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Imperialism and democracy; Unionist principles applied to mdoern problems online

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Mr Foster, the Canadian Minister of
Commerce, said at the Constitutional Club
on July 2, 191 2 : " It is not too much to say
that in five years from now the surplus wheat
raised in those three prairie provinces of
Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta will be
sufficient to give five or six bushels of flour
a-year to every family of five persons in the
United Kingdom." And again, at the Fish-


mongers' Hall on June 12: "What will
Canada be fifty years from now ? To-day
we have 7,000,000 of peo{jle. Last year
354,000 people came in as emigrants and
settled in Canada; we took 138,000 from
Great Britain, 132,000 from the United
States, and nearly 80,000 from the rest of the
world — making a grand total of 350,000.
This year the number will be at least
400,000. If the aspect of Canada, as evi-
denced between the periods of 1867 and
191 2, is different, how much more different
will be the aspect of Canada in relation to
this Empire when her population has grown
from 7,000,000 to 40,000,000 or 50,000,000
of people. This thought impresses itself
upon me. Ought we not to be thinking
about it : men in the United Kingdom, men
in Canada, and men in the Overseas Do-
minions ? " And what is true of Canada is
cceteris paribus true also of Australia, South
Africa, and New Zealand.

The fourth fact is that the Overseas
Dominions are not prepared to share with
Great Britain the burden of Imperial De-
fence unless and until the mother country


is willing to grant to each of the Do-
minions a proportionate share of control
over the foreign policy and the Naval
Defence of the Empire. Upon this matter
the self-governing Dominions have definitely
made up their minds. Australia, New
Zealand, and South Africa in recent years
have contributed a large sum in cash to-
wards the cost of Imperial armaments.
It must be clearly understood that in the
future regular contributions on the same
terms will not be forthcominof. " In Aus-
tralia," said Mr Dcakin, at the Colonial
Conference of 1907, "for reasons which
have already been put on record, the exist-
ing contribution has not proved generally
popular. Further consideration has con-
vinced the public that the present agree-
ment is not satisfactory either to the
Admiralty, the political or professional
Lords of the Admiralty, or the Parliament
of the Commonwealth." Mr Moore, of
Natal, expressed a similar opinion. Canada
has consistently refused to make any such
contribution, because " the acceptance of the
proposals would entail an important departure


from the principle of Colonial self-govern-
ment" (Sir Wilfrid Laurier ; Colonial Con-
ference, 1902). The magnificent offer of
^7,000,000 towards the Imperial Navy
which Canada made on December 5, 191 2,
in no way affects the position which the
Dominions have taken up. Mr Borden on
that occasion said, "In presenting our pro-
posals it must be borne in mind that we are
not undertaking or beginning a system of
regular or periodical contributions. I agree
with the resolution of this House in 1909,
that the payment of such contributions would
not be the most satisfactory solution of the
question of defence." Can any one doubt
that Mr Foster was expressing the opinion
of every Colonial patriot when he stated that
cash contributions *' bore the aspect of hiring
somebody else to do what we ourselves
ought to do ? The interest that we take in
a contribution spent by another is not the
interest that I desire for Canada. I think
that method ignores the necessities and the
aspirations and the prospects of a great
people such as the Canadian people are
destined to become." It is hiofh time that


the people of the mother country understood
the facts, and made up their mnids as to
the future poHcy of Great Britain in relation
to the self-governing Dominions. In Aus-
tralia and in Canada national aspirations
are growing apace, and projects for the
construction of a separate Navy have been
received in each Dominion with enthusiastic
approbation. But the adoption of a scheme
for a separate Navy in each Dominion
would, beyond a shadow of doubt, tend
to bring about disintegration, and not co-
operation, within the Empire. "The aim
of the Government in connection with
Naval Defence," said Mr Pearce, Australian
Minister of Defence, in his speech on the
second reading- of the Naval Defence Bill
of 1910, "is that whilst the Navy we are
establishing shall be in some respects
separate from the British Navy, it shall
at the same time be auxiliary to that
Navy." The Defence Conference Memo-
randum of 1911 lays it down: (1) "That
the Naval services and forces of the Do-
minions of Canada and Australia will be
exclusively under the control of their re-



spective Governments," and (i6) "In time
of war, when the Naval service of a
Dominion, or any part thereof, has been
put at the disposal of the Imperial Govern-
ment by the Dominion Authorities, the
ships will form an integral part of the
British Fleet, and will remain under the
control of the Admiralty during the con-
tinuance of the war." But there is no
obligation upon the Dominions to place a
single vessel at the disposal of Great
Britain in the event of war taking place.
Nay, more, the main ground upon which
Sir Wilfrid Laurier advocated a separate
Navy for Canada was, that after the adop-
tion of such a policy Canada would not
necessarily be drawn into the vortex of
European politics. During the Debate
upon the Naval Bill (1909-1910) he stated
his position in these memorable words :
" It is a principal of International Law
that when a nation is at war all her pos-
sessions are liable to attack. If Enorland
is at war she can be attacked in Canada,
in Australia, in New Zealand, in Africa,
in the West Indies, in India, and, in short,


anywhere where the British flag floats. . . .
It does not follow, however, that because
England is at war we should necessarily
take part in that war. If England is at
war we are at war, and liable to attack.
I do not say that we shall always be
attacked. Neither do I say that we would
take part in all the wars of England.
That is a matter that must be determined
by circumstances upon which the Canadian
Government will have to pronounce, and
will have to decide in its own best judg-
ment." Can any reasonable man believe
that such a policy, if persisted in, will
further the consolidation of the Empire ?
South Africa and New Zealand still possess
an open mind upon this question, but while
in Australia public opinion appears to be
hardening in favour of a separate Navy,
the accession to power of the Conservatives
under Mr Borden has resulted in a reaction
of opinion on the Navy question in Canada,
and a further — it may well be a final —
opportunity is given to Great Britain to
enter into a business arrano^ement on co-
operative lines with the Dominions for the


defence of the Empire by a single Imperial
Navy. But it cannot be too often stated
that no sucli scheme will prove acceptable
to Canada which does not provide that
the Dominions shall be granted a proportion-
ate share of control over Imperial policy
in naval and foreign affairs. " No man in
this House, or in this country," said Mr
Borden, in the Canadian House of Com-
mons, on March i8, 191 2, "need disguise
from himself the fact that if the various
Dominions of the Empire do enter into
a system of Naval Defence which shall
concern and belong to the whole Empire,
those Dominions, while that system con-
tinues, cannot very well be excluded from
havinof a oreater voice in the Councils of
the Empire than they have had in past
years." Truly this problem involves " large
and wide considerations," and it is essential
that the people of Great Britain should
realise the position in which they are placed.
Forty years ago Mr Disraeli, with charac-
teristic perspicacity, foresaw and foretold
the course of Imperialism in the future.
'* The time is at hand, at least it cannot be


far distant," he said in 1872, " wlien Eng-
land will have to decide between national
and cosmopolitan principles." The hour
has now arrived when a decision must be
reached in the light of the facts as they
exist to-day, and after full consideration of
all the circumstances. " The issue is not
a mean one. It is whether you will be
content to be a comfortable England,
modelled and moulded upon Continental
principles, and meeting in due course an
inevitable fate, or whether you will be a
great country, an Imperial country, a country
where your sons, when they rise, rise to
paramount positions, and obtain not merely
the esteem of their countrymen, but com-
mand the respect of the world."

Is the Empire worth keeping, or is it
not? The consistent and emphatic opinion
of Radicals has always been that it is not.

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