- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 4 Dec 1940, p. 225-242
- Godbout, The Honourable Joseph Adelard, Speaker
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- A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club.
Working for unity. Seeking together the most effective means of strengthening Canadian unity the country over. Signs of unity. Safeguarding the sacred patrimony which our ancestors handed down to us, the principles which lie at the very base of our lives. Defining the close correlation on a higher plane of all Canadians: A Pan-Canadian National Unity to be achieved at the expense of neither the one race nor the other, but to the advantage of all. The attitude of French-Canadians to the war. Some history of French Canada. The attitude of Quebec's religious leaders. Taking urgent means to ensure a Pan-Canadian unity. Reciprocal concessions and advantages. Contributions of French-Canadians to the war effort. Claims of French-Canadians. Some words from Mr. W.A. Tucker, Deputy for Rosthern, Saskatchewan with regard to French-Canadians. Some French-Canadian heroes. Asking to be respected. Bringing a message of unity and friendship from Quebec.
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- 4 Dec 1940
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- QUEBEC AND PAN-CANADIAN UNITY
AN ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE JOSEPH ADELARD GODBOUT, B.A., B.S.A., D.A., LL.D. PRIME MINISTER OF THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC.
Wednesday, December 4, 1940
A Joint Meeting of the Empire Club of Canada and the Canadian Club was held in the Royal York Hotel, Toronto, on Wednesday, December 4, 1940. Mr. R. A. Courtice, President of the Canadian Club, presided.
MR. R. A COURTICE: Monsieur le Premier Ministre de la Province de Quebec, je regrette sincerement que je ne parle qu'un peu le francais, mais je desire vous faire, a vous aussi bien qu a Monsieur le Tresorier provincial, un accueil bien cordial. (Applause.)
We extend this cordial welcome to our guest of honour, not as Prime Minister of the Province of Quebec but as a great Canadian who at a critical time is prepared to give practical leadership to a united Canada within the Empire. (Applause.) His election last year marked the passing of the old political regime and the dawn of a new era for Quebec. He is making fundamental changes, modernizing the franchise, education and industry of the province, and rebuilding its finances. His election was an historic victory against the forces of race prejudice and isolationism, as a result of which Quebec is today a partner in the Dominion's war effort.(Applause.)In giving a national outlook to his province and particularly to the youth of that province, he has set an example for the rest of Canada to follow at a time when the need was never so great nor the conditions more favourable.
Gentlemen, it is my pleasure now to present to you the father of a happy family, the classical scholar, the Professor of Agriculture, the successful farmer, the gentle man who saved Quebec to Confederation--the Hon. Adelard Godbout. (Applause.)
THE HONOURABLE ADELARD GODBOUT, B.A., B.S.A., D.A., LL.D: Mr. Chairman, Your Grace, Mr. Ferguson, Gentlemen: I want first of all to thank your President for his very kind words of welcome. I think that if in my whole public life I can do part of what he has described me as having done in the past, I will be quite satisfied. I think that working for unity in Canada is a very great cause and I hope that there is some little thing that I can do to assist our country in this great task. I think it is my duty to thank your President in French, in response to the welcome he has extended to me.
Monsieur le President, Messieurs: Ce West pas la premiere fois que la voix francaise de Quebec se fait entendre au coeur meme du Canada anglais. Ainsi, vous Wavez pas oublie que l'un de mes predecesseurs est venu traiter devant vous de deux sujets fort captivants, le seigneur et l'habitant canadiens-frangais. Vous avez accueilli l'orateur avec une bienveillance marquee. II est resulte de cette rencontre, de cet echange d'idees qui suit toujours une allocution, lorsque discoureur et auditoire sont des amis, une intelligence plus vive de l'histoire, des caracteres et des moeurs du Canada francais, et, partant, une sympathie plus directe et plus agissane.
De tels contacts sont precieux. Il ne faut point perdre l'occasion de les renouveler; et, lorsque jai recu l'invitation d'assister a vos agapes et de vous entretenir familierement de quelque chose qui me tienne au coeur, j'ai pense que c'etait pour moi tout a la fois un plaisir et un devoir d'accepter.
