VICE-PRESIDENT WILKINSON: Our guest does not require any formal introduction to the Empire Club. These are times of changes, not only domestic changes, but world changes; changes commercial, changes social, changes political; and I feel that in times such as these that we have been going through during the past few years we are particularly in need of men of clear thought and of frank speech. (Hear, hear) We are fortunate today in having as our guest one who has both of these attributes, and I have very much pleasure in introducing to you the Hon. Wallace Nesbitt, K.C., who will address us on the subject, "Canada within the Empire."
HON. WALLACE NESBITT
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, When my secretary brought to my house last night your card announcing my appearing before you today I was, although somewhat old and toughened, inclined to blush at the encomiums that were passed upon me, quite undeserved I assure you, as to any gift of oratory. However, it did bring to my mind the fact that in 1912 I had the opportunity o f addressing the members of the Empire Club, and it brought two thoughts in connection with that. On that occasion I took the opportunity of saying that if ever the Mother Country was in distress Canada, at least, would rally to her assistance. (Hear, hear) The other occasion was when a distinguished member of the Imperial Cabinet, at a meeting at which I was present, undertook to advise the "Colonies", as he termed them-or, as we term them, Dominions Overseas-as to their relations With the Mother country. He had strongly radical views, and advised the Colonies that if ever the Mother country became involved in any difficulties, in Europe or elsewhere, it was their duty on behalf of their citizens not to become mixed up with her quarrels; that they were of her own seeking and of her own bringing about, and that the Colonies should absolutely declare their non-participation in any such quarrels, and if necessary sever their relations so as not to be involved in them. I was called upon a few minutes afterwards to respond for Canada, and in so doing I said that I thought I represented the feelings of at least ninety per cent. of the Canadians when I resented entirely the sentiments that the Right Honourable gentleman had expressed; that what he advised was equivalent to a young and stalwart youth, Canada, standing by while the old mother was being assaulted by various ruffians, and saying to her, "You have brought this on yourself; I am not going to interfere." I said that, if we took such an attitude, I thought that the sooner we replaced at the head of our coat of arms the beaver, which we placed there for its thrift and industry, and substituted for it a somewhat malodorous North American animal called the skunk, the better. I may say that the radical gentleman was very indignant at it, and a short time afterwards cut me dead in the lobby of Westminster. Was I right? Did the great War, when it broke out in August, 1914, show that one was right in translating the sentiments not of ninety per cent. of Canadians, but the whole of Canada (hear, hear) when we were prepared to give our last drop of blood and our last ounce of treasure on behalf of that old Mother country? (Applause)
Now, passing from that for a moment, let me shortly sketch the growth of Canada up to Confederation. Up to 1840 Canada was practically represented by the thinly and sparsely populated pair of Provinces, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the East, and by Upper and Lower Canada in the West. It was rarely that any settlement took place except for what might be called water-side communication, because it was impossible for the farmer to get his grain to the water under about fourteen cents a bushel, and from the neighbourhood of Toronto, for instance, it cost him another thirty-four cents to take his wheat to the foot of the St. Lawrence, making forty-eight cents his cost, and the price was fifty cents-not much dividend for the farmer. I do not know that the position of the farmer in the Northwest today, owing to the results of the great war, is very much better; because you may observe that, for 132,000,000 of bushels shipped from Montreal, we received $127,000,000, as against $234,000,000 a year ago for 109,000,000 bushels. In other words, the farmer in the Northwest is getting less at present than a dollar a bushel for his wheat, and my information is that it practically costs that money there to grow the wheat; in the case of oats it is better to leave them lying rotting in the field, or to feed them to stock if the farmer has stock, than to thresh them, because the result is that by threshing he is out of pocket several cents a bushel. In the case of live stock, for two carloads of cattle shipped recently into Winnipeg, the owner of the cattle received a debit slip, after paying the transportation charges, etc., of some $370. In the case of a man I know near Peterboro, who shipped two head of beef to Toronto, he got a debit slip of $2.35; in other words, he might better have shot his cattle and let them lie in the field than have shipped them to Toronto.
