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is reported to have said, "Where Australia scores just now is in the Imperial sense. The Government and Opposition are one when questions military or naval arise.” “There is a great deal of comment at the Antipodes and a general tone of regret that Canada cannot agree on a naval scheme. The cost of building, too, in Australia is tremendous, and its present navy is costing two pounds per head, which is considerably more than what Mr. Borden's contribution would cost each individual in the Dominion” (Montreal Star, Nov. 18, 1913). We are further told that Australia and New Zealand are anxious for a new Naval Conference as the situation has changed since the last one, it is also the view of some British naval experts that a new conference is needed; but Canada is not just now in a good position to enter such a conference when there is hopeless division in political circles on the financial and strategic points at issue.
For some of us the matter is complicated by the fact that the government proposals were rejected by the Senate. Those of us who sympathize with the effort of English Liberals to force themselves from the control of the House of Lords can scarcely be enthusiastic over the action of the Canadian Second Chamber. No one demands that the Senate shall be merely a machine for registering the decrees of the majority in the House of Commons. There is no doubt room for independent critical work but if the Senate can undo the work of the House of Commons, a House elected quite recently, by rejecting a measure of capital importance to which the government has given its whole strength, then we might as well have had no election. It is quite possible for one to regard the matter in this way who voted with the Liberals at the election and who is in general sympathy with their desire for freer trade. The statement that the government had violated a previous agree. ment and that the election was not fought on this issue is only partly true. Though one of the main questions was Reciprocity, it was well known that the naval policy would be dictated by the party that won the election. Now it appears that the policy is to be decided by the Senate, a non-elected body that happens, for the time being, to be ruled by the opposite party. Can those of us who think it unfair that Mr. Balfour on many important matters decided the question when he was out of office as well as when he was in, desire the same position for Sir Wilfrid Laurier? Of course it is easy to say, "No matter who decides it as long as it is settled wisely." But from the point of view of real Liberalism that answer leaves something to be desired. Thus in connection with the discussions on the navy another question emerges which may turn out to be of considerable importance.
Another point of minor importance may be briefly mentioned. One may agree or disagree with the government's naval policy and yet not feel convinced by The Globe's arguments that it is a surrender of Canadian autonomy. What we do through our elected representatives we do ourselves, and even if we allow that the act is foolish or dishonouring to our legitimate national pride it can scarcely be regarded as an act of subservience which reduces us to political slavery. The two policies may be discussed on their merits without questionable arguments of that kind.
"The emergency," we are told, has passed away, if it ever existed anywhere except in the minds of foolish imperialists or panic-mongering journalists. That is a matter that would bear much discussion. We are all anxious for peace, we are also desirous of seeing some check placed on the military competition which is such a tremendous burden on the great nations of the world. We may be convinced that there is no immediate need or likelihood of an early conflict between Britain and Germany. We hope and pray that such conflict may never come. We recognize that the present condition of things is a disgrace to our civilization and our Christianity but we know that a sudden transformation is impossible. The progress towards a fairer diplomacy and the increase of arbitration treaties is something in which we can all rejoice. But the fact remains that naval defence is for the present a necessity. Naval supremacy, even if it were desirable, is now out of the question for Great Britain or any single nation. That being admitted, it is clear that there is no Empire to which naval defence is so important as to our own. Those in authority in Britain may be mistaken, and many would be glad if the old watchwords "peace, retrenchment and reform" could be taken more seriously. The present Imperial Government has no desire for a war of aggression and yet its members feel themselves drawn or driven to a large increase of expenditure on defensive armaments. Canadians boast of the greatness of their country, the vastness of its resources and our loyalty to the Empire, and yet we cannot agree among ourselves as to a policy whereby for purposes of defence we may co-operate with Great Britain and the other overseas Dominions. We believe that the great body of Canadians desire to share, if even in a small measure, the burden which presses so heavily on the British taxpayer and look to the statesmen of both parties to find a way out of the present deadlock. A new Conference may be needed but there is also needed a little less of party spirit so that the whole subject may be lifted to a higher plane.