Ces paroles dites, vous comprendrez volontiers, Messieurs, que mon premier soin, apres vous avoir remercies ainsi que vos hosts distingues, c'est d'exprimer a mes freres canadiens-francais qui habitent l'Ontario notre vive affection. Nous les suivons avez interet dans les carrieres ou ils se sont engages. Its travaillent avec entrain au progres materiel et culturel de votre province. Fideles a leur foi, a leurs traditions, a leur langue, respectueux du bon ordre, ils sont pour vous un veritable acquit. La facilite avec laquelle ils parlent le francais et l'anglais leur permet un double regard sur les civilisations fondamentales qui composent le Canada. Aussi sont-ils un lien vivant et necessaire.
Je salue les representants des Canadiens francais au parlement de l'Ontario. A quelque parti politique qu'aille leur allegeance, ils se devouent aux interets superieurs du Canada, de leur province de naissance ou d'adoption. Its comptent justement parmi l'elite ontarienne.
L'un d'entre eux, (honorable M. Paul Leduc, ancien ministre des Mines, a Toronto, est devenu greffier de la Cour supreme du Canada. Un autre, l'honorable M. Robert Laurier, porteur d'un nom historique, a succede a M. Leduc comme membre du Cabinet de l'honorable M. Hepburn. Its sort dignes de leur charge et honorent votre province en meme temps que la notre. Si j'avais le loisir d'insister quelque pen, vous savez vous-memes que cette liste s'allongerait a l'infini.
Mr. President, Gentlemen: When I received your President's invitation to address you, many themes sprang to my mind. But in this hour, when Canada, Great Britain and the British Commonwealth of Nations are having to withstand the savage attack of an enemy without scruple, Hitler, aided and abetted by an understudy without shame, Mussolini, and when the hosts of injustice, trickery and barbarism are in league against our Christian and democratic civilization, it seemed to me that there was but one subject fitting to this occasion--that of together seeking the most effective means of strengthening Canadian unity the country over.
That, Gentlemen, is well worth dwelling upon in a spirit of generosity, the only spirit conducive to the leading of a really useful beam of light, right into the heart of the matter. For seeking to know our common problems, however thoroughly or well, would be but sterile effort unless a very noble sentiment were to inspire us at every step.
I have not far to look today, Gentlemen, to discover a sign of unity. Members of different clubs, or distinct groups, you have left your customary and private cares behind to gather here with but a single desire, a single hope, a single aim: to see that Canada be spared the horrors of war, that we prepare ourselves to stand up to all the dangers that are threatening us and that in the end, Right and justice, of which the British nations have made themselves the champions, emerge as victors from the most terrible of all world conflicts.
You know as well as anyone how true is the old Gospel proverb that the house divided against itself cannot stand. You have, like us, concern for Canadian unity; and, again like us, considering the facts in a big way, you understand that Canadian unity will be realized only to the extent that the two supreme forces which compose Canada be in perfect accord in all that has to do with the basic factors of Canadian problems. And it is precisely because we are of French blood and English blood, of French culture and English culture, yes, it is because of that very fact that we feel the urge to safeguard the sacred patrimony which our ancestors handed clown to us and which your ancestors handed down to you, the principles which lie at the very base of our lives, which condition our lives and which confer on Canada an unquestionable title to an original personality. These values, expressions of our own natures, we superimpose the one upon the other without mixing them.They sustain themselves and they sustain us. They are our wings, yours and ours, and we are but one at heart in the service of Canada.
That is why, in contemplating the atavistic and rational unity of French-Canadians amongst themselves, which corresponds to the equally atavistic and rational unity of English-Canadians amongst themselves, I have sought for words to best define the close correlation on a higher plane of all Canadians, in every province, from coast to coast. It has occurred to me that the most fitting, the most precise, are these: A Pan-Canadian National Unity to be achieved at the expense of neither the one race nor the other, but to the advantage of all.
That is what Quebec thinks about it; and, I firmly believe what Ontario and the other provinces think about it, too.
