Salute to Britain
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 17 Apr 1941, p. 481-494
Villeneuve, His Eminence Cardinal J.M. Rodrigue, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club.
The speaker's views on Canada's future. Issues of Canadian unity. Educational rights in and outside of Quebec. Religious education. The separatist movement. Relations between English and French Canadians. Saluting Great Britain on St. George's Day. The magnificent example of courage set by the British people. The Commonwealth of Nations and what it means; why it should be defended and safeguarded at all costs. Canada's entry into the war. A discussion of patriotism. Natural instincts rebelling against such evils as Germany is inflicting. Fighting for ideals which are imponderable; Righteousness, Honour, Peace, Freedom. Leaving their triumph confidently in the Hands of the Almighty. The power of prayer. The word of the German fifth column propaganda. Concluding with a payer written by Admiral Nelson, on board the "Victory" after having given the order that commenced the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Date of Original
17 Apr 1941
Language of Item
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Full Text
A Joint Meeting of the Canadian Club and the Empire Club of Canada was held in the Royal York Hotel, on Thursday, April 17, 1941. The First Vice-President, Mr. C. R. Sanderson, presided.

MR. C. R. SANDERSON: Your Honour, Your Eminence, Distinguished Guests and Gentlemen of the Empire Club and Canadian Club. Before proceeding with our meeting I have three telegrams which I should like to read to you. The first is from the Honourable Adelard Godbout, addressed to the President of the Empire Club, and is as follows:

"Many thanks for your kind invitations to attend the luncheon of the Empire Club of Canada Thursday April 17th. Regret exceedingly impossible to leave Quebec owing to the sitting of our Legislature. Mr. Victor Dore, Superintendent of Public Instruction, will represent me. Please accept for yourself and the Directors of your Club and convey to His Eminence the expression of my deep regrets of being unable to be present. (Signed) Adelard Godbout."

The second is from Lt-.Col. D. B. Papineau, A.D.C. to the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Quebec. "Your kind invitation received. The Lieutenant-Governor regrets inability to attend Empire Club Luncheon 17th. Pleace accept his most sincere thanks for thoughtfulness. He would have liked very much to have been with you. (Signed) D. P. Papineau, Lt.-Col., A.D.C." The third telegram is from the Honourable G. Howard Ferguson, the President of the Empire Club, whose place I am taking today, and who says

Victoria, B.C., April 16, 1941.

"H. C. Bourlier,

Secretary, the Empire Club.

Will be grateful if Chairman tomorrow's meeting will make my apologies to His Eminence the Cardinal and express sincere regret that I shall not have the honour of presiding at the luncheon and hearing an address which will be widely read and heard throughout Canada, and will, I am sure, be of great importance in promoting a genuine spirit of fellowship and unity of all Canadians, particularly at this critical time, so that we may as one people march forward in the cause of better citizenship and with a higher purpose in making the best use of the great opportunities with which our common country is blessed. (Signed) Howard Ferguson."

Gentlemen, many of us of recent days and weeks and months must have felt that this is almost an irreligious time, when the unleashed dogs of war are let loose over so vast an area of this globe, and when we are so conscious of the bestiality and brutality that war itself brings. It is almost an irreligious time. Yet, everyone who recalls his own experiences in the last war knows that in times of great duress, in times of what seemed to be the ultimate bearable physical strain, his thoughts went back to fundamental things-to the beauty of personal friendships, to the ties of home and family, and to that basic belief in eternity. And today it is good for us that His Eminence should come to us to remind us again that even in this time of stress these things are still with us.

At this moment, when the British Commonwealth of Nations is facing a terrific task, side by side with the British Commonwealth there stand a number of bands of free peoples whose nations are otherwise submerged. They have different languages, different backgrounds, but they hold together in a common cause. They hold together because of common ideals and because of common understanding. And again, it is a good thing that at this moment His Eminence should come to us and talk about the common understanding which binds together two peoples, two races, two languages within the Federation of the Dominion of Canada.

