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Dearborn independent. [volume] (Dearborn, Mich.) 1901-1927, June 26, 1920, Image 7

Image and text provided by Central Michigan University, Clark Historical Library

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/2013218776/1920-06-26/ed-1/seq-7/

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The Canadian Representative at Washington
SIR GEORGE FOSTER, the Acting Premier of
Canada, recently made the interesting announce
ment in the Federal House at Ottawa that the
Fritish and Canadian governments have concluded an
utaflffement whereby Canadian interests at Washington
a he provided with more satisfactory representa
tion than hitherto has been available.
Until a very recent date if Ottawa wished to trans
it business with Washington, it had to operate by a
most roundabout route through the Governor-General
f Canada, who communicated the business to the
British Colonial Office. The latter passed it on to the
Foreign Office, who then communicated with the Brit
ish Embassy at Washington, and at length after many
weary weeks the United States Government was
During the later stages of the war many ot these
antiquated formalities were relaxed and there was a
certain measure of direct intercourse between Ottawa
and Washington, but in the eyes of the British official
hierarchy it was quite improper. However, Canadian
national sentiment has thrived greatly since 1914. The
exploits of the Canadian army and the magnitude of
the national war effort have roused in the people a
new sense of confidence and pride and it is generally
agreed that there is no department of national life
which Canadians cannot manage for themselves better
than other people can manage for them.
Canada and the other British dominions occupy
strangely anomalous positions. They are national states
in strength and self -consciousness but in form and
status are still colonial dependencies. Britain lost her
first empire by the fatal folly of George V and Lord
North, and a hundred years ago apart from her Indian
holdings and several tropical islands, she could point
to only a few scattered settlements in the vast terri
tory which ic had brought under her flag.
The colonists were engaged in a desperate struggle
with the wilderness; they were absolutely under the
control of Downing Street ; their governors were mostly
general! with bad livers and tempers, and their of
nciall were the needy scions of aristocratic families.
Their atYairs were invariably managed in the interests
of the mother country and in return British taxpayers
were good enough to bear the cost of their defense.
The wishes of the colonists were rarely consulted, and
engaged as the latter were in an absorbing conflict with
nature, they had scant time for political thought and
But when the pioneers had surmounted their worst
struggles and settlement became thicker, they became
conscious of their disabilities and the old British sense
of liberty asserted itself. There came a political awak
ening and a demand for responsible government. It
renuired an actual rebellion in
Canada, in 1M7, headed by Wil
liam Lyon Mackenzie, grand
lather of Mackenzie King, the
present leader of Canadian Lib
erals, to bring matters to a head.
The rebellion was suppressed but
it educated the British Govern
ment to the fact that unless
timely changes were made their
later empire would go the way
of the first.
The steps were gradual ; first,
the Dominions began to make
their own financial arrangements
and tariffs; next, they assumed
responsibility for their own de
fense ; they began later on to
regulate their immigration pol
icy and to negotiate treaties
through their own plenipoten
tiaries, as in the case of the Taft
Kiclding reciprocity pact of 1911.
Other milestones of constitu
tional development were passed
during the war years. The
Canadian premier and other min
isters were accorded places in
the Imperial War Cabinet on a
parity with British ministers and
Canada was accorded separate
representation at the Peace Con
ference and in the League of
Nations. American Senators
and others who saw in this step
a Machiavellian scheme on the
part of the British statesmen to
secure additional votes for the
British people err profoundly.
The hierarchy of the British
foreign Office made no secret of
their Confidence in tin ir rnnnritv
to look after the foreign affairs
i the Dominions and it WAS only the determined in
ttltence f Sir Hubert Borden and General Smuts which
?W the right of separate representation.
l-.'-t September one of the Canadian delegates, Mr.
Sifton, publicly stated in the House at Ottawa that
Wrate representation was seemed for the Dominions
only because of the opposition of the most con
servative elements in Britain. If the old principle Ol
pting the Dominions what powers they wanted had not
JJjn adhered to, the Dominion delegates would prob
ity have shaken the dust of Paris off their feet and a
serious crisis would have arisen. But the British
lrnpenahsts do not like these new claims of the Do
minions. They hanker after some form of an Im
perial centralized Parliament, which will give them a
cnance of controlling the daughter states.
I he supporters of Imperial Federation are cherish
,n8 an impossible dream. It has been repudiated by
ail the responsible statesmen in the Dominions and any
government which proposed it would have no chance
01 ,urvval. The ties of common laws, traditions, cus-
toms and language between Britain and her daughter
states are strong and deep, but so intense is the new
national consciousness in each of them that they will
resolutely decline to enter into any binding political
arrangements which might hamper their freedom of
action. In an Imnerial Par
liament the dominating ma
jority for many years would
be drawn from the mother
So far from showing a
willingness to continue in a
state of indefinite subordi
nation, the Canadian people
are anxious to extend their
autonomous powers, and the
appointment of a special
Canadian minister at Wash
ington is a step in this di
rection. He will take
eharge of ordinary Ca
nadian affairs and will act
as the normal channel of
communication between the
Canadian and American
governments in matters
solely pertaining to Canada,
kwlsHte MP
receiving his instructions
from and reporting di
rect to the Cabinet at
Ottawa. In the absence
of the British Ambas
sador, the Canadian min
ister will automatically
assume charge of the
British embassy and at
tend to Imperial as well
as Canadian interests.
Though Sir George Fos
ter took pains to assert
that the step did not af
