Scotland and Canada
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 9 Nov 1995, p. 224-233
Lindsay, The Earl of, Speaker
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Item Type
A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Royal Commonwealth Society.
An old story founded on fact that provides a link between the saddest day in Scotland's history and the most glorious event in Canada's past. The inextricable link of the history and destinies of Canada and Scotland. A brief review of some aspects of that joint heritage. The economic situation in Scotland. The issue of proposals for a Scottish parliament and consequences if such a scheme ever happened. A few remarks about Remembrance Day.
Date of Original
9 Nov 1995
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Full Text
The Earl of Lindsay, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Scottish Office
Chairman: David Edmison
President, The Empire Club of Canada

Head Table Guests

Anne Libby, Co-Owner, Libby's of Toronto Art Gallery and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; The Rev. Dr. Malcolm Sinclair, Minister, Metropolitan United Church; Bryan MacDonald, Senior Fellow, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University; Peter Cameron, Hon. Colonel 48th Highlanders; Ronald Goodall, Partner, Goodall & Peacock, President, The Royal Commonwealth Society and a Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; Duncan Jackman, Investment Officer, Personal Trust and Investment, Cassels Blaikie and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; Camilla Dagliesh, Former Chair, Royal Botanical Gardens; Peter Davies, British Consul General; The Rev. Canon Harold F. Roberts, Rector, St. Timothy's Church, Agincourt and a Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; and Hartland MacDougall, Deputy Chairman, London Insurance Group, President, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and Honorary Treasurer, The Empire Club of Canada.

Introduction by David Edmison

"Last night I had the strangest dream
One I've never had before
I dreamed that all people in this world
Had put an end to war."

Those were the beginning lines of a touching poem written by serviceman Edward Walkowski, a young soldier who unfortunately never saw the realisation of his dream. He was killed in action at the young age of 19. His poem of hope, endures.

It is just over 50 years since the end of World War Two and today we reflect on those, like Edward Walkowski, who gave their lives to make this world a better place. To them we owe our freedoms and we shall never forget their sacrifice.

Since the beginning of the century we have survived two major conventional wars which have taken over 50 million lives. In addition, almost 20 million more have been claimed since 1945. These wars have had a devastating effect on humanity. They have also had a devastating effect on our fragile planet. The environmental damage caused by war has been monumental. We have only to remember the burning oil wells from the Gulf War, the tragic legacy of a misguided scorched earth policy. Today, we have a duty to preserve our environment, just as we have a duty to preserve the peace for which so many fought and sacrificed. The two great wars are over but the battle to preserve our environment rages on.

With us today as our special guest is the Earl of Lindsay, a man who has been active in the environmental movement all of his adult life. Lord Lindsay graduated from Edinburgh University with a Masters in Economic History, then moved on to North America to study Environment and Landscape at the University of California. He is a Landscape Architect by profession and in 1992 established a practice specialising in the practical and political aspects of landscape; land use and environmental transport; energy and waste; environmental impact and compliance.

He served as Chairman of the Landscape Foundation from 1992 to 1995. He is President of the International Tree Foundation and serves on the Advisory Council of the World Resource Foundation.

Lord Lindsay was appointed to John Major's government as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Scottish Office last July 8. Prior to this appointment, he was Government Whip in the House of Lords and Government spokesman for the Department of the Environment, the Scottish Office and the Department of Agriculture.

I've heard it said that a farmer is "a person, outstanding in his field." Well our distinguished guest is all of this and much more; he is farmer and woodlot owner, a respected peer of the House of Lords with an impressive background in environmental reform.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to welcome our distinguished guest, Lord Lindsay.

Lord Lindsay

There is an old story which may have been embroidered--you know what legends are--but which, for the most part, is founded on fact. It is a touching story at any rate, worth recalling on an occasion like this, because it provides a link between the saddest day in Scotland's history and the most glorious event in Canada's past.