Gentlemen, it is almost an impertinence to say anything to this audience about His Eminence. I say it only so that it may go in our official and printed archives. As a teacher, as a University Dean, he is rich in academic experience. How rich is shown by the fact that he has been honoured by six separate university doctorates.

On another side he comes to us as a Priest, as a Bishop, as an Archbishop, as a Cardinal. He is the one Canadian Member of the College of Cardinals, and is the Archbishop of that historic Diocese of Quebec. But, Gentlemen, he also comes as a Canadian. He comes as a Canadian, not in a provincial sense, but in a truly national sense in the widest possible interpretation of that word; he comes today to speak to us with the unified voice of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the Dominion of Canada.

Et maintenant, Votre Eminence, j'ai l'honneur de vous rendre mes hommages tres sinceres, en la langue de nos compatriotes du Canada francais.

Je prends beaucoup de plaisir a vous presenter a cet assemblage compose de membres de ces deux societes celebres.

Voulez-vous avoir la bonte de nous addresser la parole. (Applause.)

His EMINENCE CARDINAL VILLENEUVE, O.M.I., D.D.: Mr. President and Gentlemen: I could not desire a more acceptable expression of feeling in my regard than that which you have manifested by your enthusiastic and prolonged greeting.

It moves me deeply and brings to my mind the magnificent reception accorded to me by the Queen City, six years ago, when I came here to receive, from the University of Toronto, the high honour of a Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, which that distinguished seat of learning conferred upon me. I was given a Civic Reception at the City Hall when the Mayor, Mr. Stewart, welcomed me in an address to which I endeavoured to give a fitting response.

The President of the University, my friend Dr. Cody, in an eloquent speech, presented me to the Chancellor, Sir William Mulock, and it was an additional honour and pleasure to receive the Doctor's cap and gown in the presence of the Grand Old Man of Canada.

I considered it a great compliment and an honour to be invited to address such a large and distinguished number of fellow Canadians, and willingly accepted your kind invitation.

Let me extend to you, Mr. President, my sincere thanks for your too flattering remarks, in my regard, in introducing me to this representative assembly, and assure you that I value them very highly. And I wish to express to the Officers of the Canadian Club my grateful feelings, for I must candidly confess that they were the ones who, through the medium of the Honourable Premier Godbout, made the first approaches, discreetly enquiring whether I would be willing to address the Canadian Club. This led to some correspondence from December last, and whether through some misunderstanding or was it providential, I know not, I answered Yes, but my answer went to the Empire Club. It was something like Isaac's blessing which he granted to Jacob, thinking this was Esau. I, like Isaac, when came the Empire Club's letter, was somewhat mystified: the voice indeed was from Toronto, but the Secretary was a new one to me. However thanks to the happy intervention of Archbishop McGuigan, who assumed the role of Rebecca on that occasion, and to the long political experience of my friend the Honourable Mr. Ferguson,

I am the guest of the Empire Club. The truth is that my ingenuousness is responsible for the misunderstanding, and if I give my first blessing to the Empire Club, let the Canadian rest assured that I am keeping another one to be granted to it on another occasion.

Gentlemen, the compliment you are paying me today, I regard as a token and significant symbol of Canadian unity, and a very happy means of promoting that good feeling and co-operation between the two great Provinces upon which national unity so much depends.

You recently had the advantage of hearing Premier Godbout voicing the feelings and ideals of my compatriots. May I quote what another Premier of Quebec, Mr. Tasch ereau, his predecessor, declared on a public occasion: "We, French Canadians, being the pioneers of Canada, rooted in our soil and traditions, identified with things Canadian for over three centuries, love every inch of this land, be it East or West, because we are the mother Province of Canada."