We have accomplished much in order that Canada might be Canada and that our country take her rightful place in God's sun. As a consequence, that unity which is so much in question-it is we who desire it in the first place and we have never ceased to strive for it. That is why our attitude towards the war is wholesome and loyal, like yours. In nowise are we sparing of our pennies, our pains, our blood, when it becomes a question of Canada, human liberty, the democratic ideal of honour, which are our very soul. To the truth of this statement my colleagues of English tongue would certainly bear witness in the same tones as I, as the Honourable Mr. Mathewson, Treasurer of the Province of Quebec, who is here with me, could tell. you.
The attitude of French-Canadians is explained by the fact that we are the most Canadian of Canadians, in this 'sense that our roots have been drawing sustenance from the soil of this land for a longer time than those of any other race and have been absorbing the influences of this milieu for several centuries.
Indeed, ever since 1534 has Canada been in French thought. Jacques Cartier discovers her, plants the Cross at Gaspe.In the years following he pushes on to Quebec and Hochelaga.Between Cartier's voyages and the founding of Quebec by Chamnlain, in 1608--without overlooking the founding of Port-Royal, in 1604-Basque and Breton fishermen frequented our coasts and advanced as far as Tadoussac. In 1634, Trois-Rivieres was founded and, in 1642, Montreal. The colony suffered vicissitudes but it held good. This little people of a few thousand men spread its influence, gradually but splendidly, as far as the Gulf of Mexico and right to the Rocky Mountains. First explorers, first tillers of the soil, first merchants, first soldiers, first missionaries, first civilizers, we are the foundation, the origin of Canada. Our attachments to France is that of the blood, of language, of culture; but our country, it is Canada; our fatherland, it is Canada; our reason for working, for progressing, for spreading ourselves out, in a word our future as well as our present, it is Canada. And, you, Gentlemen, you as well, the more you count your generations in this land the more you are Canadians.
When France was crushed by the barbarian, our heart bled painfully, even though we were convinced, and are more and more convinced with every day that passes, that she will rise again to take her place beside Great Britain and the sister nations of the Empire. France is the object of our love and the subject of our prayers. We helped to save her in 1914-18. France remains for us as for the rest of the Commonwealth, one of the strongest motives of our ardour in combat.
But our physical and spiritual attachment to France has not prevented our being practical Canadians. When therefore, in 1760, the fight was lost and the fleur-de-lys de parted across the sea, we understood that Providence had opened to us the door to a new destiny. We were ceded, not vanquished. Our natural inward strength, the Grace of God and the political spirit of London permitted of our getting our second wind, of accepting a new allegiance, another Sovereign, and we became partners in Canadian life, whereas, up to then, we had been the sole masters.
Think a moment of the difficulties we had to overcome. All our leaders, except the clergy, had returned to France with the officers and the public officials. We numbered sixty thousand, and the flow of English immigration pressed us on every hand. If we turned our faces towards the south, our regard fell upon the rising tide come from New England, where there were about three hundred and fifty thousand people. International trade was forbidden to us, as well as access to public office. We hadn't a crown piece with which to reconstitute our educational system, whereas, Gentlemen, your fathers possessed everything fortune, influence, credit, success and a thousand facilities for living.
Is it to be wondered at, that we fell back upon ourselves, in the shadow of our belfries; and that there, in close communion with our native soil, we gave ourselves up to reflection, trying to see clearly and get our bearings, succeeding finally, counselled as we were by our bishops and our priests? Certain ones amongst you-and you are not of the number thank God-might have cried out that we were a priest-ridden province. What a gratuitous insult! But it is, precisely, thanks to our pastors that we have been able, without severing our spiritual ties with France, to enter little by little into wholesome relationship with you and to remind you of some concrete facts which you would have perhaps been too long inclined to neglect and of which it was easy to underestimate the importance.
Furthermore, if we were ever solely to follow our religious leaders' advice, even in things temporal, you must admit that, regarding this war, we would not be led astray any more than we have been in the past. His Eminence Cardinal Villeneuve's attitude and speeches have proven, beyond any shadow of doubt, that our Church, just as your own, teaches and wishes nothing but respect for our Sovereign, loyalty to Canada and the British Commonwealth. I do not know how you could not agree with His Eminence who so well continues leading his people, as all our Bishops have always done, according to the example set by Monseigneur Briand and Monseigneur Plessis, in times of stress.
