October 24, 1949

Administration of the Transport Act- 454. Board of Transport Commissioners for Canada-administration, maintenance and operation, $610,880.

Pandit Nehru Appendix A




Prime Minister of India to MEMBERS of the senate and of the house of commons AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC in the House of Commons Chamber, Ottawa on Monday, October 24, 1949 The Prime Minister of India was welcomed by the Right Honourable L. S. St. Laurent, Prime Minister of Canada, and thanked by the Honourable Elie Beauregard, Speaker of the Senate, and the Honourable W. Ross Macdonald, Speaker of the House of Commons.


Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)


Right Hon. L. S. Si. Laurent (Prime Minister of Canada):

Mr. Prime Minister; fellow members of the houses of parliament: Our country is indeed honoured to have as its guest on this occasion the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Nehru. As Prime Minister of a sister member nation of the commonwealth I find it a most welcome and agreeable duty to extend to you, Mr. Nehru, a very warm welcome to this parliament and to Canada. You come to us, both as one whose deeds and thoughts have commanded widespread attention in these troubled times, and as a most distinguished leader of that great portion of mankind which constitutes the population of India.

I extend also a cordial welcome to the sister of our distinguished guest, Mrs. Pandit, who at present represents India as ambassador to the United States, and to Mr. Nehru's daughter, Mrs. Gandhi, whom it is also a pleasure to have with us on this occasion.

Just six months ago I was happy to announce in this house the understanding reached in London with regard to the continuance of India as a full member of the commonwealth in the event that India should become a republic. It was not only the peoples of the commonwealth who had waited to learn the outcome of the discussions. Others were watching, too; for much hung

in the balance for the three new Asian members which as separate units had joined the family of the commonwealth of nations in 1947. Each was heir to an ancient civilization. Each was inspired by a strong national consciousness and by a great vision of the future as a member in its own right of the international community. Each, moreover, was keenly aware of problems at home and of difficulties in the world at large. Each felt it had a contribution to make in its own way, suited to the genius as well as to the needs of its people.

We in Canada feel that we have been able to achieve some understanding of these things, distant though we are from the great Indian subcontinent. When India, the largest and most populous of these new states, reached the stage where its desires with regard to its constitution prompted it to settle its future status in relation to other commonwealth countries, most people in Canada realized, I think, that the constitution of India was of course a matter for the Indian people to decide for themselves. At the same time we felt that any reasonable arrangement providing for the full membership of India in the commonwealth as a republic, if that form of constitution should be India's wish, would be welcome.

Pandit Nehru

We Canadians were glad to learn that our association with India as a sister nation in the commonwealth was to continue, and, we hoped, was to become more direct and more mutually advantageous. We are happy that friendship, good will and understanding exist between India and Canada. We are conscious that we share with the government and people of India an unswerving desire for a peaceful world in which nations, both great and small, may pursue the well-being of their peoples.

On behalf of the members present and of the people of Canada generally, I venture to voice the hope that Mr. Nehru will carry back to India a message of greeting and warmest good wishes from us all.

We know of the signal courage, devotion and loyalty with which Mr. Nehru has served and continues to serve the people of India, and of the statesmanship and nobility of thought which he has brought to bear upon the great questions of human affairs in the councils not only of India but of the commonwealth and of the United Nations. We pray that he may long be spared to continue with his task and to see his hopes bearing fruit.

Fellow members of the houses of parliament, I present to you the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (Prime Minister of India): Mr. Prime Minister, I am grateful to you, sir, and the honourable members of this parliament for the honour you have done me in inviting me to address you, and for the warm welcome which you have been good enough to extend to me. I am happy to be in the capital of this great dominion, and to bring to you the greetings and good wishes of the government and people of India.

During the past twelve months it has been my privilege to be associated in important discussions with your Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and your Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson). We have had to consider many difficult problems together, and I am revealing no secret when I say that our point of view and Canada's were identical or very near to each other on almost every one of them. In particular I should like to refer to the spirit of understanding shown by your government and your representative at the meeting of dominion prime ministers, held in London last April, in the determination of our future relationship with the commonwealth. That spirit is in the great tradition of your leaders, Sir John Macdonald, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and your last prime minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, who, happily, is still with us. That tradition has been one of association with the commonwealth, in complete freedom, unfettered by any outside control. Canada has been a pioneer in the 45781-71

evolution of this relationship, and, as sucn, one of the builders of the commonwealth as an association of free and equal nations.

India, as you know, will soon become a republic, but will remain a member of the commonwealth. Our past co-operation will not, therefore, cease or alter with the change in our status. On the contrary, it will have the greater strength that common endeavour derives from a sense that it is inspired and sustained by the free will of free peoples. I am convinced that this development in the history of the commonwealth, without parallel elsewhere or at any other time, is a significant step toward peace and co-operation in the world.