After such important declarations you would perhaps wish to know my views on our beloved country's future. May I repeat what I publicly said not very long ago. I was led to speak on the subject because there were rumours outside of the Province of Quebec, that the French Canadians, who composed the overwhelming majority of that Province were contemplating the establishment of a separate State in their Province, and the dominant influence of that separatist movement was the Catholic Church under the leadership of the Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec.

Not much notice was taken of this mischievous gossip in Quebec, no responsible person attached undue importance to it, but, unfortunately, it seemed to have aroused such suspicions in the minds of some English speaking Canadians, that I availed myself of a fitting occasion to put an end to such ridiculous rumours. Addressing a large Catholic and Protestant gathering, I said: "Never did I wish that the Province of Quebec should become either a clerical or fascist state. The Church in no way admits that patriotism should be love of isolation, that it should be confined to one village, town or province; no, it should extend to the whole of Canada and should be accompanied by a vivid feeling of loyalty to our Sovereign, King George VI. But I for one believe that the more French Canadians will be themselves, with their proper spirit and ancestral traditions, the more they will nourish in their hearts deep and precious love for Canada. As to separation from the Empire or from Canada, we recall to every one that political evolution is illicit unless in accordance with acknowledged rights and constitutional order", and I added that "Divine Providence seems to have destined the English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians to co-operate in building a nation based upon AngloSaxon and French civilization."

It is generally admitted that the French Canadians are the most stable element in the Dominion. It is a notorious fact, whether it is due to their education or the influence of their religion, that they oppose a solid front against communism and other subversive doctrines.

It seems to me that, as Mr. Taschereau said, the French Canadians having been the pioneers of Canada, rooted in our soil and traditions for three centuries, they are true Canadians, and that they love every inch of this country of ours should entitle them to a more generous treatment on the part of some of their fellow Canadians. They are, as every one is aware, deeply attached to their language, religion and family and racial conditions, and resent any attempt to attack what they so dearly cherish.

In the Province of Quebec, the educational rights which the English minority enjoy, should be accepted as the basis for the extension of similar educational facilities to the French minority in other Provinces, and this would certainly contribute considerably to promote national unity.

Now, Gentlemen, no one more than I deplores the unhappy divisions which exist among those who believe in Christianity, and I have not the slightest wish to utter one word to provoke controversy or make such divisions wider, but I cannot refrain, when trying to promote national unity, to refer to the injurious and unpatriotic aspersions made by a certain clergyman against my race and creed. I know full well that they are not your feelings, and so I consider that the best way to answer them is to ignore them altogether, especially after the recent admirable address of Colonel Foster to the Canadian Club at Quebec, and in which he stressed the vital importance of national unity. He spoke in excellent French and with such evident and soldier-like sincerity that his words carried conviction and have made a deep and lasting impression in his large and distinguished audience.

Let me suggest to you also, Gentlemen, to receive with some caution the words of a French Canadian journalist who appears to have no particular claim to speak for Quebec where he edits a weekly paper. He was quoted a few months ago by the author of an article on "Quebec classical Colleges" after the reading of which one is astounded at the gross inaccuracies which swarm all through that paper. I will only deal with the chief complaint against us of our discontented writer. He claims that the teaching in our classical Colleges and Universities is too religious and detrimental to other studies. We claim that our chief aim is to teach the whole truth, namely that which God has revealed and that which man has discovered, and to teach it not simply as an abstract theory, but as a practical guide and standard of action, as a law and indeed the supreme law of human conduct for individual, society and nation. Consequently higher education is precisely the field in which religion should be thoroughly cultivated and its practice most constantly fostered. If no regard is to be paid to religious truths, what will there be for the rights of a people? Is force to be the ultimate resort and final arbitration as we see it examplified in Hitlerism?

I regret that the necessity of religion in education is not more widely shared by many peoples nowadays who regard religion as private luxury which should have no part in education. Such however is not the opinion of a well known English Statesmen, Lord Halifax, who, while Minister of Education in the British Cabinet, made a very significant declaration. He stated that "it is more and more realized that religion is the essence and condition of character and a vital element in education and that the training of character can only come from religion." We prefer to share such a noble Statesman and religious thinker's views as Lord Halifax's.

