans have known in the last twenty-five years was due to Hitler building his war machine. Their economic plight is so terrific and their prospects so grim that they would be unnatural people if they weren't bitter. How society is going to deal with this festering ulcer will challenge the best and wisest brains in the world.
The tragic situation facing Germany seems to me to present a real opportunity for Canada. I think you will agree that, taken away from his home environment, the German is a good citizen. In fact, there are no more patriotic, industrious and law-abiding citizens than those of many communities in our own country which were settled by people of the German race years ago. I am thinking of such prosperous communities as Kitchener, Ontario. Canada, I suggest, might assist in dealing with the German problem and the plight of the German people, while furthering her own broad immigration plans, by including a substantial number of those people whose forebears have proven such industrious and loyal citizens. We wouldn't do wrong.
In contrast to the simple way the Italian answers your questions, taking you at your face value and apparently hoping you will take him at his, there is an overtone of impertinent candor about the German. I can only say that I hope, in the wisdom of world statesmen, they will be careful not to trust the German with any weapons, certainly not until very much later when he learns to walk the paths of peace and believes in the very truth of the old adage that "He who lives by the sword will die by the sword."
I must say that, from this depressing environment, it was like being bathed in a healing spirit to spend Holy Week in Rome, mingling with the crowds who walked from church to church to pay homage to the Christ who, over nineteen hundred years ago, was crucified and buried and who arose from the dead, and of whose teachings this ancient city speaks and sings in stone, in work and in music.
As we all know, world peace is not threatened at the moment from Germany. The tyrannical threat to our peaceful world is Russia, and Communism. In that fight the Roman Catholic Church is well recognized as playing a leading and commendable role. I should like to speak on this to my fellow-Canadians.
Having heard on many sides in the past few years from people who need not be termed bigoted in religion, that in our passion to defeat Communism, we are playing into the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. That's said, as you all know, I want to say that I talk to you here not as an advocate of any given faith. I want to put my views before you clearly and directly. The war brought a great upsurge in religious feelings and it is but fair to state that it would seem quite unnatural if that Church failed to combat Communism with all the means it has at its disposal. Right now, I feel it is important to make clear that the appeal of Pius XII, which resulted in the election of the De Gasperi Government, was actually the turning point in the structure of post-war Italian politics.
There is frank, direct and honest criticism of the Church and of the Pope in regard to various political matters. I understand that both in Italy and in France such criticism is not looked upon as atheistic Communism. We ourselves in North America might some time question the wisdom of supporting a religious group like the one represented by the Vatican and of strengthening its position-I mean, political position-in our world. It is good that we should question the wisdom of this attitude, or any other attitude, we are about to take. But it is also true that, if we do consider Communism the greatest evil of the present moment, we would be utterly unwise if we did not co-operate to the utmost with that group which could fight Communism with the greatest perseverance, effectively and on a spiritual, rather than a purely political, plane--and such a group is certainly the Roman Catholic Church.
I am conscious of my use of the phrase "that group," but it isn't a group in the strictest sense of the word. It is an age-long tradition. It is a true spiritual empire, and
I want to tell you that ceremony, pageantry, pomp and circumstance aside, the one who is privileged to talk with the Pope for a few minutes, as I was on Holy Saturday, cannot fail to be impressed with the gentleness, wisdom and amazing command the Pope has of the situation of the world and the information at his disposal. There is a striking simplicity about him and a kindness which is just plain kindness. It is amazing how, at the age of seventy-three, this lean, tall, simple person with a keen, gentle eye, quietly and seemingly without effort, will speak half a dozen languages in less than half an hour. It is obvious he does not get his information secondhand.
We ought to face squarely this immense authority and prestige of the Pope and we ought to understand the strength which the Church presents, but we ought not, of course, make the mistake of believing that the hierarchy, as a political institution, is different from other hierarchies. It is not; it cannot be. It was not and never will be. All hierarchies are instruments by means of which power is obtained and power is given and power is sought and power is fought for. This is true of labour organizations, industrial organizations, capitalist cartels or any other combines. It is even true, in a certain way, of organized sport. You always strive to win, but in sports you are always ready to lose with a smile and try again. In power politics you never want to lose and never want to give up any power, even temporarily. This, I think, is human and I don't think that today we must look upon the Church only as a hierarchy. As a hierarchy we must watch it and deal with it in the tradition of political fair-play.
I am not coming from Rome to say that we delegate the fight against Communism only to the Church. As one born a Protestant and who intends to die a Protestant, I must say it is our job as much as that of the Church. But in order to do this job, we must not overlook that this war has made us lose a great, great number of things of spiritual value and that whatever quarrel we might have from time to time with the secular politics of the Church, its spiritual tradition and tradition of scholarship should never be overlooked. They have been overlooked many times before and I think it was wrong. Again I must say that it is incumbent upon us Protestants not to overlook the spiritual tradition of the Church, which the Protestants never discarded when they disowned the authority of the Pope.