Of even greater significance is the manner of this achievement. Only a few years ago Indian nationalism was in conflict with British imperialism, and that conflict brought in its train ill will, suspicion, and bitterness- although, because of the teaching of our great leader, Mahatma Gandhi, there was far less ill will than in any other nationalist struggle against foreign domination. Who would have thought then that suspicion and bitterness would largely fade away so rapidly, giving place to friendly co-operation between free and equal nations? That is an achievement for which all those who are concerned with it can take legitimate credit. It is an outstanding example of the peaceful solution of difficult problems, and a solution which is a real one because it does not lead to other problems. The rest of the world might well pay heed to this example.

Canada is a vast country, and her extent is continental. She faces Europe across the Atlantic, and Asia across the Pacific. Past history explains your preoccupation thus far with European affairs. Past history also, as well as geography, explain the depth and intimacy of our interest in Asia. But in the world of today neither you nor we can afford to be purely national, or even continental, in our outlook; the world has become too small for that. If we do not all co-operate and live at peace with each other, we stumble on one another and clutch at each other's throats.

We talk of the east and the west, of the Orient and the Occident; yet these divisions have little reality. In fact the so-called east is geographically the west for you. During the last two or three hundred years some European nations developed an industrial civilization, and thus became different in many ways from the east, which was still primarily agricultural. The new strength that technical advance gave them added to their wealth and power, and an era of colonialism and

Pandit Nehru

imperialism began, during which the greater part of Asia was dominated by some countries of Europe. In the long perspective of history this was a brief period, and already we are seeing the end of it. The imperialism which was at its height during the last century and a half has largely faded away and lingers in only a few countries today. There can be little doubt that it will end in these remaining countries also, and the sooner it ends, the better for the peace and security of the world.

Asia, the mother of continents and the cradle of history's major civilization, is renascent today. The dawn of its newly acquired freedom is turbulent, because during these past two centuries its growth was arrested, frustration was widespread, and new forces grew up. These forces were essentially nationalist, seeking political freedom; but behind them was the vital urge to better the economic condition of the masses of the people. Where nationalism was thwarted there was conflict, as there is conflict today where it is being thwarted, for example in southeast Asia. To regard the present unsettled state of southeast Asia as a result of or as part of an ideological conflict would be a dangerous error. The troubles and discontents of this part of the world, and indeed of the greater part of Asia, are the result of obstructed freedom and dire poverty. The remedy is to accelerate the advent of freedom and to remove want. If this is achieved, Asia will become a powerful factor in stability and peace. The philosophy of Asia has been and is a philosophy of peace.

There is another facet of this Asian situation to which reference must be made. The so-called revolt of Asia is a striving of the legitimate pride of ancient peoples against the arrogance of certain western nations. Racial discrimination is still in evidence in some countries, and there is still not enough realization of the importance of Asia in the councils of the world.

India's championship of freedom and racial equality in Asia, as well as in Africa, is a natural urge of the facts of geography and history. India desires no leadership or dominion or authority over any other country. But we are compelled by circumstances to play our part in Asia and in the world, because we are convinced that unless these basic problems of Asia are solved, there can be no world peace. Canada, with her traditions of democracy, her sense of justice and her love of fair play, should understand our purpose and our motives, and should use her growing wealth and power to extend the

horizons of freedom, to promote order and liberty, to remove want, and thus to ensure lasting peace.

India is an old nation, and yet today she has in her something of the spirit and dynamic quality of youth. Some of the vital impulses which gave strength to India in past ages inspire us still, and at the same time we have learned much from the west in social and political values, in science and technology. We have still much to learn and much to do, especially in the application of science to problems of social well-being. We have gained political freedom, and the urgent task before us today is to improve rapidly the economic conditions of our people, and to fight relentlessly against poverty and social ills. We are determined to apply ourselves to these problems and to achieve success. We have the will and the natural resources and the human material to do so, and our immediate task is to harness them for human betterment. For this purpose it is essential for us to have a period of peaceful development and co-operation with other nations.

The peace of one country cannot be assured unless there is peace elsewhere. In this narrow and contracting world, war and peace and freedom are becoming indivisible. Therefore it is not enough for any one country to secure peace within its own borders; it is necessary also that it should endeavour to its utmost capacity to help in the maintenance of peace all over the world.

