June 27, 1947



William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, before we begin this afternoon's proceedings of the house. I should like personally, and on behalf of my colleagues in the government and members of all parties in both houses of parliament, to express something of the sorrow that must have been felt throughout Canada when it was learned that, at an early hour this morning, one who over many years had been foremost in the public life of our country had passed away. Had Lord Bennett lived until Thursday of next week he would have attained, on that day, his seventy-seventh birthday anniversary. It has been known for some time past that he was in failing health. This, at his years, naturally occasioned much anxiety to his friends. Notwithstanding, the word of Lord Bennett's death this morning will have come wholly unexpectedly to the people of our country.

It would be difficult for anyone, and most of all for one in my position, to attempt at this time to estimate the place which will be given by posterity to Lord Bennett's services to Canada, to the British commonwealth of nations, and to the world. In the affairs of each of these arenas he took, over many years, an active and conspicuous part. It would be still more difficult, and at this moment wholly inappropriate, for me to attempt to weigh the merits of political controversies in this house and on the public platform in which, as leaders of opposing par-

The Late Lord Bennett

ties, we were engaged, whether in office or in opposition. It is rather of those things which political supporters and opponents alike will wish to remember that I should like to say just a word at this time.

A review of Lord Bennett's life seems to me to fall naturally into three main divisions; the first the years of early manhood during which period his time was given to educational pursuits, to the work of his chosen profession and to the beginnings of his participation in public affairs, in New Brunswick-where he was born and received his early education- and in western Canada where he subsequently went to reside.

The second period was that which has its immediate association with the parliament of Canada, and which began with his election to this House of Commons as member for Calgary in 1911, and which continued until he resigned the leadership of his party in 1938, and subsequently went to reside in the United Kingdom.

The third period is concerned with Lord Bennett's activities in the years of his residence in Britain. It is difficult to believe this period now totals nine years.

As we look, in turn, at each of these periods of Lord Bennett's public life there is one feature common to all three. By it, I am sure, it would have been Lord Bennett's wish to be remembered. That feature was his wholehearted devotion to public service. This is noticeable in his membership in municipal councils in New Brunswick within three years of his admission to the bar of that province; in his membership of the legislative assembly of the northwest territories from 1898 to 1905; in his membership in the legislative assembly of Alberta from 1909 to 1911; in his membership in this House of Commons from 1911 to 1917 and again from 1925 to 1938, and in his membership in the House of Lords in Britain over the past six years.

During his years in our House of Commons, Lord Bennett held at different times the offices of iMinister of Justice and Attorney General, Minister of Finance and Secretary of State for External Affairs. He was chosen leader of the Conservative party at a national convention in October 1927. This position he held for nearly eleven years. For just over five years-from August 1930 to October 1935 -he held the office of Prime Minister.

During the years that his party was in power, and prior to the time he himself became Prime Minister, Lord Bennett shared to the full the confidence of Sir Robert Borden. and of the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen. In his years of office, Lord Bennett took a

foremost part in conferences in Canada and London on imperial and other political and economic questions. In 1934 he represented Canada at the league of nations assembly.

During the early days of the war Lord Bennett gave valuable service at the ministry of aircraft production in London. At a moment of critical fortunes in the war against the enemy in the air, he shouldered voluntarily a considerable responsibility for which he was warmly thanked by the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Throughout his life, and especially during his years in England, Lord Bennett gave much time and effort to the activites of the Red Cross. The hospital erected at Taplow, Buckinghamshire, and subsequently handed over by the government of Canada for use by British agencies, was a project in which he took a special interest. One of his last public duties was the handing over for the flood distress relief fund of a contribution of $1,500,000 from the surplus funds of the Canadian Red Cross Society.

A parliamentary tribute to Lord Bennett would not be complete without a reference to his qualities as a public speaker and a debater. He greatly enjoyed public speaking, and both on the platform and in parliament displayed exceptional oratorical talents.

Whatever the political differences, those who did not espouse Lord Bennett's political faith will readily concede his fidelity to the causes he advocated, and pay tribute to the public services he sought to render Canada and the British commonwealth of nations.

Lord Bennett's life furnishes a striking example of how one of determined purpose can succeed in the enterprises of life. I have already spoken of his years in parliament, his years of great activity as the leader of his party, and in the office of Prime Minister. His position at the bar was of high eminence. In a material sense he was a man of great wealth. He will be remembered in this connection as one who displayed large benevolence towards deserving causes.

Lord Bennett possessed rare capacities in many fields-the law, education, banking and commerce, as well as public affairs. He displayed great industry in every branch of his activities. It was in keeping with the record of his career that his convictions were very strong, and that his position on public questions was generally unyielding.

It would not be true were I to have it appear that my relations with Lord Bennett were at all times the pleasantest. I hope I do his memory no injustice when I say that as a man of strong feelings he found it difficult not to resent as personal much that is inevitable in the vicissitudes of party political for-

The Late Lord Bennett

tunes and strife. It is hard for any of us in public life wholly to escape that feeling. I like, however, to believe that between public men whose views may be strongly opposed, there is often an underlying sympathy more profound than any of which the public can possibly be aware.

