- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 29 Mar 1990, p. 278-285
- MacDonald, The Hon. Donald, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- A brief review of recent modern history and world events. Eastern Europe and changes in Soviet policy. Effects of those changes on other countries in Europe and the institutions that exist for governing relations of the European countries to each other. The significance of the changes for Canada. What it all means for European security. A detailed discussion of these issues follows, including the role of NATO; the Warsaw Pact in the East; the Conventional Forces in Europe Negotiation (CFE); the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE); the role of the four wartime powers: Britain, France, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The importance of Canada being an active participant in negotiations. Finding peaceful resolutions of disputes. Canada's role in seeking to achieve the values of the United Nations Charter throughout the world.
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- 29 Mar 1990
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The Hon. Donald MacDonald High Commissioner for Canada to the United Kingdom
THE OUTLOOK FOR CANADA AND EUROPE IN THE 1990'S
Chairman: Sarah Band, President
Honoured Guests, Head Table guests, members of The Empire Club, ladies and gentlemen.
We are honoured today to have as our guest one of Canada's outstanding political leaders. A man who has given all but 10 years of his professional career to the service of his country, first as a member of Parliament and, for the past two years, as our country's High Commissioner to Great Britain and Northern Ireland--one of the two most prestigious postings in our foreign service.
When he was in government, he served as Minister in charge of National Defence, Energy, Mines and Resources and Finance. He is seen to be the architect for major changes in all three departments; in Defence for the introduction of major defence policies; in Energy, Mines and Resources for Canada's response to the world energy crisis; and in Finance, for the program which fought inflation.
His present appointment has him involved in Canada's external relations. Clifford Sifton once said, "..External Relations--enveloped in what might be called a highly luminous but cloudy halo". Cloudy it may have been when Mr. Sifton wrote. Exciting and thrilling might better describe the action today. When in our history have we seen such upheaval without war or insurrection, such dramatic and emotional change, not just in one country, but throughout a continent? The High Commissioner has a ringside seat to the unfolding of history.
Looking though his curriculum vitae gives little insight into the perspective Donald MacDonald can have on these tumultuous events, until one remembers that he served in the Parliament of Canada for 16 years in one of the great parties in our land, then was appointed High Commissioner by the other. With that background perhaps he is better prepared than most to understand political contradiction. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce His Excellency, the Honourable Donald S. MacDonald, Canada's High Commissioner to Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Donald S. MacDonald:
Had I been speaking in this forum only a year ago, my text would have been an economic one. At that time the major issue facing Western Europe, and of concern to me as your representative in London, was the process by which the 12 countries of the European Economic Community were integrating into a single market, and what that would mean for Canada. The process of European integration still remains an important evolution and one on which Canadians should be focusing their attention. But it has been overtaken both in public attention and in significance by the dramatic developments which have occurred in Eastern Europe and within the Soviet Union over the past 12 months.
During the last year we have lived through one of the most remarkable and far-reaching sets of events of the past 45 years. We have witnessed the dismantling of Marxist government in Eastern Europe, and the reversal of the Leninist Revolution in the Soviet Union after 70 years. Change has not been confined to Eastern Europe. Twenty-four years after the World Court declared that Southwest Africa should have its freedom from South Africa, that has become a reality and the new independent state of Namibia has taken its place on the world scene. That event has been closely followed by what appears to be an important change of direction in South Africa itself with the promise of negotiations that will bring about the end of apartheid and the evolution of South Africa to a democratic state.
Today, however, l want to talk about Eastern Europe and the changes in Soviet policy. I want to talk about the effect of those changes on the other countries of Europe and the institutions that exist for governing relations of the European countries to each other. Based on those reflections I would like to talk about the significance of the changes for Canada. One prominent writer has referred to the changes in Eastern Europe as the "Springtime of Nations". What does this Springtime foretell for European security?
Firstly, it means that the newly sovereign nations of Eastern Europe will follow their own courses in national policy rather than be under the domination of the Soviet Union. They will no longer organize their economies under the central direction of a Marxist government but in response to the ebb and flow of markets. It will mean that national policies will be determined by democratically-elected governments chosen from among competing political parties, rather than through governments in which the Communist Party has had a monopoly.
Secondly, it means that the Soviet armed forces, which have been stationed in Poland and Hungary, Czechoslovakia and East Germany since World War 11, ostensibly to respond to a military challenge from the West, but capable of resisting political change in each of those countries, will be withdrawn.
The withdrawal of Soviet forces and the end of the domination of the Soviet Communist Party are direct results of the decision of President Gorbachev to end the Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. His decisions to restructure the political system, and the economy, have won political acceptance within the Soviet Union. The combination of those actions means that one of the long-standing concerns of the West, namely of a Soviet land attack through Central Europe, has now become unlikely. While the Soviet Union does remain a very great power with global reach, through its missiles, its navy and its air force, it has a much reduced capacity to carry out land warfare in Europe. And its intention to do so is more questioned now. What then is to become of the very large Armed Forces on both sides: forces under NATO control in the West--or under Soviet command in the Soviet Union, which have faced each other across the Iron Curtain for the past four decades? Their reduction, under a formal agreement, which will also assure that the terms of the agreement will be respected by both sides, is now the task of the disarmament negotiation known as CFE, or Conventional Forces in Europe Negotiation. There are a number of disarmament negotiations underway, in different cities, and dealing with different subjects, and the non-specialist has every reason for being confused about them. The CFE relates to the size and equipment of the non-nuclear forces in Europe, the forces of which the Canadian contingent is a component.
NATO and Warsaw Pact countries are now working actively to complete negotiations with the goal that it be signed about the time the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, known as the CSCE, holds a Summit Meeting late this year. Diplomats are talking about a CFE II and CFE III to follow, directed at further reducing the militarization of Europe.
