- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 11 Mar 1909, p. 158-167
- Barron, His Honour John A., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The population of Germany today, and in ten year's time. Elbow room as a grave problem for Germany. Territorial acquisition still a profitable policy common to all countries having political ambition. Canada's restrictions against immigration from those of Oriental roots. Our laws of exclusion nothing but a cobweb of protection were it not for Great Britain standing behind Canada as the Big Policeman. The prestige of Great Britain today the great corner-stone of Empire. The need for Canada to jealously watch that she does nothing to weaken that corner-stone. Great Britain's sea power, confronted as it is today with a threatened German hegemony of Europe, to utterly fail of its purpose except for the policy of Lord Lansdowne, perfected by Sir Edward Grey. The issue of securing peace by being prepared for war. Words from Mr. J.S. Ewart, and the speaker's response to them. Underprizing the fact that when Canada makes a treaty, England signs it, and England maintains it. How long a Canadian treaty would last if Canada stood alone to enforce it. One of the consequences of Empire that as all must benefit in common, all must suffer in common. The suggestion for Canada's financial contribution to the British Navy. Disadvantage of such a contribution on its own. Alternative plans and proposals for contribution. What our autonomy tells us to do. What Australia does. Asking why Canada cannot do the same as Australia, subject to her changed conditions. A local naval force as much necessary for home defence as is a military force. How a local naval defence contribution to Imperial strength. Canada to preserve her own identity; to have a fleet which in time of peace would be under our own political control; in time of war to pass under the strategic command of the Admiralty.
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- 11 Mar 1909
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- Full Text
- NAVAL, DEFENCE FOR CANADA.
Address by His HONOUR JOHN A. BARRON, K. C., County judge of Pertb, before the Empire Club of Canada on March 11th, Ices.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,
I shall not waste my time, and especially your time, in making any preliminary remarks. I will, however, only hope that when I shall have finished you may be one-tenth as much in accord with nie as I am pleased today at the opportunity given to me by your worthy Chairman and the Empire Club in reaching, if possible, beyond the four corners of this room a people who do not seem to understand one iota of what is meant by naval defence, and therefore, not understanding, remain indifferent and apathetic. And you business gentlemen know much better than I do that if you want to achieve success in anything where mind rubs against, mind, then the greatest force against you in achieving that success is apathy and indifference.
( According to Herr Rohrbach, the great political writer, Germany's population today is about 65,000,000 of people. In ten years it will be about 80,000,000, because, as has been said, "The Polish part of the German population breed like rabbits, and the Germans, they breed like hares;" so that in about ten years' time Germany will doubtless have, as Von, Bulow says, a population of 80,000,000 of people his enormous population is squeezed into a congested space of 300 souls to the square mile. Her African possessions offer land room for scarcely 100,000 of the overflow. Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and South America still offer numerous but undesirable possibilities, and her condition is such that she becomes instantly covetous at the least opportunity for political expansion.) She regards with considerable concern the exodus of her people and looks with envy at England's ability to retain the fealty of her subjects across the seas. Of the 300,000 German-speaking people in Southern Brazil in 1899 not 300 are today citizens of the German Empire.
Elbowroom is a grave problem for Germany, and if she ever fights Great Britain it will be in response to the ungovernable demand for bread and room from her ever-increasing millions,. today, if permitted, Oriental peoples would swarm over North America with surprising rapidity, and at, the present time the danger zone extends beyond Japan, with its 40,000,000, or China, with its 400,000,000, and reaches the still more remote and densely populated portions of India. ' A nation whose people are cramped for room wants land, because land means food, and food means life. So territorial acquisition is still a profitable policy common to all countries having political ambition. Years ago Great Britain was wise, and happily for us today, what she took she held what was ceded she kept, and what she discovered she 'rarely abandoned. A people, gentlemen, with instinctive love of offspring, striving for betterment, fail now to comprehend that the laws of nature, which apparently give to every man a right to such waste portion of the earth as is necessary for his subsistence, must yield to the laws of nations; and especially do the Japanese fail to see why exclusive laws are made by us in Canada who ourselves displaced others, put here before us by the hand of Providence. And so in search for sustenance they bitterly resent our restrictions. This fact necessarily excites sympathy, but it should not diminish prudence, for even Utopia, for economic reasons, limited its cities in size and population, and so, in obedience to the law of self-improvement, Canada forbids transplanting of Oriental roots in Canadian soil.
