The Global Zeitenwende
How to Avoid a New Cold War in a Multipolar Era
ONE of the by-products of the diplomatic revolution of the 1930's has been to make Canadians turn increasingly away from a policy of participation in European wars. Until 1931, when the Conservative Party in England began its profound changes in British foreign policy, few Canadians had seriously considered such a possibility. Canada was the last important portion of the Americas to pass through the colonial stage; in her people (apart from the French Canadians) had survived longest the unquestioned acceptance of the obligation to provide military assistance to the European mother country. Hence Canadians, with more loyalty to Britain than to democracy, helped to subjugate the Boers in 1899; hence they accepted the automatic belligerency imposed upon them in 1914 without a murmur. Even the growth of "Dominion status" in the 1920's did not make them reconsider their European commitments, for then the League of Nations was in existence. In the collective system, as Mr. Stimson once pointed out in a memorable speech, no state can be neutral in the event of war, and the laws of neutrality, presupposing international anarchy and unfettered state sovereignty, become obsolete. Like the other Dominions, Canada achieved her full nationhood only after the Great War and under the cover of the League; she emerged from colonial subordination, not to walk into an unfriendly world, but to join an association of states with wider ideals and higher purposes than the Empire to which previously she had been exclusively attached. Membership in the Commonwealth was submerged (though not obliterated) in a larger alliance, which also, be it noted, involved intervention in European affairs and hence no change in the traditional foreign policy of Canada in this regard.
Since the beginning of the present decade, however, the international order which nourished Canadian autonomy has steadily crumbled away. The members of the League, amongst whom Great Britain and France have always been dominant, have either been unable or unwilling to prevent a change back from League methods to power methods of settling disputes, and European diplomacy resumes its habitual course. The attempt of the British Conservatives to prevent Europe from being divided into two ideological camps has merely resulted in the Fascists having a strong camp and the democracies no camp at all. Since September 1938 even the most optimistic idealist must realize the impossibility of any further talk about "collective" security; there is no longer any collectivity. Moreover, plans for the reëstablishment of the League do not now seem to form part of the foreign policy of a single European government. Canadians therefore face a totally new situation. International anarchy they have known before, but then they were part of a single empire. Now they are citizens of a full-grown Dominion, free to choose its own foreign policy. They find that the League obligation to take part in foreign wars has gone, that the colonial obligation of the old British Empire has likewise gone. Nothing remains today but racial sentiment or self-interest to prop up for them a policy of intervention in external war. They are asking themselves whether either of these motives, or even both combined, justify keeping Canadian policy in a power-politics world the same as it was under the League or under the pre-League Empire.
In all the British Dominions similar questions are being raised for a similar reason. But in Canada the discussion goes deeper and ranges more freely, for the alternatives that present themselves are more numerous -- and easier -- than those facing any other part of the Commonwealth. Canada is not, like Ireland, a strategic and economic part of the British Isles; she is not, like South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, in an exposed part of the globe far removed from any other defender. She is the neighbor of the United States -- a nation of great military power, interested in defending her from invasion, and with a traditional policy of isolation from external adventures. It would be difficult to imagine anything more impregnable against attack than a military alliance between Canada and the United States. In the two Americas are to be found numerous countries, many of them democracies, all of them former colonies of Europe, amongst whom the idea of a regional system of security is growing, and which have already created, in the Pan American Union, the nucleus of an intercontinental league. Even a policy of complete political isolation for Canada is conceivable, for she does not lie in the path or orbit of any aggressor nation, and geography has given her a coast line easy to defend as well as remoteness from the centers of world conflict. Moreover, the Canadian people now number 11,000,000, with resources sufficient to supply most of their own basic needs. They can afford to rely upon themselves to a greater degree than can any of their sister Dominions.
