Canada's New Status
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 30 Nov 1967, p. 193-202

Michener, The Rt. Hon. D. Roland, Speaker
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A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club of Toronto.
Canada's standing in the world, after Expo, and all the other "happenings" of this Centennial Year. Something of value added to the personality of individual Canadians, and to the corporate personality of Canada as a whole. The effects on our image abroad. Canada's place in the world before Expo. Expo as a play in three parts. A description of the official visitors to Expo. The words of some of the visitors. The speaker's view that Canada stands higher than ever before in the esteem of other countries. The responsibility and opportunity that comes with power and influence. Making the full contribution of which Canada and Canadians are capable.
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30 Nov 1967
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Full Text
NOVEMBER 30,1967
Canada's New Status
CHAIRMAN, The President, Graham M. Gore


Today, November 30th, being St. Andrew's Day, it seems appropriate to salute Canadians of Scottish extraction by quoting a few lines from Scotland's immortal bard, Robbie Burns:

"For thus the royal mandate ran, When first the human race began, The social, friendly, honest man, What'er he be,

'Tis he fulfils great nature's plan, And none but he!"

The quotation also serves as a rather fitting introduction to our special speaker today, His excellency Daniel Roland Michener, Governor General of Canada, who, throughout his distinguished career, has consistently exhibited the qualities extolled in the poem. As Time magazine has said, he has "displayed a distinctively unstuffy zest for meeting people that promises to make his term as Viceroy far more than a merely ceremonial success". He was born in Lacombe, Alberta, on April 19th, 1900, and raised in Red Deer. His father, Edward Michener, was Leader of the Alberta Conservative Party and an M.L.A. for 10 years before being appointed to the Senate in 1917.

As a boy, our speaker already showed considerable initiative and enterprise. He kept two cows and sold the milk for pocket money. As a member of a troupe of Boy Scouts, he participated in the capture of a wanted man. Compiling a brilliant scholastic record, he graduated with a B.A. from the University of Alberta, and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship which took him to Oxford where he acquired further degrees including one in law.

At Oxford he was also a keen participant in sports, particularly track and hockey, and one of his hockey teammates was Lester B. Pearson. Years later, he and Mr. Pearson teamed up again--this time on the tennis court. They entered the Canadian open tennis tournament as doubles partners but--alas--lost out in the first round. Back in those days they also carried on a lively debate about politics, but neither was able to change the views of the other. Mr. Pearson remained a Liberal and our speaker an equally staunch Conservative.

In 1923, he was called to the Bar of England, but decided to practise law in Canada. He was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1924, operated a successful law prac tice on Bay Street, and was named a King's Counsel in 1943. That same year-perhaps recalling his father's political campaigns out West-he decided to carry on the family's political tradition. He ran in the provincial election as Progressive Conservative candidate for the old Toronto riding of St. David's-and lost out to a CCF rival, William Dennison, our present Mayor. In 1945, however, it was turn about. He ousted Mr. Dennison in that year's election and became Provincial Secretary in the Drew government.

He entered the federal scene in 1953 when he became the elected M.P. for the Riding of Toronto-St. Paul's. He was re-elected in 1957 and Mr. Diefenbaker, then Prime Minister, named him Speaker of the House of Commons--a position he held until 1962 when the Conservative government was defeated. At this point, he returned to his private business interests and managed them so successfully that he attained directorships in a number of major Canadian corporations.

He was recalled to public life in 1964 when Prime Minister Pearson cut across party lines to name him High Commissioner for Canada in India. He and his wife Norah resided in New Delhi until April of this year, at which time he was appointed Governor General of Canada.

Since then, the Michennes have played hosts to a steady procession of Centennial guests in Ottawa. They have also made a point of arranging trips outside the Capital to meet Canadians in other parts of the country. One such trip was a triumphant return to His Excellency's old home town of Red Deer, Alberta. There he discovered that it, too, has made progress. The area where he once pastured his cows is now filled with office buildings, shopping centres, schools, and homes.

We are gratified that he has included this Joint Meeting of the Canadian and Empire clubs in his itinerary. Over the years, Mr. Michener has had close ties with the City of Toronto and, at the last Annual Meeting of the Toronto Board of Trade, he was elected an Honorary Member in recognition of his distinguished service to the Board and to this community.

Gentlemen--it is now my great privilege to present to you--His Excellency, The Right Honourable D. Roland Michener, the twentieth Governor General of Canada, who will tell us about "Canada's New Status".


After some thought, I decided to speak briefly today about Canada's "New Status", by which I mean Canada's standing in the world, after Expo, and all the other "happenings" of this Centennial Year.

No one will deny that these events have had a profound impact on Canadians at home, in their domestic feelings and attitudes, nor that they have also affected our international relations substantially. The interesting question is to assess the extent and permanence of the changes and to speculate about the consequence.

