February 19, 1929 (16th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) moved:

That it is expedient that parliament do approve of the general treaty for the renunciation of war, which was signed at Paris, on the twenty-seventh day of August, nineteen hundred a"d twenty-eight, on behalf of His Majesty for the Dominion of Canada by the plenipotentiary named therein, and that this house do approve of the same.
And that a message be sent to the senate to acquaint their honours that this house unites with the senate in the approval of the above-mentioned treaty;
And that the clerk of the house do carry the said message to the senate.
He said: Mr. Speaker, this resolution asks
the approval by the House of Commons of the genera] treaty for the renunciation of war which was signed at Paris on August 27 last year. Approval has already been given to a similar resolution by the senate of this parliament. The British government and the governments of the several British dominions and India have all expressed approval of the treaty, and at least sixty-two of the sixty-four nations of the world have intimated their intention to adhere to its provisions.
I might say a word as to the genesis of the treaty, although I imagine that to most hon. members the story is already a familiar one. The treaty had its origin in a communication from M. Briand, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the United States, Mr. Kellogg, which communication was sent on IMr. Dunning.]
April 6, 1927, the tenth anniversary of the entrance of the United States into the Great war. In that communication the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French republic suggested to the Secretary of State of the United States that the two republics should join together in a treaty which would formally renounce war as a means of settling any of their controversies in the future. After its receipt, due consideration was given this communication by Mr. Kellogg, the Secretary of State, and before the year 1927 was out Mr. Kellogg suggested to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the French republic that the different nations of the world should be invited to 'become parties to such a treaty: in other words, that any agreement reached should not be one confined to the two countries but should be enlarged in a manner which would enable all the countries of the world to participate in it. It was agreed that in the first instance the great powers should be asked formally to become signatories to the treaty, and at the time consideration was being given the matter by the great powers, it was decided that separate invitations should be sent to the self-governing dominions and to India in addition to the government of Great Britain. Accordingly, invitations were sent to the six great powers and to the dominions and India. It was then decided to go a step further and include all the nations which had become parties to the Locarno treaties. Altogether fifteen different countries were invited to become signatories to the original treaty. All these countries accepted, and on the 27th day of August the treaty was formally signed at Paris. That, in outline, is the story of the formal presentation of the matter.
The fundamental origin of the treaty lies,
I think, much deeper than anything that appears on the surface. It is to be found in a general feeling of revolt against war on the part of all nations which in the recent past have had to do with war. There is a general feeling that war has become futile and obsolete as a method of settling any question which may arise between countries, and that if ever war were resorted to again as a means of settling controversies between nations it would be of a character more hideous than possibly the human mind can conceive, and that the perverted ingenuity of science would be used to cause the destruction of cities by means of bombs from the air, poison gases and the like, so that whole communities would be wiped out; in other words, that war will annihilate civilization unless civilization undertakes to annihilate war. That is the funda-

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mental feeling which, I believe, the nations of the world have had since the recent Great war; and this treaty is one expression of the various attempts which the nations are making to prevent in future, if possible, any recurrence of the kind.
There is no royal road to peace, but there are many paths which lead in that direction, and the Briand-Kel'logg pact is one of those paths. The movement towards peace has had several important manifestations since the Great war, the most important being, perhaps, the formation of the League of Nations. That league, by bringing together some fifty different countries to meet in conference every year, has established a means of creating public opinion and enforcing that opinion in the relations of nations one to another as to the manner in which their controversies shall be adjusted. It has also provided practical means of settling controversies between nations. It has established an organization for publicity which lends effectiveness to the instruments of peace which the league has provided. It has come to have a recognized place in the world as a forum before which the highest interests of nations will be served. In addition to the League of Nations, there are the various treaties for conciliation and arbitration which have been enacted between nations as a means of settling their differences; there have been important international conferences; and there has been considerable progress in the movement towards disarmament. It is true that the progress made towards disarmament has not been as rapid as many would wish it to be; nevertheless considerable progress has been made, and one of the reasons why this treaty should appeal to the nations of the world is that once it goes into force, all nations having declared that they will renounce war as an instrument of national policy, it should be easier for the forces working for disarmament to establish the reasons why disarmament should rapidly follow a treaty of this kind.
