- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 27 Oct 1905, p. 22-33
- Jebb, Richard, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The issue of Imperial consolidation. One feature of the movement which is associated in England with the name of Mr. Chamberlain. Chamberlain's proposal. A desirable form of Imperial unity, or at any rate a practical form of Imperial unity. The effect of Mr. Chamberlain's campaign: making the people arrange their ideas and define their conceptions of the Empire. The anti-Imperialist coming to the surface. The viewpoints of both the Imperialists and the anti-Imperialists. A strong case for a united Empire as a development of the several Democracies within it. The advantages of a common language. Domestic interests in common. The Land question in England as an example of discovering what other parts of the Empire have done. The question of commerce. Criticisms against Chamberlain's proposal and the speaker's response to it. The aspect of expenditures in this question of Imperial unity. Shared costs for defence. A time of transition for Canada, passing from the Colonial status to the national status. Going ahead on the theory that the strength of the parts is the strength of the whole. The necessity to apply that principle to the question of defence. The conception of the Empire as a great affiliation of distinct Democracies; wanting to know along what lines it is going to develop if that conception is accepted. The speaker's thoughts on the principle of the Colonial Conference as the principle to which we must look for many years to come for the development of the Imperial political machinery. The fundamental foundation and distinctive feature of the Colonial Conference: that the heads of Governments meet on equal terms. The idea that the head of the British Government in the Colonial Conference should lay down definitely what the Conference shall or shall not discuss. The speaker's response to that idea. A suggestion by the speaker that it would be of great help to the Imperialists in England if Canada would take steps to assert that principle of its right to initiate discussions at the Conference. Confirming the right of Canada to bring up any subject regardless of whether it suited the ideas of party politicians or not. Standing for a united Empire.
Sir John Leng, M.P. responded briefly to the speaker's address.
- Date of Original
- 27 Oct 1905
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
- SOME ASPECTS OF IMPERIALISM.
Address by Mr. Richard Jebb, of London, England, before the Empire Club of Canada, on Friday, October 27th, 1905.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,--
I am deeply sensible of the honour you have done me by giving me this opportunity to address your Club. I need scarcely say that with the objects of the Empire Club, as indicated by its title, I am myself in hearty sympathy. My only difficulty is to know exactly how I can interest so many gentlemen who already are familiar with the principal aspects of this question of Imperial consolidation. Perhaps I can't do better than allude to one feature of the movement which is associated in England with the name of Mr. Chamberlain. The particular feature of the movement in England is that Mr. Chamberlain's campaign has had the effect of compelling all those who think about the Empire to arrange their ideas and define their conceptions of Empire, and to follow them more closely than they had found it necessary to do before. Mr. Chamberlain proposed a specific measure, a measure which he asked the English people to adopt, and he proposed it principally because it was a measure of Imperial importance.
Now you can't form a judgment upon the effect which any particular line of policy will have upon the future of the Empire unless you have some fairly clear idea as to what is a desirable form of Imperial unity or at any rate what is a practical form of Imperial unity. Therefore the effect of Mr. Chamberlain's campaign has been first of all to make the people arrange their ideas and define their conceptions of the Empire. That process in England has brought to the surface the anti-Imperialist. We have in England, I think, quite a strong body of opinion which sincerely believes that a united Empire is synonymous with the terms Militarism and jingoism. The anti-Imperialists think that is what a united Empire means in its external aspect and then, taking the internal aspect, they think Imperial unity means a dead level of all civilization, especially all white civilizations, in the Empire. They think we are going to reduce every citizen in the country to a dead level of uniformity. They argue that what we want to go at is dissolvication and not unification.