Since then, Gentlemen, our public men, completing the work of our religious authorities, have been standing up for us and invoking on each occasion when we claimed some one of our rights, our British citizenship. Brothers of those Normans who conquered England under William, we have conquered one by one our political liberties, in a great spirit of loyalty; and when, in 1837-38 we took up arms it was not against our Sovereign but against an oligarchy and a bureaucracy of which we had nothing to expect, and to obtain for ourselves as well as for you a responsible government.
Gentlemen, do not forget that the first Canadian parliament was the Sovereign Council of 1663, established by Louis XIV. And later, under the British Rule, we Franco-Normans, set ourselves to understand you English-Normans, and to enter the progressively freer game of politics.
The Statute of Westminster, the Commonwealth of British Nations-have you ever stopped to ponder that they are not born solely of the Magna Charta ?Have you ever stopped to think that the Canadian constitution of 1774, 1791 and 1867 were not a little contributed to by ourselves ? When you have balanced the pros and cons of the constitution of 1840 and ascertained why it was not equitable, have you not come to the conclusion that the evolution of minds and the acceptance of the concept of Confederation, the putting into force of that Act, were possible only because we played a large and determining part therein? And what could not be said of 1775 and 1812, when we have done more than our bit in order that Canada should remain British?
Nor do you have to go as far back as that, Gentlemen. In which province is the minority more royally treated, whether from the scholastic or any other point of view, than in Quebec? Do you know of an educational administration more just than ours, better adapted to the facts and to psychology, where English and French, Protestants and Catholics, have sovereign sway over themselves and the education of their children through the intervention of independent committees? I do not come before you to read a brief or to deliver a panegyric; either would be untimely. I come to bring out the truth, simple and bare. I come to tell you, for instance, that in 1914-18, we wiped a good many things from the slate, even obliterating within ourselves the memory of them, in order to enter the lists at your side. With how much greater zeal are we doing the same thing now! We would not, we could not consent to Canada's being great in war as she is in peace without giving ourselves the joy of serving her.
Happily, Gentlemen, there are many amongst you who have responded to our gesture of brotherhood. I cite, amongst so many others, W. H. Moore, author of The Clash; Arthur Hawkes, author of The Birthright; P. F. Morley, author of Bridging the Chasm; Lorne Pierce, author of Toward the Bonne Entente, and of the first work of history and criticism of English-Canadian and French-Canadian literature; Colonel Wilfred Bovey, of Montreal, author of Canadien. I should then inscribe on the tablet a Howard Ferguson and a Harry Stapells, who were the instigators of these Bonne-entente trips to which we so heartily subscribe. I recall to mind the name of F. C. A. Jeanneret, who, for ten years, with the support of the Ontario Department of Education, has been bringing your young professors to French language courses at Sillery College, at Quebec, and has thus developed nearly a thousand teachers into as many propagandists of harmony and concord between the races and the provinces.
And I repeat, Gentlemen, that Pan-Canadian unity is possible, provided we take urgent means to ensure it. When we, the French-Canadians, desire that our children speak English well and make of it their second tongue, all respect being kept for the French language, our sacred idiom, we are not only thinking of giving them thereby access to the various positions in our national economy, but also that we are providing them with equipment which will enable them the better to grasp your thoughts, the better to understand your personal concepts of civilization, your ways of life and your conduct, for Canadian unity can never be achieved in want of understanding of our respective conditions.
Now, this balance must be thought of as resting on a basis of reciprocal concessions and advantages. It must not occur that at the moment when we in our province are expanding the study of English, restrictions be placed elsewhere on the study of French. It would, I think, be regrettable if, for the sake of economy, any slowing up of effort were occasioned in that direction. Nothing gives us more pleasure than to hear our English-speaking compatriots speaking French. And it cannot be otherwise with you, Gentlemen, I suppose, when you hear us speaking English.
It gives me pleasure to pay this compliment to the English-Canadians of the Province of Quebec, that they are applying themselves with ever more and more success to the study of French. We are grateful to them and we could wish that in every province of Canada our tongue might become more and more popular. When the two master languages of the country are in current use from sea to sea, we will have so multiplied the points of contact between our two races that many of our difficulties will have disappeared of themselves, without the necessity of recourse to persuasion, conventions, press campaigns and the like.
