- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 4 Jan 1945, p. 205-218
- Drew, The Honourable George A., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Questions to ask: What is our peace target for tomorrow; what is the real goal for which we are striving; what is our real vision of our own future. Canadians' desire for jobs and personal security. Much thought, writing, discussion and constructive action being directed toward these goals in Canada as well as other countries. The material success of another or smaller community dependent on its technical and vocational training; the unity and survival of the nation dependent upon the extent to which people have reached agreement about their own national and social objectives. The importance of history and an understanding of history in facing the future. The need for positive action in order to prevent war. Why the League of Nations failed to preserve peace. The continuing need for military power. Taking our part as a nation in a collective world organization to maintain peace after this war; an examination of what that means. Canada as a member of the British Commonwealth and Empire: determining what that means. The value of that partnership for Canada. Developing the Pan-British Union. The vital part which co-operation between the different parts of the British Empire played in the Great War. Examples of the success of co-operation. Canada and a United Empire.
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- 4 Jan 1945
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- TARGET FOR TOMORROW
AN ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE GEORGE A. DREW PRIME MINISTER OF ONTARIO
Chairman: The President, Mr. C. R. Conquergood
Thursday, January 4th, 1945
MR. CONQUERGOOD: During the season of 1932-33 The Empire Club had as its president, Lieut-Col. George A. Drew. In the intervening years, he has returned to this club on a number of occasions as one of our most popular guest speakers.
He has always been a champion of the ideals for which this club has its being. Since his elevation to the post of Prime Minister of the Province, he has by re-open ing the Ontario Office in London taken a tangible step to promote closer relations between Canada and the heart of the Empire in Great Britain.
Colonel Drew in addition to his position of Prime Minister, also fills the post of Minister of Education. No function of Government comes closer to the daily interests of our citizens than the education of our children. It is not necessary to say that this war has pointed out again the very vital value that democracy must develop through the education of the coming generation.
I am happy to present to the Club at this time, Lieutenant-Colonel the Honourable George A. Drew, Prime Minister and Minister of Education of this Province who will address us on "Target for Tomorrow."
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL THE HONOURABLE GEORGE A. DREW: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: You paid me an implied compliment, which I appreciate very much, in asking me to be the first speaker at a meeting of The Empire Club of Canada, in this fateful year of 1945. At this season it is customary to cast our thoughts forward into the months that lie ahead, and at this particular season of this particular year there are powerful reasons why each one of us should devote much thought to what we expect of Canada in the months and years which lie ahead.
As Canadians, what is our peace target for tomorrow? What is the real goal for which we are striving? What is our real vision of our own future? There are some answers to those questions which it is not difficult to give. Our men and women in uniform and in the munition factories want jobs when peace returns. All Canadians want personal security throughout their working years and afterward. Every possible effort must be devoted to the task of assuring those jobs and establishing a basis of social security which will give confidence to all our people.
Much thought, writing, discussion and constructive action is being directed toward the achievement of those objectives, not only here in Canada. but in Britain, the United States, and many other countries with which we are so closely associated in this war. It is not my intention, however, to discuss those subjects today. In no one speech such as this can the whole field be covered. I want to speak to you for a while about our future as a nation and the course we Canadians are going to set for ourselves.
We have seen the all too tragic evidence in these past few days that neither freedom nor victory alone assure happiness and security for any nation. We have been told over and over again that this is a war of ideas, and yet we find that the war between conflicting ideas still goes on after the Nazi yoke has been withdrawn. It seems only too clear that amongst the liberated people themselves there was no agreement about the kind of country they wanted to build.
I was very much struck with a sentence written by Sir Richard Livingstone in that truly magnificent book, entitled, "Education for a World Adrift". These were his words: "The efficiency of a community will depend on its technical and vocational education; its cohesion and duration largely on its social or political education." Those words have a direct application to this problem. The material success of a nation or smaller community will depend on its technical and vocational training, but the unity and survival of the nation will depend upon the extent to which people have reached agreement about their own national and social objectives.