After the Battle of Culloden, as the Hanoverian General Hawley, who had an even crueller reputation than the Butcher Cumberland, was riding over the stricken field, he came across a wounded Highlander. This was the lieutenant-colonel of the Frasers of Lovat, Charles Fraser, Younger of Inverallochy, whom the brutal Hawley at once ordered the officer who was his ADC to kill as he lay there. The ADC, a young man named Wolfe, indignantly replied that his commission was at Hawley's disposal but he would not do murder. So another redcoat finished off Young Inverallochy.

This honourable refusal to obey a shameful order does not seem to have damaged the officer's military career, however, because years later, as General Wolfe, he led his troops to victory on the Plains of Abraham, breaking the French dominion in North America at the cost of his own life. But legend has it that the Scots soldier who cradled the dying general's head in his last moments was a Fraser of Lovat, kinsman of Young Inverallochy whom Wolfe had refused to kill at Culloden. Is this uplifting legend true? We shall never know.

What we do know is that the history and destinies of Canada and Scotland are inextricably linked--a connection symbolised by this tale which forges a bond between the day when the old Scotland died and the day when the new Canada was born. A lot of Scotland went into the birthing of this nation.

Let us review briefly some aspects of that joint heritage. I know that much of it will be familiar to many of you, but there is no harm in dwelling upon things that unite us, in the midst of a world that is often bitterly divided. There is a saying which sums up the historical bonds between our nations: "America may have New England, but Canada has New Scotland--Nova Scotia--and Canada benefits by the comparison!"

One of the earliest attempts to colonise Canada was in 1621 when Sir William Alexander was granted a charter for Nova Scotia by King James VI. Two of the original promotional books for this new colony are preserved today in the rare book collection of Edinburgh University. Thereafter followed more sporadic efforts. About 1720 the Hudson's Bay Company recruited men from Orkney to work in the Canadian West, since they would have the endurance to meet hardship. More significantly, in 1773, a ship called the "Hector" landed 200 Highlanders at Pictou in Nova Scotia. This vessel may be regarded as the "Mayflower" of Scots Canadians. Then, of course, the American Revolution brought the United Empire Loyalists north. It is worth noting that Flora Macdonald, the rescuer of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and her husband were Empire Loyalists, although they chose to return to Scotland rather than migrating north to Canada.

There were also proprietary settlements, when some important individual acquired a large tract of land and settled immigrants upon it. Most famous was the Red River settlement established by Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk. Lord Selkirk was a man of strong conscience who set himself the task of resettling families from Stornoway and Kildonan, already threatened by clearance of the Highlands. He was also, coincidentally, a kinsman of one of my four Ministerial colleagues in Scotland today: Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, Minister of State at the Scottish Office. Since Lord James is also married to the granddaughter of John Buchan, 1st Lord Tweedsmuir, famous author and Governor General of Canada, his Canadian connections are impressive. Not to be outdone by Lord James, I too can claim a remote historical link with Canada and some not-so-remote family connections. Canada's famous Black Watch regiment derives from the Scottish Black Watch, commanded by the fourth Earl of Lindsay when it was first embodied as a regiment in 1740, known as "Lord Crawford-Lindsay's Highlanders."

I think, therefore, it is fair to say that the present Scottish administration has good credentials to cultivate friendship with Canada.

More than five per cent of all Canadians look to Scotland as their ancestral home. There are now more Gaelic speakers in Nova Scotia than in Scotland. In the early years of the last century, Gaelic was the third most common European language spoken in Canada. Between 1815 (the end of the Napoleonic Wars which left many Scots soldiers unemployed) and 1870, some 14 per cent of the total British migration to Canada was Scottish.

Against this demographic background, it is unsurprising that your first two prime ministers, John A. Macdonald and Alexander Mackenzie, were both born in Scotland. The list of famous Canadians of Scottish descent is endless, but includes Sir A. J. Gait; Lord Elgin; Donald Smith, 1st Lord Strathcona; Maxwell Aitken, 1st Lord Beaverbrook; Norman Bethune; and many others.