We, on the other hand, who are Imperialists can, I think, take exception to that representation of our Imperial idea. Perhaps we have not expressed our idea as clearly as we might have done with advantage. Perhaps after all it is wrong for us to put forward the notion that a united Empire is in itself a great moral ideal. Perhaps it is not. But I think the real conception is that a united Empire is a means to an end. It is a means to the realization of very lofty political conceptions. I think if we come to define our ideas we mean not the the formation of a great big world-wide State, but rather the close and intimate affiliation of several more or less different Democracies, each of those Democracies working out its own salvation upon its own lines. From that point of view I think we can put forward an idea of Empire which would do much to reconcile those anti-Imperialists who still preserve an open mind. We believe that a united Empire is not contrary to, the idea of national independence. I am not one of those who feel the smallest alarm, as I sometimes hear it said, that beneath the surface you Canadians are dreaming of Independence. I like to hear that because it is a sign of growth and ambition. And for my part I think as the country does grow and things develop here it will be realized that you can have a much fuller independence within the Empire than outside of it. After all there is no such thing as absolute independence. No country, not even the great Republic to the South, can get rid of external relations. There is no country that has absolute independence. All the countries have a connection with each other and no one can develop without reference entirely to the others.
Now we Imperialists, I think, can make out a very strong case for a united Empire as a development of the several Democracies within it. We have the advantage of a common language which enables the countries to come into closer touch with each other than they can with foreign countries. That common language can be turned to very useful account, as in the case of the press, and the press depends upon the cable. By improving the means of communication within the Empire the different parts of the Empire will take a growing interest in each other in this practical way. They all have a large number of domestic interests in common; they have their domestic problems; they have questions like industrial difficulties, and arbitration, temperance measures, and education. Questions of that kind are common to all these Democracies and if, in England for example, we know what countries do on this side it is-a help to us in considering our own problems. Again, take a question like the Land question in England, and they have a somewhat similar question in New Zealand which they are trying to solve in a very novel manner; it is interesting to us in England to see how they are doing it and what results are being accomplished. And take the Old Age Pensions, a question which they are interested in in England and also in New Zealand and Australia, and by bringing these countries into closer touch the prospect of developing a high ideal is made better for each of the several countries than if each were cut off from the others and trying to work in isolation, without knowing what other countries are doing. That is just one aspect of what we mean by an affiliation of Democracies. Take this question of commerce.. It is part of our Imperial idea that a united Empire means, or might mean, a greater degree of material prosperity for the several parts of that Empire than could be obtained if they were all separate and independent of each other. The strength of the Empire is a strength of the parts and if we can devise a system of mutual preferences in trade it will tend to the protection of each of the different parts of the Empire.
It is said that Mr. Chamberlain is proposing to sacrifice England to the other parts of the Empire, that he is seeking to make the conditions harder in England in order that conditions may be improved, say in Canada or Australia, and it is contended that that is a wrong way to cement the Empire. Well, I sympathize with anybody who fears that Mr. Chamberlain's tariff is meant to impoverish the Old Land, but I think I am speaking for Mr. Chamberlain and his followers when I say that we do not admit such a charge at all. Even if you regard England apart from the Empire we think it is an advantage to England. But there are several aspects of Mr. Chamberlain's proposition regarded from the purely English standpoint. The proposed tariff will bring in a certain amount of revenue and that is a very serious question in England. We may do all we can there, but we cannot prevent a certain growth in our expenditure and I think Mr. Chamberlain's measure will lighten the taxation upon the working classes as well as upon other classes in England. We think as to revenue it will be to England's advantage and it will not be a loss to England. But the great point is this, that we who support Mr. Chamberlain in England, are not sacrificing any interests for the sake of the Empire, but are advocating that it is as much to the advantage of England as to any other part of the Empire and, therefore, from the commercial aspect we have the idea that the affiliation of Democracies is not as unfavourable as the anti-Imperialists believe.