I should have liked to stay in Rome longer, forgotten political and economic questions entirely, and to have walked around and studied the heritage of human thought and knowledge, of which Rome is the repository. As I was shown the art and treasures of the Vatican, the libraries and the museums, and as I talked with a number of Catholic scholars who have no political and no economic axes to grind, I came away with a feeling that; in this world of ours, where so much was lost through this last war and yet so little gained, we must admire those who, for almost two thousand years, lived in personal simplicity and poverty and who studied incessantly to carry on and to transmit to the generations to come the torch of human enlightenment and reason.
Time will not permit me to deal much more with Italy, but I should like to say to you a word or two of the beautiful old City of Florence. Here there is heartrending evidence of the destruction wrought by the Hun. When he was retreating before the advancing armies of the Allies in the last stages of the war, he mined and blew up three of the old picturesque bridges crossing the Arno and many of the buildings close by. But notwithstanding the pathetic scars of war, Florence presents a picture of beauty that would be hard to describe.
Nowhere in Europe did I find evidence of such happy, carefree people--an evidence of contentment--as I did in Florence. The people there were well-clad, fastidiously dressed, and their faces reveal a serenity and happiness that was an inspiration. I was there on Easter Sunday and Monday and the beautiful parks were thronged with family parties-young mothers and fathers with their little daughters and sons, riding on thousands of bicycles. The evidence of family life and affection was charming to behold and was everywhere.
But amidst all this apparent evidence of serenity, I saw a sight that brought back to stark reality the terrible cost of war. When one sees such apparent happiness three brief years after the most vicious conflict in the history of the world, it confirms your belief that there is an infallible law of compensation. I wonder, though, if it is entirely wise that we forget too soon the price which was paid. I don't wish to cause any one anguish by making him relive the sorrows of the past, but a sight I saw in the beautiful Chianti Hills of Italy certainly jerked me back to reality. In the vineyard country, standing solemnly and proudly, there is a cemetery where lie the bodies of many hundreds of Canadians, and row upon row of white crosses make vivid the price that had been paid. As I looked, both shocked and moved, the lines of the Canadian poet, John McCrae came to my mind: "We are the dead; short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow. . . ."
Just a word about Switzerland. We Canadians remember it chiefly as the home of the League of Nations. Here in the quiet, peaceful little city of Geneva on the shores of a charming lake, nestled in the midst of the Alps, one remembers that well-meaning, sincere and patient world statesmen labored long for world peace in the period between the wars. Man's most idealistic efforts proved frail indeed against those defects of human nature which we all have: envy, greed and malice.
When in Switzerland, though, I was forcibly struck by an example that carries a great lesson for us Canadians. Within Switzerland, there is, apparently a spirit of real national unity. When you consider that this country is composed mainly of three racial entities-German, French and Italian-in both world wars, although they were not active participants, they did not remain insensitive or indifferent. The races constituting the main population of Switzerland were on opposite sides in two conflicts, but they still remained a united country.
In this there is an immense lesson for those Canadians of faint heart who have despaired, and probably are despairing, of Canada's future because of the politically made, so-called French-Canadian problem. To bring about national unity in Canada in the truest sense should not be difficult. After all, in both wars, the two races that are represented in Canada--English and French--were at least fighting on the same side. I say to all my fellow Canadians that, after seeing the troubles that are besetting the older world, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves if we are unable to work out a happy family relationship with those whose hearts and bloodlines spring from France.
We ought to be particularly ashamed of our inability when we turn our attention to the mother country of our Canadian civilization--France. You can't forget that France fought and fought on the outposts and was always the first to be struck by the Germans. I saw France. I looked into her face. France has been bled almost white, but she is both brave and tenacious.
Three years ago, France, they told me, was still prostrate and people were actually worried about her future. Her economy was dislodged, her life disorganized. Well, France is again breathing her own fresh air of freedom. There is a new faith in France. The Marshall Plan did the trick here as it has done in so many other places. France is able to work again, and work hard. There is more to eat, there are more and more smiles on the faces of the French, and more and more they feel again an equal partner among the free nations of the world.
France has not forgotten her wounds and bruises and while she is willing to follow her western partners in the organization of peace (and Communism here, too, is on the decline), France wants to make certain that Germany will not rise again as a conquering military power and strike into the scarred body of the French nation.
We owe France security, and a united Canada could do a great deal to bring about that security. I thought about English-Canadians and French-Canadians and a secure France as I returned to England to sail for home.
There I was invited to attend the Cup Final in the football playoffs which was held at Wembley Stadium. Never in my life have I been privileged to view a more moving and inspiring sight. Here in that beautiful coliseum, where the Olympic Games were played last summer, one hundred thousand good English countrymen foregathered. It was a sunny and bright day and the English countryside never looked more attractive. The spectators ranged from humble workmen to Foreign Minister Mr. Bevin, and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and our future Queen, Princess Elizabeth. I might say also that the distinction of the gathering was further enhanced by the presence of Canada's own Mike Pearson. The graciousness and the gentle respect that those ordinary folk paid to the Princess and her Consort was, in itself, a most refreshing sight.
The football game was keen and I must say most artful. It was a great contest for me, a Canadian, to witness, after having seen hockey. They played vigorously but, if they collided with their opponent, which they frequently did, and knocked him to the ground, they stopped to pick him up. When I heard some of the spectators say they were quite rough, I thought they should come and see how we knock them down and drag them out in the Maple Leaf Gardens.