There was a time when it was the accepted practice in Great Britain to move in the House of Commons for an inquiry into the state of the nation. During those long trying years of the wars with France ending at Waterloo, time and time again you will see the most important debates and discussions of the expected future of Britain following such a motion. It would seem that such a practice has much to commend it and that we Canadians, not in our official relationships but in our personal relationships and our personal discussions which in the end formulate public policy, can gain much advantage from discussing the state of our Nation with complete frankness and with complete realism.
We are so often told about what the young men and women now in uniform would ask of us. Gentlemen, I believe that the thing they would ask of us above all else is that we face the future with courage, with realism and with honesty, and that, unless we do, we are only building the foundation of an even greater catastrophe in the years to come.
More than 2300 years ago Thucydides, the Father of History, explained that the reason he was recording events of the past was that he might give "a true picture of events which have happened and which, human nature being what it is, are likely to be repeated at some future time with more or less exactness." This, after all, has been the real purpose of history ever since and today it is of vital concern that we Canadians, as well as the people of other nations, should remember the history of recent years, because in that history is to be found ample warning of the pitfalls we, should avoid and equally clear guidance as to the course we should follow.
Canadians want and are entitled to personal security, but the history of the tragic years since 1919 tells us only too clearly that there can be no personal security without national security, and that national security, upon which all personal security depends, demands positive action to prevent war, that there is no other way of preserving security once victory has been won. As a result there seems to be general agreement that the nations now united in war will form some world body for collective action to prevent aggression such as we have seen twice in a single generation.
I was very much impressed by an article I read a few days ago by an extremely competent writer in the United States who was reviewing the Dunbarton Oaks discussions. In referring to the emphasis at that meeting upon the necessity for military power to preserve peace, the writer made this comment: "The very fact that the United Nations are still far from having won the war, either in Europe or in Asia, gives far more weight to the possession of military power than would be the case once hostilities are over." Without perhaps intending to do so, the writer of that article gave the clearest possible warning of the necessity for remembering our recent history. God forbid that we should give less weight to the need of military power when the war is over. It was because we did that after 1919 that step by step Germany and Japan made this war inevitable.
It is of the utmost importance that as a people we should make our decisions now while the lessons are so vivid, and that we resolve in all earnestness not to forget those lessons as we did before in the years of peace. The principles enunciated for the preservation of peace in the Covenant of the League of Nations were sound enough in every way. They lacked only one thing to make them effective, and that was military power.
The League of Nations failed to preserve peace, not because of any mistake in principle but because of weakness in practice. The first League of Nations was not formed in 1919, it was formed 2500 years earlier, in the year 545 B.C., to be exact, and that League failed for the very same reason. In that year the Prime Minister of the State of Sung called a conference at which fourteen military powers met and solemnly agreed to abolish war. Ten years later that first League of Nations lay in ruins because they had only abolished war in words and had failed to take any collective action to prevent one powerful state breaking the Covenant. Human nature being what it is, history has repeated itself over and over again and similar Leagues throughout the centuries have failed in their purpose for the same reason.
Now, with all the agony of a war which increases clay by day in ferocity, beyond anything ever known before, surely we must be ready to mean what we say this time when we talk of preserving peace in the years to come. When we think of what our men are going through today in Holland, in Italy, and on many other battlefronts; when we think of what our airmen are enduring in the unceasing air war on many fronts; when we think of those young men of ours who are maintaining their endless vigils over the wide stretches of the sea of every part of the world; when we think of all that still must be endured by those men and by their families, we must be sure as a nation that we do everything within human power to prevent this happening again. And we must be prepared as a people to accept all the implications of what we undertake to do.
When we speak of taking our part as a nation in a collective world organization to maintain peace after this war, let us examine in calm and cold logic exactly what that means. If we are to be a part of any such collective plan, then we must be prepared to take our share in preventing any threatened war, and any nation which really means to take its part in preventing war or stopping a war which has started must be ready to wage war for that purpose. That is reality. Anything else is mere bluff--the same kind of bluff which brought this war upon us.
There will be risks involved--grave risks. There would have been risks involved in stopping Japanese aggression in Manchuria, German aggression in Europe, and Italian aggression in North Africa. But we know today that those risks would have been negligible for the nations which took collective action at that time, in comparison with the dreadful reality of the years of war and the almost equally terrible years of suspense which preceded it.