Now as to the treaty itself: it is a contribution to this peace movement, another expression of the will to peace-a contribution in two particulars: first, in the formal renunciation which is made by the nations of an appeal to anything in the nature of war as an instrument of national policy; and, secondly, in the wide acceptance of the terms of the treaty itself. As I have stated, sixty-two nations out of sixty-four have indicated their intention of adhering to the treaty; the only two countries in the world which, so far, have not expressed a favourable opinion or given any opinion are the Argentine and Brazil. The
treaty has the merit of being very brief and very direct; indeed, brevity and simplicity must in the nature of things be a part of any agreement which seeks to gain the adherence of all the nations of the world. It is in the main a statement of principle; it does not pretend to establish machinery which will prevent war, but it does call forth from the nations of the world a solemn renunciation of
war as an instrument of national policy.
It would be well, I think, for me to put on record the few words which constitute the preamble to the treaty, together with the three articles constituting the treaty itself. They convey, better than any other wTords possibly . could, the full conception of the treaty and its significance. After enumerating the heads of the different nations who have expressed their willingness to become parties to the treaty, the preamble reads:
Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind;
Persuaded that the time has come when a frank renunciation of war as an instrument ot national policy should be made to the end that the peaceful and friendly relations now existing between their peoples may be perpetuated; . . , ,.
Convinced that all changes in their relations with one another should be sought only by pa^ cific means and be the result of a peaceful and orderly process, and that any signatory power which shall hereafter seek to promote its national interests by resort to war should be denied the benefits furnished by this treaty;
Hopeful that, encouraged by their example, all the other nations of the world will join in this humane endeavour and by adhering to the present treaty as soon as it comes into force bring their peoples within the scope of its beneficent provisions, thus uniting the civilized nations of the world in a common renunciation of war as an instrument of their national policy;
Have decided to conclude a treaty-
Then follow the names of the respective plenipotentiaries of nations appointed to sign the treaty, together with the statement that- -having communicated to one another their full powers found in good and due form have agreed upon the following articles:
And the articles of the treaty then appear as follows:
Article I
The high contracting parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
Article II
The high contracting parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.
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Article III
The present treaty shall be ratified by the high contracting parties named in the preamble in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, and shall take effect as between them as soon as all their several instruments of ratification shall have been deposited at Washington.
This treaty shall, when it has come into effect as prescribed in the preceding paragraph, remain open as long as may be necessary for adherence by all the other powers of the world. Every instrument evidencing the adherence of a power shall be deposited at Washington and the treaty shall immediately upon such deposit become effective as between the power thus adhering and the other powers . parties thereto.
It will be seen from the terms of the treaty as I have read them, Mr. Speaker, that its objective is to focus the opinion of the world upon resort to war as an obsolete method of settling controversies between nations and to create a solemn covenant which binds the nations of the world not to go to war with each other as a means of settlement or solution of the disputes or conflicts which may arise among them, but to settle their differences by pacific means.
Perhaps I might say a word or two as to the actual signing of the treaty itself. As hon. members know, the several signatories met at Paris on August 27 of last year. The treaty was presented for signature in the famous clock hall-the Salle de l'Horloge- in which in former years had assembled those who had to do with the drafting of the terms of what ultimately became the treaty of Versailles, and in which also were drafted the terms of the League of Nations which became subsequently a part of that treaty. There was very little of note in the ceremony itself beyond an address by M. Briand, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, which set out in clear and memorable language the purposes of the treaty and the objects which it was expected to serve.