The world today is full of tension and conflict. Behind this tension lies an ever-growing fear, which is the parent of many ills. There are also economic causes which can only be remedied by economic means. There can be no security or real peace if vast numbers of people in various parts of the world live in poverty and misery. Nor indeed can there be a balanced economy for the world as a whole if the undeveloped parts continue to upset that balance and to drag down even the more prosperous nations. Both for economic and for political reasons, therefore, it has become essential to develop these undeveloped regions and to raise the standards of the people there. Technical advance and industrialization of these regions will not mean any injury to those countries which are already highly industrialized. International trade grows as more and more countries produce more goods and supply the wants of mankind. Our industrialization has a predominantly social aim, to meet the pressing wants of the great majority of our own people.

This age we live in has been called the atomic age. Vast new sources of energy are

being tapped; but men's thoughts, instead of being in terms of service and betterment of mankind, turn to destructive purposes. Destruction by these new and terrible weapons of war can only lead to unparalleled disaster for all concerned; yet people lightly talk of war and bend their energies to preparing for it. A very distinguished American said the other day that the use of the atom bomb might well be likened to setting a house on fire in order to rid it of some insects and termites.

Dangers undoubtedly threaten us, and we must be on our guard against them and take all necessary precautions. But we must always remember that we do not serve or protect mankind by destroying the house in which it lives and all that it contains.

The problem of maintaining world peace and of diverting our minds and energies to that end thus becomes one of paramount importance. All of us talk of peace and the desirability of it, but do we all serve it faithfully and earnestly? Even in our struggle for freedom, our great leader taught us the path of peace. In the larger context of the world we must inevitably follow that path to the best of our ability. I am convinced that Canada, like India, is earnestly desirous of maintaining peace and freedom. Both our respective countries believe in democracy and the democratic method, and in individual and national freedom. In international affairs, therefore, our objectives are similar, and we have found no difficulty thus far in co-operating for the achievement of these aims. I am here to assure the government and the people of Canada of our earnest desire to work in co-operation with them for these ends. The differences that have existed in our minds about east and west have little substance today, and we are all partners in the same great undertaking. I have little doubt that in spite of the dangers that beset the world today, the forces of constructive and co-operative effort for human betterment will succeed, and the spirit of man will triumph again.

I thank you again, sir, and the honourable members of this parliament, who shoulder a great responsibility, for your friendly and cordial welcome, and for your good wishes for my country. I realize that this welcome was extended to me not as an individual but as a representative and a symbol of my nation. I am sure that my people will appreciate and welcome the honour you have done them, and will look forward to fruitful harmony of endeavour between our two countries for the accomplishment of common tasks.

Pandit Nehru


Before I conclude, Mr. Prime Minister,

I should very much like to say a few words in French. I am sorry I am not proficient enough in that beautiful language to speak at length, but I assure you we have a deep liking for it.

To you French-Canadians, I convey the congratulations and warm wishes of the people of India, to which I add my own.


Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)


Hon. Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate):

Mr. Prime Minister of India, since you chose to conclude your brilliant speech in the language spoken by three to four million Canadians of French origin, may I on their behalf express their keen pleasure and offer you in French the token of their admiration.

Your accession to power coincides with India's entry into the large democratic family of the universe. Thanks to you, your great and diversified country, so rich in science, poetry and storied legend, peacefully takes its place within the council of sovereign nations. At the same time, you are resolutely entering into history.

You come from the Orient, whose patient philosophy knows the art of solving the most complex situations, an art which enabled you to sever your century-old union with the British empire and, almost at the same time, spontaneously to renew a link with the commonwealth.

At this very time of your visit among us, we, under different circumstances and in the normal course of our development, are peacefully making an almost identical gesture. In a few days, Canada, whose stature has grown during the last two wars without, however, leaving the orbit of the commonwealth, will be solely responsible for its destiny.

You bring the west a message of peace, of peace based on the equality of all men before God, before the law and before human conscience. You nevertheless wish India to become aware of its power, first of its economic power and then of the military power needed to protect that economic power.

You already know that America, whose mission is at present burdened with such a heavy responsibility, joyfully welcomes your message. Thanks to the high standard of living created by the industry of our neighbouring republic, the extremely varied races which are its components, merged together as though in a crucible, have become a proud


Pandit Nehru

and powerful nation. In this country, we also believe that this standard of living constitutes the best means of defence against the most pernicious "isms". Under the impetus it is certain to receive from you, your country, so plentifully endowed with manpower and natural resources, can rightfully aspire to full economic development.

Because of your academic training and of your public life, you belong to two civilizations. Both will benefit from the leading role which your high office will call upon you to play in world affairs. This is betokened by the eloquent speech you have just delivered before both houses of parliament, and that is the wish we express.