The new concepts of equality within the British Commonwealth, evolved during the past twenty years, have also tended to make Canadians more ready to face alternatives in their international relations. So long as the constitutional unity of the old Empire remained, British foreign policy was accepted as Canadian foreign policy almost without question. There was only one king, one group of subjects, one position in international law. Canada took the lead, amongst the Dominions, in freeing herself from this subservience. It was in the nature of things that the change should come, for British people love their liberty as much in Manitoba as they do in Manchester, and to Canadians, British-government is no substitute for self-government. Canadian autonomy naturally came first in the domestic sphere, with responsible government and control over tariffs. It was not until after the war of 1914 that the Dominions acquired an international personality distinct from that of Great Britain. Then came separate membership in the League of Nations, the right to negotiate treaties, the building of a Canadian diplomatic corps, the publication of the doctrine of equality of status, the attack upon the legal concept of British parliamentary sovereignty in the Statute of Westminster, the growth of the doctrine of personal union under the Crown. So far has this last theory evolved that Canadians are solemnly debating, at this moment, whether the human being called George VI, when he visits Washington next summer, will do so in his capacity as King of England or as King of Canada; for though his outward appearance will be the same in either event, the inner international man would represent all England and the dependent colonies in the one case, but only 11,000,000 Canadians in the other. Thus the popular ideas, the "folklore" of the Commonwealth, are changing still, and all in the direction of greater independence for the states composing it. Under the new concepts a policy of neutrality for Canada need not legally involve secession from the Commonwealth, for the multiple personality of the King would enable him to follow different policies in his separate countries, without breach of constitutional or international law.
Against this background the plea of the imperialists in Canada, who now argue that the disappearance of the League makes close collaboration with Great Britain and the Commonwealth essential, has not the weight of former years. Such a policy means that Canada must maintain a military alliance with a Great Power on a distant continent. Since that Power is vastly more important in world affairs, and has interests to be defended all over the globe, its government will in effect determine all major issues of policy.
Canada has no vote in the formation of that policy. There is in London no imperial cabinet representing all the Dominions, no group machinery for arriving at joint action after discussion. The Canadian Government, of course, communicates with the British Government either by direct conversation between premiers or through the channel of the Dominions' Office or the Canadian High Commissioner in London. Dispatches are sent to Ottawa giving information about British movements in the diplomatic field. But this exchange of information is in no way comparable to the deliberation of an executive body. If the British Commonwealth is a League of Nations, it is a League without either a Council or an Assembly. However much the talk of autonomy may continue, the maintenance of a military alliance with Great Britain ultimately results in giving the British Government a blank check in every crisis. Indeed, if power to influence policy be a test, France is probably a closer member of the Commonwealth than is Canada. Logically a "united British front" policy requires some form of imperial federation if any pretense of democratic control is to be conceded to the Dominions.
All attempts at creating such a political unity, however, have broken down, through a tenacious belief in the Dominion that it would increase their obligations without effectively increasing their influence. In Canada it is safe to say that no new attempt to create inter-Commonwealth executive machinery stands the remotest chance of success. No political party would dare to advocate it. This being so, the traditional policy of automatic intervention in external wars on behalf of Great Britain becomes mere colonialism once more. It means that the Canadian people evade the responsibility of choosing and defending their own code of international behavior. While the League was functioning there was no conflict of this kind, for Canada has always been represented in the Assembly and has been elected to the Council. League decisions were thus Canadian decisions, to a greater degree than, for instance, the British Government decisions in September 1938 could be said to be. The voter in Kent or Liverpool can cast a ballot for or against Mr. Chamberlain, but the voter in Quebec or Saskatchewan has no such right. Hence the imperialist in Canada today finds that his policy meets opposition from two sources: from all those who want a permanent withdrawal from European commitments, and from the self-respecting Canadian nationalists who want Canada first of all to have complete control over the major issues of peace and war, whatever path she may choose to follow in the future.
These are general reasons prompting Canadians to question the traditional Canadian policy of European intervention. There are, in addition, special reasons which are making Canadians turn away from such a policy. In the first place, the population of Canada is now only half of British origin. In the census of 1931, the persons of British descent (i.e. whose fathers were English, Scotch, Welsh or Irish) numbered 51.86 percent, those of French descent 28.22 percent, and the "others" 19.93 percent. The French and "others" have a much higher rate of natural increase than the British, so by now they have almost certainly outnumbered them. It has been estimated that by 1971 the French Canadians alone will be larger than the total of those with British ancestry. Thus for half the Canadians allegiance to the British Commonwealth is a political idea with no racial basis. This does not mean that the non-British groups dislike the British connection or wish to secede: the French Canadians have learned to accept it as part of their destiny, and the other settlers as an existing fact in the land of their choice. It does mean, however, that this half of Canada is free to view without misgiving a foreign policy which runs counter to a purely racial loyalty to Britain.
