- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 13 Sep 1907, p. 15-20
- Greenwood, Hamar, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Speaking from the point of view of the home country, and of a man who views the British Empire from the royal palace of Westminster and from the Colonial Office, and not so much as one who so often in Canada views the Empire only from the local platform. The three possibilities before us as a Dominion: absorption with the American Republic; independence; the maintenance of our present position and a strengthening as the first daughter nation of this the greatest Empire the world has ever seen. The unthinkable nature of the first woo possibilities. Speaking as an advocate of the third possibility. The increased and increasing Imperial responsibilities that this position entails upon Canada. Words and acts of us as Canadians to be done with thoughtful consideration as to the effect upon the British Empire as a whole. Letting our mental attitude become less and less local and more and more Imperial in dealing with the foreign affairs of the Dominion, which means its relations with the Empire. The issue of the treatment of the Japanese in terms of immigration to Canada. Two things essential for a practical realization of our dream, our belief in the unity of the British Empire: a unanimity of purpose; a unanimity of method. Two great things which are gradually uniting the whole of the varied races that swear allegiance to the flag: the all-red route scheme which has taken hold in England; and Sir Sandford Fleming's great Imperial cable scheme.
- Date of Original
- 13 Sep 1907
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- Full Text
- BRITISH DIPLOMACY AND CANADIAN RESPONSIBILITIES.
Address before the Empire Club of Canada, on September 13th, 1907, by MR. HAMAR GREENWOOD, M. P. for York in the British House of Commons.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,
Believe me, I appreciate your invitation to speak because it comes from an Empire Club, and I appreciate it all the more because you have gone out of your way to honour a humble Canadian. I might also say that I can promise you at your next gathering, in Sir Daniel Morris, a great pleasure. He is one of those Empire administrators who, in a quiet way, has done more to advance agriculture, horticulture, and therefore prosperity, in the West Indies than any other man of his time. He and I were together in the Kingston earthquake. He went down for agricultural purposes; I went down for rest. Neither of us got what we expected, but we both survived; indeed, at one time there was, a great risk of my becoming more famous as a survivor than as a politician. I speak to you, gentlemen, this afternoon not only as a Canadian by birth and, I may say, in my democratic ideals, but I also speak to you as one who has had the privilege of spending some twelve years of a very, very strenuous life in the public affairs of the home country, and I want to speak this afternoon from the point of view of that home country, and of a man who views the British Empire from the royal palace of Westminister and from the Colonial Office, and not so much as one who so often in Canada views the Empire only from the local platform.
I take it that we have before us as a Dominion three possibilities: First, absorption with the American Republic, which, r agree with you, is unthinkable; secondly, independence, which to me is equally unthinkable; and thirdly, the maintenance of our present position and a strengthening, in so far as we can strengthen it as the first daughter nation of this the greatest Empire the world has ever seen. I believe that is the splendid destiny of our Dominion, and I am one of those who, in the home country, in my native country, and in the foreign countries I have had the honour to visit, advocate that as the future of the Dominion. But this position entails upon Canada increased and increasing Imperial responsibility. There was a time, indeed, within my short life in England, when I can remember that this great Dominion occupied less space in the public eye, less space in the public press, and less consideration in the public mind at home than some country like Portugal ox Belgium, or other such powers. All that is changed. You are no longer an unimportant portion of the British Empire; you acre, with India, I take it, the greatest and most important part; and in so far as the potentialities of the Britisher is concerned unquestionably the most important part next to the Mother Country. Therefore, it becomes every Canadian to remember that Canada in foreign affairs can no longer act like a child, but must act like a full-grown daughter in the mother's household, and that every word a Canadian may speak, or act a Canadian may do, either politically or in so far as, he can personally do it, should be done with thoughtful consideration as to the effect upon the British Empire as a whole.
The Foreign Secretary of this Empire is responsible for your foreign relations. You can make what treaties of commerce you will; you can settle your tariff questions within and without; you enjoy the fullness of independence; but when you come to deal with any serious matters that may result in war you do not count with a foreign nation. In the first place, the foreigner treats the British Empire as a unit and deals only with the Foreign Secretary, who sits in London. And I say, therefore, that as this great Dominion has now emerged, none too soon, from a comparatively humble position in the world to a very important position, it becomes every thoughtful Canadian to let his mental attitude become less and less local and more and more Imperial in dealing with the foreign affairs of the Dominion, which mean its relations with the Empire. May I remind you that since the Napoleonic wars Canada has never come into serious consideration in foreign affairs, but owing to your great development many international arrangements and interests are rapidly emerging. More than that, owing to the overwhelming defeat of Russia by an Oriental power, the sudden rise of Japan, and following that, the Oriental immigration question on the Pacific Coast, this Dominion has suddenly come, within the arena of foreign politics, and today you have the danger zone of the world, in so far as our own Empire is concerned, shifted from the northwest frontier of India, where huge armies have for a generation been massed, to the Pacific Coast of this Dominion.