It is a great honour for me, Mr. Prime Minister, to express, on behalf of both the Senate of Canada and the French-speaking Canadians, the pleasure we have in greeting the first citizen of one of the greatest and oldest countries in the world, and the hope that your brief stay among us will serve to multiply the relations that must be maintained between two peoples whose economies are complementary, and who are both genuinely peace-loving.



William Ross Macdonald (Speaker of the House of Commons)


Hon. W. Ross Macdonald (Speaker of the House of Commons):

Pandit Nehru, it is indeed a great honour for me, the Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, to extend to you, the Prime Minister of India, the sincere appreciation of the members of our parliament for the eloquent and enlightening address which you have delivered this afternoon.

We realize that the words which you have

spoken before the few hundred men and women who have had the good fortune to be present and to have heard you, and to have seen you, were in fact addressed to all the people of Canada. Thousands of Canadians this afternoon have not only heard your speech but also have heard the radio commentators describe this history-making scene in the Canadian House of Commons, when the Prime Minister of an ancient country of the east was received as a friend by the Prime Minister of a new country of the west-both countries being self-governing nations and forming part of one great peace-loving community, the commonwealth of nations.

Kipling said:

Oh, east is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.

However, it is too often forgotten that he also said:

But there is neither east nor west, border, nor breed, nor birth.

When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

This afternoon we have seen the Prime Minister of India and the Prime Minister of Canada, two strong men from the opposite ends of the earth, standing face to face on the floor of the House of Commons of Canada and cordially greeting each other without any thought that there is either west or east.

May I, the First Commoner of Canada, express to you, the first Prime Minister of India, the appreciation of all the people of Canada for your presence here this afternoon; and may I extend to you the very best of good wishes for your personal health and happiness and for the general well-being of the people whom you represent.


Appendix B



Premier's Office Saskatchewan Regina, October 15, 1949. Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent, Prime Minister of Canada. Ottawa, Ontario. My dear Prime Minister: You will recall that on September 20, I acknowledged your letter of September 14, and expressed appreciation of the fact that steps are about to be taken to remove the necessity of approaching the parliament of the United Kingdom whenever an amendment to the British North America Act is desired. In this connection I may say that we in Saskatchewan are still anxious to co-operate in order that this may be achieved. Since the date of my letter, further attention has been given to the announcement contained in the fourth paragraph of your letter regarding the proposed request for an amendment which will be submitted to parliament at the present session. I must confess to considerable curiosity as to just what your government has in mind. As the proposed amendment is described in your letter it would vest in the parliament of Canada authority to "amend the constitution of Canada." Then comes the limitation as follows: ". . . but only in relation to matters not coming within the jurisdiction of the legislatures of the provinces, nor affecting the rights and privileges of the provinces, or existing constitutional rights and privileges with respect to education and to the use of the English and French languages." May I make the general observation that the amendment as proposed in your letter would primarily vest in the dominion parliament authority to amend the constitution of Canada subject of course to the exceptions referred to. This would mean, as I understand the situation, that in the case of any amendment of the B.N.A. Act by the dominion being objected to by a province, the burden would be on the province to show that the amendment infringed the stated exceptions. Coming to the exceptions, as stated in your letter, the first is clear enough, and probably also the last, dealing with education and the use of the English and French languages. It seems to us, however, that the phrase "affecting the rights and privileges of the provinces" is somewhat lacking in precision and might result in serious misunderstanding. The term "purely federal aspects," used in the fifth paragraph of your letter, does not entirely cure the situation even if "federal" is taken to be equivalent to "general" or "dominion." In our opinion the field that the dominion would occupy after the suggested amendment is indefinite at the moment, and we do not know what your government has in mind in the direction of constitutional development. It may be presumed that the formula set out in your letter would cover the office of the Governor General of Canada, but a more interesting question arises as to section 9 of the British North America Act. This is interesting for the reason that section 92(1) denies to the provinces the capacity to alter the office of lieutenant governor and executive government in the provinces is performed in the name of His Majesty. Again would the formula cover the preamble to the B.N.A. Act? Again it may be asked whether the formula would warrant the abolition of the Senate. Such an abolition would not "affect the rights and privileges of the provinces" as corporate entities; yet some of the provinces might take grave objection to the abolition of the upper chamber. Similar questions might be asked concerning the application of the formula to sections 53-57 and other sections. You will understand that no complaint is being made regarding the action which your government proposes to take. We do think, however, that some further clarification might avoid disagreements in the future. May I request, therefore, clarification regarding (a) the exact scope of the proposed amendment; (b) whether your government has any developments in mind which can properly be disclosed. I may also add that some comment on the particular points raised in this letter would be greatly appreciated. Yours sincerely, T. C. Douglas Office of the Prime Minister Canada Ottawa, October 21, 1949 Honourable T. C. Douglas, M.L.A., Premier of Saskatchewan, Regina, Saskatchewan. My dear Premier: Your letter of October 15, with further reference to the procedure for amendment of the British North America Act, reached me after the debate on the proposed amendment had begun. I think I can best answer your request for clarification on the government's proposal by referring you to the text of my motion and the speech which I made on Monday, October 17, which appear on pages 828ff. of the daily Hansard for that date, and which I have pleasure in enclosing. I shall ask my office to send you copies of the Hansard for the succeeding days of the debate so that you may follow the discussion in the House of Commons. I agree that the phrase "affecting the rights and privileges of the provinces" is lacking in precision; this general language was used because we did not wish to attempt to determine in an arbitrary fashion the extent of the rights and privileges of the provinces, preferring to leave that for determination by the courts, in the event of any dispute, unless some agreement with respect to it is reached at the forthcoming conference. As to your question whether this government "has any developments in mind which can properly be disclosed," I can only say that no consideration has yet been given by the government to any constitutional development or change which might be recommended to parliament under the new procedure contemplated by the address. Yours sincerely, Louis S. St. Laurent

