« VorigeDoorgaan »
of peace. To his credit he refused to play the hypocrite. When asked his opinion he told the truth as both sides taught it to him. He was by far the most virtuous partner to the transaction.
But how different the position would be if the truth were laid before the French Roman Catholic people of Quebec! They are a devout people, and they love their language; and yet the truth is that they enjoy their cherished religious privileges, and are allowed to use their language in the courts, in the Provincial Legislature, and even in the Dominion Parliament, solely by reason of British treaty guarantees, which would disappear if Canada ceased to be a British Colony. Now, it follows, with the relentless sequence of a proposition in Euclid, that if Britain loses her command of the sea Canada will speedily cease to be a British Colony. Let us look at the situation frankly. The American Republic is a living nation, with ambitions, national pride, confidence in its power to confer benefits upon any feeble people taken under its wing, and a desire-common to all nations-to add to its strength and prestige. It is exactly as unselfish and philanthropic as the British Empire-but no more so. And it must be blind as a bat if it does not see that, if it could add Canada to its territories, it would become in a few decades by far the greatest English-speaking nation in the world, and, indeed, the most powerful single Government on earth.
The hegemony of the English-speaking world may even now be said to be up for competition. By reason of its navy and Empire, the United Kingdom still possesses it in reality; but a denial of this precedence is already heard very audibly from the United States. The currents of world politics have of late brought the American nation into the company of the other Englishspeaking communities in an intimate sense, which for a long time was lacking; but that very welcome arrival synchronised neatly with another arrival-the arrival of the United States in a position of power-which made it doubtful whether it followed Britain in their mutual movements in foreign politics, or marched beside her. We have to some extent the case of Prussia and Austria repeated, with the Americans playing the rôle of the Prussians. We British are still ahead; but our leadership is challenged by a virile and growing people. We still have the Imperial Crown; but a young giant has arisen who has his eye on a possible Versailles.
Now that new Versailles' may be Ottawa. to have at some time fifty or sixty millions of people-a modest estimate. If we had previously been joined to the United States, we might then calculate on anything from one hundred and fifty to two hundred million people under one Government-a monster nation, covering a continent and dominating a hemisphere. What other nation in the world dare oppose its will? To what other
nation would Australasia look for protection from the Asiatic peril if the British navy had been crushed-always a condition antecedent to the capture of Canada by the American Republic? Yet protection means, in such a case, alliance, if not absorption; and the Washington Government would thus have two continents under its control. Is not such a prospect dazzling enough to stir the ambition of any people? Is not such a prospect written plainly on the possibilities of the future for the American people to read? Is it not as certain as that hunger lures the eagle from his eyrie, that the American people will actively covet Canada on the day when the protection of the British navy is withdrawn, and we are left, less than ten million people, unwarlike and unarmed, to defend the most tempting prize ever offered a great nation in historic time?
Thus I cannot see that it is unduly pessimistic, or an implication of anything like an unworthy ambition to our American neighbours, to say that the collapse of British sea-power will almost certainly be followed by a determined effort to bring Canada into the American Union. The opportunities which will give such an effort its chance will be many and full of menace. A dispute with Japan as to Asiatic immigration into British Columbia might compel us to call for the help of the American fleet. Nothing but the Monroe Doctrine would save us from being regarded by Germany as the richest prize won by its presumed great victory in the North Sea. The boundary water-powers and channels of navigation would offer countless subjects of dispute in which our small people, notoriously unable to fight on equal terms, would be exposed constantly to humiliation, open robbery, and serious material disadvantage. To-day the American newspapers are mulcted of many millions a year because they cannot get access to our forests. An Annexation campaign would always promise them escape from this impost. American Trusts' see a great and growing market here out of which they are barred by our tariff; and it is better to stand between a she-bear and her cubs than a Trust' and its prey. These are only a few of the forces which would constantly whip up American ambition to seize the greatest place in the modern world merely by extending 'the undoubted benefits of free American institutions to the benighted and backward Canadian people.'
Then, when the change came, what of Quebec? Would its Church retain the privileges now enjoyed under British treaties and the Canadian Constitution? There is not a privileged Church in the United States. Would the Roman Catholics keep their separate schools' in Quebec and Ontario? There is not a separate school'-a public school under Roman Catholic control -in the United States. Would the French language survive and be respected in the courts and in Congress? On this point consult
Louisiana. Thus every one of these rights and privileges rests at last upon the British Navy; and yet we are told that Quebec, of all places, is reluctant to help sustain that navy. Quebec is not so silly. Quebec is simply suffering from the fact that she has never had the case presented to her fairly and frankly by her own leaders. She has heard nothing but virulent criticism met by deprecatory apology. More than that, the naval scheme which has been submitted to her judgment was a worthless scheme-a scheme which frightened the Quebec farmer who loves his boys to stay at home, but could not be shown to be of any value for purposes of naval defence. The Quebec farmer is a shrewd observer; and he knows that he is not in any danger of naval attack, and so cannot be persuaded that he needs a local squadron. He could be shown, however, that his most cherished privileges might be wrested from him as the result of a British naval defeat in the North Sea, when he would be the first to favour making such a defeat impossible. It is not necessary for him to be an Imperialist; it is only necessary for him to have an enlightened affection for his language and his religion. And is not all wise Imperialism based upon the advantages which we see it will bring to each of us?