Can you wonder, then, at the unrest, almost the revolutionary feeling, among the farmers of the Northwest and throughout Ontario? It is a wonder to me that they have not been more vocal in their discontent with the prevailing condition of things,-a condition about which it is all very well to say to them, "This has been brought about by the folly of nobody except the Kaiser," -because after all, it comes to this, that owing to the depleted purchasing power of Europe, both in their ability to raise money and because they cannot pay for what they need, that condition has been brought about in Canada; and after all, we are in a better position, I think, even than they are in the United States or any country in the world.
But after 1840 came the Reciprocity Treaty, and our exports jumped from $2,000,000 to $40,000,000 within its time. Still Canada was not growing very fast. And then that bogey of the democratic folk-that bogey that the soap-box orator calls "BIG BUSINESS"-appeared in Canada; big business in the form of railway corporations that brought you railways, followed by settlement, followed by industrial undertakings. Pausing for a moment on that bogey question so much talked about during the last elections-big business-tell me anything today that would amount to a row of shucks if it were not for our ability to get great aggregations of capital together that are able to create large industries employing many labourers, that, so to speak, takes by the seat of the trousers, any locality in which they locate themselves, and yanks it into prosperity, if it is not big business -which it is popular, apparently, for everybody to denounce. Fancy how we could have great steel corporations, coaling operations, railways, or anything else, unless in the form of large aggregations of capital, which do not belong to any single individuals but are the results of the contributions of stockholders, whether they be as individuals or stockholders in the form of corporations such as insurance companies, loan companies, etc.! Without big business, as it is called, what would this or any other country amount to, but small settlements, individual small traders, with none of what we call, at the present time, prosperity and progress.
Confederation came in 1867. It consisted of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec-Prince Edward Island came in afterwards. In 1869 we purchased the great Hudson Bay territory. We agreed with British Columbia to build a railway to connect the West with the East; we agreed to build the Intercolonial, which was the first experiment in what is called government ownership.
Now, understand, when I say government ownership I mean government ownership as exemplified in the working out of the Intercolonial, which has been nothing but a sink for public money since the first engine operated over it. Why? In my view government ownership, when it means government operation, can never be anything but a waste of public money. It means inefficiency; it means inattention; it means, according to the history of government operation throughout the world, the pulling down in every direction of any proper and efficient management. We are now put to an enormous debit of some $80,000,000 odd a year for the operation of the great National System. That may have its blessings as a road owned by the people, but I urge every man among you to bend his energies towards bringing about a condition of things in which the politician will have to keep his fingers off its operation. (Applause) It is protested, day after day, that the Government does not interfere. I shall be curious to see if a number of members of the Board that have been nominated by the late government are not, for various reasons, replaced by nominees of the new government. If they are, I shall be curious to see how some of our newspapers will apologize for them, and say that it in no way indicates government interference or political interference with the operation of the railways (laughter) but we will no doubt have it.