The one thing that could be said about the Cold War is that through the two military alliances facing each other, NATO in the West, and the Warsaw Pact in the East, stability and predictability were at least assured. Both sides, and others in Europe and North America, knew the institutions that were in place and how they were intended to be used. The dramatic changes have taken away that predictability. A fundamental question now is by what kind of future arrangements will the threat of war in Europe be eliminated? None of the institutions seem appropriate to give on-going assurance on these questions of war and peace. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has been at work in Vienna for some years, includes all of the appropriate players: the 16 nations of NATO, including the two North American countries, the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies and the neutral states of Nordic and Central Europe. But many observers see this very diversity as preventing the CSCE from taking effective action on a continuing basis just as it was not possible for the League of Nations to take effective action between the Wars. Some member states of the twelve-nation European Economic Community, acting through their foreign ministers, have recently been debating future arrangements to assure peace in Europe. While many of the NATO allies are also members of the European Economic Community, two important ones missing are the North Americans, the United States and Canada.
What of the role of the four wartime powers: Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union? It will be recalled that at the end of World War II a defeated Germany was governed by those four countries, and that some residual responsibilities rest with them, even though, 40 years on, a confident and successful Germany has become even greater than some of the so-called Great Powers. The Four-Power meeting has found new life through its role with Germany in the so-called Two-plus-Four discussions. The principal thing to be said about the Four Power Role is that it is irrelevant. This is 1990, not 1945, and a lot of other countries than those four have the right to be consulted on future security relations in Europe. I think particularly of Germany's neighbours and partners in NATO, and of course, of Canada, which has fulfilled a fortyyear commitment to peace and security in Europe.
There are many institutions on the scene, but none of them is well-adapted to meet the new political reality in Europe. The organization that has been successful in coordinating the defence policies of Western Europe and North America is NATO. Obviously NATO does not comprise the USSR nor Eastern Europe, but for the moment it is the most effective forum in which those who have made a commitment to the defence of the West may meet and agree upon their coordinated approach to the evolution of Europe. The nations of Eastern Europe may not yet agree as to how to use their newfound freedom from Soviet domination to participate in the new Europe. The Soviet Union, with a full agenda of internal re-structuring to consider, may not yet be determined on how to relate to its European neighbour. Dissolution of the Warsaw Pact is no reason to dissolve NATO, provided NATO can evolve from being a military dialogue to one in which political questions will be of the first order.
What do all these changes in Europe mean for Canada? The defence and security balance in Europe has been of important significance for Canada for most of this century. The naval debates of 1910 and 1911 on whether Canada should give direct support to the British Navy, that bedevilled both Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Sir Robert Borden, were about European security. Obviously the Wars of 1914 and 1939, to which Canada made such an important contribution in both people and things, were about European Security. Canadian membership in NATO in 1949, and the Canadian air and military commitments to the European mainland which have been in place since 1951, were also about security in Europe. Canada has paid a heavy cost over the past 80 years because of the quarrels of the Europeans. The question which Canadians are going to have to address is whether continued participation in efforts to prevent future conflicts from breaking out should be our concern.
While this is a conclusion that should be debated in Canada, I think we do have a continuing interest in the prosperity and stability of Europe. If in 1914 and in 1939 it was impossible for Canada to avoid involvement in international conflicts, that is even truer of our time. If it is inevitable that we be drawn in, we should be in at the beginning when it's possible to avoid strife by negotiation. To adapt the phase of Mr. Pearson at the time of negotiating NATO, "The decisions which affect all should be taken by all."
As I have already mentioned, some of the groups that are now addressing the issues of security in Europe, the European Economic Community, or the so-called "Big Four", are institutions of which we are not members and in which we have no role. We should not let those institutions determine policy for us in Europe. Canadians were active participants in the creation of NATO. It was at Canadian insistence that Article 11 was included in the North Atlantic Treaty, so that the goals of the Alliance were not merely to be military ones, but were extended to political and economic cooperation. It is now the time for the foresightedness of those Canadian diplomats to be employed by the Alliance as a whole and for the benefit of a wider community in Europe. Until the fruits of disarmament negotiations are realized, the military countenance of NATO will be predominant. But as more peaceful resolution of disputes within the continent replaces military confrontation, NATO can become a central forum for addressing the mutual concerns of the North Atlantic community.
NATO will not be acting in this role alone. Overlapping responsibilities lie with the European Economic Community, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Western European Union. We cannot claim a monopoly for NATO in this area, but we should not be prepared to cede a monopoly to any of the others as well. Canada has important foreign policy objectives in other parts of the world. In the North Pacific, Canada shares important mutual defence concerns with the United States and Japan. Around the Pacific Basin and with Asian nations, Canada has growing economic concerns and growing needs to build diplomatic relationships. Relationships with our other North American partner, Mexico, are increasing, and our involvement with other members of the Western Hemisphere has become more intense through our full membership in the organization of American States. Involvement with those other regions does not carry as its corollary disengagement in Europe.
Europe is about to become the largest market, with the prospect of even further growth as Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union build more open relations with the European Community. Adjustment to a new political environment will also bring political tensions to Eastern Europe in which Canada can, with our allies, play an important moderating role.
The termination of confrontation between East and West in
Europe is not going to leave a trouble-free world. National antagonisms, economic disadvantage, regional rivalries, all threaten the peace in other parts of the world. One of the other things we have learned over the past year, in Afghanistan, in Namibia, is that we have in common with the USSR and its Eastern European neighbours the peaceful resolution of disputes wherever they may occur. Active involvement with the European states, East and West, can continue our role of seeking to achieve the values of the United Nations Charter throughout the world.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Nona Macdonald, Director of the Canadian Stage Company and a Past President of The Empire Club of Canada.