So-' to return to our muttons '-there is no important section of the Canadian people who would not welcome a frank statement from the British Admiralty as to the manner in which they think Canada can best help sustain British sea-power. It is quite possible that the British Admiralty might ask more than we can do; but they can at any rate indicate the line along which we should move. They can choose for us between the two principal policies into which possible action naturally divides itself-a Separatist navy eventually built, controlled and drilled in Canadian waters; and a Canadian addition to the Imperial Navy, built and controlled and drilled by the British Admiralty. If they will put their stamp of approval unmistakably upon either of these plans, the Canadian people will do the rest. In two words, the British Admiralty can to-day get the sort of Canadian assistance it wants, if it has the courage to ask for it in the hearing of the Canadian people; and, to a very great extent, if the new Canadian naval policy be abortive, the blame will rest upon the British naval experts who feared to trust a loyal people who have just proven their worthiness to be trusted by overthrowing a popular Government and rejecting a trade proposal at one time favoured by both parties, solely because they wanted Canada to remain permanently British.
The Admiralty must recognise, however, that there are sinister forces in Canada which will clamour for a local navy. No grafter' will like to see money which might be spent in Canada spent in Great Britain. No local politician whose constituency hopes for naval shipyards is likely to favour a policy which may
at least delay the satisfaction of that legitimate desire. No politician who lives by 'patronage' will want to see so much attractive patronage' taken away from Canada and wasted on the Admiralty. No business man who thinks of the navy vote,' not so much as a method of defence as an indirect encouragement to his industry or commercial enterprise, will relish the loss of this prospective bonus' to Canadian effort. And these are forces which can lay siege to Parliament, hamper the Ministers, and affect public opinion. They will try to make Canadians believe that voting assistance to the Imperial Navy is voting 'want of confidence in our ability out here to build and manage a navy. They will appeal to our local self-esteem, and ask why it is that we can build railways and canals and equip a continent, but cannot be trusted to run a few cruisers. They will point to the South American Republics, and demand: Why it is that they are clever enough to have their navies when we Canadians are not?'
But, of course, the Admiralty will not be deflected from its high duty by such frothy chatter as this. It can safely leave the answering of these empty and interested arguments to the loyal and level-headed section of the Canadian people, who know that the whole case at bottom is simply this: Canada has no need whatever for a navy, while the British Empire-of which Canada is a part has supreme need for the greatest navy in the world. We might as well argue that it is a slight upon a Canadian province not to permit it to make its own tariff, as insist that each member of the Imperial family shall create its own private navy. Still, it is just as well for the Lords of the Admiralty to be forewarned, and realise that the whine of the local 'grafter' and parish politician may reach their ears from strange quarters, and speak in the tone of a stout and high-minded Canadianism.'
But if the sea lords of Britain will confide in the good judgment and sound loyalty of the Canadian people, they will not confide in vain. We realise that it is the life of Canada which is at stakea final risk not shared by even the people of the British Isles. The crushing of the British navy would wreck the Empire; but it would leave the United Kingdom intact. No foreign foe would attempt the folly of planting another Calais' on British soil. But with the wreck of the Empire Canada would disappear from the map. We would have to go to London when we wanted to see once more' the meteor flag' outlined against the sky. Thus, in a sense, we have more at stake than the 'Home' people; and, eventually, we shall certainly see our battleships in the first line of our mutual Imperial defence, no matter how many politicians it is necessary to educate,' by the only method to which they are pervious, before we can achieve this end.
ALBERT R. CARMAN.
THE THIRD EDITION OF HOME RULE
A FIRST IMPRESSION OF THE BILL
ONCE again the nation is plunged into the thick of the Home Rule controversy. On Tuesday, the 9th of April, Mr. Bonar Law attended a great Unionist demonstration at Belfast, and two days later the Prime Minister, with characteristic and befitting gravity, laid before Parliament and the nation the outline of a new Bill to amend the provision for the government of Ireland.' There is not a little in the circumstances under which the Bill is introduced to excite strong party prejudice. It is believed in many quarters that the proposals made by Mr. Asquith represent not the unfettered judgment of a responsible Ministry, but the terms of a bargain upon the strict fulfilment of which the existence of the Ministry depends. With such considerations this paper is in no wise concerned. My intention is to examine the proposals of the Government in a spirit of scientific detachment; to consider them entirely upon their merits, and to ignore altogether the political circumstances under which the new Bill has been conceived and brought to the birth. After all, it matters comparatively little to the jurist whether the Bill is or is not the fruit of an unholy alliance; whether it is or is not the result of a log-rolling combination between Radical Ministerialists, Welsh Nonconformists, English Socialists, and Irish Nationalists. The nation cares less about such matters than party politicians at Westminster are apt to imagine; and even if it cared much, the questions would not be pertinent to the present inquiry. Let it be assumed that Mr. Asquith and his colleagues have been inspired by the loftiest motives of political altruism, and that their proposals are the outcome of convictions which are not only mature but absolutely independent. Are those proposals constitutionally sound and politically just?
It may be well, in the first place, to glance at the alternatives which are open to a statesman who sets out to alter the