There were, however, two attendant incidents Which I think were of the greatest interest to all who had the privilege of witnessing this ceremony, two incidents which were of real significance. The first was that on that occasion over the ministry of foreign affairs of France there floated the flags of every nation of the world. Never before in the history of the world, so far as I am aware, have the flags of all the nations floated over the foreign office of any government. This was intended by France to be a symbol to the world of what is aimed at by this treaty, namely, an effort to bring together all the nations as signatories to its terms. The other incident, which perhaps was even more significant, was the meeting immediately prior to the signing of

the treaty in the ministry of foreign affairs of France between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of that country and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany. For the first time in over half a century a German Minister of Foreign Affairs was received on the soil of France. That act was intended to demonstrate on the part of France her desire to begin the new era which it is hoped this treaty may serve to inaugurate by an open expression of friendliness towards the nation with which she recently had been at war.
After the treaty was read and the gathering had been addressed by M. Briand who, as the house will recall, had been Premier of France during the crucial period of the Great war, the treaty was signed by the various signatories representing the different countries. The first to sign the treaty was Doctor Strese-mann, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was followed by the Secretary of State of the United States, then by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, then by M. Briand and then by Lord Cushendun as the representative of Great Britain. Following Lord Cushendun the representatives of the several British dominions and of India affixed their signatures, and they were followed by the representatives of Italy, Japan, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The fifteen signatures there affixed constitute the total of the original signatures to the treaty, but as the house will have noticed, one of the terms of the treaty was to extend an invitation to the other nations of the world to become parties to it, and as I have indicated practically all the nations of the world have already expressed their intention of adhering.
For the purposes of record in this parliament, I would like to read to the house, with its permission, one or .two extracts from the speech delivered by M. Briand on that occasion. They are memorable words, doubly so when one recalls by whom they were uttered and the circumstances under which they were delivered. In the course of his memorable address M. Briand said:
It will, I hope, be no exaggeration to say that to-day's event marks a new date in the history of mankind. . . .
For the first time, and on a general plan that is open to all the nations of the world, a congress of peace has done something more than make a political settlement of the immediate conditions brought about by some particular peace imposed as the results of war. For the first time, on a scale as absolute as it is vast, a treaty has been truly devoted to the very establishment of peace, and has laid down laws that are new and free from all political considerations. Such a treaty means a beginning and not an end. We have not met to liquidate a war. The pact of Paris, born of peace and breathing freedom and law, is of its nature a true treaty of concord.

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Then, a little later M. Briand said:
The essential feature of the pact is that for the first time, in the face of the whole world, and through a solemn covenant involving the honour of great nations who all alike have behind them a sad record of political conflicts, war in its most specific and dreaded form-selfish and wilful war which has been regarded from of old as springing from divine right and has remained in international ethics as an attribute of sovereignty-has been at last deprived by law of what constituted its most serious danger, its legitimacy. For the future, branded with illegality, it is by mutual accord truly and regularly outlawed so that a culprit must incur the unconditional condemnation and probably the hostility of all his co-signatories. It is a direct blow at the institution of war, a blow against its very life.
It is no longer a question of a defensive organization against this scourge, but of attacking the evil at its very root. War as a means of arbitrary and selfish action, is no longer to be deemed lawful. No longer will its threat hang over the economic, political and social life of peoples. Henceforth the smaller nations will enjoy true independence in international discussions. Freed from their old bondage, the nations that have signed the new contract will gradually abandon the habit of associating conceptions of national prestige and national interest with the idea of force; and this single psychological fact will not be the least important element in the evolution there is needed for the final stabilization of peace.
Then, concluding his address, M. Briand said:
Gentlemen, in a few moments the cables will be telling the entire world of the awakening of a great hope; and from now on it must be our sacred duty to do all that can be done so to bring it that that hope may not be disappointed. Peace has been proclaimed, and that is well. That is much. But peace has yet to be organized. For settlements by force we must substitute settlements by law. That must be the work of to-morrow.
