And the Voice is the verdict of destiny to every nation that has taken its place at the world’s council board.
Having spent a hundred years working out a system of government almost perfect in its democracy, and having spent fifty more years working out a system of trade and transportation that gives Canada sixth rank in the gross foreign trade of the world nations—one would think the Dominion entitled to lie back resting on her laurels reaping the reward that is undoubtedly hers.
But nations can no more rest in their development than men. To stop means to go back. To rest means to rust, and Canada to-day must face one of the most serious problems in her national history. What is worth having is worth holding, and what is worth holding must always be defended. The strong man does not go out challenging a fight. The very fact that he is strong prevents other men challenging him to a fight, and Canada must face the need of national defense.
So remote did the need of national defense seem to Canada that as late as May of 1913 the Senate rejected Premier Borden’s plan for Canada to contribute her quota in cost to the British navy. The Laurier government had proposed building a small navy for the Dominion. This was hooted by the French Nationalists, and when the Borden government came into power, the policy was modified from building a small navy to bearing a quota of the cost of a navy built and equipped by Imperial power. In the rejection of this policy, the composition of the Senate and Commons should be observed. The Commons were Conservative, or supporters of Premier Borden, and the Government Navy Bill passed the Commons by one hundred and one to sixty-eight. The Nationalists voted with the opposition or the Liberals. The Nationalists are the small French party pledged against Canada’s intervention in European affairs. Laurier having been in power for almost two decades, the Senate was, of course, tinged with the Liberal policy. They could not completely reject a naval policy without repudiating Laurier’s former policy; so they rejected the Borden Naval Bill on the ground that it ought to have been submitted to the electorate. The vote in the Senate was fifty-one to twenty-seven. In the Senate were fifty-four Liberals—or supporters of Laurier—and thirty-two Conservatives, or supporters of Borden. In other words, so remote did the possible need of defense seem that both parties played politics with it.