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Canada: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS: Listen, London

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Britain, like a mother hen clucking at her dearest chick, kept calling Canada. South Africa’s Jan Christian Smuts was already in London, for a conference of Empire Prime Ministers on defense and trade. So were representatives of Australia and New Zealand. The New York Times reported, from London, that Prime Minister Mackenzie King would not arrive “until next week.” Others predicted that he would soon “fly to London.”

In Ottawa, an External Affairs Department spokesman stood it as long as he could. Then, in language as diplomatic as his striped pants, he flatly said that such press reports were “misleading.” In plain Canadian talk: flapdoodle.

The truth was that Canada’s King was not at all interested in conferring about defense or trade or anything else with the other members of the Empire. For one thing, he was busy enough at home. Parliament was in session. There were explosive Dominion-Provincial differences to be ironed out. And why should he go? To discuss trade? Canada already knew where she stood: she would help Britain, her best customer, back to stability with a loan of $1,250,000,000 and with urgent food shipments. Defense? Canada would, if need be, discuss that vital problem with the U.S., with whom her defense is strategically wedded.

If Mr. King went to Europe at all, it would not be for several weeks. Then it would be only to attend a peace conference, when one is held, in Paris. He would be glad to drop in on Prime Minister Attlee and other friends in London en route. But he would not help London window-dress any so-called Empire Conference. Canada was a sovereign, independent nation. London had better understand that right now.

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