If we are going to join in any collective plan for the prevention of war, then we must be prepared to contemplate the maintenance of the military force which gives our undertaking any meaning. And if we are going to have such a military force, then there must be some form of military service to maintain it. There can't be any other reality. If there is to be a military service. that military service must be for the purpose of carrying out our undertakings.
We Canadians have inherited the basic personal rights which came to us through the adoption of the common law of England. Many of those rights were established by the Bill of Rights, just as similar rights were established in the United States by their Bill of Rights. If we are to take our place in a collective world organization to preserve peace, then I think the time has come to adopt something in the nature of a national Bill of Duties, which must go hand in hand with Rights and that leave no future doubt that there must be absolute equality of obligation right across Canada in the service of the State.
Now, we have our own history. Let us read it and understand it, and let us make sure while the events are clear before us, that if it should ever become necessary at any time in the future to require such service for the preservation of our national freedom or the fulfillment of our national obligations, there shall be full equality right across the whole of Canada and applying to every part of Canada. That surely, Gentlemen, is the inescapable lesson of our domestic history of these past few years.
Now I propose, in examining our future and our status as a nation, to discuss one other subject which I think we must face with equal frankness. It shouldn't need to be repeated, but there are times when it is obvious that we must repeat, that we are a member of the British Commonwealth and Empire. Now, either that means a very great deal or it means nothing at all--one or the other. If it means something then it is high time for us as a people to decide exactly what it does mean. Surely if there is any clear lesson of the history of these years it is that doubt and uncertainty as to the course to be followed is the surest way to bring disaster. Of course Canada is a completely sovereign nation. We have long passed the point where there need be any debate about that, but it may be well for us to recall that there is nothing which limits our sovereignty in any way if we establish an ever closer relationship within that partnership of nations under one common Crown.
If ever we needed proof of the practical, not merely the emotional but the practical value of that partnership for Canada it has been offered to us during this war. Our Air Force, our Navy and our Army have given every Canadian new reasons for pride in our own country and in the name we bear. But the extent of their effort, and the extent of our effort in Canada as a nation, has been made possible by the close military and political partnership which has existed throughout the Empire as a whole during this war. That partnership has been of enormous benefit to Britain and they are the first to state that to be the fact. It has also been of enormous benefit to us, and it has been of equal benefit to every other part of the Empire.
It has, of course, and I am the first to recognize that, become the accepted practice in some quarters to brand anyone who asserts this conviction as an "Imperialist", and as being something less than a pure Canadian. Now, I must say that it takes nothing from my pride as a Canadian to hold the belief that as a Canadian I also enjoy the privilege of being something more. I think that being a Canadian means much more when it also means that we are part of that great world fellowship which saved freedom for all mankind in 1940 and 1941.
When I hear of some of the gratuitous advice being given to Mr. Winston Churchill, even here in Canada, I wonder if the memories of such people are so short that they forget that it was Winston Churchill's voice that rallied the only people who were standing for freedom in 1940, He doesn't need to be told what Freedom means by those who admire anything except the British connection here or elsewhere throughout the world.
I do find it a little difficult, however, to understand how some Canadians can become so enthusiastic about Canada's close association with the Pan-American Union, while at the same time they find so many reasons f or concern about our full and active association with the British partnership. By all means, let every one of us do everything within our power to further close association with the United Nations in the years of peace, and let us be equally vigorous in promoting good will between our own nation and other nations in both North and South America. But at the same time, Gentlemen, I wish to assert my own belief that our first concern as Canadians in the field of external relationships is the development of an ever stronger and more vigorous Pan-British Union.
Quite apart from any other consideration, it may sometimes be well for us not to get carried away with the association of names, and to think that the Americas bulk us all in one small area, and to recall that we are very much closer to Britain, not only in our historical background, but also in actual distance, than we are to the great centers of population in South America, to mention nothing about a thing called language. It is just about twice as far from Halifax to Buenos Aires as it is from Halifax to London. That perhaps should be kept in mind when we consider the relative degree of geographical association between the nations of South America and the nations within the British partnership.