Now, in regard to certain suggestions which are put forward from time to time in different parts of the country, and that our French speaking population should be assimilated and that they should adopt the language and culture of the English speaking Canadian just like any other minority group. Referring to a somewhat noisy recent lecture on the matter, that suggestion is dealt with in an able article by Mr. Herbert T. Quinn, which appeared in the Queen's Quarterly, vol XLVII, No. 3 of 1940. "Those who advocate such a course," writes Mr. Quinn, "have but little knowledge of the French Canadian or of the terms under which the Province of Quebec agreed to combine with the other Provinces to form the Dominion of Canada. Furthermore I have no doubt that any attempt to assimilate French Canadians is not only doomed to failure but would mean the end of the Confederation."

I agree with Mr. Quinn when he declares that "the French Canadian is determined to maintain his language, his religion and his culture, even if it is necessary for the Province of Quebec to secede from the Dominion." And he adds that it is fear of losing his special heritage which at different times since 1867 gave rise to Quebec nationalism and its extreme form "separatism." I dealt with those questions a moment ago. "The separatist movement, however, is not likely to present any serious danger to Canadian unity, as long as the French Canadian," as Mr. Quinn writes, "has no reason to believe that the English speaking majority is trying to deprive him of his minority rights." May I however here remark that if in certain Provinces the French Canadians have good grounds for complaining in regard to their minority rights, nevertheless the people of Quebec realize the necessity and real benefits of the Confederation Pact and are willing and anxious to co-operate fully with the rest of the country, as long as the principle of equality between English and French Canadian is upheld. They refuse, however, to be relegated to an inferior position within the Dominion. Now, Gentlemen, I come to what is uppermost and ever in our minds: the War. May I first quote the prophetic words of the late Pius XI, who, foreseeing the awful dangers which threatened the world, appealed to all Christians to unite their forces against the powers of evil, enemies of God, no less than of mankind, for in this vital conflict the fundamental problem of the world is at stake. For God or against God is the terrible alternative which shall decide the destinies of mankind, and the Pope appealed to individuals and nations to put aside narrow individualism and base egotism, and unite to ward off the dreadful peril which threatened Christianity.

Alas! These prophetic words of the Pope were unheeded, one country after another fell into the hands of our formidable enemies, and today the British Empire and the United States are left almost alone to save Christian civilization and democracy. I feel I am giving expression to your thoughts in paying a just tribute. to the indomitable spirit of the British people.

With enthusiasm have I agreed to patronize to salute Great Britain on St. George's day. The murderous air raids in England and Scotland have brought to light hidden heroism and have revealed courage unsurpassed in any conflict in the past. Their Majesties the King and Queen have set a magnificent example to their people by constantly sharing the dangers that beset them, and by their serenity and sympathy have inspired fresh courage in the hearts.

I wish also in your name and in my own to express the gratitude of those whose age, vocation or social condition cause them to benefit by the heroism of their fellow Canadians who have already gone or are preparing to go overseas, ready to lay down their lives to defend our righteous cause. Nor must we forget those who though desirous of going to the front, have been given the less glorious but necessary task of defending our coasts, or whose services could not be spared to permit them to enlist.

The magnificent example of courage set by the British people has been an inspiration to us and has stirred the patriotic spirit of every member of the nations in the British Empire.

The Commonwealth of Nations is not a mere concourse of people having among themselves relations more or less intimate of sole businesslike, of a community of material interests. It is much more than that, it is an association of free Nations united together, not compulsorily, but because they all share the substantially same ideals of social and international justice, honour and human dignity. And for that reason it has to be defended and safeguarded at all costs, even the cost of blood, under the leadership of those constitutionally presiding over its fortunes. So Canada entered freely, though efficaciously, into war.