But, gentlemen, who will assert that our laws of exclusion would be other than a cobweb of protection were it not that foreign eyes see Great Britain standing behind Canada as the Big Policeman? We are told that "the law does not enact what it cannot enforce," and Canada, busily absorbed in working out her destiny under the aegis of the mightiest fleet the world has ever seen, does not stop to reflect that respect for her restrictive laws is due in a great measure to the power of Great Britain to enforce them should our own strength prove insufficient. Gentlemen, the prestige of Great Britain is today the great corner-stone of Empire, and Canada should jealously watch that she does nothing to weaken it. t It is this that sustains and holds us safe while we are' upbuilding, and it is this that protects us from the evil consequences of foreign ambition-' an element in the character -of all nations which, according to Petrarch, is the greatest of the five great enemies of peace. And yet, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, Great Britain's sea power, confronted as it is today with a threatened German hegemon of Europe, would utterly fail of its purpose were it not for the policy of Lord Lansdowne, perfected by Sir Edward Greya policy which can be summed up in two words "semper paratus."
Is it not strange, then, that a gentleman in Peterboro (Mr. J. S. Ewart), recently should say: "We have learned the stupid fallacy of the frequent assertion that the way to secure peace is to be prepared for war?" Mr. Ewart's words, however, contradict his own assertion, because if, as he continues, "Europe is restlessly ready for war and there is now no better chance for it," why, I ask, is there not war? The answer is that the nations of Europe, and especially Britain, are prepared for war, and therefore we have peace. But, gentlemen, is not the lesson of practical -experience a safer guide than the views of any idealist untutored in the ways of diplomacy, as Mr. Ewart undoubtedly is? Was it not when Philip of Macedon saw that Greek was ill-prepared to fight for Greek, that he then was able to subjugate the entire Hellenic race? It was not the Norman conquest made easy because Harold dispersed the fleet which Edgar the Peaceful had previously acquired? Did not Henry VII. so well equip his squadrons that for a long time peace was undisturbed? Was it not the pitiful plight of the "Beggars of the Sea," as we are told, that encouraged the Armada? When, gentlemen, in mid-ocean, Mason and Slidell were taken from a British ship, and war became imminent, was it not the ready arm of Great Britain that forced the United States to recede from their untenable attitude?
In the dispute with Spain over the Falklands, -was not England's display of force more effective than any and all the representations made to the Court at Madrid? Is it not today the King of Peacemakers who, with a Neptune and a St. Vincent, still greater in size and displacement than a Dreadnaught, completes a group of eight homogeneous ships?; Then, gentlemen, it is President Roosevelt who says that "a first-class fighting navy is the most effective guarantee for peace the United States can have." And President Taft has just expressed exactly the same opinion. It is Lord Roberts who says that "an efficient army is an essential condition of peace and security." It is the present German Chancellor who says -that "the moment Germany decides to reduce her equipment, peace would be seriously threatened." It is Mr. Deakin, the ex-Premier of Australia, who says that "they who prepare for war in point of fact do so only to preserve peace." It is the Poet Laureate who sings to us
"Nor you nor we would others wrong,
We only claim to hold our own;
For this we arm, for this keep strong,
Safe-guarding justice on her throne."
So I might go on. I have said enough, I think, to convince ordinary mortals that if a condition of preparedness as a means of preserving peace is a stupid fallacy, as Mr. E4 wart says, then not only does history belie itself, but there are many great men who are also very stupid men, but whose urgings nevertheless are safer to follow than the altruistic ethics of men who pay too great an adoration to human understanding, and for whose resurrection long, long hence, when "Mercy and Truth are met together, and Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other," the Empire Club, I have no doubt, most earnestly and devoutly pray.