May I recall another important lesson which so many of us did forget in the years between the two wars. For Canadians the outstanding lesson of the Great War was the vital part which co-operation between the different parts of the British Empire played in developing our own strength for that struggle. As a people we won a proud name in that earlier struggle. For four long years Canadian troops were in action and when the time came to launch the great attack they destroyed German military power in the summer of 1918. Canadians have reason to recall with pride that it was the Canadian Corps that was chosen as the spearhead of that attack because it was then recognized as the greatest fighting organization on the Western Front. But the thing which every man who fought in that Corps recognized as the basis of our strength was the full measure of co-operation in every aspect of the war between Canada and the other parts of the Empire.
Once again Canadians are writing a proud page of history in a still more terrible war and a war upon which infinitely more depends, and once again the lesson which stands out above all others is the strength which comes from our membership in that great partnership.
I have seen, not so very long ago, our splendid lads in the Royal Canadian Air Force, going out from their stations in Britain and in France against Germany and against the German Air Force. I have also in this past year seen Canadians stationed at far off airports in Iceland, the Azores, Newfoundland, Labrador and our own Atlantic seaboard. I have seen our gallant young men in the uniform of the Royal Canadian Navy manning our ships of war on widely separated tasks. I have seen our men in the Canadian Army in battle areas which have tested stamina and courage as much as any battles that men ever fought anywhere. Stand on any of the roads in Europe today and see those men going forward into action and you see something that has an important lesson for us for the years of peace.
Among those vehicles carrying men of every branch of the service into action are thousands, scores of thousands of military vehicles made here in Canada. Among the machines of war and the weapons of war are machines of war and weapons of war made here in Canada. Over head fly our young men in the fighter squadrons in the Tempests, the Typhoons, the Spitfires, the Hurricanes, and others whose names are not yet public, and all those things have been taken to France and supplied for them by the ships of the Navy and the Merchant Marine in which we Canadians are taking so great a part.
But, Gentlemen, interpreting this in terms of lessons for the future, the thing for us to remember is that with those Canadian machines and weapons of war are many more machines and weapons of war made in the workshops of Britain being used by our men as well as by their own; and there is a lesson in the fact that every one of those fighter aircraft in which young Canadians are shooting down German aircraft whenever they appear--and one young novice just this last week shot down seven--every one of those fighter aircraft was made in the workshops of Britain. Of the great Bomber Squadrons the majority of the machines are Halifaxes and Lancasters made in Britain, but there are some of our own, made splendidly in our own workshops here, along with Mosquitoes and other aircraft we make so well.
Once again, Gentlemen; the lesson is the same. We have contributed greatly to the success that is bringing us ever closer to victory on the sea, in the air, on the land. It is this combination of fighting men, moving in the same formation, obeying the same command, with the same conception of their military duty and using the same types of machines that are forging a great fighting team that is going to play its full part in winning victory, whenever that may come.
In that great movement we are being given reason to say with pride as never before, "This is the kind of men we produce in Canada. This is the kind of men who will give our country its strength and vigour tomorrow."
If we can achieve so much in this close partnership for war, surely the lesson is just as clear today as it was during the last war that our first external objective as Canadians is to do everything within our power to maintain that partnership in the years to come.
I recognize that there are those amongst us who are frankly pessimistic about the future of Britain and therefore, at the same time, about an Empire partnership of which Britain is the senior member. They fear, and don't hesitate to say so, and perhaps have some reasons for their statement, that Britain has been hopelessly impoverished by the war, has become exhausted by the enormous load they have carried and that they will cease to be a powerful world force when this war is over.