There is far down within us all something deeper than personal interests, than personal kinships, than party feeling; it is the need and the will to be of service to our country and that will is rightly termed patriotism. The greatest thinkers of Rome and Greece, as Aristotle, the prince of antique philosophers, considered patriotism the highest of the natural virtues, and the religion of Christ exalts the pagan ideal and makes of patriotism a positive law. There is no perfect Christian who is not also a perfect patriot. In the light of this teaching, patriotism is seen in its religious character. Family interests, class interest, party interests and the material good of the individual take their place in the scale of values below the ideal of patriotism, for that ideal is Righteousness and Righteousness not only in personal but also in national matters and national honour. The violation of Righteousness whether enacted by an individual or by a nation must be publicly chastised. Men's minds are stirred up and tortured as long as the guilty party remains unpunished and outraged justice unavenged. No one can wish for peace without desiring that its destroyer shall be forced to yield to the unalterable edicts of justice and truth and pay the penalty for his crime.

Thus should this war, be viewed to grasp fully the righteousness of our cause.

Ruthless might unhampered by recognition of plighted word and regardless of any law human or Divine has criminally invaded neutral countries and is inflicting on their defenceless populations a martyrdom the memory of which never wholly pass away and has perpetrated horrors which in their naked truth pass the bounds of credibility.

Unable to invade England as they did other countries, the forces of evil are attempting to shake the moral of the British people by a constant succession of violent air raids, dropping countless bombs on open towns and killing thousands of aged men, of women and children; but the tenacious endurance of the British remains unshaken and has won the profound admiration of the civilized world.

Now, Gentlemen, perhaps you will say: but how long will God allow these barbarians to inflict such suffering on humanity? The reply remains the secret of God. He is the Master of events and the sovereign Director of the human race.

I can easily understand how natural instinct rebels against such evils. The spontaneous thought of mankind is ever that virtue should have its instantaneous crown and injustice its penalty. But the ways of God are not our ways. The Scripture tells us that His ways are unsearchable. But His arm is not shortened, nor is He deaf to our prayers and, in the hour His Wisdom has established, His enemies shall be scattered and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.

We are fighting for ideals which are imponderable; ideals which cannot be measured, weighed and calculated, but are priceless. Righteousness, Honour, Peace, Freedom, ideals which cannot but be pleasing to God, and we may confidently leave their triumph in His Almighty Hands.

We and all lovers of morality and freedom are deeply grateful to the people of the United States for their powerful assistance in this vital conflict, the issue of which shall decide the fate of humanity for generations to come. .

But, for victory, may I put the stress on prayer.

The power of prayer is very great. His Majesty the King has repeatedly invited us to implore the Divine assistance on our arms and to consecrate certain days to humble prayer and intercession to Almighty God on behalf of our cause. But do we earnestly respond to the King's appeal? do we pray in a penitential spirit acknowledging we have something to expiate with regard to our moral and religious standard? Are we making some sacrifices, and saving our money to help our Government to finance the war? Shall we continue to spend over $200 million a year on drink?

I trust that the appeal of the Canadian Temnerance Federation, urging abstinence from drink during the war, will receive a wise response.

The necessities of successful modern welfare brings the demand for efficiency home to each individual of the nation. In modern war it is not armies alone that fight, the whole nation is geared to a common effort. The man in the army and in the factory, in the business and on the farm, all are making a direct contribution to the strength and endurance of the nation. Efficiency is the demand of the hour and alcohol is the enemy of efficiency. I hope therefore that for the sake of our country and of the Empire all will fully realize that abstinence will powerfully aid us to win the war.