In the second place -- and partly as a consequence of the racial divisions -- Canada today is seriously concerned over the problem of maintaining her national unity. Centrifugal forces have steadily increased in the past ten years. To the economic stresses disclosed by the great depression of 1929, and latent in any society which combines a protected industrialism with the large-scale export of agricultural produce to world markets, have been added contemporary political and ideological conflicts and a constitutional deadlock created by the interpretations of the Canadian constitution by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (still used as the highest court of law for Canada) greatly expanding "provincial rights" at the expense of the Federal Government. The separatist movement in French Canada, and the recent revival of secessionist talk in the Canadian West, are surface showings of the underlying uncertainty as to the future. Anyone reading Canadian periodicals today will be struck by the number of discussions on the problem of national unity. A Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations, under the chairmanship of the Honorable Newton W. Rowell, has been sitting for many months receiving evidence from every corner of Canada as to the ills to be remedied and the reforms to be adopted. Not since the Dominion was formed in 1867 have issues so serious confronted the country.
Whatever may be the recommendations of the Royal Commission when it reports in 1939, the problem of getting Canadians to agree on a national plan of action will still remain. And in the attempt to secure that unity of purpose, the relations between French and British Canadians will prove of paramount importance. More and more it is becoming clear that either the two major races must coöperate in solving national problems or they will not be solved at all. No government at Ottawa can survive without considerable support from French Canada. Both races have inherited from the past certain attitudes which render difficult the attainment of national unity. The British Canadian until recently has tended to put loyalty to Great Britain ahead of loyalty to Canada, and, while liking the French Canadian well enough, has never really accepted the idea of a Canada having a dual culture. He has always thought of Canada as a "British" country, when in fact it can never be really so. The French Canadian, on the other hand, largely because he has had to fight for nearly two centuries to preserve his racial identity and to win equality, has always had a narrow, almost provincial patriotism that does not embrace the entire Dominion as readily as does the loyalty of the English Canadian. He has also acquired a suspicion of all invitations to concede greater powers to the national parliament, for he fears that he will lose control of his cherished laws and institutions. Thus the two races have remained side by side yet poles apart, with no common center for their allegiance. Neither of them has been wholeheartedly Canadian, the loyalty of the one being too scattered, and of the other, too narrow.
If an idea is to be found great enough to evoke a common loyalty amongst all races in Canada and to overcome their differences sufficiently to make stable political union possible, it can only be found in the idea of Canada, the nation. The building of an orderly and just society within this vast territory, the elimination of poverty and insecurity through a wise utilization of natural resources, the development of arts and sciences, of political liberty and spiritual freedom -- all of this while maintaining a fair balance between the claims of racial and religious minorities -- that is a task worthy of any group of human beings, regardless of their origins. It is a task that can hardly be achieved, however, except at the expense of the old imperialist foreign policy. For French Canada has always been, and still is, isolationist at heart; it bitterly fought conscription in 1917, and feels no obligation to take part in any military operations except for the defense of Canadian shores. While not indifferent to world problems, French Canadians quite naturally cannot approve of a Canadian foreign policy based on an assumed identity of interest in time of war between Canada and the United Kingdom. The imperial bond has helped in the past to unify Canadians of British blood, because it gave them all a common -- if remote -- center for their loyalties, but it has kept them divided from their French fellow citizens and made them unsympathetic to the latter's racial aspirations. Today Empire sentiment has become decidedly weakened as a unifying principle even amongst the British Canadians, who have transplanted the greater part of their loyalty; while the complete inadequacy (to use the mildest term) of Imperialism as a rallying cry for coöperation from Quebec, in the midst of the contemporary movement of French Canadian nationalism, need hardly be stressed. The internal unity which is a vital necessity if Canada is to meet her economic and constitutional problems can only be secured, in the opinion of a growing number of Canadians, by the adoption of an independent foreign policy based on Canada's needs as a North American state.