Speaking for a moment about the home front, I expect you feel as I do that Expo and the Centennial celebrations have been for Canadians from every part a deep emotional experience, an experience of what they are, and who they are, at this notable point of time in their history. They have felt--at least most of them--a sense of their collective achievement, as a great composite community of various peoples, and regions, working together for a common good.

These feelings, these sentiments, are surely no dream which will vanish at dawn. On the contrary, something of value has been added to the personality of individual Ca nadians, and to the corporate personality of Canada as a whole. It augurs well for our future, no matter what problems we may have to face at home--and Canadians as a whole are now facing the task of convincing some of the French-language Canadians that their centennial exuberance, which is just as great as any, even if it takes a different form, can find its full expression in the future within the framework of a bilingual federation.

However, I want to elaborate on the effects on our image abroad. I am sure you have followed them as I have, and I hope to add to your thoughts on the subject, only be cause, as Canadian host to our official visitors from abroad, I have had the opportunity to talk to them and to see their reactions.

Just a word about our place in the world before Expo and these visits--"B.C." one might say, "before Centennial". Our Secretary of State for External Affairs said this in a recent speech:

"Historically, Canada's greatest problem was to project any image at all. When foreigners did take the trouble to look at us, the image was often uncomplimentary: we suffered from the sting of Voltaire's 18th century description of this land as 'a few acres of snow'. Later Edmund Burke called the province of Nova Scotia Can unprospering, hard-visaged and ill-favoured brat'. In the 1920's we winced at Rudolf Friml's Mountie image in Rose Marie."

". . . The growth, in the past twenty years, in the knowledge and understanding of Canada abroad has been phenomenal and gratifying. New communications methods, a vastly expanded diplomatic service, a growing involvement in world affairs and foreign travel by our citizens, have all helped to sharpen the international image of Canada."

In recent years we have all been conscious that Canada has many friends and practically no enemies. Our record as a middle power, independent and influential but not decisive in world affairs, our freedom from the much echoed taint of imperialism, our role in peacekeeping operations under the United Nations, our devotion to the just settlement of international differences, and our substantial aid to developing countries, have combined to win us friendship and respect.

Whatever our standing around the world at the time we began to prepare for Expo and our Centennial celebrations, it was good enough to attract the co-operation and participation of 61 countries, representative of every continent, every political system and alliance, and every stage of economic development, with the exception of Communist China. I cannot think of any other country with the necessary resources to stage an international exhibition of the first class which could have enlisted the cooperation, at this time, of so many, and such diverse countries, some of which were not on good terms with each other.

Thus the stage was set for Canada to show herself to the world to the best advantage. It was a play in three parts. The first involved audience participation of the exhibiting countries, in the planning and production of the show. This brought architects, hostesses, artists and officials in vast numbers. The second act was the show itself, witnessed by fifty million visitors, of whom 26,500,000 are estimated to have been Canadians, 22,500,000 from the United States, and 1,000,000 from the rest of the world. The third act was played to official visitors. Sixtyone countries had agreed to exhibit at Expo, each of these had been assigned a National Day, and all had been invited to send an official delegation comprising the Head of State and his entourage. Only one country declined this invitation, although quite a number, for one reason or another, could not arrange for the Head of State to leave and had to be represented by others.

The visits began with His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Ethiopia, the seemingly indestructible Haile Selassie, who arrived in Ottawa on April 27th. Calm and thoughtful, but energetic and full of interest in a better international system, for all his 75 years, he was accompanied by two ministers and ten other officials (and Lulu). The last to come was the representative of the Congo who, in contrast with the first, was a very young man of 28 years who had just received his appointment as ViceMinister of Foreign Affairs two weeks before he left. Furthermore, he accomplished at the same time both a visit of State and a honeymoon for he had just been married seven days when he brought his bride to dine at Rideau Hall. Between these two visits, fifty other countries sent their representatives to Ottawa and eight others were represented on their National Day at Expo. This latter group included Tunisia, Malagasy, Chad, the United Arab Republic, Mexico, and two very special friends: the United States of America and France whose Presidents were at Expo but did not quite make it to Ottawa -this time!

To appreciate the effect of these visits on the image of Canada in foreign lands, one has to recall that each party was made up of men of responsibility and influence in the governments of their own countries, whose views on Canada are therefore of considerable importance in the future. It is useful to analyse our visitors by categories.

Foremost amongst them were our gracious Queen and Prince Philip who came to visit Ottawa and Expo, The Queen Mother who visited the Atlantic Provinces, and Princess Alexandra who toured Western Canada.

Heads of State numbered 20. They included other royal visitors, namely, the Emperor of Ethiopia, already mentioned, Queen Juliana of The Netherlands, the Kings and Queens of Thailand and of Greece, the Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.

Presidents came from India, Italy, Germany, Austria, Iceland, Israel, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Niger and Cameroun.