The latest news from across the sea is that a strong body of Liberals protest against the increase of naval expenditure and regard Mr. Churchill's policy as too aggressive and adventurous; they further declare that they do not wish to have any gift from Canada unless it expresses the substantial unanimity of the Canadian people. On the other hand, it is declared by men who, so far as we can learn, are capable and disinterested, that the world situation and especially the state of affairs round the Mediterranean demands constant watchfulness and increased efficiency on the part of the naval authorities. Mr. Churchill's eloquence regarding New Zealand's patriotic gift is coldly received by the Manchester Guardian. "The gift of this magnificent ship to the Motherland, at a time of serious crisis, was one of the greatest acts of far-seeing imagination for which any modern state can claim credit. This small community, far away in the recesses of the Pacific, contributed the money out of which this magnificent ship has been called into being and then dedicated it whole-heartedly, without reserve, without condition, and without return, to the general services of the Imperial navy.” These are strong words, even allowing for the time at which they were spoken, and the comment of one of the most important Liberal journals is clear. “We believe as little in Mr. Churchill's naval Imperialism as in Mr. Chamberlain's political or economic Imperialism, and we are quite sure that a common system of Imperial defence is unworkable until there is common political unity present." Thus the whole subject is beset with difficulties. It is perfectly clear, however, that the
ment for an increase of consultation and co-operation in such matters among the different parts of the Empire must be slow and that one step towards it is that Canadian statesmen should review the whole matter and try to seek some common ground whereby the reproach shall be taken away that Canada is doing nothing, or, at any rate, nothing in proportion to her position within the Empire. That the policy shall represent the loyalty of the whole nation and shall contain a promise of continuity is of supreme importance.
W. G. J.
THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN BRITAIN.
Max Müller once said that the government of India reminded him of a circus rider who was managing a number of horses and at the same time, throwing a number of balls and keeping them in regular motion; one felt that the thing must drop to pieces but in some wonderful manner the performance went on. The remark seems to become even more true of India and it can without much strain be applied to Mr. Asquith's government. The present situation seems to be unusually complicated with the unrest in the Labour world, the irritating tactics of militant suffragettes, the division in the Liberal ranks regarding foreign policy and naval expenditure, and the threat of civil war in Ulster. We have a Cabinet of able men facing difficulties that must try their patience and tax their strength. When we remember that no party can be long in power without increasing the energy of its enemies and alienating many of its supporters, that the powerful organs of the press are largely controlled by Conservatives and in the Liberal press enthusiasm is severely tempered by the critical spirit, we are surprised that the present Prime Minister has been able to rule so steadily and so long. What the immediate future has in store we cannot tell; the latest news that comes to hand simply confirms the impression that things are in a chaotic condition. Even if the Conservatives were returned to power, at an early date, with a clear majority, a thing that seems almost impossible, they would not be in a much better position; the question of Ireland would be as clament as ever, "the militants” would still have to be dealt with, the social problems would claim immediate attention, and the Tariff Reformers would then meet their real difficulties. Altogether it makes one sigh for the good old days when everything was peaceful and prosperous, only it is very unfortunate that a careful reading of history shows that such days never existed.
For example, a Quarterly Reviewer of 1845, discussing the conditions of the army and speaking of the British soldier who returns home after ten years of service abroad, says: “Is their lot now one of relaxation and repose? By no meansBirmingham is riot-or the colliers of Staffordshire are up: down comes an order for our newly arrived regiment to stow itself away in a set of second-class carriages, and forthwith, with pouches crammed full of ball cartridge, it flies upon the wings of steam to the scene of agitation.” He goes on to admit that the alarm was probably a false one and that riots and strikes are not perennial, but it is suggestive that a writer sixty years ago incidentally mentions that at any time the employment of soldiers in domestic troubles may be expected.
Dr. Samuel Johnson is reported to have said that "Raising the wages of day-labourers is wrong; for it does not make them live better, but only makes them idler, and idleness is a very bad thing for human nature.” This is good old-fashioned Toryism, but there are few who desire to return to the conditions that prevailed a hundred and fifty years ago. We think that Johnson deserved his pension but we do not object to pensions for the honest lay labourer.
The present writer spent some time last summer in Great Britain; he was not engaged in the work of political investigation and had no special sources of information. The weather was fine and the impression that the superficial traveller received was that of a country that on the whole was peaceful and prosperous. Even a superficial observer might notice considerable activity, more I think than in my earlier days, in the way of political missionary in the open air. The reference here is not to Hyde Park, that noble space consecrated to the worship of free speech, but to the country at large where in the market places or other open places there were discussions of Tariff Reform, Socialism, etc., and vans might be seen bearing the label of the Land Nationalization Society. All this, within reasonable limits, is surely a healthy sign and