At this unforgettable hour the conscience of peoples, freed from all national egotism, is making the truest of efforts to reach those high regions where human brotherhood can be felt in the beatings of one and the same heart. Bet us seek a common ideal within which we can all merge our fervent hopes and put away all selfishness. There is no country represented here that has not poured out the blood of its children on the battlefields of the last war. I ask you to dedicate to your dead, to all those who died in that great war this solemn agreement which we are now about to consecrate with our signatures.
It may be asked: What is to be the binding foroe of this treaty? If the words of M. Briand in concluding his address, do not constitute a force sufficient to bind the nations that have affixed their signatures to it, I question if any force can be discovered in the whole world which will serve that end. In the name of the multitude of their dead, the nations that have signed this treaty have pledged their honour in the face of mankind never again to resort to war as a means of
settling controversies between them. Surely, if there is such a thing as national honour existing, this treaty must hold a large place in the future of the world.
May I say a word in regard to the relation of this treaty to the League of Nations. There are some who are of the opinion that the League of Nations has gone as far as it is possible to go in the endeavour for peace, and that possibly this treaty was therefore unnecessary. But when one reflects on what the League of Nations has accomplished, great as it is, it will be found that there are one or two important gaps in its endeavour to prevent resort to arms as a means of settling international controversies. In the first place, the League of Nations does not include within its membership all the nations of the world. The United States, which is a signatory to this treaty, is not a member of the League of Nations. Neither are one or two other countries that have become signatories to this treaty or will become adherents to it. There is one important gap closed. Virtually all the countries, whether they be in the League of Nations or not, have agreed by this treaty to renounce war as an instrument of national policy.
Hon. members will recall that under the terms of the covenant of the League of Nations a nation may at a certain stage resort to war. It has even been held by some that the covenant is so worded as to make war permissible. That is a debatable point, but this much is clear; That the league provides that where war is threatening between nations, if they are parties to the covenant they must first of all submit their differences to the council of the league, but in order to restrain the parties the award of the council must be binding. If the council is unable to make a binding agreement there then comes as the next step the possibility of war. Even where the council is unanimous, the provision restraining countries from war does not extend beyond a period of three months after the decision has been given. It is hoped that within that period of time passions will have cooled and means will have been found of adjusting the differences between the nations that have referred their difficulties to the league. That gap also has been closed by this treaty for the renunciation of war, inasmuch as under the terms of this treaty even those nations who are parties to the covenant of the league have gone a step further in agreeing formally to renounce war at any and all times.
There is no doubt that the work done by the League of Nations during the last ten
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years has in large part been responsible for this treaty coming into existence. It is hardly conceivable that the nations that have signed this treaty would have come to the frame of mind in that time which would have permitted them to sign so far-reaching a document, had it not been in part at least for the educational work, which has been carried on by the league. So far as the league is concerned its work is supported and supplemented by this treaty. As M. Briand said elsewhere in his speech, referring to the insurance against war given by the league, there is " reinsurance " in this treaty. The league is reinsured in its work in the prevention of war by the treaty for the renunciation of war.
The work of the league has been helped immensely in another particular. Now that all the nations of the world have stated that they will formally renounce war as an instrument of national policy, and will settle their differences only by pacific means, the work of the league to discover pacific means which will settle the differences between nations gains a new emphasis and importance. The work of disarmament, to which the league has been devoting so much of its efforts during recent years, will attain a new significance. With the nations committed on their honour never to resort to war, obviously the necessity for competitive armaments has been lessened materially, if not altogether obliterated. In this regard may I read a few paragraphs from the speech delivered by Lord Cushendun, the representative of Great Britain at the League of Nations, in which reference is made to this particular treaty and its significance so far as the work of the league is concerned. I think Lord Cushendun's speech admirably sets forth the relation of the two, and the purpose which the treaty should serve in supplementing the splendid work of the league in the cause of peace. Speaking on behalf of Britain on September 11, at Geneva, as Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Lord Cushendun in the course of his remarks said:
In the great and eloquent oration delivered here yesterday by M. Briand there was no passage which I admired so much as that in which he spoke of the spirit of peace as the flower of the world which must not be allowed to wither or fade. But if that flower is to be kept fresh we must water it with our confidence-confidence, not merely in the ideals that we profess, but in the sincerity with which each of us is striving to attain them. What the world chiefly needs to-day, in my judgment, is to cast aside suspicion and distrust as between nation and nation, and not merely to feel greater confidence in each other, but to display it; and I believe that this will be one
of the results to be achieved by the great venture of faith which was entered upon in Paris a fortnight ago. I have very little doubt that this treaty renouncing war as an instrument of national policy will thus give a very wholesome stimulus to the process of international disarmament.