It goes without saying that unity thus conceived will take nothing of their characteristics from any one of our provinces, whether manners, customs, religious practices or cultural life. What we ought to safeguard, what we ought to defend, is the privilege of developing ourselves in our own way. It is in spirit and at heart that we are to unite. The spirit will provide us with a rule for economic, constitutional and social order; the heart with bonds of friendship. In a spirit of respect for one another, what tasks could we not undertake and carry through to successful conclusions!
The present war finds us at this confluence, this converging point of our resolves, this high moment of our Canadianism. Following the same happy formula, which ought without cease to be reiterated, it is with a voluntary, spontaneous zeal that we have flown to the succour of France and the help of Great Britain.
The French-Canadians, like the English-Canadians, are a constituent part of Canada. They are the majority in the Province of Quebec and, in varying degrees, the minority elsewhere. But, everywhere, they are present; everywhere, they make that presence felt; everywhere, they contribute to the effort of the country as a whole; everywhere, they enrich by their culture, their language, their toil, their devotion, their sacrifices, the patrimony of Canada as a whole. This Canada of ours they will arm themselves to defend against the eventual aggressor, come he from where he may. Gentlemen, our conscripts have nothing to reproach themselves of. They have enlisted with as good heart as have your own. They are doing their duty with the same spirit of discipline as are your sons. The great voice of Canada vibrates in them from fibre to fibre. They are proud of their birthright and, accepting all the responsibilities incumbent upon them, submissive to law and devoted to a great cause, they are proclaiming the efficient accomplishment of the spirit and the letter of the Canadian constitution, not only in this or that particular part of our immense national territory, but from sea to sea, as it is blazoned on the arms of Canada. They believe themselves to be giving sufficient proof of the justice of this principle to make of it the foundation for Canadian unity.
The National Society of St. John the Baptist, of Quebec, has just launched an appeal to French and English-Canadians that they find a "formula of Canadianism having for its purpose the greatness of Canada." This appeal was addressed to the Universities, the press, to each member of provincial legislative assemblies of Canada, and to members of the federal parliament. It is stated therein that complete co-operation between the races is more than ever. essential and "that Canadians of French tongue and English tongue have an equal interest to establish a common idea of their future." One may also read in that appeal that it is time to accord to our province and our people an adequate share of the national defence, responsible posts in the army, the administration and the government. -
Gentlemen, I think there is a necessity of putting a little light into this statement. What we claim as French-Canadians is the right and the opportunity to -serve Canada, to share with the other provinces, with the other races, with all the other Canadians, the burden of the war and, too, the responsibilities of constructing, of creating a great Canada, devoted to the ideals of the British Empire. I want this statement to be understood that way because it is in my heart that way and it is that way in the hearts of all the people of my province. Influential persons on both sides are besought to devote themselves to the perfecting of a truly mutual understanding.
Gentlemen, if you read the French newspapers of my province, you will note the hearty welcome being given currently to the words of Mr. W. A. Tucker, Deputy for Rosthern, Saskatchewan, in our regard. They are moving to the soul. Spoken recently in the House of Commons, they have echoed far and wide through my province: "Let us strive to show," said Mr. Tucker, "to our compatriots of another Canadian tongue, that they have our fullest respect, and that we are ready to meet them halfway in all that is right and just in the matter of the federal pact."
And I take the liberty of quoting two other passages in the statement of 1\1r. Tucker: "We will not have a veritable national unity if after having concluded a pact like that of Confederation we proceed to tear it up and dishonour it." And: "It is indeed the genius of the British people to carry out their agreements, to have tolerance and respect for the wishes of minorities, particularly when those minorities, come good days or bad days, have been loyal to the bottom of their hearts."
Strengthened by these assurances and convinced of the justice of our claims, we are not sparing of what Canada desires of us. Travel up and down my province, see our sons under arms, our workers in the plants and factories, our craftsmen in the workshops, our manufacturers and our public employees in their offices, our merchants at their counters, financial people at their wickets, our farmers in the furrows, even cross the frontiers of our province to east or west, there is not a region where you will not find our people zealous in the service of Canada, sharpening their sword, feeding our troops, the troops of Great Britain and those of the sister nations of the Commonwealth. In the national hive, there is not a French-Canadian bee but brings forth of its honey, beside that of the English-Canadian bee. And I take a pardonable pride in proclaiming again that our English fellow-citizens of the Province of Quebec are as anxious as we to realize that unity at home at the same time as we are preaching it elsewhere.
