The people of Europe want peace. They want food and clothing also, and in many places their need is urgent and stark. But above all other of their string desires they want to be free: free to decide for themselves what sort of governments they are to have, who are to head their governments and what national aims their governments shall represent. They feel the more strongly on this point because of their bitter and tragic experiences during the past nine years. A hundred million or them see in the calculated United States and Canadian discrimination against the new democracies evidence of a cynical effort to re-establish the conditions which existed before the war. Against that the overwhelming majority of them are united solidly.
They want the sympathy and the help of the democratic people of Canada and the United States. A cabinet minister who was previously a school teacher said to me: “If only the people of North America realized that we are very similar people to themselves, trying to do exactly the sort of things that they would want to do if they were here in our conditions, I’m sure they would want to help us.”
That is true. Every democratic man and women in Canada who understands the facts does want to help; not alone because it is the decent and democratic thing to do, but because the reconstruction of Europe is an indispensable need if we are to have a peaceful and prosperous postwar world. As Marshal Tito said to Bill Foster when the latter commented upon the Truman atomic bomb policy as a permanent threat of war: “It isn’t the atomic bomb that worries the peoples of Europe today, but the need to restore our industries.”
Democratic Canadians can help the peoples of Europe to restore their industries. All of them will need goods which Canada exports. All of them will be able to pay for such goods if they are given assistance and time to restore their domestic production. Canada can afford to give credit to these countries. After the first world war Canada gave a credit of twenty-five million dollars to the reactionary monarchist government of Yugoslavia; how much more easily our government could afford to extend credit to the people’s government of Yugoslavia today!
Immediately after the war the Dominion government did extend a small credit to Czechoslovakia (a total overall credit of nineteen million dollars). But the Canadian government has cancelled that credit since, and it is impossible to ignore the significance of the fact that it was cancelled shortly after the United States government cancelled the credit it had granted to Czechoslovakia before the people there elected a people’s government headed by a communist.
Democratic Canadians welcomed the government’s billion and a quarter loan to Britain and the generous terms upon which it was granted. They welcomed the loan of two hundred and forty-five million dollars to France, and the money loaned to the government of Holland to aid that country in its gigantic task of postwar reconstruction. But democratic Canadians could not approve of that large part of the loan to Holland which was earmarked for the specific purpose of helping Dutch finance-capitalist interests to crush the Indonesian People’s Republic; especially when they realized that it was given for the same reasons that loans and credits to the new democracies or the soviet Union are refused. Against that use of the public treasury of Canada in the interest of finance-capitalist reaction every democratic Canadian should protest by all means at his or her command.
Whether or not Canada grants them credits the people of the U.S.S.R. and the people of Europe’s new democracies are going to win. Democracy is on the march in the old world; it won’t be stopped by economic discrimination, it won’t be stopped bu lying propaganda, it won’t be stopped even by the hunger suffered as a result of the Truman policy of using food as a weapon of political warfare. Just as the people of the Soviet Union met those same methods of discrimination during the 1920’s and defeated them, so they and the people of the new democracies will defeat them now--and with the new democracies there are a hundred million mire of them now than there were in the 1920’s.
Jacques Duclos summed it up when he said to Bill Foster and me: “The decisive question today is not ‘is there or is there not a war danger?’. The decisive question for individuals, parties and governments is ‘where do you stand?’. Two great bodies of opinion are competing for men’s support. It is not true to say that this contest is between the Soviet Union and the United States, because it is going on in every corner of the civilized world. It is true, however, that the contest comes into the sharpest focus and is moire obvious between the struggle for the new democract of which the decisive centre is as yet in Europe and the struggle to re-stabilize imperialism, of which the decisive centre is now the United States. It is quite clear that the one means by which the danger of a third world war can be eliminated is by giving us in Europe sufficient time to show that the tremendous human advance achieved by the people of the U.S.S.R. on the ruins of Czarism can be surpassed by the people of Europe building on the ruins of Hitlerism.”
That’s all they are asking, time to build their new life in old Europe. Let’s make Canada one of the countries from which they receive aid.