Letter to MacKay
June 29th 1936
I have looked over your draft manifesto on Canadian foreign policy. As it stands it seems to me to be a pretty good attempt to do the impossible, viz., to square purse isolationism with the necessity of paying respect to a belief in collective action. Its statement of isolation is clear: Canada will not take part in any aremed conflicts overseas, ever. She will not even support the present League by economic sanctions. Very good. Then Canada should at once withdraw from the League, and all your talk about co-operating “fully” to establish an effective League should indicate that you intend to do this from the outside, and you should say that you will not re-join unless your conditions of non-participation in military measures is accepted. Your manifesto does not make this very clear; the last paragraph of all should be more fully incoporated in point 5, of the enumerated principles.
When boiled down your statement simply says that you will not support the present League with any sanctions, byt might support a new League with economic sanctions. Why not simplify to make this clearer, leaving in your clauses about protecting neutrality? You are very vague about how much support you would give a new League, and vaguer about what kind of a League it should be. This is where the manifesto needs elucidation.
I do not know what names of signers to suggest. Almost any French Canadians would sign, I should think, because the one idea that does emerge is that Canada will never fight abroad.
Personally I could not accept the manifesto as it stands, since I would willingly promise economic sanctions to the present League, and would only defer the offer of military sanctions until such time as provision has been made for peaceful revision of the status quo, disarmament has been undertaken and a sanctions policy has been elaborated and adopted. This meets the isolationist more than half way, but it avoids the inherent weakness of the isolationist position since it positively points the road for the future and it does not imply that peace can be secured, even for Canada, by pretending that was are other people’s affairs rather than ours.
I should be glad to see any re-draft.