Unity of- thought, unity of purpose, unity of action, fair play all along the line, that is to say unity at the cost of no one of our characteristics or respective peculiarities, there you have what will enable us, once Neo-Paganism is brought low, to look to the future with that serene confidence which doubles the strength of common action.
Gentlemen, your fathers were heroes, and ours, also. In the vibration of your souls and ours we sense unfailingly that all the ancestral virtues are still alive within us.
A list of your contemporary heroes is a long document. Our own is no less so. Here again do we find equilibrium established in the full Canadian unity. Might I mention the glorious feats in arms of two or our people, Corporal Joseph Keable, V.C., and Lieutenant Jean Brillant, also a V.C. ? Equals in death, equals in glory, they sleep the sleep that knows no waking, alongside so many of their fellows of whom the unseen sacrifice has made the unknown heroes.
I quote the citation: "Lieutenant Jean Brillant, M.C. 22 Regiment de Quebec,
"For most conspicuous bravery and outstanding devotion to ditty when in charge of a company, which he led in attack during two days with absolute fearlessness and extraordinary ability and initiative, the extent of the advance being twelve miles. On the first day of operations, shortly after the attack had begun, his company's left flank was held up by an enemy machine gun. Lieutenant Brillant rushed and captured the machine gun, personally killing two of the enemy crew. Whilst doing this, he was wounded, but refused to leave his command. Later, on the same day, his company was held up by heavy machine gain fire. He reconnoitred the ground personally, organized a party o f two platoons, and rushed straight for the machine gun nest. Here 15o enemy and 15 machine guns were captured, lieutenant Brillant personally killing five of the enemy and being wounded a second time. He had this wound dressed immediately and again refused to leave his con2pany. Subsequently this gallant officer detected a field gun firing on his men over open sights. He immediately organized and led a 'rushing' party towards the gun. After progressing about six hundred yards, he was again seriously wounded. In spite of this third wound, he continued to advance for sonic two hundred yards more, when he fell unconscious from exhaustion and loss o f blood.
This splendid example of Lieutenant Brillant on that day fired his men with unsurpassable enthusiasm and ardour and contributed powerfully to the battalion's success.
Now, Gentlemen, do you know what was the last thought of that valiant soul? Give ear to his utterance; I repeat it textually: "Take me to the rear, that my men might not see me suffer, not that I fear to suffer, but that I fear it might affect and discourage them." Gentlemen, my friends rather, I have let you hear the voice of Quebec and have shown that it differs in no wise from that of our English fellow-citizens, who think as we do in the matter of national unity.
Not one of my words, nor of those which I have invoked is an empty word. Nevertheless, I can but hold my peace after having contemplated the august figure of Jean Brillant, son of our race, continuator of our history, of which he has signed with his blood a page glorious amongst many others, in order that, having read it, we might make a covenant with ourselves to break no faith with our dead.
Separatists, Gentlemen, we are not; nor could we be. We have made too many sacrifices for Canada. There is not a foot of the soil of the country which has not felt the tread of our people; not a town, not a village but has given birth to a nation builder, to a hero illustrious or unsung. We do not renounce a single parcel of our patrimony, for it is identified with us as we with it. Moreover, you understand us well enough now to know that we will never abandon our brother French-Canadians of other provinces. We only ask that we be respected as we respect others and that our concept of the indissoluble unity of Canada in war and in peace be taken as coming from a heart that is at once fervent and realistic, whose ideal is to serve the nation with all the strength of its being, in order that the opprobrium and the shame of the Nazi yoke be never ours to bear and that the British crown might never cease to find in Canada its brightest jewel.
If my visit here were to result in the closer drawing together of our two provinces which are the headstone of the entire edifice of Confederation, I should thank God that He had made of me the humble instrument of a great work and I should invite you, Mr. President, Gentlemen, to come in turn to the Province of Quebec, to bring us your message of unity and friendship. (Applause--prolonged.)
