THE REGISTER

BERWICK, NOVA SCOTIA

JANUARY 20, 1937

Mr. Bennett in Empire Broadcast

Expressing the hope that policies could be devised to bring about a wider distribution of British people among the countries of the Empire, Rt. Hon. R. B. Bennett, former Canadian Prime Minister, in an Empire broadcast told something of his reactions after a tour of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the British Isles.

Following is the text of Mr. Bennett’s address to the Empire as transcribed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

"During the past few months I have been visiting the great self-governing Dominions of the family nations which we speak of affectionately as the British Empire.

"I first visited New Zealand, larger than England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but with a population of only 1,250,000 people. Within little more than a century that Dominion has attained its present position, developed important cities and developed agriculturally, so that its external trade per capita is greater than that of any other country in the world. There is every evidence of a happy, contented and prosperous rural population.

"Australia, an island continent with an area little less than that of the whole of Europe, sustains a population slightly less than 7,000,000.

"In South Africa, relatively few Europeans, about 2,000,000 in all, inhabiting an area between four and five times as large as the whole of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, have so developed their resources that they are now the greatest producers of gold and diamonds in the world.

"My first feeling as a Canadian is one of pride in the achievements of those Dominions. Look at the pages of history. Will you find any record in the long story of mankind which excels in manufacturing, industrial and scientific achievement what has been accomplished in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada during the last 100 years?

"The sense of pride of the people of the British Isles must be even greater than that of a Canadian, for your ancestors, by courage and vision, by sacrifice and conquest, secured these territories to the Crown.

"But the Crown in the right of the people of these islands has retained no proprietary interest in the fertile soil and rich mineral wealth of these Dominions. They have been alienated and sold by the local Governments without reference to those who made them available for civilization. Yet the Dominions have a population of not more than 27,000,000 people, including natives, or approximately 1-75 of the population of the world, while they occupy territory which comprises one-seventh of the entire globe.

"In the field of government the results within the century are even more impressive. Those Dominions were once Colonies governed by direct control from London.

"Within that period representative institutions have been established, responsible only to the inhabitants, to the populations of their respective countries, and have gradually developed into autonomous nations in no way subordinated one to the other in any aspect of their domestic or foreign affairs, although united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

"From the Mother of Parliaments, never greater or more vigorous than now, as has been shown to all the world within the last few weeks, they have learned the value of Parliamentary Institutions; they have achieved freedom and may maintain liberty if prepared to pay the price, which is discipline and self-restraint.

"The spirit of pioneering still remains in the descendants of the British, French, and Dutch settlers of long ago, and despite what may be said from time to time it is my convictions that they are not unworthy of the sacrifices of their ancestors.

"During the past few months that I have visited these great Dominions. I have thought what a prize they must appear in the eyes of the nations whose populations seek expansion. If the peoples of the Dominions are unchallenged in the occupancy of their lands, in the possession of their great inheritance, to me, and indeed to them so far as I could ascertain, this is attributable to their free association as members of the British family of nations working out their individual destinies, having regard to their own peculiar conditions. It is indeed a goodly fellowship this association between the Dominions and Great Britain and one another.

I believe the development of the rich resources of these great Dominions had lessened the purchases from other countries, including these islands. It is but natural the surplus population of these islands should therefore seek homes in the Dominions. The great necessity in the Dominions is increased population and I hope we may be able by active cooperation to devise plans which will enable those who find lessened opportunities for employment here by reason of the development of the Dominions overseas to assist in that development and take their part in maintaining the intellectual and national life which owe their organization and existence to the enterprise an vision of men and women who once lived and moved and had their being within sound of my voice.

"I should like to assure you that in every part of the Empire which I visited, men and women found the common bond of union and allegiance in the Crown, their devotion to which is expressed on every suitable occasion in those words with which we are all so familiar and which are repeatedly spoken and sung by one-quarter of the population of the world – God Save the King."


Back