Our links are far from being dead history, as the support and sacrifice of Canada in two World Wars testifies. Today, our relations remain close. At the University of Edinburgh, for example, over the last 20 years more than 2,000 young Scots have benefited from a Canadian studies programme. About 60 per cent of them have used it as springboard to enter business and industry. That is appropriate. Trade between our countries amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars, generating jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. Inward investment into Scotland is also very important. For example, a large number of Canadian pension funds have chosen to entrust part of their international portfolio to Scottish fund managers. And quite right too: What safer pair of hands could they find than those of a canny Scot?

Whenever I am in Canada people always ask me: "How are things in Scotland?" The answer is: things are very good indeed in Scotland. Unemployment continues to fall and is now below that of England for the first time since the 1920s. The rate of unemployment in Scotland is at its lowest since September 1980. GDP per capita increased by 26 per cent in the decade 1983 to 1993. Scottish industrial capacity rose by 14 per cent between 1989 and last year. The number of companies registered at Companies House in Edinburgh increased by 26,000--that is to say, 72 per cent--between January 1980, at the start of the period of Conservative government, and January 1993. And so on. I shall not bore you with an interminable recital of statistics. What probably presents as good a "snapshot" as any of the Scottish success story is the fact that today we are exporting more per head than Japan.

So much for the good news. Yet there is a serpent in this Eden. All that has been achieved by carefully honed government policies, by native talent, enterprise, imagination and sheer hard work is endangered by irresponsible, even ludicrous, proposals for a Scottish parliament. I know that this topic is very much a domestic issue, of interest almost exclusively to Scots. Here, however, I believe I am among people who are very much friends of Scotland; and anybody who is a friend of Scotland should be made aware of the grave threat to Scottish interests and prosperity posed by the tax raising parliament which Opposition politicians have made their flagship policy.

On the face of it, Scottish devolution might appear superficially attractive. After all, Scotland is an ancient nation, a senior European parliamentary democracy; surely it is appropriate that this talented country should have its own parliament? We in the Scottish Conservative Party were not unheeding of this argument. We were completely open-minded about the devolution issue, so much so that it was a Conservative leader who first raised the project in 1968. By the mid-1970s, responsive to the administrative realities which the devolution debate highlighted, we had rejected the idea. Finally, in 1979, the Scottish electorate rejected the scheme in a referendum when two-thirds of the voters, either actively or passively, refused to support a Scottish parliament.

Since then, the pressure for a Scottish parliament has come exclusively from a clique of opposition politicians and sympathisers in the media. Six and a half years ago the Scottish Constitutional Convention--a self-appointed body, despite its imposing name, with less legitimate authority than a golf club committee--was set up to plan a Scottish parliament. That scheme is now supported by the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties and Labour is pledged, if elected to government, to legislate for a Scottish parliament within a year of taking office.

This is all madness. Of all possible constitutional schemes, the one proposed by Labour is the worst. It proposes a parliament of 129 members, 56 of whom would be appointed by political party leaders rather than being directly elected. There would also be 50-50 quotas on gender balance, to ensure an equal number of men and women, regardless of the fact that Labour is to abandon female--only shortlists for the Westminster parliament after the general election.

But the worst feature of all is the Tartan Tax, as it has become colloquially known. The proposed parliament would have the power to raise or lower income tax by three p in the pound. Deeply embarrassed by attacks on the Tartan Tax, the Labour Party recently has been insinuating that this power would only be used to lower tax. To those Scottish commentators who affect to believe that a brand new parliament, full of ambitious politicians, would resist the temptation to use tax raising powers I ask the complementary question: "Where do you stand on the existence of Santa Claus?"