THE HONOURABLE G. HOWARD FERGUSON (President of the Empire Club) : Gentlemen, during a somewhat lengthy and tortuous public career, it has been my privilege, as well as my ambition, to do what I could to promote good feeling, good will, unity of purpose and thought and action between these two old provinces, Ontario and Quebec, and I have never gone to the Province of Quebec on any mission of that sort that I have not enjoyed a welcome and a reception, equal to that which you are giving to my good friend, Mr. Godbout. But I also have this thought in mind, and I thought it was perhaps one of the highlights of Mr. Godbout's talk today. We are Canadians because we are Britishers, because the British Empire protects us and gives us the right to develop a country here, makes it possible for us to be Canadians, and as it has been said, and truly said, a nation without vision, or a people, must certainly perish. I have always endeavoured to look to the future, rather than to the past. Our friend here has told us his views about the future of Canada and the support that can come from his compatriots in the Province of Quebec.
I am not going to attempt to address you in French or I would make the President of the Canadian Club feel ashamed of the French he uttered today. But I have learned this lesson in my movements about the world, that a second language is a useful thing and it costs nothing to carry it about, aside altogether from the cultural uses, and its contribution in a practical way. As you go about the world you will find that almost every country teaches English, makes it compulsory. Even in Japan and Germany, the teaching of English is made compulsory. Why? Because it is the language of commerce the world over and, the British Empire being the greatest commercial enterprise in the world, they have all sought to be able to talk and trade readily and easily with the British people.
I wonder if my friend would object to my making one comment and I don't do it by way of correction? He referred frequently to the Commonwealth of Nations as the great bulwark to which we adhere. Now, the Commonwealth of Nations is but a small part of the British Empire, don't forget that. The Commonwealth of Nations is created by Statute, the Statute of Westminster and it embraces the five great Dominions-The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Now, there are only about seventy-five million people embraced in those areas. They are given certain special privileges. The British Empire is composed of five hundred million people and if one wanted to realize the extent of the British Empire and its influence, you have only to read the record we get from day to day from the Old Country to see the contributions that come from every part of the world, almost every section of the world, to the war effort in Great Britain. Small little islands, taxing themselves and sacrificing to send money to buy a Spitfire, to send money for some other purpose, to aid in the defence of the Empire.
Now, do you think these people would want to perpetuate an Empire that didn't give them good service? Don't you think it is a mark of appreciation of the type of Empire under which we live and to which we belong? I have endeavoured, and I am a good example to the younger fellows, I have endeavoured to make use of the wide term "Empire," rather than "Commonwealth of Nations," when I mean the Empire. With all the force that goes behind this great world organization, with the little outposts, strategically scattered all over the world, its influence is unparalleled anywhere in the world by any other nation in all history.
Now, I only got up here to tell you, and I am sure I may do it on your behalf, how glad we are that we have had the privilege and the pleasure of having Mr. Godbout with us and getting the point of view of Quebec with regard to Imperial relations, with regard to Canadian unity and with regard to sharing in the great war effort that means our existence. We expect them to fight for existence as well as we fight for existence. They will do it, I have no doubt.
We will only achieve understanding by coming together frequently to discuss our problems, and in that way we will come under the aegis of a great British Empire, Canadian citizens all, who will make a great contribution to the world's future. We have a great future ahead of us. An unparalleled impetus will be given to Canadian development when this war concludes. There is no question about that in the mind of everyone who gives any thought to these great problems. Where is there another country in the world with broad acres, with the unlimited resources, both in quantity and variety, with the opportunities for people, with the climate, the good healthy stinging climate, that puts life and energy into everybody? There is no place in the world. And we are going to have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in the next generation, coming to Canada. Now, we should be prepared to show them a great example by a united effort, free entirely from local prejudice and local divisions, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, show them that we are devoted to the one great cause in which we are all united, the cause of liberty, the cause of justice and security for the individual.
Mr. Prime Minister, I have very great pleasure as well as honour, on behalf of this splendid audience, of saving to you how greatly we appreciate your making the long trip through the storm to come here and give us the benefit of your views regarding the future of Canada. (Applause.)