Canada Speaking

PRESIDENT TAFT, in the course of a political speech designed to persuade his fellow countrymen that it would be a good thing to enter into a fairly intimate commercial relationship with Canada, suggested to them that the result of doing so would be to convert Canada into an ‘adjunct’ of the United States. That word did more than any other single consideration to persuade Canadians not to enter into any such intimate commercial relationship with the United States; and the Reciprocity Agreement which the United States Congress had with some difficulty been induced to accept was refused by the Canadian people in a general election. If there is any one thing which the Canadian people are determined that Canada shall never become, it is an ‘adjunct’ of the great, and greatly admired and beloved, nation to the south of them.

The domination which the Canadians feared in 1911 was economic domination. The domination with which Colonel Lindbergh and his friends threaten them in 1939 is political domination — the enforcement upon them of a foreign policy determined not by themselves but by the United States. And the reaction of Canadians is precisely the same, their resentment precisely as bitter. President Taft did not really desire to make Canada an ‘adjunct’ of the United States, in any serious sense of the word; he was merely using the term loosely and rhetorically in an endeavor to make the best possible case for the Reciprocity Agreement before an audience of Americans, many of whom were reluctant to accept it. But Colonel Lindbergh and his friends do really desire to make Canada a ‘protectorate’ of the United States; they do really desire the United States to exercise a direct control over the foreign policy of Canada.

There is more justification for Canadian alarm over Colonel Lindbergh’s speeches than there was over President Taft’s utterance. If there is any chance of Colonel Lindbergh and his friends’ coming to power in the United States, then much of what Canadians hold dearest is in serious danger. The chief reassurance lies in the fact that Canadians are not alone in their peril; every republic in South and Central America is in the same condition, and every republic in South and Central America is as determined as Canada not to become either an ‘adjunct’ or a ‘protectorate’ of the United States.

Colonel Lindbergh has the wrong idea about how the United States should treat Canada. It might be possible, in certain conceivable (but not at present existing) circumstances, to annex Canada to the United States. But it will never be possible to make Canada a protectorate of the United States. If Canadians are ever to cease being Canadians, they will want at least to be full-sized Americans with full-sized votes. If they are to cease being masters of their own destinies, they will want at least to have their share of the mastery of the destinies of the country which masters them.

But then Colonel Lindbergh has the wrong idea about how Great Britain is actually treating Canada at the present moment. He clearly thinks that Canada is now a protectorate of Great Britain, and would merely be exchanging protectors if she became a protectorate of the United States. But Canada is not a protectorate of Great Britain. She is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, an association so loose and so voluntary and so free from binding commitments that another member of it, Eire, is actually remaining neutral in this war in which the rest of the Commonwealth nations have all, each by its own action, become belligerents together. Canada could have remained neutral in this war; a minority of Canadians think that she should have. South Africa could have remained neutral in this war; a minority of South Africans think that she should have. Both nations entered the war of their own free will, because they believed it to be their best national interest to do so. This freedom to conduct their own foreign policy, and this power in doing so to influence the foreign policy of the other nations of the Commonwealth, is greatly valued by Canadians. They are not in the least inclined to exchange it for a protectorate in which their foreign policy would be in all fundamentals determined for them by the protecting country.

It is true that President Roosevelt has declared that the United States will protect Canada. That is not quite the same thing as declaring a protectorate over Canada; or at any rate it has not been interpreted in quite the same way by Canadians. Canadians took it for granted that President Roosevelt, when he made that momentous but entirely personal announcement, was assuming that Canada would remain a member of the British Common weak h of Nations; they interpreted his utterance as meaning in effect that the United States would coöperate with the British Commonwealth in time of trouble to the extent of relieving the combined forces of the Commonwealth nations from the task of defending the shores of British North America.

That may have been an unjustified interpretation; President Roosevelt may have meant merely that the United States would prevent any other European power than Great Britain from acquiring by force any interest in any part of the Canadian territory — a meaning which would go no further than the generally accepted interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine. (The Monroe Doctrine would obviously prevent Germany, if victorious in this war, from taking permanent possession of any part of British North America; but it would not prevent Germany from imposing any other form of punishment upon Canada for her error in going to war.) But certainly the Canadians never supposed for a moment that President Roosevelt, when he declared that the United States would protect Canada, meant that the United States would assert any right to control the foreign policy of the Dominion, and particularly to control it in the direction of separating it from the foreign policies of the rest of the Commonwealth nations. They do not suppose so now, and it has been a considerable relief to them to find that Colonel Lindbergh’s idea of the proper relationship between the United States and Canada is so strongly dissented from by so many influential American publicists.

Canada has spent the last hundred years in securing (latterly with little or no resistance) an ever-increasing measure of freedom from the ‘domination’ of the British Government, and has at last arrived at the point where that domination has completely disappeared. The authority of the British Crown in Canada is vested in a Governor-General who is appointed by Elis Majesty, not by the British Government, and who must be a person acceptable to the Canadian Government. The only important respect in which Canada retains her subordination to Great Britain is in regard to the alteration of her constitution; that power is left with the Parliament of Great Britain, not because that Parliament desires it, but because the minority elements in Canada have never been able to arrive at an agreement with the majority as to the way in which constitutional alterations should be made by Canada herself. It is a firmly established principle that no alteration in the Canadian constitution will ever be made by the British Parliament except on the request of Canada, and the only question that remains is how the request of Canada is to be certified if there is a difference of opinion between provinces as to whether the alteration should be applied for or not. It is equally firmly established that if Canada ever asked for the power to amend her own constitution, as Australia and South Africa already have, the power would be granted without hesitation.

Canadians are profoundly attached to the status of nationhood which they have thus attained, and which allows them, so far as constitutional right is concerned, the fullest possible control of their own policies, both internal and external. (They realize well enough that, like any other nation, they are somewhat conditioned in the use they make of that freedom by their geographical and economic relationships. It would, for example, be as difficult for Canada as for Mexico to set up a thoroughly communistic economic system while the United States remains devoted to private property; but Canada is not likely to want to. It would be difficult for Canada to maintain a close military alliance with a non-American power unfriendly to the United States; but Canada is even less likely to want to.) It is true that Canadians are by no means sure what use they want to make of their right to determine their own foreign policy, and that in times of crisis a large part of them, probably a large majority, are willing to accept the leadership of Great Britain even though not wholly convinced of the inerrancy of British statesmanship. But there is a good reason for that. Canada sees in her association with Great Britain the chief, perhaps the sole, guarantee against her becoming an ‘adjunct’ or a ‘protectorate’ of the United States.

If the British Commonwealth of Nations ceased to be a great power in the world, Canada would have no alternative but to seek admission to full citizenship in the United States. Without the British connection, and in this 1939 world in which force is obviously to be for a long time the determining factor, Canada with her wholly artificial frontiers and her vast unoccupied spaces could have no will of her own differing from that of her great and powerful neighbor. The preservation of the British Commonwealth of Nations is necessary to the preservation of the national identity of Canada; and Canada profoundly wants that national identity preserved.