Coming back for a moment to the condition of things in 1867-and I dwell on it just for a moment for this reason, that to my mind the difficulties by way of land communication, the difficulties in bringing all those units together, the difficulty of assimilating them in one grand whole called Canada, were infinitely greater owing to the lack of transportation, owing to the lack of steamship communication, the lack of wireless telegraphy, the lack of telegraphy itself, the lack of telephone communication, etc., than exist today in making all the outlying portions of the Empire one unit under the aegis of John Bull '& Company. (Hear, hear) When the C.P.R. in 1883 applied for its loan, of which we heard more than once, Sir John Macdonald, who was then at the head of affairs, practically retired to Ernscliffe rather than face the music of his own caucus. Sir Charles Tupper went into the caucus, and absolutely with his fist in the face of every other member, forced that loan through, at a time when the greatest and most gifted men in Canada were protesting that to make;he loan was to make a loan to a railway that would never pay for the grease on the axles of the wheels. Sir Charles Tupper had the courage of his beliefs in the future of Canada. He foresaw its future greatness with an optimism that has been justified by events. I remember when he predicted 250,000,000 bushels of grain would be grown in the Northwest, and everybody scoffed and laughed at the prediction; yet that man's courage, foresight and optimism have been justified to the last degree in what he said would be the result of the loan to the C. P. R., which was repaid long ago, and which is probably the proudest monument today as a commercial success that this country has produced. (Hear, hear) To my mind no man who has ever been in the public affairs of Canada-Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir John Macdonald, or anybody else-deserves the thanks of Canadians, as a great Canadian, as much as Sir Charles Tupper. (Applause) The late Joseph Chamberlain said to me in the winter of 1914 at Cannes, in discussing Canada, that in his opinion Sir Charles Tupper was much the greatest Canadian that Canada had produced because of his courage, because of his optimism, because of his belief in the Country. I believe that Mr. Chamberlain's view was correct.
Now, if Sir Charles Tupper had not had that courage, and if that loan had not gone through, all the great banking institutions of this country would have gone like that-(snapping his fingors). British Columbia would have seceded from the Confederation. With British Columbia undoubtedly would have gone what is now Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta; and I do not think it needs any prophetic instinct to see that if. that had happened west of the Great Lakes and to the Pacific, Seward's dream of "one flag, (and that the American flag,) floating from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Circle" would have been realized. Therefore I said we owed so much to Sir Charles Tupper. But for his courage and his optimism and his foresight I do believe Canada would not exist today; and he had that courage in face of an almost universal popular disapproval of the act that he was forcing through Parliament; it was the most unpopular thing in this country. What we need is men who have courage when they have beliefs, to see that those beliefs are put into operation (hear, hear) something that most of our politicians will not do unless it is popular, and unless in their belief it will carry votes. Canada was saved by the courage and faith shown by Sir Charles Tupper on that occasion.
Now, what is the present situation in Canada? In 1898 the Yukon was taken in; in 1905, Alberta and Saskatchewan-Manitoba having come in in 1870. We have, therefore, a country of 3,600,000 odd square miles, the extent of which can be gauged by this fact-that it is more than twice as large as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Great Britain and Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Balkans, Greece, Spain aid Portugal-or, in other words, practically all Europe; it is more than double its size. People who are asking for free trade or for protection, as the case may be, apparently do not realize that when this country becomes developed it will be the greatest free trade area, within itself, in the whole world-much greater than the United States as a free trade area. Then what follows from that? Ought we not to cultivate a most thorough interchange of everything in the way of products within our own area?
What have we done? We have set up nine Provinces. In the fetish of provincial autonomy we have succeeded; and while provincial autonomy is a good thing if regulated, we have succeeded in doing what, so far as that great trade area is concerned? If any of you are in such businesses as take you from Halifax to Vancouver you have nine sets of insurance laws; you have nine sets of company laws; you have nine sets of succession duties; you have practically nine sets of commercial laws; and if you attempt to do business you have practically to employ nine lawyers to tell you how you may do it within your own country. (Laughter) That also involves the idea, besides the enormous fetter and shackle it is to trade -and I speak from some practical experience in advising with people who have Dominion-wide trade, who practically do not know where they are at in dealing in the various Provinces-that in each of those Provinces; there are various bureaucratic establishments with large staffs of clerks which the taxpayer has to pay for, which wonderfully add to the cost of everything, and that comes out of the customer. So far have they carried the principle that each little local municipality levies, under the guise of a license to trade in its municipality, a fee varying from $100 down, in some cases up to $200, on every person who comes in to solicit orders for business for a person not resident in the town -a type of legislation that is now becoming popular in the West. So that if you have something to sell you pay $100 at a little place of probably 300 inhabitants; then you go six miles further and pay another $100 to a place with another 200 or 300 inhabitants. It is impossible to carry on trade at any reasonable cost under such circumstances.