Appendix Office of the Prime Minister Province of Quebec Quebec, October 19, 1949 The Right Honourable Louis S. St. Laurent, Prime Minister of Canada, Ottawa, Ont.


Mr. Prime Minister@

I have brought today to the attention of my colleagues of the executive council of the province your letter of the 13th instant, dealing with the constitutional changes advocated by the dominion government.

You state in your letter:

"In your opinion this procedure and these precedents are unsound. To that opinion we can only reply that 'we respect your opinion without sharing it,' and that, as in the past, there is no obligation to ask for your consent or your acquiescence."

You also say:

"There is no doubt about our power to have this change of venue made without consulting the provincial authorities and without their acquiescence, 'except as regards matters coming within the classes of subjects by this act assigned exclusively to the legislatures of the provinces, or as regards rights or privileges by this or any other constitutional act granted or secured to the legislature or the government of a province, or to any class of persons with respect to schools or as regards the use of the English or the French language'."

You take special care to underline the words "our power."

You state further:

"We claim we also have the right to have this change of venue made, without the consent or acquiescence of the provincial authorities. We cannot therefore accede to your request to postpone all action until there has been an understanding with the provincial authorities."

Again you underline the words 'the right."

My colleagues and I have noted with surprise the particularly unfortunate tone you have given to your letter in connection with such a vital problem.

You state that you need neither the consent nor the acquiescence of the Quebec provincial government to make constitutional changes of paramount importance which deeply affect provincial rights, freedom and prerogatives, especially as regards the province of Quebec.

Let us tell you that we greatly regret such an attitude; that we are sincerely convinced that it is

at variance with the spirit of the federative pact, and that it is not likely to facilitate the co-operation that is desirable and which we desire between the various governments of this country.

We feel constrained to reassert that the Canadian constitution is not the work of a moment, or the result of hasty decisions, any more than it is the achievement of any single political party or government. Our view is that all and every one of us can benefit from the example given us by the fathers of confederation who made it a point to make an exhaustive study of the project and to obtain, prior to any decision, the views and approval of the then existing administrations.

We believe that the vital and manifold problems involved in any amendment to the Canadian constitution are of such magnitude that they ought to be carefully examined and pondered before they are proposed and, still more, before they are agreed upon, especially in view of the fact that the amendments advocated by your government are the most important and momentous since confederation.

In our opinion it was only natural and legitimate that we should have asked you to postpone any legislation dealing with the federative pact, and to convene, as a first step, a meeting of the parties concerned so that all may examine in a spirit of co-operation the vital problems involved in any amendment to the British North America Act.

Once again, the Quebec government respectfully reasserts the stand and the statements contained in the two letters I wrote you in connection with this matter on September 21 last and on the 5th instant.

Yours sincerely,

Maurice Duplessis

Office of the Prime Minister Canada

Ottawa, October 21, 1949

The Honourable Maurice Duplessis, M.L.A.,

Premier of Quebec,

Quebec, Que.

My dear Premier:

I have received your letter of October 19 with further reference to the subject of amending the constitution in Canada.

It seems to me that we have both made our positions very clear, and that it would not serve any useful purpose to continue our correspondence until such time as we are in a position to extend invitations to the provincial governments to confer with us on this subject.

Yours sincerely,

Louis S. St. Laurent

Tuesday, October 25, 1949


October 24, 1949