There is a third aspect of that idea of affiliation of Democracies. All these problems which they are engaged in solving are problems which require a large expenditure. In England the domestic expenditure is increasing by the fact that we are an old civilization. We have in England an old civilization in a limited territory and out of those conditions certain serious problems arise and they can't be solved without a great expenditure of public money. In Canada also you have special departments of expenditure which you feel to be very heavy. But here in Canada you feel you require money for the development of your resources. That is more inspiring than the way we have to do, trying to repair the errors of the past or making up wastes; and then we have education and things of that kind which require a great expenditure of money. The great obstacle that the country is realizing is that so large a portion of the national revenue is being spent for providing for defence as a guarantee of national independence. Well, it is part of our united Empire ideal that a united Empire at some time will mean that each part will be spending less upon the defence of the Empire than if each one had been obliged to depend upon itself alone. Now the anti-Imperialists in England always take exception to that. I am speaking now of my experience in political campaigning. The anti-Imperialist at once throws Canada in your teeth and asks you what signs you see in Canada of any disposition to share the burden of defence. I know in telling you this I am on delicate ground. However, I am merely relating to you how the thing is looked at in England and that is the objection to our Imperial ideal that is constantly cropping up. They ask you what she is doing for Imperial defence.
Mr. CHAMPION.--What is she doing?
There is one argument when I am upholding the Imperial idea that I make use of, and that is that this is a time of transition such as you must have in a country like Canada. You are passing from the Colonial status to the National status and that transition is not going to take place in the twinkling of an eye. I am one of those who do not think that the question of defence could ever be solved satisfactorily by a centralized system under which Canada or Australia would send large cheques. to the Admiralty in London. I do not concern myself with the question of representation because I have no longer any belief in the system of cash contributions in connection with which that system is generally mentioned. It seems to me that if you go on the theory that the strength of the parts is the strength of the whole it is as necessary to apply that principle to the question of defence as to any other part of the question. Certainly in the long run it seems to me that the Empire would be strengthened more if the several particular parts of it maintained their own defence forces than if they all joined together to subsidize a common Admiralty or a common War Office in London. But when I take that point of view in my political campaigning at home, I say that the reason why Canada has made no beginning is by reason of the obstruction of the Admiralty at home which clings to the old-fashioned things and ways, and I say with confidence that when the Admiralty will revise its system at home, the different parts of the Empire will act with us and we will see rapid progress. Of course we have against that idea all the official strategists. They talk of ore Navy. I am not a Navy expert, but I think it will interest you that so recognized an authority as Spencer Wilkinson is thoroughly in accord with the Imperial idea of the Navy consisting of several squadrons which will be distinguished as Canadian, British or Australian, but nevertheless one Navy to co-operate together if a time of trial should come.
In Canada here you want a consideration put forward in connection with the question of defence, which I never represent when I go to England. It is that owing to the necessity of spending such a large amount of money upon Canadian resources Canada cannot be expected to do very much as yet in the way of Naval defence. If you say that in England you will at once meet with the objection that England, as I have said, has her social problems and things of that kind which are just as urgent for her as the development of your resources are for you. We would not spend a cent for defence except out of sheer necessity. We would much rather conserve our revenue for domestic purposes. So we have to go without our old-age pensions; we have to restrict our education schemes; because we feel the absolute necessity of keeping our defences as good as we can. For that reason I would not present in England that argument to which I have alluded.
Now if you accept the conception of the Empire as a great affiliation of distinct Democracies you want to know naturally along what lines, logically, it is going to develop. I am one of those who think that the principle of the Colonial Conference is the principle to which we must look for many years to come for the development of the Imperial political machinery. The great fundamental foundation and distinctive feature of the Colonial Conference is that in that conference the heads of Governments meet on equal terms. I think if we are to get the widest or greatest good out of this idea of Imperial Union that it is important to keep up that principle of the heads of Governments acting together as equals and not in any sense as the subordinates of one or another Government. Of course, you cannot regard Canada as the equal of England at the present time in a strict sense, owing to the different conditions as to wealth and population and so on, but I notice a distinct tendency among Canadians to insist upon that equality of status in the Empire and I have complete sympathy with that because I realize that at some day, and at no very distant day, Canada is going to be the predominating partner in wealth and population and all the rest of it. I think that when that day comes Englishmen will be glad enough that they have kept up that equality of status between the different parts of the Empire. Now I mention that point because there is at the present time in England--or rather there has been--a decided attempt on the part of certain prominent statesmen in England to repudiate that view.