If this parliament ever comes about, it will impose an extra 6 pounds a week on everybody who works in Scotland; no such tax will be paid by anybody working in the rest of the United Kingdom--and that includes Scottish Labour MPs who work in London and are therefore exempt from the Tartan Tax they will impose on their fellow citizens north of the border. It is an outrage.

The economic consequences for Scots would be catastrophic. What would happen to inward investment? Since 1981, inward investment into Scotland has totalled more than 5 pounds billion and has created more than 96,000 jobs. What firm is going to choose to invest in Scotland, where the work force will be paying 6 pounds a week more income tax than the rest of the United Kingdom, with this Tartan Tax inevitably fuelling wage demands? It simply would not happen. England, Wales and Northern Ireland would be the beneficiaries; Scotland would become a nogo area for inward investment. Worse still, those already there might well pull out, as would United Kingdom firms headquartered in Scotland.

So, you see, the superficially attractive notion of a Scottish parliament would be an economic disaster for Scotland. The powerful office of Secretary of State for Scotland--Scotland's voice in the cabinet--would be sidelined or abolished, enormously weakening Scottish influence within government. At the same time, to compensate for the existence of a Scottish parliament, the number of Scots MPs at Westminster would be significantly reduced. The Liberal Democrats--who belong to the Constitutional Convention--have already accepted that a reduction from 72 to 54 would be likely.

And yet--here is the vital point--the Tartan Tax, despite the damage it would inflict on Scotland, would come nowhere near to funding a Scottish parliament. As much as 97 per cent of its funding would come from a block grant voted by the Westminster parliament. With no Secretary of State and few Scottish MPs, Scotland would have very little influence in preventing a progressive reduction of the block grant. If the unimaginable happened and the Scottish parliament reduced tax, English MPs would immediately say: "Why should our constituents pay to subsidise tax cuts in Scotland?" And the block grant would be reduced.

However you look at it, the bottom line is: it is a recipe for the impoverishment of Scotland. It would produce endless conflict between Scotland and Westminster. As disillusionment grew and the Scottish parliament constantly blamed Westminster for everything that went wrong, separatist pressure would grow. That is why Alex Salmond, the Scottish Nationalist leader, wears a smile. He knows that devolution feeds separatism. Quite simply, if this proposed parliament comes into being it will provoke the break-up of the United Kingdom.

I am sorry to have spoken at some relative length about a domestic situation. But I believe our friends in Canada should understand that the problem runs much deeper than kneejerk reaction and saloon bar patriotism. This measure will sink Scotland, therefore it cannot be patriotic to support it.

Finally, let me say a few words about the solemn anniversary we are commemorating: Remembrance Day. When the notes of the Last Post have died away and the wreaths on the cenotaphs flutter bleakly in the winter winds; when those who have observed the rituals return home; we must all take certain thoughts with us. We must recognise that remembrance is not vendetta; we must strive to live in harmony, even friendship, with yesterday's enemy. We should remind ourselves that there are widows and other bereaved ones who cannot blithely turn their thoughts to other matters when the ceremony is over; we must support them, materially and morally.

Most importantly, at a gathering such as this, we must grasp the consolation that, out of the vileness of war comes moving testimony to friendship between nations and loyalties bonded in blood, such as the unbreakable ties that unite Scotland and Canada. By kinship and sacrifice we have repeatedly renewed the covenant between our two peoples. Let us make it a solemn duty to pass on that enduring bond to the next generation: Scotland and Canada, two great nations indissoluble in friendship and united in the future as in the past.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Ronald Goodall, Partner Goodall and Peacock, President the Royal Commonwealth Society and Past President, the Empire Club of Canada.

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Scotland and Canada

A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Royal Commonwealth Society.
An old story founded on fact that provides a link between the saddest day in Scotland's history and the most glorious event in Canada's past. The inextricable link of the history and destinies of Canada and Scotland. A brief review of some aspects of that joint heritage. The economic situation in Scotland. The issue of proposals for a Scottish parliament and consequences if such a scheme ever happened. A few remarks about Remembrance Day.