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Speech in Senate Chamber: Remembrance Day— Inquiry—Debate Adjourned


 Remembrance Day

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Anne C. Cools rose pursuant to notice of October 28, 2014:

That she will call the attention of the Senate to November 11, known to all as Remembrance Day, of this, the centennial year of the July 28 start of hostilities in the 1914-1918 Great War, which day is given to the national and collective mourning of Canadians, on which we remember and honour the many who served and who fell in the service of God, King and Country, and, whose incalculable sacrifice of their lives, we honour in our simultaneous yet individual, personal acts of prayer and remembrance, wherein we pause and bow our heads together in sacred unity, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, for the many who gave themselves, and:

To those who served in World War I, with its stupendous sacrifices, its massive mobilisation and fielding of millions of men, on all sides, and to its enormous casualties and losses of life, and, to our young country's noble contribution to this far away overseas War, of 620,000 men, being ten percent of Canada's then population, and, to our 60,661 fallen, being ten percent of those serving, and, to Canada's Prime Minister, the Conservative, Robert Borden's success in earning Canada's representation at the 1919 Allies' Paris Peace Conference, and, to his and his Ministers' presence there, and, to the respect he earned for Canadian contribution to the war, and for Canada's control of its foreign affairs, wars and peace, and, to the changing relations between the Allied leaders, and, to their changing politics at home, and, to Canadians at home and abroad, particularly the Canadian-born British Prime Minister, Andrew Bonar Law and the Canadian Max Aitken, known as Lord Beaverbrook, both of whom were active in British politics in these events, and who endeavoured, in 1922, to avoid a new war at Chanak, in the Turkish Dardanelles.

She said: Honourable senators, today I uphold Remembrance Day and those who served and fell in the 1914-1918 Great War, now one hundred years since it began. On this day, we reflect on this war between the Allied Triple Entente and the Central Powers' Triple Alliance. The Allies were the British Empire, France, Greece, Italy and Russia until its 1917 revolution, and the United States, which only joined in 1917. The enemy Central Powers were Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. At its start, soldiers were on horseback with swords in hand. By its end, humanity knew modernity's terrible truth, that war was a highly scientific and technological fact. This war was known for its mobilization of millions of men by all sides and its huge armies. British forces numbered 8,905,000 mortals and the French 8,410,000. Many millions of soldiers were fielded and fought on many battlefields in many countries. Canada sent 620,000 men, or about 10 per cent of its then population. Of those, 10 per cent were fallen.

Honourable senators, the Great War was a war of empires, the British, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian. It ended "empire" as a constitutional unit and birthed the term "self-determination of nations," from President Woodrow Wilson's January 8, 1918, Fourteen Points, that meant the end of conquest and annexation of subject peoples and their lands. The Allied victors claimed that the vanquished nations would not be treated as conquered subject peoples, and created a new entity called "mandate." A mandate was "an authorization granted by the League of Nations to a member nation to govern a former German or Turkish colony. . . ." The victor Allies gave themselves the mandates for the conquered peoples and lands. The league of nations concept was Wilson's. Only in 1918 summer did the enemy forces falter, and the Allies gained the upper hand. This war was known for its colossal human loss. Canadian Margaret MacMillan's 2003 book, Paris 1919, records, at page xxvi, that:

The loss was human. Millions of combatants — for the time of massive killing of civilians had not yet come — died in those four years: 1,800,000 Germans, 1,700,000 Russians, 1,384,000 French, 1,290,000 from Austria-Hungary, 743,000 British (and another 192,000 from the empire) and so on . . .

Canada lost 60,661 men. We will remember them.

Honourable senators, Canada and others have begun to celebrate the centennials of the famous battles where their sons fought in the Western Front's theatres of war. Canadians fought in Belgium's Flanders, where our John McCrae wrote his poem In Flanders Fields, and also at France's Vimy Ridge, where Canadians fought well. Next year is the centennial of the Turkish Dardanelles Battle of Gallipoli. There, casualties and losses on both sides were stupendous. The fallen was a multitude of Ottomans, Brits, Australians, New Zealanders and Newfoundlanders, not then a part of Canada. The Allies and the Ottomans, together, had over 500,000 casualties and over 110,000 fallen. Every April 25, the anniversary of Australia and New Zealand's first major military action in Gallipoli, Turks, Australians and New Zealanders gather there to honour their fallen. Next year, Newfoundlanders, for the first time will join them to honour the great sacrifices at Gallipoli's long battle, now seen "as an epic tragedy with an incredible heroic resilience displayed by the soldiers . . . ." This shared remembrance is a sacred act, a redemptive healing, conducive to human understanding and peace. At Gallipoli, a great Turkish officer, Mustafa Kemal, commanded a new Ottoman division and distinguished himself. He had advised the Ottomans not to join the Central Powers in the war. He was a battlefield genius, the commander with the eye for the key tactical position, who would seize the high ground.