I do not suggest at all that the Dominion should with a strong hand attempt to regulate this, and to say there should be an absolute freedom of trade throughout the Provinces, without any local interference; but I do suggest that our various Atorneys-General of the various Provinces should devote, say, a week at a time to a conference among themselves, and harmonize the various laws so that they would all agree that Canadians should dwell under practically the same laws in each Province. Let each Province pass the same type of law, so that if you are going to do business in British Columbia or Nova Scotia or elsewhere you can see what your rights are. If they would devote a week of their time to that, perhaps, instead of devoting their time to regulating the conduct of people about affairs which are more or less meddlesome, and which most of us resent, I think it would be a good thing; and I throw out the suggestion to the various Attorneys-General-(applause) for that means some grit that is thrown into the machinery of trade in Canada.
Now let us see what our assets are, because I do not believe that the ordinary citizen ever sits down to realize what a heritage the Fathers of Confederation gave us.
I am not going to indulge in the sort of speech that talks about our wonderful potentialities. I remember in London on one occasion a very gifted Canadian was expounding to an English audience all our possibilities in a rather florid style, and when he paused for breath at one point Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who was sitting just near him, said, "Please don't forget our natural gas". (Great laughter). I shall not indulge in any such florid description or statement of our potentialities, but let me draw your attention to what are the four great sources of wealth-the basic sources in this country-and how we stand in regard to them.
First, take agriculture. Do you realize that in the Northwest, in one spot alone, there is a wheat belt 1,000 miles long and 300 miles wide practically unoccupied, the farthest northern portion of which is slightly further south than the most southern portion of the greatest wheat-growing province in Russia, namely, Tobolsk. In other words, they have been growing, and do grow wheat most successfully in Tobolsk in an enormous area further north than the furthest point of that 1,000-mile belt. 'fake our great Clay Belt, some 16,000,000 acres, into which the settler can go, as our forebears did, and earn their living during the winter in clearing the land, if proper measures are taken for the bringing of his product to the market in the shape of pulp, etc., and in the summer the land that he has cleared will grow crops that are almost beyond the imagination, if one's information is correct as to the fertility of the soil. I need not speak of our agricultural possibilities in Ontario. Take the Niagara district, with its small-fruit possibilities. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick there are magnificent agricultural areas, also in Quebec and British Columbia. We have today, if you exclude the arid lands and the swamp lands of the United States, a larger habitable agricultural land by twenty percent in Canada than they have in the whole United States. That heritage belongs to us, to be developed. I will come to what I suggest ought to be done in regard to its development later on.
Take our next basic source of wealth-timber. Apart from Russia, I think you may say it is unchallenged that we have the greatest natural resources in that direction. We are misusing them most horribly. I will not dwell upon that; that is a. wider subject.
Take our mines and our mineral wealth. Every developed mine means railroad earnings; means settlement about it to feed the miners; means an industrious and vigorous population.