I fear, Gentlemen, that I am detaining you too long, but cannot refrain from drawing your attention to a very important matter, the German's work underground in the countries they want to conquer, including our own. They started their nefarious work long before war broke out, by establishing friendly contacts with people of every class and condition and carefully concealed the purpose of their friendly attitude. Their object was to make a close study of the different parties of their aims and mentality. The book, "La Defense de l'Amerique," by Mr. Cheradame, to which alluded recently Honourable Mr. Ernest Lapointe, Minister of justice, could be read usefully. In bi-lingual countries, for instance, they will pose as the friend of the race they wish to antagonize against the other and cleverly drive a wedge to keep the races apart by spreading false and acrimonious reports which may find their way in the press, and are calculated to embitter the relations between the two races and create bad feeling.

Let us do all we can to preserve our country against the danger of such fifth column propaganda.

Lastly, we may remember how, in our young days, our professors of history filled us with enthusiasm and admiration for Leonidas and the 300 Spartans who, instead of seeking safety in easy flight, allowed themselves to be crushed by the Persians' army at the pass of Thermopylae. The teachers of the Canadian generations of tomorrow will have other instances of military heroism and patriotism to evoke. And may we not hope that our generation, too, will preserve the memory of the union it has fashioned, and that in future there will be among us all a deeper wish for national unity, in a spirit of toleration and mutual good will.

As Canadians, deeply concerned with the happiness and welfare of our fellow men and with the future of our country, let us one and all, each in the sphere of his own activities, unite our efforts to promote our national unity, and let our efforts be accompanied by a deep feeling of loyalty to our Sovereign, King George VI, and to that world-wide Empire, of which we are proud and happy to form part.

I think I should terminate by the admirable prayer written by Admiral Nelson, on board of the "Victory", after having given the order that commenced the battle of Trafalgar, a hundred years ago, on Monday, October 21st, 1805.

"May the Great God, Whom I worship, grant to my Country, and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious Victory and may no misconduct in anyone tarnish it; and may humanity after Victory be the predominant feature in the British Fleet. For myself, individually, I commit my life to Him who made me, and may

His blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my country faithfully. To Him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen. Amen." (Applause-prolonged.)

MR. A. R. COIIRTICE (President of the Canadian Club): Mr. Chairman, Your Honour, Your Eminence, Gentlemen: The significance of this meeting, as reflected by our head table guests, is very encouraging and inspiring. Following our meeting last December with Premier Godbout, and the return visit of Colonel Foster, already mentioned, who addressed in French an enthusiastic meeting of the Canadian Club at Quebec City, this meeting today is a fitting climax to a season of friendly and constructive inter-provincial exchanges between the leaders of Church, State and Army, at a time when conditions were never more favourable or the need so great for racial and religious tolerance and co-operation in the interests of a great and a united Canada within the Empire, and loyalty to the Crown. (Applause.)

It is in that spirit that His Eminence has so graciously accepted our invitation to come to Toronto. In that spirit that he has spoken to us to-clay, and in that spirit that we have received him so enthusiastically. I am sure we have all been moved by his "Salute To Britain," and the salute from the Prince and leader of Canada's four and one-half million Roman Catholics. Your Eminence, may I assure you that we deeply appreciate the honour and the significance of your visit to us, and on behalf of this joint meeting of the Empire and Canadian Clubs, may I thank you most sincerely for your splendid gesture of good will and for your address to us today. (Applause.)

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Salute to Britain

A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club.
The speaker's views on Canada's future. Issues of Canadian unity. Educational rights in and outside of Quebec. Religious education. The separatist movement. Relations between English and French Canadians. Saluting Great Britain on St. George's Day. The magnificent example of courage set by the British people. The Commonwealth of Nations and what it means; why it should be defended and safeguarded at all costs. Canada's entry into the war. A discussion of patriotism. Natural instincts rebelling against such evils as Germany is inflicting. Fighting for ideals which are imponderable; Righteousness, Honour, Peace, Freedom. Leaving their triumph confidently in the Hands of the Almighty. The power of prayer. The word of the German fifth column propaganda. Concluding with a payer written by Admiral Nelson, on board the "Victory" after having given the order that commenced the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.