fect the diplomatic unity
of the British Common
wealth, yet it obviously
constitutes a far-reaching
innovation and it will
not be popular in Im
perialist circles in Kng
land where it will be
asked if this sort of
thing will not end in
complete independence.
There is no criticism
in Canada of the step
itself but objection has
been raised both inside
and outside Parliament
to the fact that this im
portant departure was
arranged by secret nego
tiations between the
British and Canadian governments and Parliament was
not consulted. . .
But, generally speaking, the new1 ministry meets a
growing desire on the part of the Canadian people
Often in the past it has been brought home to them that
however brilliant and capable the staff of the British
embassy might be, they were always Englishmen and
primarily concerned with English interests. The charge
was often brought that they were always ready to sac
rifice Canadian interests to pacify the American btate
Department and the memory of the Alaska boundary
decision when Lord Alverstone, the British representa
tive voted with the American delegates against the
Canadian claims, still rankles. Again during the war
the British Government deliberately preferred to in
terpret its case through its own emissaries rather than
through Canadians whose services were proffered and
who had an infinitely better acquaintance with America
and her viewpoint. ,
The need for easy and direct relations between the
two countries was never greater. The total volume of
Chairman ol the Canadian Section of the International
Waterways Commission.
trade between Canada and the United States was in the
last fiscal year twice as much as the commerce between
Great Britain and Canada and for the first time in
many years Canada exported more goods to the United
States than to the mother country. She is dependent
on her southern neighbor for large quantities of coal
and coke to supply her central areas as well as much
raw material for industries which are coalless. Amer
icans, on the other hand, are more and more becoming
dependent on Canada for
their supplies of newsprint
and pulpwood and the move
which Senator Underwood
has initiated to secure the
abrogation of the restrictions
of the Canadian provinces
upon the export of pulpwood
grown on crown lands is re
garded as a provocative in
terference with the domestic
affairs of another country
and might, if pressed, give
rise to a delicate situation.
Water rights on the rivers
and streams which form or
crovs the international boun
dary give rise to continual
disputes in regard to water
power and irrigation schemes.
In the near future, through
the acquisition of the Grand
Trunk Railway and its sub
sidiaries, the Canadian Gov
ernment will own a large rail
way mileage under the Stars
and Stripes, and its opera
tion may give rise to com
plicated problems.
There is a continual ex
odus of American farmers
northward to the cheaper
lands of the Canadian North
west and a counter exodus southward of people who
dislike the Canadian winter or want a change of oc
cupation or residence. In fact the balance in migra
tion is in favor of the United States who in the last
eleven years received almost 200,000 more people from
Canada than they sent to her.
But the sense of the deep community of interest
between the two countries is daily growing and proofs
arc visible on every side. The American Federation
of Labor, which has the allegiance of most Canadian
unions, meets in Montreal on June 7, and on May 12
representatives of the Canadian Council of Agriculture
and the National Board of Farm Organizations of the
United States met in Chicago to discuss the establish
ment of an international board of agriculture. Under
such conditions, need of direct diplomatic intercourse
between the two great democracies of North America
has become absolutely imperative.
There is general agreement in Canada that she must
not be represented in this experiment by anybody of
inferior standing or quality. The name of Sir Charles
Gordon, a leading manufacturer and financier of
Montreal who had charge of the Canadian Mission at
Washington during the war, receives wide support in
business circles but he has had no political experience
and would probably be unwilling to give up his very
extensive business enterprises for a diplomatic career.
Sir J. D. Hazen, the Chief Justice of New Bruns
wick, who was Minister of Marine and Fisheries in
the first Borden Cabinet, has some supporters but his
abilities and standing are scarcely commensurate with
the post.
A generally acceptable selection would be Mr. C. A.
Magrath, the senior Canadian representative on the
Joint International Commission. Mr. Magrath has had
peculiar experience for the position ; he had a success
ful business career as manager of the Southern Al
berta Irrigation Company and served for a term as a
Conservative member of the House of Commons. If
he had stayed in politics he would long ago have been
in the Dominion Cabinet. But his views were in ad
vance of his party and he preferred the independence
of his present position. He enjoys general popularity
and esteem in Canada and did excellent service during
the war as Fuel Controller for Canada. This business
as well as his duties on the Joint Commission have made
him a frequent visitor at Washington and he has a first
class knowledge of the United States.
But Canada may be able to send an even more il
lustrious personage as her first Minister to Washington.
Sir Robert Borden, the Canadian Premier, has just re
turned to Ottawa after a prolonged holiday at southern
health resorts, where he was trying to recover from a
serious breakdown in health, the result of his exertions
during the war. While he is much improved by hi
rest, it is considered doubtful if his physicians will
allow him to resume the arduous duties of the premier
ship. If he is compelled or decides to retire, an effort
will probably be made to induce him to inaugurate the
Canadian Ministry at Washington and as he is by no
means an old man, he may be willing to accept it.
While his domestic policy does not command universal
approval, all parties have confidence in the soundness
of his views upon foreign affairs and his appointment
will be acclaimed as exceedingly satisfactory. It is
understood that he was offered the British embassy in
1919 but declined to accept it. If he went to Wash
ington now the British Government would probably
pay him the compliment of withdrawing Sir Auckland
Geddcs and entrusting all their interests to his ex
perienced supervision.

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