But do not let us be discouraged or disappointed if we find that the full effect turns out to be neither immediate nor spectacular. It will not necessarily be of less value on that account, for rapid demonstrative action, if due to emotional impulse, often brings about reaction. There is an element in the British character which makes us shrink from expressing in exuberant language the ideals which nevertheless supply the motive power of our action, either as individuals or as a nation. I do not hesitate to say that I look upon the Paris pact as an instrument that proclaims a new era and creates a new outlook. We may not be able immediately to observe this; human beings have to adjust themselves to a new environment, but the up-growing generation, assimilating the new Zeitgeist, will be nurtured in the idea that war, except in bona fide self-defence, is not a gallant adventure, but a national dishonour.
Armaments beyond what are requisite for national safety as prescribed by the covenant will be recognized as a costly and discreditable anachronism. If this hope should be even partially realized then assuredly this year, 1928, will be remembered as a notable land-mark in human history, for it will be the fulfilment of the dream of the most ancient visionaries of our race, who imagined an almost incredible golden age, when weapons of war would be beaten into implements of peace and war itself should cease among men. Throughout the long intervening ages, never till to-day has man made any concerted and determined effort to translate into action the vision of the ancient seer. We are making it now. The Paris pact, in complete harmony with the work of the League of Nations, is at once our proclamation of purpose and our testament to posterity. It is the faith of to-day and the hope of tomorrow.
Hitherto, it has been on conquerors and the great masters of the art of war that history has bestowed her most glittering decorations. Hereafter, a fresh scale of values will be called for. When this new page is turned, we may be sure that we shall find the names of those who initiated the Paris pact inscribed among the greatest benefactors of mankind.
After what I have read from Lord Cushendun speaking for the British government and from M. Briand in his eloquent statement at the time of the signing of the treaty, and, indeed having in mind what one knows to be the sentiment of this nation from coast to coast, I feel it is almost superfluous to ask why Canada should sign this treaty. May I, however, briefly review the reasons which, it seems to me, not only make it imperative for us to sign but would make it the wish of every hon. member to be a party to a transaction of that character. In the first place, Canada perhaps as much as any country

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in the world is united in its efforts to further the work of the League of Nations. It is united in that effort because this country holds strongly to the cause of peace and desires to see peace furthered not only within its own borders but amongst the nations of the world. We who are supporting so splendidly the work of the league in all its activities will wish to see that work strengthened and furthered as it will be by a treaty such as the one which is now before the house. But in addition to that, this treaty itself marks a place of new beginning in the relationships of nations; this treaty affords a new basis for international law. Heretofore in discussions on international law there has always been the assumption that war may be an instrument of national policy on the part of nations, and much of the international law that exists has, whether it is so avowed or not, this thought lying behind it and to some extent determining what is there defined. Hereafter, the relations of nations cannot appropriately be expressed in terms of the possibility of war between them, because all nations have agreed by this treaty to renounce war as an instrument of national policy. When I speak of the possibility of war between them, I mean war as an instrument of national policy, as a reliance upon force rather than a reliance upon reason or on law. The difficult questions of the freedom of the seas, rights in the matter of embargo and the like, should all, it seems to me, be made less difficult of solution between nations where there is not only agreement but a solemn covenant between them that they will not go to war with each other. That is another reason why I believe this treaty will commend itself to the people of Canada. It helps to establish a place of new beginning in the relationship between nations in the settlement of their differences.