We have had the idea put before us that it is the right, in fact that it is the duty, of the representative of the, head of the British Government in the Colonial Conference to lay down definitely what the Conference shall or shall not discuss. In fact we have had the idea put before us that it is our right and perhaps duty to say whether the Conference shall or shall not assemble. Now that is an idea, which, to my mind, is entirely wrong in principle. If you accept the ultimate idea of an equality of status between the several nations, I think you will sympathize With Mr. Chamberlain's followers in England when they propose that this Conference must come together in periods of four year whether any particular Government finds the Conference will suit its party ticket or it does not. We can' have the assembling of the Colonial Conference dependent upon the political exigencies of any one Government or any one country and, especially, we cannot have the matters to be dealt with before the Conference restricted by the authority of any one Government out of the whole group. We must keep to the great principle that when the heads of Governments assemble at the Conference any one of them will be at liberty to bring up any question he pleases. If I may put forward one suggestion, it would be a great help, I think, to the Imperialists in England if Canada would take steps to assert that principle of its right to initiate discussions at the Conference. If, for example, the Dominion Parliament would pass a Resolution instructing the representatives of Canada to bring up their right to discuss any particular question at the Conference, I think that Resolution would do a great deal of good, because it would confirm the right of Canada to bring up any subject regardless of whether it suited the ideas of party politicians or not.
Now I feel that I have kept you long enough. I have preferred to go rather into detail as to what our Imperial idea means for the reason I have stated, but although we may go into detail and show that it is in the best interests of the Empire, and a means of economizing in Imperial defence, yet I think I have you with me when I say that over and above all that we stand for a united Empire, because we value something very big and something very real to us, which we call the British traditions. I think we feel at the back of our heads that we stand for a very high ideal of citizenship which is associated all round the Empire with the Mother-country. It is very impressive for an Englishman to find what immense moral strength there is all round the Empire through what is regarded as the high political ideals of the Mother-country. Well, if only that high ideal can be maintained in reality and carried out in practice; if it can only be made a living thing and not allowed to become a mere phrase with no relation to real life; if we can only retain it as a reality; I think we can succeed in working out the largest political conception which has ever exercised the ability of any people in any part of the world.
ADDRESS BY SIR JOHN LENG, M.P.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,--the year 1876, now close upon thirty years ago, I paid my first, and what at the time I supposed to be my last, visit to Canada. I am not now so young nor so strong as I then was, but my remembrance of the generosity and the hospitality with which I was then received, and my pleasant recollections of travelling through the several Provinces as far as I could then go, induced me, now that I am much older than I then was, to pay this second visit. And, during the short "time I have been here I can only say that the expectations of your hospitality have been fully fulfilled. Here am I; only a few hours in Toronto, when I am honoured by an invitation to meet this influential Club.
Now I had the honour of sitting in the Imperial Parliament with the distinguished relative of the gentleman who has just now addressed you, and whom, I should infer-I am not positively informed on the fact -is himself an aspirant to sit in the House of Commons. If he sits there he will, like his esteemed uncle,* sit on the side opposite to that where I am, and if we were in the Imperial Parliament and if we both had the opportunity of catching the Speaker's eye, I might take the opportunity to traverse some of the views which, I will say, my honourable friend has expressed. At the same time I am not too anxious to debate it here.
*Editor's note.-Professor Sir Richard C. Jebb.
With much that Mr. Jebb has said I strongly agree. In principle I think we are really at one, but the methods which he would recommend differ from those which occur to me. I will only briefly indicate my views. My view with regard to Mr. Chamberlain's policy is this, that he has made the fundamental mistake of basing his Imperial views mainly, if not entirely, on financial considerations. Mr. Jebb has taken a much wider view than I have ever heard Mr. Chamberlain express, and I would follow the younger rather than the older Chamberlain.