Again, however, history is a useful guide by which to judge the future of Britain and the British Empire in the postwar world. This isn't the first time pessimistic opinions have been expressed about Britain's future. One hundred and sixty years ago an eminent British writer wrote, and I use his own words. that he had come "to the infallible, inevitable conclusion that the state is bankrupt and that those who have trusted their all on the public faith are in very imminent danger of becoming beggars." Those were blue times in Britain. A few years later, however, an equally eminent writer published his opinion in an article under the significant title "An Antidote to Despondency", written about a hundred and fifty years ago. I leave you to judge which writer best gauged the real spirit and fibre of his own people. These were the words of the more optimistic writer: "Even the ablest men may entertain ill-founded and groundless apprehensions. Nothing but the grossest mismanagement, however, can possibly effect the ruin of so powerful an Empire, inhabited by a race of people distinguished for strength, courage and for ability." Remember, those were dark days, those were extremely dark days when these optimistic words were written. The War of Independence had been fought and many hopes centered in what is now the United States had come to an end. There had been a tremendous increase in the public debt and British trade was gravely threatened. It took a brave man indeed in those dark days to write with such confidence, but after the lapse of more than 150 years those words still convey a message for the people of our generation.
Gentlemen, every one who has seen Britain in these trying days knows it is a confident Britain, that it is a courageous and united Britain, and they know it is a Britain which has made perfectly certain that the going ahead is going to be tough and that they are ready to face it. In that, Gentlemen, they have already won half the battle. I hope you will forgive me if I repeat again those simple words from "An Antidote to Despondency", written so long ago: "Even the ablest men may entertain ill-founded and groundless apprehension. Nothing but the grossest mismanagement, however, can possibly effect the ruin of so powerful an Empire, inhabited by a race of people distinguished for strength, courage and for ability".
Our material as well as our spiritual advantage will best be served in that great partnership as it has been in the past, but that partnership isn't going to be pre served by mere words and by enthusiastic singing of "God Save the King". It will be preserved only by a burning, dynamic faith in the future of the British people, and in what that fellowship means for our children and our children's children, because unless we believe it we will have no right to work for it.
It calls for the sort of faith that was expressed by Winston Churchill in 1940. Do you remember these words? "We have become the sole champions now in arms to defend the world cause. We shall do our best to be worthy of that high honour. We shall defend our island home and with the British Empire we shall fight on unconquerable until the curse of Hitler is lifted from the brows of mankind. We are sure that in the end all will come right." Those words, now nearing fulfillment, were a heartfelt expression of the history of the British people. The political possibilities of that great partnership--and I use the word "political" in its widest and highest sense--were never so bright as they are today if we make use of all the tremendous energy that has been brought forth by this war.
As we choose our target for tomorrow, let us as Canadians set our sights high for Canada is in truth the land of tomorrow. I have spoken much of Britain and the future of Britain and I do so because I think it is well that we examine the position of our partner. Let us leave no doubt, however, that we have even greater faith in the future of Canada and look forward to the day when Canada may well become in the years ahead the senior member of that great partnership in population, in wealth and in power.
Does that seem to you a rash hope for the future? If it does I would ask you to read the last article from the pen of that most lovable of all Canadians, Stephen Leacock. It was published in October, some time after he had died, under the challenging title, "Canada Can Support One Hundred Million". Stephen Leacock, who has stood here before this Club and expressed that youthful optimism which was with him to the end, was one of the greatest Canadians of our generation and often, because he was our best known humorist, it was forgotten that he was one of our great economists as well. So often he followed Voltaire's precept, "A serious thing should not be seriously said", and he used his humour to cloak his most serious arguments. As an economist, as a man who knew the world so well, and as a splendid Canadian, Stephen Leacock left for us his confident message of the future of Canada-one hundred million people. The exact figure doesn't matter. There is no use arguing about a detail of arithmetic.
What does matter is whether or not we believe in the years to come our population is going to grow. If we do, and if we believe in the strong power of survival of the people of Britain as well, and of our partners within the Empire, then, Gentlemen, our course is very clear. Our target is not in any doubt. If we believe that the spirit that this Empire showed in 1940 and has shown in the years that have followed, if we believe that the courage, stamina and strength and spirit of these people can carry us on to success in the future, then that, Gentlemen, is our target for tomorrow. At the beginning of this new year when we all exchange greetings for the year to come and our hope for what it may bring, I believe that we can well repeat with confidence at this season of hope and optimism the words adopted as the motto of this Club, "Canada and a United Empire".