In her article, “‘On the Side of Justice and Peace’: Canada on the League of Nations Council 1927-1930”, Linda Lloyd narrates a page of history, referring to the ascension of Canada on the scene of international politics. The author follows Canada’s endeavor of becoming a constitutive part of the League of Nations Council, deciding upon international social and political aspects, alongside world powers such as England and France, plus other independent states, such as Japan, Germany and Italy. Canada’s intention to participate in the election for the non-permanent seat available in the Council was a difficult and sensitive decision, as Lloyd reflects in her writing. She presents Canada’s challenges in its quest for being selected in the Council, by referring to its dominion position, revealing that for Canada, becoming a Council member would imply to have an independent voice, not echoing its mother-country’s (England) voice. This was a sensitive situation that Canada’s prime minister, Lyon Mackenzie King considered it would disturb England and would cumber the relationship with England and France at the same time. Nevertheless, as the author presents in her article, Canada’s representation in the League of Nations Council did not harm in any way its relationship with neither France nor England, only propelled it as an independent, worthy of international political scene, actor.
Lloyd describes Canada’s difficulties in becoming a reputable member of the Council, such as the hardship of the Department of External Affairs to face its duties with only two senior members, the quest of a suitable candidate for becoming Canada’s representative in the Council or the country’s relevance in the Council’s meetings. The author of this article accurately describes the hardship that Canada’s representative faced for being accepted as a reliable member, when most the other members disapproved his experience and suitability for this role. Lloyd tells that the other members of the Council were considering that Raoul Dandurand (Canada’s elected representative) was seeking to advance in his life through this position.
Throughout the article, Lloyd uses colorful expressions, quoting political figures of the time she evokes, giving the reading authenticity and dynamism. For instance, the author uses documented materials to include relevant and accurate data about Canada’s participation in the Council, certifying the truthfulness of the facts through expressions used during the Council’s meetings by its members. As such, the author notes that Canada “was taken seriously” due to Walter Riddel’s involvement in the Council’s activity. Many similar comments and observations are available throughout the text, assuring its reliability.
With the purpose of presenting Canada’s evolution in the Council during 1927-1930, Lloyd describes Canada’s involvement in two significant issues that were on the Council’s agenda: the opium and the children welfare’s problem. The author reports that King was the one who was selected to report on these issues, as the official rapporteur of the League, representing Canada in the Council’s meetings from 1928. Lloyd notes that Canada gained increased credibility after King’s presentations. The way she reflects King’s participation and warm welcoming in the Council, as compared to how Dandurand was received, suggests the elitist aura of the Council’s members.
However, Canada’s main contribution to the Council’s activity was not performed by King, nor by Riddel, who were both appreciated among the other Council’s members, but by Dandurand, who, as Lloyd revealed throughout the article, was not very popular among the other members. The author talks about how Dandurand took a firm position on the issue regarding minorities, influencing the entire Council to take this matter seriously, because although it was on the agenda, the issue was treated superficially, leaving matters unsolved. Dandurand’s diplomatic skills and humanitarian interests, plus his multiculturalist approach were aligned smoothly and sophisticatedly. As such, he managed to convince all the members of the Council that they should investigate the minorities’ petitions, aiming to solve their problems and to diminish petitions, by creating sustainable policies and practices in the benefit of minorities’ rights.
Little information is available in the text regarding the role of the League of Nations Council, and no information about how and why it was formed, which indicates that Lloyd created her article for readers with documented knowledge in international politics. Other readings fill the gaps from Lloyd’s article. As such, Smejkal informs that the League’s activity started in 1919, gathering cosmopolitan group of specialists for serving international issues. Bullor and Deakin say that the League was formed with the purpose of serving as a security organization, although members could not take any actions, but only propose advises with the obligation to be fulfilled.
However, in her article, Lloyd describes the historic events related to Canada’s participation to the international political scene for the maintenance of world peace with naturalness and dynamism, as if she relates worldly and current events for the international press. As such, from her article, the readers find out that Canada’s Prime Minister, King, was very appreciated and courted by the European powers, which were highly interested in meeting him. Lloyd reports the main moments of Canada’s Prime Minister’s visit in Europe, caught between brief conferences and participation to mundane, networking events with Mussolini, British King and Prime Minister and other popular European political figures of the time. From this account, it can be deduced that the international politics of that time was quite similar with the current one, wherein the faith of the world is being discussed both in formal and informal environments.
Continuing on Lloyd’s story of Raul Dandurand’s courageous, yet diplomatic endeavor to step up in the Council for supporting the issue of minorities, which remained unconcluded after Adatci, the Japanese rapporteur’s presentation in December 1928, Bullor and Deakin confirm that this intervention “produced positive results.” As a result of Dandurand and Stressman’s (Germany’s foreign minister, representative of the Council) intervention upon the issue of minorities, an increased transparency was created between the League of Nations and the minorities, communicating directly with the petitioners for informing them the status of their complaints.
Although Lloyd emphasizes with a rather subjective air Canada’s endeavors and successes as a relevant player of the international political scene, she nevertheless reports objectively Germany and Poland’s involvement in the Council in the minorities’ matter, which denotes a personal interest in boosting Canada’s mission in the Council. She related clearly, quoting Zalenski (Poland’s foreign minister and representative in the Council), who argued strongly that if the minorities issue would remain unsolved, it would be the beginning of a real danger to the peace; similarly, she reported Stresemann’s precipitated response of not wanting to reopen “old wounds”. Yet, Smejkal indicates that Stresemann was committed to remove Germany’s association with an oppressor country, noting that he entered Geneva with the purpose of defending minorities’ rights.
Lloyd’s report over Canada’s participation in the League of Nations Council during 1927-1930 is consistent and comprehensive, including relevant links with historical events of the time. The tone of the article is journalistic, dynamic and factual, yet Lloyd transmits a note of support and admiration for Canada’s challenges and success in the Council. She gradually describes Canada’s political efforts of becoming considered an international player, by presenting the obstacles that it faced for being heard as an entity, not in connection with England or France. Like this, Lloyd is indicating that the country’s strong expertize in foreign relations, its diplomacy, its humanitarian concern and its multiculturalism nature made it a reliable and independent international political actor.
Bullor Lord & Deakin, William “The Geneva Dream: The League of Nations and Post-War Internationalism”. Oxford: Oxford University, 2005.
Lloyd, Lorna, “‘On the Side of Justice and Peace’: Canada on the League of Nations Council 1927-1930” Diplomacy & Satecraft, vol. 24, pp. 171-191: 2013.
Smejkal, Thomas, “Protection in Practice: The Minorities Section of the League of Nations Secretariat, 1919-1934”, Columbia: Columbia University, 2010.