What I saw here thirty years ago and what I have seen from that hour to this, is that the Colonies, and the Dominion of Canada in particular, do not require any bribe or money inducement to reinforce their loyalty. (Hear, hear.) The loyalty of all the Colonies, the loyalty of Canada, is deeper=seated than in any selfish financial consideration. It is in the hearts and the intellects of the people themselves. They know the race from which they have sprung; their antecedents are in the Old Country, their ancestors are there; and then there is the relationship with the builders of England and Scotland and Ireland. I am an Imperialist to that extent. Well, I think if Mr. Chamberlain had taken up this question in that broader way in which his advocate has spoken today, he would not have prejudiced it in the minds-because he has prejudiced it of other Imperialists. I will not allow any monopoly in that title to Mr. Jebb and his friends, some of us long before Mr. Jebb was born, and even in the time of his uncle, having been Imperialists.
With regard to this question there are only one or two facts which I will take the liberty of mentioning. I would like to remind you of a fact which came to my notice within the last three or four days, that in the Colony of Victoria, which is now and has been strongly Protectionist for a number of years, in a period when you have had 600,000 emigrants from the Old Country come into Canada,' their population has decreased by 6,000. That is not an encouragement for a system of protection. Then I am old enough-I lived in the days of Cobden and Bright, I stood at their feet-I remember the times in which they spoke and I remember the privations of our poor. There were years in which it was with difficulty that they could obtain food and then very poor food; even the agriculturists, to whom the appeal is now being made for protection. Such were the conditions all over the country at that time, and if you compare the condition of the workingmen today in England and Ireland and Scotland with that time, you will see they are living in a paradise now with what it was then. I remember, too, when Sir Robert Peel first brought in his budget--and Gladstone followed--and put the pen through twelve hundred articles that were taxed. Knowing that the trade and commerce of all the country improved by leaps and bounds, I am not one of those who are led away with the vision of England's prosperity with which Mr. Chamberlain has indulged his followers. However, I will no go further into this debatable land.
But this I will say, that I hope the day will come when what we now call the Imperial Parliament will really become what its name signifies. Instead of being an Imperial Parliament we are now simply a big overgrown working Board. The greater part of our time is taken up in the House of Commons by going into local matters. First of all we have an hour of questions dealing with the smallest details of local affairs. Then the Minister of Finance is put through his facings with regard to matters which I hope that your Houses have good sense enough not to listen to. And in the same way our time is frittered away day after day and month after month over the pettiest details of administration. Instead of that I would like that we should have time really to discuss Imperial questions. I would like that we had time to hear more such speeches as Mr. Jebb has just made, because we have plenty of men who could give them thoroughly satisfactory answers. But we have not time to do it. And when we do-when we have counted on having a night of it in the House of Commons Mr. Chamberlain and the whole lot of Chamberlains ran away and would not face us. (Laughter.) We wanted to have it out with them, but they wouldn't come to the scratch.
Gentlemen, I hope you will excuse me for making these very casual remarks. But I would like to say that during the short time that I have been in Canada, so far, I have been delighted to see, not so much change, but progress and development. And that you might not suppose that I am outside altogether of Canadian interests, Colonial interests, I may mention that one of my sons-in-law, who is an excellent fellow, better known in Montreal than here, has very large shipping interests in this country. I have members of my family in Australian Colonies, and my wife has numerous connections in New Zealand, and in fact all our interests are your interests and the interests of the other Colonies. Our interests are the same and I am perfectly at one with Mr. Jebb on the line of the Colonial Conference that is fast working out, and I hope that as time goes on we shall have some definite form of Canadian and Colonial representation in the Mother-country.
Our interests are really all one, and do not suppose that we who do not go in precisely with Mr. Chamberlain's ideas, do not desire our Empire to advance in greatness. We wish to promote the happiness and well-being of all. We are delighted to hear of your good crops. We are delighted to hear of the progress of the shipper and manufacturer. All our interests are really at one and you may rely on our good faith and endeavour to promote the unity of the Empire. We may differ as to the precise manner in which it is to be done, but I think I may say of the great majority of the members of Parliament in our country that we are at one with you in our anxiety to promote everything that is for your benefit and that we desire your co-operation to strengthen the Old Country. We wish the British name to be honoured here. We wish the British flag, wherever it is hoisted, to be hoisted over a happy, intelligent and a prosperous people.