Next, and last of all, take our fisheries. The use we are making of them is tragic. (Hear, hear) There are no fisheries in the world comparable to those which we control, and we are absolutely indifferent to the realization of their great wealth. today the small towns throughout Ontario, with any sort of storage capacity, could be fed with cheap fish through the whole season; and when I say cheap fish I mean fish at a cheap price but the very best of fish, instead of having to pay anywhere from eighteen cents to forty cents a pound. If we took care of the catch of herrings in Lake Erie, we could have those herrings throughout Ontario the season round by simply putting in such storage capacity as they have in Norway and Sweden, which would not cost a single town in any instance, I think, more than $7,000 to $9,000-a perfect system, which we have neglected, and we have in consequence that enormous waste of fish. And remember, our Great Lakes could be populated with fish at a very small expense, making food for our people at a price that would make Canada a cheap country to live in, so far as that is concerned, and the most healthy food to enjoy. (Applause)
Those are our four great basic industries. What are the problems in dealing with them? The first is immigration; and here I hope that nobody will begin to heave any clubs at me. We have been welcoming the population of South Eastern Europe-to our scaffolds, to our jails, to our hospitals, to our strikes; we have been seeking that population; we have been giving them, before they understood or could speak a word of English intelligently, and therefore before they were able to understand and have explained to them Canadian problems, we have been giving them votes-and their votes are just as good as yours, count for just as much. I see in the morning paper that we are talking of getting some 16,000,000 Englishmen here. How many of those are going to be agricultural laborers? What percentage of them are going to camp out in cities like Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, and stay there, and clamour for unemployment doles such as they got in England, thus adding to your taxes; clamour for State support in various forms, and utterly refuse work on the farms; and who, under the influence of the Hyde Park type of orator who is amongst us, will be apt to clamour for eight hours' pay for four hours' work? (Hear, hear) What immigration has been utterly denied because people did not want their competition--because, so far as I know, they have given eight hours' work for eight hours' pay? I have never known one of them in jail; I have never known one of them attempt to live cheaply when he got money; they are well dressed; they are law-abiding; I mean the Japanese, that everybody says should not be allowed into this country. They were our great allies in the War. We are going to have to meet that Pacific problem, and, believe me, those people are not going to allow us to assert a superiority under the accident of so-called race which does not exist.
Take the problem of the Northwest so far as domestic considerations are concerned; what is one of the great reasons that people do not settle on farms? Because they cannot get wives and daughters to stand the life. A woman settled on a quarter-section or section has to look after not only her children and the household duties, cooking for her husband and the hired man, but she has to look after the cattle if they have any, and take care of the pigs, etc., and a great many of them die through sheer loneliness and their work. Of course they have the time at their disposal from nine o'clock at night till four in the morning, but apart from that their time is that of the South African slave, and the drudgery of it is so great that you cannot get women to submit to it. What is the remedy? I venture to say you should have from 50,000 to 100,000 of those little brown-faced sturdy Japanese agriculturally-trained labouring girls that would come there at a price that the farmer in the Northwest could afford to pay and they would be glad to accept; who know all about looking after the cleaning out of the stable, feeding the pigs, doing the washing and the rough work of the house, always with a smile on their faces. If you travel in Japan you never see them in any other way than pattering about smiling. You could get 50,000 to 100,000 of those scattered through the Northwest on farms, and if you ever talk about a ray of sunshine in the house, I think the little Japanese domestic servant would bring it.
You cannot get Europeans to go out there and work for them; they want to come into the factories; they want to stay in our towns; they want to see the movies; they want the white light of our streets, and so on; and you will settle very much the problem of people settling in the Northwest if you make the life of the farmer's wife a little more contented, a little more happy, and a little less that of a drudge and a slave.
What is the objection to the Japanese? Don't let them own land until we see what sort of settlers they make, if you please. Don't let them come in in too great quantities. Limit the immigration, say, to 100,000, and when more are wanted, some of those that have been here should go back. I believe they are content with that rotary system, but no: content with being shut out altogether. Are they good workers? Are there any better in the world? Are they law-abiding? Are they decent citizens? I think it is bound to be answered every time in the affirmative, that they are. They have made great strides in every direction-scientific, educational, financial and otherwise.