Honourable senators, though Ottoman forces won at Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal's respect for the soldiers that he fought there is legend, as is he. His 1934 tribute to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, they call them ANZACs, who fell there is cast in stone. He said:

Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us, where they lie side by side in this country of ours. You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosoms and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they become our sons as well.

Kemal's sensitive words, penned to the mother of a fallen New Zealander, reveal the measure of this man and soldier. They are inscribed in the Atatürk Memorial in Gallipoli's Anzac Cove, and also in the Kemal Atatürk Memorial in Canberra, Australia, and in the Atatürk Memorial at Tarakena Bay in Wellington, New Zealand.

Honourable senators, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal and his Turkish national forces, the new Republic of Turkey was born on October 29, five years after the war's defeat of the Ottoman Empire. Kemal was elected as its first president, with its capital in Ankara. He was honoured with the title "Atatürk," the Father of the Turks. This new country resulted from the Turkish people's national resistance to the inoperative, stillborn Treaty of Sèvres, the Allies' Paris Peace Conference's injudicious treaty with the Ottoman Sultan. Its inexorable failure, and Turkish national resistance to it, had large political consequences in Britain, and led to a new government under Canadian born Prime Minister, Andrew Bonar Law. His new Treaty of Lausanne was negotiated by Lord Curzon and Kemal's General Ismet Inönu.

Honourable senators, the Allied 1919 Paris Peace Conference's Big Three were Britain's Prime Minister David Lloyd George, France's Prime Minister George Clemenceau, and America's President Woodrow Wilson. They set out to redraw the world's borders, and divide the lands of the vanquished empires among themselves. There began much future conflict. Fixed on their more important Treaty of Versailles with the Germans, they delayed the treaty with the Ottomans, whose empire spanned the Middle East, Caucasus, Persia, North Africa, and Europe right to the gates of Vienna. The Big Three detached and partitioned the Empire's provinces, such as Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Iraq. They made themselves the mandatory powers for these lands as they chose. Not content, and led by Britain's Prime Minister Lloyd George, they set out to detach and partition the Empire's Turkish peoples' region, with its capital, ancient Constantinople. Their region, divided by the Bosphorus Strait, straddled Asia and Europe, with Anatolia in Asia, and Eastern Thrace in Europe. Constantinople had been the Byzantine Empire capital, and prior the Eastern Roman Empire capital, in 330 A.D., renamed Constantinople after Emperor Constantine. This Turkish city, now Istanbul, was for over fifteen hundred years the capital of three great empires.

Honourable senators, MacMillan is prescient on the Big Three. At page xxxi, she notes:

Armies, navies, railways, economies, ideologies, history: all these are important in understanding the Paris Peace Conference. But so, too, are individuals because, in the end, people draw up reports, make decisions and order armies to move. The peacemakers brought their own national interests with them, but they also brought their likes and dislikes. Nowhere were these more important than among the powerful men - especially Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Wilson -. . . .

MacMillan presents the dramatis personae, on the stage of the grand production, the Peace Conference. She knows human nature and its potential for folly, as did Benjamin Franklin at the American Federal Convention on September 17, 1787, who said:

For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views.

Honourable senators, with no precedents, save the 1815 Congress of Vienna, the powerful Big Three redrew the world map and wrote their peace terms for the conquered. They were tyrannized by their own prejudices. Each held his country's imperial, expansionist hopes close. Lloyd George harboured deep prejudices against, in his words, "the Turk," whom, in Gladstone's words, he wanted "one and all, bag and baggage" out of Europe. Greece, like Italy, craved a share of the Turkish peoples' lands, such as Smyrna. Lloyd George hated the Turks. He liked the Greeks and their Prime Minister Venizelos, who coveted Smyrna and Constantinople. MacMillan tells, at page 431:

Lloyd George had already agreed that a Greek cruiser should go to Smyrna, and Venizelos saw an opening to send Greek forces into Asia Minor as a counterbalance to the Italians. He and Venizelos had a private dinner in early May. Frances Stevenson, who was present, noted in her diary: "The two have a great admiration for each other, & [Lloyd George] is trying to get Smyrna for the Greeks, though he is having trouble with the Italians over it." What Venizelos remembered from the evening was that Lloyd George was hopeful he could get Constantinople as well for the Greeks. On the morning of May 6, the Allies casually took the decision that set in train the events that destroyed, among many other things, Smyrna itself, Venizelos's great dream and Lloyd George's governing coalition.