Within the last ten years Canada has become a treaty-making nation. Canada practically makes the treaty, England signs it-but who maintains it? Not Canada, but England. We are apt to underprize this fact. It is now, I think, generally conceded that the life of a treaty ends when a nation is strong enough to break it. It is only the cruder cynics who delude themselves with its sanctity. History proves that international alliances, endure for so long as the interests of allies coincide. Russia entering the Dardanelles is an instance of this, and the Bosnian frontier at this moment is another. Let us ask ourselves a question. 'How long, think you, would a Canadian treaty last if Canada stood alone to enforce it? To this question the Trent affair supplies the answer. Now, enlarged powers, which we rightly demand, bring enlarged responsibilities. We cannot have our cake, and then refuse to pay for it. They are a contemptible people who, while they glory in their growing autonomy, decline to share its obligations. It is a mean man who boasts of manhood and yet omits to protect his hearth, his home and his family. Side by side with national expansion is a constantly increasing risk of political entanglement, and once friction starts the strongest arm often is not the first to allay .it, but more often is the first to fire a gun. Mr. J. S. Willison has said that, "if the weaker nation is likely to be the more sensitive, it is certain to answer quickly to considerate treatment from a powerful neighbour;" but as to that treatment Lord Bacon has said that "no virtue is so delinquent as clemency." And I fail to find in history when the powerful nation ever extended considerate treatment to the weaker one except an expectant benefit of some kind was hidden within the leaves of the olive branch. It is our earnest prayer that Canada may never bring trouble to the Empire, 'but once a blow is struck, whoever originates the quarrel, and Great Britain as the great nerve-centre becomes involved, the heart's action instantly throbs through the whole system of Empire, and while each part is liable to attack, each part must be prepared to resist attack.
It is one of the consequences of Empire that, as all must benefit in common, all must suffer in common. We have so long been accustomed to the glories of peace that we pursue our avocations clay by day as if immune, and forget that in any war in which Great Britain fires a gun an enemy can attack us or any other of England's possessions, and that when such happens the Monroe Doctrine cannot be invoked to save us from destruction, as some strangely seem to think; for while this Doctrine proposes the integrity of American soil from governmental occupation by a foreign power, it does not apply to temporary occupation incidental to warfare. Now, shall Canada take sanctuary behind Britain's guns, or will she prove herself possessed of that nerve and pluck and strength and greatness, on having which at all times she justly prides herself? I hear it said, gentlemen, that it is folly to prepare when danger is not in sight. History proves that strength discourages and helplessness invites attack, and that while the glories of peace are being chanted, then it is that calamities come, and to all nations the wide world over the message of the Gospel is sent "Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Democracies cannot learn too soon that campaigns are won and lost long years before they are fought. Canada, then, must in some way aid that great tree of Monarchy, which, like the tree of Nebuchadnezzar, has its trunk large and strong to support its branches and its leaves. How, then, is this to be done? A frequent writer in the Fortnightly suggests a contribution from Canada to the British Navy of 1,500,000 pounds.
Now, a grant of money is the "one purse" method. It would be a "pay and do nothing policy." It would take from us our control of our expenditure, and Canada would oppose it. It would be an ignominious method of shirking a responsibility. Our share of the burden must be on self-respecting lines which will not permit us to buy with a subsidy a freedom from responsibility, and we must also remember that a community which provides for its security from external attack only by a money payment will surely lose the capacity for self-defence, and become in time a soft and effeminate nation. Besides, gentlemen, we feel today the quickening sense of national life. This would kill it. And as one writer says, "It would give us no other means of meeting an enemy than with a bribe." Besides, again, Canadian boys, your boys, may desire a life on the sea, and Canadian mothers, your wives, their mothers, would ill rest content with the lost opportunities this method would involve. If it be said the Imperial Navy supplies this loss the answer comes from Australia that Australians won't leave Australian waters, and parents will not as a rule send children away alone to the other side of the world at the early age required for entry into the British Navy. In practice, gentlemen, it fails to work satisfactorily. Mr. Deakin, the ex-Premier of Australia, has so stated, and from an Admiralty standpoint it meddles with the strategic movements of British ships.
The Cape Colony plan of giving a ship is less objectionable, but still objectionable. While we would spend our own funds, we would part entirely with the forces created by such funds, and we would still see the indignant frown on Canadian faces because we forsook Canadian boys and diminished their opportunities in life. A gift "in kind" may pay an obligation, but it shrivels up individuality and pays the debt at too great a cost. In all that Canada does, Canada must never lose sight of herself or destroy her own identity. Again there is the Newfoundland plan of training men for Imperial service. This, I think, was Sir Wilfrid Laurier's tentative offer at a Colonial Conference, but cui bono? At best it is a waste of energy, because Great Britain has, waiting at the gangway, a supply greater than the demand. When he was first Lord of the Admiralty, Viscount Goschen congratulated England on the fact that the Admiralty could pick and choose among the men and boys who offered themselves at the recruiting station. Since then the attractions of the lower deck have become so improved that the number of men is increasing far beyond the proportion of means of employing them, and especially so since it has been discovered and so reported by a Committee of the Admiralty that "the wastage of ships now exceeds the wastage of crews and so sets free officers and men from employment." In the face of this recognized fact we would be laying up for ourselves the wrath to come of Canadian men sickened with delayed hopes and bitter disappointments.