Because of the increasing inadequacy of the racial appeal as a support for Canada's traditional foreign policy, defenders of that policy are now shifting their argument to new grounds. They contend that Canada's own national interests require that she should continue to intervene in European wars. Just what these interests are is never clearly defined, but they seem to include such things as democracy, trade and defense. The first answer to this suggestion is that no one, now that the League system has gone, ever proposes that this intervention should take place unless Great Britain is at war also. Obviously, therefore, Canada's interests in Europe are in some way thought to be dependent upon the belligerency of England. According to this argument, the support of democracy, so frequently urged upon Canadians, is not a Canadian interest, but only the support of such democracies as the British Government of any given day is prepared to fight for. Otherwise Canada should have been willing to aid Czechoslovakia in September 1938, or the Spanish Government in the civil war, regardless of what Britain intended to do. And in fact, Canada, with the complete approval of the imperialists, showed herself to be concerned only with British policy towards those countries and not with the countries themselves.
So, too, if the preservation of democracy against aggression is a Canadian interest justifying military support in the present world, the principle can scarcely be geographically limited to Europe. It should apply also in the Far East, where a nascent Chinese democracy is being destroyed by Japanese militarism. Japan seems just as great a potential menace to Canada as does Germany. Yet Canada has followed the British policy of non-intervention in China at every step, and continues to sell essential raw materials to the Japanese without the least compunction. The attempt to justify Canadian intervention in overseas wars on the grounds that her self-interest requires her to save democracy and uphold international law and justice thus squares neither with the facts of existing Canadian policy nor with the desires of most of those who use this argument. Peeled of its ethical phraseology, it appears as simple colonialism and race loyalty: a policy of "England right or wrong." Only when a League collective system functions again will Canada be able to make an effective contribution to the security of peace-loving nations in all parts of the world. While international anarchy exists, a policy of armed support from a small North American country for every foreign democracy being attacked is quixotic folly. No other American democracies, and not even the Scandinavian ones, feel it necessary to have a military alliance with any European Power, yet their interest in peace and democracy is just as great as Canada's.
There is another form of the "save democracy" policy which is frequently met. Canada should not support all democracies, it is claimed, but only Great Britain, since she is the leading democracy of Europe. So long as Britain remains, hope for democracy remains; if she is lost, all is lost. This appeal probably reaches a greater number of Canadians than any other, and it is fortified by pressure from left-wing groups who wish to provide the Soviet Union with allies in the prophesied attack upon her. The non-interventionists counter it by saying that if Britain really wishes to save democracy -- a proposition which Mr. Chamberlain's policy makes it difficult to uphold -- then she can only do it by finding her allies in Europe. The British Commonwealth by itself is helpless in the present world: one Great Power and five small ones cannot win a world war. Nothing is more dangerous for Great Britain than to feel that because she can always count on America to save her, she need not therefore mind what happens in Europe. A great many Canadians feel that it is the duty of Great Britain, if she feels insecure, to organize and lead, through the League machinery, all those Powers in Europe who will support the principles of non-aggression and peaceful change of treaties. She has not done so, she does not pretend she wants to do so, and she has prevented or backed out of every previous attempt to do so since 1931. Of the British governing class it may be said: Quem deus vult perdere, prius dementat. This being so, Canada's self-interest in Europe is hard to trace. It is difficult to believe that if England and France won another war they would substitute, for the balance of power diplomacy they prefer, the League system they have abandoned. Canada is thus powerless either to prevent a war or to dictate a just peace. Her best contribution to civilization in the event of another conflict might well be to join the American nations on a Non-intervention Committee. One thing seems plain: there will be no powerful victors after the destruction wrought by another European war, so that the interests of self-defense do not require the Americas to place their frontier on the Rhine.