Honourable senators, Lloyd George had the habit of acting as his own foreign minister. He ignored his foreign ministers, to their chagrin, especially Lord Curzon, foreign minister since October 1919, whom he disliked. Known for his diplomacy skills, Lord Curzon, unlike Lloyd George, well knew Near East affairs. He, Lord Curzon, opposed Lloyd George's plans to partition the Ottoman Empire's Turkish region, which he thought should be a new Turkish country. On August 10, 1920, the Allies' doomed Sèvres Treaty was signed by the representatives of the Ottoman Sultan, who by then had lost all moral and political authority to govern. It was wholly repudiated and defeated by the victorious Turkish people's national resistance to the Allied partition of their lands, led by Mustafa Kemal, and the Turkish National Assembly, the de facto government of the new Turkey, with their National Pact, which held that their land shall remain whole.

Honourable senators, certain Allied political events helped this resistance. There was the election defeat of Greek Prime Minister Venizelos, and also Italian Prime Minister Orlando's defeat. Here in Canada there was Prime Minister Mackenzie King's stand in the 1922 British Chanak Affair, which led to Prime Minister Lloyd George's resignation. Chanak, now Çanakkale, was a Dardanelles seaport where war was imminent between the British and Kemal's Turkish peoples' national resistance. Chanak was large in Canada's constitutional development and control of its external affairs. Mackenzie King's success was great, as had been Robert Borden's earlier success in Canada's and the Dominions' representation at the Paris Peace Conference. On Lloyd George's forced resignation, the new British Prime Minister, the Canadian, a Conservative, Andrew Bonar Law, sent his Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, to broker the Peace Treaty with Kemal's new Turkish Government. The July 24, 1923 Treaty of Lausanne is the sole peace treaty signed at the Great War's end which is still in force.

Honourable senators, Lloyd George headed the British Empire delegation of four hundred persons at the Allies' Paris Peace Conference. Canada, the Dominions and India were there. Our Prime Minister Robert Borden and the Dominions had pressed Lloyd George for their sovereign right to representation there. MacMillan tells, at page 45:

Lloyd George . . . would tell his allies that the dominions and India required separate representation at the Peace Conference. It was one of the first issues he raised when he arrived in Paris (on January 12, 1919). The Americans and the French were cool, seeing only British puppets — and extra British votes.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Cools, your 15 minutes have expired. Are you requesting an additional five minutes?

Senator Cools: Please.

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Cools: Thank you, honourable senators.

The Dominions' Prime Ministers' fight for representation in Paris edged them closer to control of their foreign affairs.

Honourable senators, Canada did well there. About Robert Borden, MacMillan notes, at page 45:

. . . if Canada did not have full representation at the conference there was nothing for it but for him "to pack his trunks, return to Canada, summon Parliament, and put the whole thing before them."

Prime Minister Borden won Canada's representation in Paris. MacMillan notes, at page 47:

The Canadians, well aware that they were from the senior dominion, were led by Borden, upright and handsome. They took a high moral tone not for the first time in international relations, . . .

Dominion participation at this peace conference was crucial to Canada's claim for control of its foreign affairs and Canada was also key at the later British Empire's imperial conferences. In 1931, the Statute of Westminster gave the Dominions full control of external affairs. Too soon, with its own King of Canada, and Great Seal, Canada declared individual war on the Third Reich.

Honourable senators, in Paris, Canada was also represented by Ministers George Foster, Charles Joseph Doherty and Arthur Sifton, and Manitoba Free Press editor John Wesley Dafoe.

Honourable senators, MacMillan's Introduction, at page xxvi tells:

For four years the most advanced nations in the world had poured out their men, their wealth, the fruits of their industry, science and technology, on a war that may have started by accident but was impossible to stop because the two sides were too evenly balanced.

The greatest act of peace is simply to make no war. Canada refused to make war at Chanak against the Turkish people. Prime Minister Mackenzie King's brave leap for control of Canada's foreign affairs, wars and peace was a moral and constitutional high watermark and a gift of peace for Turkey.

Honourable senators, Lord Beaverbrook described Prime Minister Lloyd George as a leader without a party. Displacing the Liberal Leader, Herbert Asquith, by 1916 he was Prime Minster in the Liberal Conservative Coalition Government, whose lead ministers were Conservative. He was helped, by the dutiful Canadian, Andrew Bonar Law's refusal of that office, by which he became Britain's last Liberal Prime Minister. In 1922, peace lay wholly in Lloyd George's resignation, forced by the Conservative Caucus vote to withdraw their support for his coalition. War is the failure of politics. Peace is its success. Politics here was successful and peaceful. The faithful Canadian, Prime Minister Bonar Law's short regime, of a few months, made a long and lasting peace with Mustafa Kemal's new Turkey in the Treaty of Lausanne.

Honourable senators, I close with Robert Laurence Binyon's poem, "For the Fallen," from the London Times, September 21, 1914. I read partly:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. . . .

War, the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse, is a grim reaper of life. We will remember them.

Thank you, colleagues.

(On motion of Senator Marshall, debate adjourned.)

(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, November 4, 2014, at 2 p.m.)

The remainder of this day's Senate Debates are available here.