I repeat that the Canadian who makes a reckless statement about a foreign power able to defend itself on the sea or in the battlefield, or throws a brick-bat in the name of wages or a high standard of living, may be commencing a war between two empires which would mean the ruin of the industry and the enterprise of our great Dominion. At this moment on the Pacific slope an issue has been raised that will tax all the power and all the intelligence of the great Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, who now has our foreign affairs under his control, and let me say on this point that the foreign affairs of the British Empire are not controlled by any party, but are always controlled by the retiring and the present holders of the office of Foreign Secretary. That, at any rate, in the Empire is not a party concern, but is really an Imperial duty, properly appreciated by men like Lord Lansdowne and Sir Edward Grey. This Japanese issue which has been going on for many months in the Foreign Office has been brought to a head by some very foolish people in the beautiful city of Vancouver. What is the position of Canada? Is it all right for Canadians to say, as some do, "we will have a white man's country, and no Jap need apply?" Gentlemen, I believe in a white Canada, I believe in strengthening the white portions of the Empire in the interests of the Empire. But while one has a local ideal, you must not forget you have an Imperial responsibility, and it is impossible to treat the subjects of the Mikado of Japan in any way that will humiliate them unless by a reasonable and fair treaty you get the Mikado's Government to agree to the treatment.
That the Japanese immigration to this country will never be dangerous in its extent I really believe. That Sir Edward Grey, assisted by the best and most patient opinion of this country, will be able to make arrangements with that great foreign Power I have no doubt whatever-arrangements that, as far as is humanly possible, will be in accordance with the predominant opinion of the people of this Dominion. But for any Canadian to imagine that he can by bludgeons dictate the foreign policy of this Empire is in my mind to indicate that he is not up to his Imperial responsibilities. I believe more in the patient loyalty of men who are prepared to go slowly in dealing with a great and dangerous Power like Japan than those who are prepared to take off their coats and rush the Japanese quarter. Now, if I refer to this particular question in language that I intend and hope is serious, I hope you will not for a moment run away with the idea that I am unduly pessimistic. I have had the pleasure of meeting distinguished Japanese in London; I have had the pleasure of discussing this identical question with them. It has always been the glory of John Bull that wherever a wandering Britisher travelled he was under the protection of the might and the majesty of the British Empire. It is that sentiment that is the predominant sentiment among the big men of Japan in dealing with the Japanese, and the' humblest emigrant of that Oriental country will call forth the might of that Empire as easily as I hope the might of our own Empire will always rally to the safety and the honour of the British subject.
We have to change our whole idea of inferior races to meet this new conflict of interests and powers. You can deal as you like with the Chinaman for he is a patient fellow. He has no great Government behind him. You can deal as you will with the long-suffering Hindu. He has no nationality behind him and he is not viewed by the people of his own clan, class, or kingdom in the same way that a wandering Jap is viewed by the highly organized government of the Mikado. But, believe me, you cannot trifle with the Japanese, and whilst I say locally we must make a white Canada our ideal in the interests of our Dominion, and in the interests of posterity, and in the interests of the Empire, yet, unless we realize the delicacy of our foreign relations, especially with this Oriental Power, and unless we realize the necessity of endorsing by patient loyalty the efforts of the Foreign Secretary of the time, we will do more to bring about unrest and possible war than we can possibly do in any other way.
That, gentlemen, is my message to you this afternoon. Your loyalty is undoubted, but the patience of the loyalty of some of our Canadian friends is certainly doubted, and I am one who believes that this riot in Vancouver has not helped, but has, hindered, the solution of the Oriental immigration question in so far as it concerns Japan, and I regret with a full heart that it is necessary, as it will be necessary, for the Foreign Secretary of this great Empire to make humble apology to the Mikado and to his Government for the reckless efforts of thoughtless people in the streets of Vancouver. And just on that point, speaking as one not at all opposed to labour organizations here or elsewhere, if the labour unions of this country are to draw their patriotism and their support from Foreign countries like the United States, they can depend upon it the Foreign Office in England will not deal with them in the same way it otherwise would. The Foreign Secretary of the British Empire can have no patience, can have no consideration, and can show no indulgence for a movement that has its source and draws its support from a foreign country, and a country not always friendly to this great Dominion and Empire. One word more and I am done. I am a believer in short speeches, for the older one lives in English public life the quieter does one speak, and the more brief are his speeches. I know many of my Canadian friends who would be chastened to a state of perfection if they lived for some time in the public life of England. However, the vigour of your atmosphere and the optimism of the people engender long speeches. I enjoy the vigour; I believe in the optimism; but, as I say, I am not a long speaker now. In our dream--indeed, it is no longer a dream--in our belief, our unswerving belief, in the unity of the British Empire, two things) in my mind are essential for a practical realization. First, a unanimity of purpose; that is, that the myriads of men and women who go to make up the subjects of the King believe in a drawing closer together of the different parts of this Empire. And, secondly, a unanimity of method. If either of these fundamentals fail I believe unity is impossible. And I personally think it is puerile to imagine that any scheme that may be propounded here or elsewhere will be fruitful of really good results if it splits the electorate of this country, of Australia, of South Africa, or of the Home country; and whilst you may dream your dreams as to your own particular scheme, so far as I could impress upon you I would urge the taking up that which is nearest to hand, however humble it may be, and upon which we are all agreed, so that we can be unanimous in method and make a step forward in Imperial unity.
Split electorates make Imperial unity impossible, but unanimous electorates make, in my mind, for the strongest Imperial unity. And on that question, that phase of the Imperial question, there are two great things which I believe are gradually uniting the whole of the varied races that swear allegiance to the flag-the all-red route scheme which has taken hold in England and is being very cordially and sympathetically considered by its Government; and Sir Sandford Fleming's great Imperial cable scheme, which is a sound and excellent one, and which will unite the peoples throughout our Empire.