Other monarchs obligingly sent young and charming princes and princesses to represent them, notably from Belgium, Japan, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

As might be expected, Commonwealth countries were well represented; monarchies: Britain, Australia, Ceylon, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Nigeria; republics: Uganda, India, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana.

Communist countries included the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Czechoslovakia, Cuba, Yugoslavia. Historically it is difficult to find any parallel for international visits on this scale. It is true that greater numbers of countries have sent their Heads of State on occasion to attend coronations, royal marriages, or funerals of great men and women, but these have been rare and limited by the event. The great movement to Canada was of six months' duration, and involved some thousands of men and women of standing and influence in the affairs of their own countries.

In general, it was my observation that all of our guests were pleased with their reception and the honours accorded to them. They came as friends, and well disposed towards us. They all departed with even warmer feelings, and certainly with a much greater appreciation of Canada and Canadians. All who had not been here before went back with a new sense of the achievements of Canada as a modern, scientific society, with the potential and destiny to become a really great influence and power in the world.

You may be interested in hearing the exact words of a few of the visitors:

The President of Italy, Mr. Saragat, said:

"Our visit is an acknowledgement of the position of prestige which Canada, with political wisdom and farsightedness has achieved. . . . Certainly this Country has before it the destiny of a World power. One easily finds the premises and signs of this destiny in the immense size of its land, in its boundless natural resources and, above all, because of the lineage of its people, in whom the traditions of two great European nations converge, enriched by the addition of ever new immigration currents: We are happy to say that Italians number prominently among these."

Mr. Shazar, the President of Israel who came on May 21st, notwithstanding the approaching crisis in the Middle East. He said:

"The one hundredth birthday of Canada as a unified nation is a festive day not only for the people of Canada, but for Governments and people all over the world. For the name and image of Canada shine brightly everywhere, standing for democracy in government; integration of migrants from many backgrounds; development of natural resources for the sake of the common man; and last but not least, the search for justice, fair play, law and peace in international life."

Antonin Novotny, President of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, a tough Communist, but one whose eyes are not closed to changes going on in his own country and its attitude to the West, said that our "relations were assessed in a positive way by the two sides and that there is a will on both sides to continue to develop them. I am convinced that our relations have good prospects also in the future."

The charming Princess Christina of Sweden said:

"In my country your hundredth anniversary has brought about a growing interest in and increased knowledge about Canada. We have appreciated the opportunities your Centennial celebrations have afforded of meeting our strong desire to expand the close and friendly relations between our countries by intensifying our contacts and exchanges of persons, goods and ideas."

The United States is a special case. In spite of our vast trade and other exchanges, it is difficult to penetrate much below the border. With Expo, we have finally made our mark. One of my Canadian friends in Florida told me that people there had very little idea of Canada, or even what it was. Since Expo, they all know.

What does one say about France, or perhaps more correctly, about its dominant President? Proverbially it takes an exception to prove a general rule. In fact it was an exception among the French-speaking countries, especially the new African Republics: Mauritius, Senegal, Togo, Algeria, Niger, Cameroun, the Congo, and Cote d'Ivoire. Their Presidents and Ministers were cordial and appreciative visitors who were at pains to express their satisfaction with the success that Canada had achieved in uniting its diverse elements.

Where do all of these events leave us, when the show is over and the last spectator has gone away? It is a matter of opinion. I express my view that Canada stands higher than ever before, in the esteem of other countries, not only of its allies and its associates in the Commonwealth, but of most countries.

This is very right and proper. We are a good international citizen worthy of trust and capable of leadership. We do have a great potential. If we can preserve our col lective strength and identity--and I am sure that we can--we are destined to be a more powerful and a more influential state.

With power and influence come responsibility and opportunity. There is much to be done to combat hunger, disease, poverty, and ignorance which threaten the peace as much as territorial and racial disputes. The future of the United Nations itself is related to its ability to make an increasing effort to reduce the glaring disparities in living standards which mark our times.

Man has still to be saved from his own folly, and by man I mean all men, for I am convinced that, in the long run, our species will have a common fate, be it good or bad. Let us not become obsessed with pride in the reputation we enjoy in the world, nor too modest to make the full contribution of which we are capable.

Thanks of the meeting were expressed by C. J. Laurin, President of The Canadian Club of Toronto.

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Canada's New Status

A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club of Toronto.
Canada's standing in the world, after Expo, and all the other "happenings" of this Centennial Year. Something of value added to the personality of individual Canadians, and to the corporate personality of Canada as a whole. The effects on our image abroad. Canada's place in the world before Expo. Expo as a play in three parts. A description of the official visitors to Expo. The words of some of the visitors. The speaker's view that Canada stands higher than ever before in the esteem of other countries. The responsibility and opportunity that comes with power and influence. Making the full contribution of which Canada and Canadians are capable.