A further reason frequently advanced in support of Canada's traditional policy is that her trade relations make it impossible for her to be independent of Great Britain in wartime. All ethical considerations, it will be seen, are dismissed by this argument, for to start killing Europeans in order to preserve a market for commodities can hardly be described as an ethical activity. If the argument from trade statistics is sound, then Canada's dependence must first be on the United States rather than on Britain, for Canada's total trade with the United States is considerably greater than her trade with Britain. The British market, however, is admittedly of great importance, particularly for certain sections of Canada such as the prairie provinces and British Columbia. The United Kingdom took 40 percent of Canada's exports in the twelve months ending August 31, 1938. British plans for converting Canada into the "arsenal of the Empire," if carried out, will greatly increase the importance of that market. The question remains, therefore, one of deciding first, whether the markets would be lost, or partly lost, in the event of Canada's neutrality in a British war, and secondly, whether that loss in itself justifies the expense of going to war. Obviously, in terms of dollars and cents, it is not good business to spend more money fighting the war than the market is worth.
Now as regards the loss of the market, it is fairly clear that there could be no total loss for the very good reason that Britain needs to buy Canadian produce very nearly as much as Canada needs to sell it. One can hardly conceive of a British Government going to the inconvenience and danger of trying to find new sources of supply for food and raw materials at the outbreak of a war. No other trade route for British imports is as secure as the North Atlantic. The laws of neutrality would not oblige Canadians to stop selling foodstuffs and munitions to Great Britain. Ships carrying Canadian produce would no doubt be attacked, but it so happens that these ships are nearly all non-Canadian. Canada has practically no merchant marine on the high seas: in 1936 only about 15 percent of her external trade was carried in Canadian bottoms. A de facto cash-and-carry principle applies to Canadian trade: other nations' ships come to her shores, buy her goods and depart. An enemy of Great Britain may try to attack Canadian ports to stop supplies, but this is less likely to happen if Canada is neutral than if she is belligerent. It is also much less likely to happen if Canada refuses to become a large-scale producer of arms; those who urge Canada to help Britain by making planes and munitions are asking her to develop the kind of foreign trade most likely to invite attacks and reprisals when war breaks out.
As regards the other side of the argument, a comparison between the relative costs of fighting a European war and giving up the British market leaves only one answer. Even if half the total trade were lost by neutrality, it would cost Canada, on the basis of the average total trade with Great Britain during the past four years, about $225,000,000 a year. War expenditures for 1916-17, not the most expensive year of the last war, were $321,864,160. The next war will be far more costly. And it is more reasonable to suppose that in the next war, Canada's trade with Britain will increase enormously regardless of her neutrality, exactly as did that of the United States from 1914-1917. It is therefore difficult to use Canada's large foreign trade as a basis for a policy of intervention.
Even less valid under examination is the argument based on Canada's need of defense. The popular idea, sedulously fostered by the imperialist school, is that the defense of Canada rests upon the British Navy. This is true if Canada is fighting on the side of Great Britain -- though even then the French army and any other forces allied with Great Britain are also Canada's defenders. But if Canada is only brought into the war because she is in military alliance with Britain, and for no other reason, then obviously, from the point of view of her own interests, a policy of neutrality is a much better protection than the British Navy. Sweden would have been defended by the British Navy had she entered the last war, but she avoided all need for this defense by remaining at peace. True, her shipping suffered some damage and her nationals some insults, but these were not comparable to the cost of a war. Canadians are beginning to see that a military alliance with Great Britain means that they contribute all the defense and receive no security in return. All they get out of it is a constant danger of war. In so far as they continue the alliance, it is because they wish to defend Britain, not because they need her to defend them. No single Power threatens to attack Canada at the moment or is likely to do so unless she allows herself to be drawn into somebody else's war. In terms of purely Canadian needs, her utmost security would be achieved by a policy of neutrality coupled with reasonable coastal defenses and a close military understanding with the United States. Since President Roosevelt's recent warning to the world that the Monroe Doctrine applies to Canada, the likelihood that foreign Powers would risk war with Canada and the United States by violating Canadian neutrality is highly remote. Canada is quite capable of protecting herself against all minor attacks upon her ports.
