Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, parliament was just about to reassemble at the beginning of this session when members of the social credit group were called upon to mourn the loss of one of their number who had entered the House of Commons for his first time at the general elections of 1935. Within a few weeks thereafter we on the government side sustained a similar loss in the passing of one of our younger members who had been returned to parliament also for the first time at the last general elections. To-day, immediately opposite, on the side of the official opposition, there is a vacant seat which was occupied during this session by one of the younger members of the Conservative party who, too, became a member of this House of Commons for the first time at the general elections of 1935. We are thus reminded that death is no more a respecter of political parties than of persons.
On Tuesday last it was known that Major F. C. Betts, the member for London, in pursuit of a favourite recreation, had left Ottawa to go to one of the nearby streams or lakes, to enjoy a day's fishing. When he did not return to keep the engagements he had previously made there began to be concern as to the circumstances which might have occasioned his prolonged absence. Much anxiety was felt as to what fate might have befallen him. Nevertheless, at the time of
adjournment on Friday evening last all had hoped that he would somewhere be found in safety and brought back to his family and to the service of his country, in parliament and elsewhere.
Unfortunately the anxieties of those who feared that Major Betts had met his death by accidental drowning were only too completely realized on Saturday morning when his body was found in the Blanche river, a short distance from where he had parked his car some days previously. The remains have been taken to London, and to-morrow members of all political parties will assemble at the funeral service to be held in the late member's native city in order to pay their last tribute of respect to his memory.
I shall leave it to my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) to speak more particularly of the loss which he personally and members of his party have sustained in the passing of one who was so closely identified with their interests. I should like, however, to say on behalf of hon. members of all parties how greatly shocked we were to learn that one so prominent in his party, one whose career was so well known, and who possessed so much of opportunity and capacity for public service should have come to the end of his days practically at the beginning of his parliamentary life.
It is generally known that Major Betts served with real distinction during the period of the great war. At the early age of twenty, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, and during the war was twice wounded. In his chosen profession of law, his attainments had received marked and well-merited recognition from his associates. He was an ex-President of the Middlesex Law Association and at the time of his death was a member of the council of the Canadian Bar Association.
During the years 1928 and 1929, Major Betts served as a member of the London county council. From the part he took in discussions in this house hon. members will recall his wide range of interest in public questions. Though in the Commons but a short time he showed clearly his desire and ability to debate the different subjects which were of concern to parliament. He was one of the most active members of his party.
Personally and on behalf of my colleagues and all hon. members on this side I should like to extend to my right hon. friend and to those who sit around him the expression of our sincere sympathy in the loss which the Conservative party and he as its leader have
The Late Mr. Betts
sustained in the passing of one who so loyally supported the party, its principles, and its leader.
I should like to say, on behalf of all hon. members of this house, how very deeply we feel for the young widow and infant daughter who have 'been so greatly bereaved, as also for other members of the family who have suffered so great a loss under circumstances peculiarly poignant.
Subtopic: FREDERICK CRONYN BETTS