There is next the Hoffmeyr proposal of a preferential tariff, but that is only a method of raising funds, and leaves unsaid what to do with the funds when they are raised. There is also the Natal method of contributing coal; but Heaven forbid, gentlemen, that Canada should ever become simply a coal-heaver for a British ship! But may I point out that from our autonomy comes the true, rational and logical plan for Imperial aid and our own defence-a plan, too, that is reasonably within our financial reach. Canada, let us remember, may not attack. Great Britain does that. The first battle-cry must come from the quarter-deck of a British ship. Six years ago the centre of gravity of maritime power in Europe was shifted from the Mediterranean to the North Sea. The Atlantic and Pacific fleets became a shield round Britain's coasts. The overseas were left to defend themselves for, powerful as the British Navy is, it is not omnipotent, and certainly it is not omnipresent.
Now, what does our autonomy tell us to do? It t is us to do as Australia does, and that which Austria does Canada should do, mutatis mutandis. What does Australia do? She undertakes to give 1,000 men, if possible all Australians, to British ships, 400 of whom are to man two cruisers in Atlantic waters. In addition to that, England provides two more to be cruisers for training purposes. In addition to that, provision is made by the Commonwealth for a system of submarine or torpedo-boat destroyers, as suggested at the London Conference. In addition to that, provision is made by Australia and she maintains nine submarines and six torpedoboat destroyers. These are all to be built by Australia at the expense of Australia, manned by Australians, and she undertakes to do that in .a short period of three years' time. Why cannot Canada do exactly the same thing subject to her changed conditions? Australia is insular, it is true, but Canada has its thousands of 'miles of unprotected coasts, and the mighty St. Lawrence is an inviting opportunity to an enemy. It may be that a hostile fleet would not cross the Canadian waters unless we first were beaten badly at sea, but one or two cruisers would unquestionably appear, and it is appalling to think what terrible havoc and destruction such could do to a defenceless seaboard. Again, Canada on the Pacific is close to the Asiatic peril, and while from our physical conformation our defence may always require to be a maximum of militarism, yet without a large minimum of navalism Canada, if attacked by sea, would present a sad and sorry spectacle.
A local naval force is as much necessary in home defence as is military force. Each form of defence is correlative, of the other and without naval armament, according to Admiral Colomb, a fortress is bound to fall if properly attacked by sea. Without naval defence an enemy could bottle up our exports -and in
breadstuffs alone $40,000,000 a year would go no farther than our coastal harbours. This is the answer to those who say that the money required for naval defence might be better spent in raising wheat, and barley and oats. What availeth riches if they benefit us nothing? As Solon said to Crcesus, who showed him all his treasure, "Yes, sir, but if another should come with better iron than you he would be master of all this gold," and so we ask for Canada naval defence, " lest robber State with readier steel pounce on the precious store by stealth."
A local naval defence contributes to Imperial strength because, as a chain is no stronger than its weakest link, so is Empire no stronger than its weakest part. By strengthening that part you add strength to the Empire, and local strength then becomes Imperial strength; or, as the Premier of Australia has said, " "Local defence is Imperial defence at a particular spot, but none the less Imperial on that account." Writers in England who argue for contribution in money ask: " Of what avail is the presence of a few cruisers in Canadian waters?" The answer is: "Of more avail than if there were none." The big ships are not always on the faroff spots, and the recent concentration policy, as inexorable as once was Rule r9, suggests that they may not be. The Admiralty, however, regards a local naval defence as of much value. Lord Tweedmouth at the Conference said: " There is, I think, the further advantage in these small flotillas that they will be an admirable means of coast defence; and that by the use of them you will be able to avoid practically all danger from any sudden raid which might be made by a cruising squadron." And possessed of expert opinion such as this, we need not fear, gentlemen, what prolific writers may say to the contrary, or what man may do unto us.
I have said Canada must preserve her own identity. Our fleet in time of peace should be under our own political control. In time of war it should pass under the strategical command of the Admiralty. This would be Canada's aid to the Empire-that Empire which will long continue to be the strongest guarantee of peace, if every one of its constituent democracies forthwith begins to realize the wider obligations of true naval defence. And so, gentlemen, shall Canada do something or do nothing, and run the risk of sending her sons out in the defence of their country "with the dice heavily loaded against them"?