However, here was a sight that firmly re-established your faith in that happy breed. Before the game commenced, a cheer leader talking over a public address system, asked every one to stand with song sheets and sing that old and soulful hymn--"Abide With Me."
I am not adequate to express to you what I saw. One hundred thousand of the best people on earth standing up, with keen eye and earnest face, asking God's blessing on their lives. Here, I said, is the great secret of the strength of their race. They live by a simple faith, and they are not inhibited and afraid to express it. I took a took around, and from the old ushers to the water boys to the policemen, right up to ministers of His Majesty's government and the Princess and the Duke, people stood with heads bared, telling in song their faith in God.
It was one of the most moving sights it will ever be my privilege to witness and I have no hesitancy in saying to you that, even though it may sound emotional, it strengthened my faith in the Mother Country from which we Canadians have inherited so much.
At half-time, for the entertainment of the fans, the two-month-old recruits of the Royal Air Force, with an average age of eighteen, performed gymnastics and exercises that would have done your heart good to witness. Here clad in shorts and-running shoes, in the colors of that gallant service, the R.A.F., one saw the finest display of mental and physical discipline that one could imagine. With the nimbleness of ballet dancers and the strength and precision of a well-drilled and well-rehearsed team, one saw the successors to that great and noble band of gallant knights about which Mr. Churchill so beautifully, and accurately, said--"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." They went through their drill to the constant rounds of applause from the assembled audience. As I watched them I thought, if war were inevitable, it would be a good thing for Joe Stalin to take a look at this sight, because as surely as night follows day, if he ever does start a scrap, that same breed of young men will kick the tar out of him.
I am afraid I have rambled along disjointedly, but before closing I would like to summarize. What does all this mean to us here in Canada?
The Old World is so close to the cockpit of war that she is apprehensive. True, as I have indicated, recovery is slowly taking place. I have told you of the high esteem id which the name of this Canada of ours is held. To be the beneficiary of that good-will bespeaks a stirring challenge. To be worthy of it should be a noble aim.
Canada, in my opinion, never had a greater opportunity to advance resolutely and steadfastly to fulfill her rendezvous with destiny. In retrospect, our achievement from infancy to nationhood in less than one hundred years has been commendable, but we can be frank among ourselves.
Without being critical of any political party, I do not believe we have made the best of our opportunity, and I think you will share my view that we have never played our full role in world affairs. When wars came we paid the sacrifice, and paid it with great spirit, but in the testing time between wars, to say the least, we have been indifferent. Perhaps no more so than the rest of the peace-loving, democratic world, but these are critical days and, in very truth, the testing time. Believe me, gentlemen, in the past, Canada, with all her richness, could probably afford to lie at anchor in the stream of time. That day has gone. No longer can we let our hopes be borne at random by the flood. With our great and richly endowed land, we are so relatively fortunate that I think it presents a unique opportunity in the history of the world. If we all play our small parts in first making the affairs of our nation work better and with less class distinction, I make the boast that Canada could probably produce a formula which would become contagious and set a pattern for world conduct.
I implore every one within the reach of my voice to realize that this can only be done by taking an intelligent interest in the affairs of your country. This is an old theme with me, but everything I have seen which emphasizes the tragedy and waste of war has re-established my faith that there is no short route to adult nationhood.
In the older countries men do not shrink from advocating vigorously opposing political views. The business men and the ordinary men and women in the United Kingdom take an active interest in the affairs of their country. It is adolescent that we should do otherwise. I assure you it is my opinion that if we, with our relatively small population and our comparably simple problems, can't develop a united nation free from class prejudices, there is certainly no hope for the rest of the world. These aren't high-sounding words. They can be achievements.
I say to all you industrialists and men who employ labor, please take an active interest. Identify yourself with the political organization of your choice and contribute to public discussion and, in this way, let us refine the truth. It is not easy--they will call you a lot of funny names. It is in the distillation and free flow of ideas that free society can best flourish. Your employees, the laboring man and the small householder will respect you more and, in mutual respect, lies our great future.
In being critical, I am familiar with the popular excuse in Canada that it is not dignified to take an interest in politics. Surely it is a terrible admission of bankruptcy.
May I tell you of a statement I heard which hit me between the eyes and which, I think, will impress you. At dinner on the Queen Mary, with Mr. Winston Churchill and a small party, during gay political discussion, some of the guests were vigorously protesting their political views. Mr. Churchill's son, Randolph, said--"Now, father, don't forget to stand on your dignity." The seventy-four year-old warrior levelled a searching eye at him and said-"My boy, I have never known anyone's dignity to become higher by standing on it." May I repeat that--I have never known anyone's dignity to become higher by standing on it. It is a statement pregnant with thought for every one of us Canadians.
In closing, may I say that fighting in wars is only a form of public service. Those engaged in this form of public service express a willingness to die for their country if necessary. Surely, it is equally noble to live for one's country--perhaps just as difficult, and most certainly a more abiding and a more rewarding task.