These are the principal influences and reasons acting on the Canadian people today, and making for a new Canadian foreign policy. Not yet, however, has the tide of public feeling turned sufficiently to make a policy of neutrality dominant in the country. Tradition and sentiment die hard, and might not have died at all under any shocks less severe than the upheavals of the past decade. Opinions have changed most amongst the unimportant people, and it is difficult to estimate more than approximately the strength of the respective camps.[i] But whereas before the Munich settlement there were three main groups of opinion in Canada -- imperialist, collectivist, and isolationist or Canadian nationalist -- two of which advocated Canada's participation in external wars, today there are only two groups, only one of them willing to intervene in Europe. The former collectivists must now decide whether they will ally themselves with the imperialists or join the Canadian school. Many of them are undoubtedly choosing the latter course, though perhaps a larger number find that the call of the blood is still stronger than any vision of Canada as a North American nation. To a large extent, amongst British Canadians there is an evident age-line, the younger men being less willing than their elders to rally to the well-worn slogans. The coming royal visit may stir the ancient loyalties in many, but amongst others it is being openly talked of as an attempt to cement a weakening alliance.
In the country at large the French Canadian group is almost entirely isolationist. Britain is not of their race, and France has been too irreligious to evoke their active loyalty. Twenty percent of the Canadian population is non-British, non-French, and at least a majority of these will require something more than a purely British appeal for aid to make them desire intervention in Europe. Amongst the British Canadians a new nationalist school is growing, whose position is so close to that of the French Canadians that a real rapprochement seems possible at last. Most of these supported the League, but looked upon it as the only valid justification for a policy of intervention in Europe. Since Munich they are necessarily in favor of Canadian neutrality.
The imperialist school remains strongest in the Maritime provinces, in Ontario and in British Columbia, with important groups elsewhere, chiefly in the cities. There is a fairly close relation, outside French Canada, between economic status and imperialist sentiment; the higher the income, the stronger the old loyalty. Moreover, the imperialists control most of the important agencies for influencing public opinion in English-speaking Canada, and occupy the leading posts in finance and industry throughout the country. After the announcement last spring of the British Government's intention to place large contracts in Canada for planes and other war materials, Canadian Business, official organ of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, openly announced that if Canadians are to derive large financial benefits from British munitions-making "Canada must be prepared to act promptly behind Britain whenever the latter is confronted with an emergency." [ii] So too the supporters of the "British Front" policy dominate the higher command in the military forces and in the veterans associations such as the Canadian Legion and the Canadian Corps Association. Mr. Ian Mackenzie, Minister of National Defense, and the most energetic occupant of that office since the last war, is not a Canadian but a Scot by birth.
Thus Canadian opinion is sharply divided, with the weight of influence still in the hands of the interventionists. A measure of the political strength of the non-interventionist opinion, however, is seen in the programs of the political parties. The clearest statement of it is found in the Canadian farmer-labor party, the Coöperative Commonwealth Federation, which, though willing to support collective security, stands opposed to any participation in imperialist wars and demands a right of neutrality for Canada. Though still a minority third party, it has now almost as large a representation in the four western provinces as has the Conservative Party. The latter party, traditionally the reservoir of the purest form of imperialist sentiment, adopted a new program at its Convention last July, reaffirming the principle of maintaining "the ties which bind the British Commonwealth of Nations," and stating that the defense of Canada can best be promoted "by consultation and coöperation between all the members" of the Commonwealth. Though this leans toward the imperialist position, there is no definite commitment to a policy of intervention, and during the crisis of last September, Dr. Manion, the new Conservative leader, was careful not to bind his party in advance. Mr. Mackenzie King has never budged from his declared policy of "no commitments" and "parliament will decide," and last September despite great pressure from the imperialists in his party and in the country, he refused to follow the lead of Australia and New Zealand in promising full support to Mr. Chamberlain. Thus none of the three political parties in Canada advocates a policy of automatic military support to Great Britain in the event of her going to war. Nevertheless, informed opinion is agreed that had war occurred last September, Canada would have been involved from the start, and the "deciding" of the Canadian Parliament would have been limited to defining the initial extent of participation. Isolationist sentiment was still unorganized while interventionists occupied the key positions. Moreover, all through the crisis there seemed to be the possibility of action which might reasonably have been called "collective," so that all imperialists and most collectivists would have supported the war.