I remember a most amusing conversation I had with the Chief Justice of Japan, in which he pointed out and laid his finger upon the raw in our administration of justice, both our jury system and our non-jury system. They know what they are about. They are a splendid race of people, and I think we are making a great mistake in shutting them out, and we are making it at the behest of what I will presently come to, and perhaps may now come to-I think entirely of certain people who have arrogated to themselves the power that lies in the hands of so-called trade union leaders. (Hear, hear)
There is no more beneficent institution since 1840 in England than trade unions, and the right of collective bargaining, but like many other things that were good, they have been abused; and today the type of agitator has got into power who for selfish, irresponsible tyranny beats anything that I know of in the history of the world. (Applause) I would make every trade union have full ability for collective bargaining through its selected officers, but I would see that any trade union that wanted to do collective bargaining was in the same position as a man or corporation that they wanted to bargain withthat they were responsible and answerable if they broke their contract. (Hear, hear) I would insist that they should be incorporated; that they should come under the regulation of the law as other people; and that it should be an offence for them to insist that an employer should have what is called a closed shop. Under the British flag every man has the right, if he behaves himself, to the product of his labour, his skill, his industry and his brains; and I have no right to say to you, "you shall not work while we are in the shop". I can say, "we won't work alongside you," but I cannot stop your employer from saying, "I will give that man work, and I will give it according to the measure of his ability; (hear, hear) and I will give him more if he is able to earn more than another; his wife and family are entitled to hi; ability, to his earning power." The result of the present attitude of trade unionism is not a dead-sea level of mediocritythat would be bad enough-but a dead-sea level of what is the lowest minimum of the poorest man in the establishment. (Applause) Gentlemen, it is all wrong, and you may just as well face it.
What is the result? When America got into the war Mr. McAdoo, hoping, as I suggest, that he would get the nomination for the Presidency in succession to his father-in-law made all sorts of concessions to the Federated unions; with what result? today the railway problem is the key stone of the vicious arch of the high cost of living. I remember well when men were content with $125 a month who are now drawing $475. Not only were the wages doubled, but the conditions under which they earned them were made so onerous that today every farmer who attempts to ship a bushel of wheat or a beef or a lamb to the market is paying from three to four times what he ought to pay because of the extraordinary conditions which have been imposed upon railway companies, and which we, the consumers, are paying for. (Applause) That being the condition, and that enormous vote scattered through the country, we are asked to approve of a policy that would make the life of a government dependent upon how far it yielded to the pressure, the selfish pressure, of high wages on behalf of a particular class, who are a unit in their demand on the general public, a mob that do not know what they want, and yet who are suffering. That is one of the beneficent results of public ownership coupled with public operation.
Another problem, I think, is the merchant marine, in which I believe practically every dollar of money that has been invested will be lost.
Well, are you prepared to instruct the new government to settle the railway problem by facing our losses and taking stock in which they are the sole owners, if you please, in a company, but putting it under corporate management, where a man's skill will get the reward, where everything will not go by mere seniority, and where employment will not be according to whether he and his family have a certain number of votes in the locality in which he resides, and his member therefore insists upon his being put upon the roll? That is the history of the Intercolonial. How this is going to differ in a few years I do not know.
Look at what has happened in Australia. Consult Sir Thomas Tait, who was there managing for seven years, as to how far you can get politicians to keep their fingers off this property which they say "we own on behalf of the people, and we must control; we must have some say about it, because it is not being properly operated."
Now, I think that is all I will have to say on domestic problems. Let me turn for a moment to the outside problems. As I understand it, Lloyd George coined the phrase the other day, "an association of free nations". That is John Bull & Co., like some great departmental store which has its president, that is, the King. I have seen lately an insidious suggestion, timid, apparently under the guise of Canadian patriotism, to assert that we must be thoroughly independent, we must be represented as a separate nation. We have a president, so to speak, of this associated set of nations, John Bull & Co., in the King. If an invitation is sent to the King, as head of the British Empire, to take part in an international conference, the King, just as the President would say, "That is the department that wants to be represented there; you go and attend the conference." What do we want with the conference, suppose it is between Italy and England, with reference to some point about South Africa? We are not interested except in a general way, as other nations are interested. What is it we are complaining of? Has anyone interfered with our management of our own affairs? Starting with the Washington Treaty of 1871, was it not left entirely to Sir John Macdonald to negotiate? Following that, was the Halifax award not left to Sir Alexander Galt ?--the Waterways Treaty,--England simply signed her name to what we agreed to. That is the arrangement under which all our disputes, practically are settled with the United States, entirely arranged by ourselves. The Reciprocity Treaty of 1911 was entirely arranged by Mr. Fielding in Washington, without interference by England, although she might have thought herself very greatly interested in seeing if her whole export trade to Canada was to be sacrificed if the treaty went through--I am not saying it would, I merely say she might have thought so. But did she interfere? No, we have been allowed the absolute and untrammelled management of our own affairs. What do we want to be changing it for?