But there is another reason and one which should make a special appeal to Canadians. It is that in approving this treaty we are simply placing the seal of approval on a policy which, as regards Canada in its relations with the country to the south, has been in existence for more than a hundred years. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) asked me the other day why the Rush-Bagot treaty was not revived. May I say to him that the Rush-Bagot treaty, or rather agreement-it was called an arrangement, I think-has never lapsed. That arrangement remains and has been in force ever since 1817, when the British government on the one hand and the United States government on the other agreed
that it would be a huge mistake to develop the competitive arming on the great lakes which had begun at the time of the war of 1812, 1813 and 1814 and which threatened to reach considerable proportions unless competitive arming were stopped. Under the Rush-Bagot treaty it was laid down that the construction of armed vessels on the great lakes would be thereafter discontinued; that such vessels as existed would be dismantled, and that the armed force on the great lakes between this country as part of the British empire and the United States would be limited to four vessels each of 100 tons burden and carrying one eighteen-pound gun apiece. That was the Rush-Bagot agreement and it was provided that either country could terminate it on six months' notice. But so wise have men recognized that arrangement to be that neither from the United States nor from Canada nor from any part of the British empire has come an expression of a desire to discontinue the arrangement. It has not been and I believe it will never be allowed to lapse. That agreement was a renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy as regards the Great lakes, but it has extended very much further than that. Not only has it resulted in putting an end to competitive arming on the Great lakes as between this country and the United States but it has prevented competitive arming from the Atlantic to the Pacific along a frontier of between 3,000 and 4,000 miles, and it has helped to keep the peace for more than a century. Canada to-day in agreeing to adhere to this treaty is simply at the end of a hundred and some odd years taking the step which was taken that long ago as a part of the history of this continent to renounce war as an instrument of national policy.
Speaking of the example of Canada in that regard, one might mention that we have an additional reason for wishing to be signatories to a treaty of this kind. I have said that having agreed to refer matters to pacific settlement and not to resort to war, the nations must now busy themselves in discovering the most effective means of keeping the peace one with another. We on this continent have established a tribunal known as the International Joint Commission to which we are in a position to refer those questions which are apt to lead to difficulty between the United States and ourselves. That body was instituted in 1911. Some twenty-three or more cases have been referred to it, and I think that in twenty-one out of the twenty-three cases there has been unanimity in the finding which was given,
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and in all cases the findings have been accepted. There is an example, it seems to me, of value to the entire world. If the countries of Europe had had an arrangement similar to that prior to the great war, it is questionable whether the war would ever have taken place. I think it may well be said at the moment that, knowing as we do the value of the machinery that is there provided for the settlement of differences by the method of compulsory investigation and conciliation, we might well as a country make this method a part of our policy in all that-relates to our own affairs with other nations and, in so far as we are concerned, to the affairs of the British Empire, in order that in the event of something better not being discovered, at least some method of this sort should be resorted to as a means of settlement.
But another reason, and this I shall make the final one, is that as a country, we are interested in making our position as secure as It can be made in its relations with other nations. It is obviously to the interests of Canada to have from her neighbours, from the countries that surround her, an assurance upon their national honour that never will resort be had to war as a means of settling any differences which may arise. That reason has been mentioned elsewhere as a prudential reason, a reason of prudence, if nothing else, why this country should become a party to a treaty of this kind. Canada is fortunate perhaps in her geographical position. We have no countries to the north of us with which there is the possibility of any international difference or conflict. So far as the east and the west are concerned, we are separated by great oceans from any countries that might conceivably come to have differences with us. We have but. the one neighbour to the south, and this neighbour one with whom we have lived at peace for over a hundred years, on a policy based on the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy and which to-day, along with the other nations of the world, gives its solemn pledge that never for all time to come will it resort to war as a means of settling any controversies that may arise.

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