Senator Segal w
rites about the Commonwealth. THe Commonwealth encompasses 2.5 billion people bound together by ties of history and friendship. We must strengthen these ties. It is a perfect grouping to have a massive free trade zone!. It would encompass 1.3 of the world's populations. The senior Dominions and the United Kingdom should start off by dropping all trade barriers to the poorest members. I also agree with Senator Segal that we should encourage youth exchanges and encourage educational opportunities across the Commonwelath.
Canadians are rightfully proud that one of our prime ministers, John Diefenbaker, played a crucial role in creating the modern, multiracial Commonwealth.
When he stood — alone amongst white leaders — with the non-white prime ministers and other representatives of the Commonwealth and stared down apartheid South Africa and its application for membership in 1961, his and Canada’s status as an architect of the world body’s future was secured.
What is less-known is the key role Diefenbaker’s government played in establishing one of the Commonwealth’s additional success stories; it is also something Canadians and all 2.4 billion citizens of the Commonwealth’s 54 nations can look back on with pride.
I speak of the Commonwealth Scholarships that were championed by Canada at the Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference in Montreal in 1959. This meeting was chaired by our then-minister of finance, Donald Fleming.
“The spirit of this conference has been almost a unique creation,” Fleming said in his closing remarks. “Out of it have emerged decisions and accomplishments which we survey with the deepest satisfaction.”