What do we want a representative at Washington for, at an enormous salary, with a whole lot of clerks appointed politically, whom you may find, if you go down there to do business, probably not too attentive to your affairs, and a good deal concerned about their own game of golf, which you are interfering with? (Laughter) What do we want? If we have any diplomatic matter to arrange with Washington, the Minister in charge-the Minister of Finance, Minister of the Interior, the Prime Minister, or whoever he may be-has only to step on the train at Ottawa at three in the afternoon, and he is in Washington the next morning for a round-table conference with either the President or the Member of the Government who has the matter in charge-a frank, free, full conference, the only way to arrive at the full facts, because, believe me, when you take to letter-writing with all its keeping of things back, and so on, you get into the old diplomatic state of things where nobody got anywhere except into war.
Do we want a trade representative?
Do you want some politician who has been appointed from Ottawa at a considerable salary to negotiate your relations with somebody you want to buy goods from or sell them to in the States? Why, you jump on your train and you are in New York or Chicago the next morning; you are in Pittsburg, in Boston, wherever you want to do business, and you do it yourself, I think, a great deal better than through some politician or nominee of a politician who has been appointed as trade representative at Washington.
All this so-called Canadianizing, which means the breaking away from our previous good relations with the Empire and endeavouring to set up a water-tight compartment in John Bull & Co., instead of a partnership of all-a unified Empire-I disagree with, and I entirely reprobate the attempt that has been made to foist a fresh office upon us. And where is the government to end? Once let them extend its salaries and emoluments to Washington and I think we will have it extended to other places, to my mind not doing that much good. (Snapping his fingers, amid applause)
Now, are we prepared to go to the expense? We do not pay a cent of our share of the Imperial expenses. When I was in Japan, over three-fifths of the work of the Embassy there, Sir Claude Macdonald told me, was taken up with Canadian affairs, and we never contributed five cents towards it. We are consumed with this local feeling of attending to our own affairs, but not prepared to pay for it. If we want somebody in the Embassy who is under the Ambassador, have him there, but I see no necessity for it. In the past we have attended to our own affairs absolutely, without interference by the mother country, and under the King. Do we want to gradually sever our relations in that regard?
A great deal of talk is about the Privy Council. I am not disposed here today to talk about that, except to say that I think there has been more nonsense through misinformation talked about that than any subject I know of. (Hear, hear) They talk about the poor man being dragged there. I think my friend, Mr. Justice Riddell, will agree with me that he has never seen-I have been going there since 1885, and I have never seen-the plaintiff in a damage suit called on even to argue his case before the Privy Council. You can no more stagger through a claim by a corporation to defeat a judgment in favour of some widow or children against the corporation, you can no more get a hearing before the Privy Council, beyond listening to you, and when you are through throwing you out of the fifth story window, than you could have a snowball remain in its condition in some place we will not speak of. (Laughter) As to dragging people into litigation, the Privy Council frowns upon any attempt of that kind, and I am bound to say that I have known case after case where the law apparently was with you and the justice was against you, and I have never known a case stagger through the Privy Council against the demands of justice. (Hear, hear) Our courts very often say, "that is the law, and we are bound by it." Try that on their lordships. I remember once a case that I argued where I felt absolutely certain of success, and I think my friend here said I could not fall down and lose it, but Lord MacNaughton said to me, "That is all very well, Mr. Nesbitt, the law of that, but how about the justice of this case? What are the rights of it?" Well, I was a little puzzled about that, because I was not there censoring my client's conduct. It is needless to add we lost that case. I think it is only illustrative of anything I have seen in the Privy Council.
