October 24, 1949 (21st Parliament, 1st Session)


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.

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