On the legal side, a policy of neutrality for Canada raises two problems. The first relates to the question of the constitutional right to neutrality. There seems little doubt that since the Statute of Westminster of 1931, Canada may enact legislation conferring upon the Governor-General in Council the sole power to sign all treaties for Canada and to issue declarations of peace and war. Such legislation could also vary or abrogate the existing agreement under which the harbors of Halifax and Esquimault are made available for the use of the Royal Navy. Since Canada has this power, she may be considered to have the right to neutrality. But until she exercises the power, foreign countries would seem to be free to consider that the former position remains unchanged, and that a declaration of war by Great Britain automatically makes Canada a belligerent. Hence there is an existing legal impediment to a policy of neutrality, but an impediment that Canada herself can remove. It is likely that an attempt to clarify the situation will be made at the next session of the Dominion Parliament, though it is not to be supposed that Mr. King will take the only step which would make his policy of "let Parliament decide" mean anything. Even many opponents of neutrality will agree that complete freedom of choice on matters of peace and war is part of Dominion status, and that the present automatic nature of Canada's commitment to war is contrary to all ideas of responsible government. Canada would not be the first Dominion to establish a right to neutrality: the new Irish constitution gives the Irish Government, with the assent of the Legislature, the sole power to declare war for Ireland, and South Africa, since its legislation of 1934, appears to have the right also.
The other legal question arises in regard to what is called "neutrality legislation," arming the executive with power to control exports to belligerents and to guard against involuntary entanglements. Here Canada seems to be supplied already with ample authority under two principal statutes. One is the Customs Act, which was amended in 1937 so as to give the Government discretionary power to ". . . prohibit, restrict or control the exportation, generally or to any destination, directly or indirectly, or the carrying coastwise or by inland navigation, of arms, ammunition, implements or munitions of war, military, naval or air stores, or any articles deemed capable of being converted thereinto or made useful in the production thereof, or provisions or any sort of victuals which may be used as food by man or beast . . ." The other is the War Measures Act, a permanent statute which can be brought into operation by a simple declaration by the executive that a state of war, insurrection, or invasion, "real or apprehended," exists. Once this statute is in force, the Dominion Government has the powers of a dictatorship, both in domestic and foreign affairs. Censorship, deportation, control of transport, production and foreign trade are all provided for. Canada's Foreign Enlistment Act of 1937 presumably does not apply to the British Army, but toleration of private enlistment is not a breach of neutrality. Hence any government that really intended to keep Canada neutral, should need no further legislative powers.
It must not be supposed that the supporters of a policy of neutrality for Canada are simply pacifists unwilling to take part in any war, or a narrow and uncoöperative group who do not recognize the world's crying need for international law and order. A few are pacifists, and some are people with no broad vision. But the largest single factor moving British Canadians into the new position has been precisely their keen sense of internationalism. They have been so frequently disillusioned by the policy of the British Government that they have come to believe that the British Conservative Party prefers secret diplomacy, balance-of-power manœuvres and gentlemen's agreements, to the kind of world which the first collective system foreshadowed. To borrow a phrase from a recent New Zealand writer, "Imperial loyalty is complicated by international morality." [iii] Periodic intervention in Europe on power politics terms is just not possible as a national Canadian policy. What does hold out hope is the idea of a regional system of security in the two Americas, and a direct result of the Canadian trend away from Europe is a revival of interest in the Pan American Union. At least in this part of the world it should be possible to place international law on a firm foundation. When Europe achieves a new settlement of her own regional problems, when the Chamberlain policy produces the general appeasement it claims to be reaching, then the Americas will be free to assume military responsibilities under a new agreement for the preservation of world peace.
[i] For further analysis of Canadian opinion see "Canada Looks Abroad," by MacKay and Rogers, and "Canada Today," second edition, by F. R. Scott.
[ii]Canadian Business, July 1938, p. 34.
[iii] Dr. J. C. Beaglehole, in Contemporary New Zealand, p. 7. New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, 1938.