Then it is said, "Why cannot we have just as good men produced here?" Well, we will not discuss that, except to say this: The members of that Privy Council are men who have absolutely world-wide experience. I have seen cases disposed of in one forenoon where they had to dispose of matters of Dutch law, Hindoo law, Moslem law, Quebec law, Isle-of-Man law, Ontario law, and I think Newfoundland law. We have not people with that same wide range of vision, and who probably are able to take the same detached and disinterested view; and certainly in constitutional questions I think we still need the Privy Council to get rid of the more or less friction and jealousy that exists between the provinces and the dominion, and which might at any time lead to a great clash. But apart from accession to the point of view that may be arrived at by the Privy Council, at any rate, it is a great link of Empire; it keeps the uniformity of law which is needed throughout the Empire; and I should be sorry to see any attacks upon it which would mar its usefulness or destroy its existence (Hear, hear)
Now, let me add this. All that I have said leads up to the one point, so far as our external relations are concerned; let us be content to go our ways quietly and slowly. These things take care of themselves. In the war, when it was necessary, without any preconceived plans we were called into the consultations of a War Cabinet. We have our ministers, prime ministers and advisers, and whenever it is necessary we can have a general round-table conference with not only the people of the Mother Country, but with all our associated dominions throughout the world. Let us take it quietly, and not clamour for changes that may or may not be a benefit. Let us have one assemblage of free nations under one king, and let us stay there.
Now, I have got perhaps an interesting little thing for you in an extract I took out of a statement by William Lyon Mackenzie. It would be difficult for the most lukewarm adherent of British connection in this country to cavil at the considered view of William Lyon Mackenzie upon such a point. After his residence in the United States for eleven years, a residence, remember, which he was compelled to take to save his life, he thus speaks of his hopes for the future of the country which had cast him forth. I quote from a communication addressed by him to Earl Grey, at the Colonial Office, on February 3rd, 1849:
"A course of careful observation during the last eleven years has fully satisfied me that had the violent movement in which I and many others were engaged on both sides of the Niagara proved successful, success would have deeply injured the people of Canada, whom I then believed I was serving at great risks .... There is not a living man on this continent who more sincerely desires that British Government in Canada may long continue and give a home and welcome to the old countrymen like myself. Did I say so, or ask an amnesty seven or eight years ago till under the convictions of more recent experience? No; I studied earnestly the workings of the institutions before me and the manners of the people and looked at what had been done until few men, even natives, had been better schooled. The result is, not a desire to attain power and influence here, but to help, if I can and all I can, the country of my birth."
Remember, this is written by a man who had been a constant and most careful observer of the workings of Congress and of the Legislature and of the civic life in the United States for some eleven years, and are the matured reflections of a man who owed nothing except bitter enmity to the people of Canada. If British connection was desirable then, how much more so now, under the progressive and favouring legislation since! (Applause) Now, I trust that our new prime minister, who is his grandson, is fully imbued with the spirit of William Lyon Mackenzie for the preservation of British Government in Canada. (Loud applause)
In conclusion let me say, the fire of patriotism burns in the Dominions with a pure, clear flame which is the wonder of the world. In the great war men from Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the islands of the sea fought side by side with men from England, Ireland, and Scotland under one flag. With the copious outpouring of their blood they sealed our Empire together. Their blood flowed in the common cause for liberty and justice. Their dead lay cold and stark together. The same tribute is paid for all to the Unknown Warrior, whose last resting place in Westminster represents the burial of the flower of the Empire, an Empire upon which the sun never sets! They fought for the same common flag
"'Tis but an old bit of bunting, 'Tis but a coloured rag;
But thousands have fought for its honour, And shed their best blood for the flag."
Let us, the living, see that the common flag continues to wave symbolizing the same common ideals. Let us join in the consummation of a peace where all may labour with equal rights of protection of, individual liberty, and justice, for which our Mother Country has ever been famous! I thank you. (Loud applause)
MR. J. MURRAY CLARK, K.C., briefly expressed the thanks of the Club to the speaker for his interesting address.