With the permission of the house, I should like to conclude what I have to say of Lord Bennett at this time by reading to hon. members two of the last letters exchanged between us. They relate to his relinquishment of the leadership of his party, and of active participation in Canadian politics. I like to recall at this time the sentiments which these communications express. They will, I need scarcely say, ever be deeply cherished.

The first communication is one from myself to Lord Bennett. It is dated Laurier House, Ottawa, March 6, 1938, and is as follows: Laurier House, Ottawa, March 6, 1938.

Dear Mr. Bennett:

Please permit me to say that I was not a little pained when I received the word that because of the impairment of your heart, you have found it necessary to relinquish the leadership of your party, and that you will be doing so before another session of parliament.

Next to yourself, I am in a better position than anyone else to know the tax upon one's health and strength which leadership of a political party occasions. I have often marvelled that you have found it possible to do what you have, and maintain your strength to the degree you have. I know how deeply you will feel giving up parliamentary duties, even for the sake of your health; perhaps I should say, particularly because of your health. In this decision which has become imperative, I should like you to know that you have my sincere and understanding sympathy.

I can only express the hope that release from some of the exacting burdens you have borne may serve to restore your health and to increase and prolong the enjoyment of your days as well as afford opportunities of public service in other ways, which otherwise might be denied.

With kind personal regards,

Believe me,

Yours very sincerely,

(iSgd.) W. L. Mackenzie King.

The Right Honourable R. B. Bennett, P.C., M.P., Leader of the Opposition,

Chateau Laurier,


To that letter I received the following reply from Mr. Bennett as he was then addressed:

House of Commons Canada

Leader of the Opposition

Monday, 7 March, 1938. My dear Prime Minister:

It is difficult to express in writing my very sincere appreciation of your courtesy and sympathetic understanding in writing me your note of yesterday.


Of course I dislike giving up. Anyone who has been through the political campaigns 1 have participated in would dislike abandoning the field. But I could not think of going through a general election and our friends must prepare. My general health has been excellent, but the doctors tell me that my heart condition which was apparently only temporary has become permanent. The impairment is not necessarily suddenly fatal but if not carefully looked after may result in permanent invalidism.

Perhaps I may be able to find some useful work to do that will not involve too much strain. At any rate I shall try. But in the remaining years, few or many, I shall not forget your note.

I wish I had been able to so conduct the affairs of the country from 1930 to 1935 as to have escaped some of the violence of the opposition of your party; I might not have found myself so worn at the end of my term of office. But that is past history. I do hope that you have no such experience as I have had and in health and strength you may be able to discharge your duties and responsibilities.

With grateful appreciation of your note and the kind thought that inspired it, I am,

Yours sincerely,

R. B. Bennett.

The iRight Honourable

W. L. Mackenzie King, P.C., M.P., LL.D., &c., Prime Minister.


John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. JOHN BRACKEN (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, death, comes very close to all of us when it takes away, one who for five years sat where the Prime Minister now sits, and who for three years prior to that time and three years subsequently sat in the seat it is now my privilege to occupy.

Under these circumstances there will be many who will wish to pay tribute to the one who has gone. As for myself, and speaking, for my associates, I wish to pay, personal! tribute to the man who served this country as Prime Minister during the five most difficult. years this country, in common with the rest of the civilized world, has ever passed through.

When Mr. Bennett was Prime Minister I was one of the western premiers. It. was a time when men in public affairs carried heavy burdens and had to act decisively and often quickly. It -was a time when governments could not be guided by theories, but from day to day had to face practical realities. It was a time when the problems of international affairs were not as well understood as they are today.

In my dealings with him I found Mr. Bennett to be a man of great courage, of great personal integrity, and, above all a great Canadian, one most familiar with every phase of public business from one end of this country to the other.

He felt he had to do some things which were unpopular at the time, but which with the passing years the public has come to understand better and appreciate.

The Late Lord Bennett

Among the achievements that will stand as an enduring monument, to his memory are the empire trade agreements. And among the great institutions which will stand to his credit is the establishment of the central bank, the Bank of Canada.

Mr. Bennett was a man of wide scholarship, distinguished in his profession, a leader in business, and an outstanding parliamentarian. His public career began in 1896, when he served as a member of the municipal council of the county of Northumberland in New Brunswick. It ends now, fifty-one years later, after he had been six years a member of the British parliament.

The man to whom we pay tribute today lived a rich and fruitful life. The last occasion on which I saw him was some two years ago on a trip to the continent. I found him somewhat impaired in physical strength, somewhat mellowed in his approach to controversial questions, but with the love of Canada undiminished and his faith in the future of the commonwealth unimpaired.

I regard it as a privilege on my own behalf, as well as on behalf of my associates, to have the opportunity of paying tribute to one who was an outstanding public figure, as well as a great public servant.


Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. ANGUS MacINNIS (Vancouver East):

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing much that I need add to the tributes that have already been paid by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and the Leader of the *Opposition (Mr. Bracken) to a man whom I *consider to have been one of Canada's greatest men and one of our most colourful political leaders.

It was my good fortune to be. elected at the general election in 1930 and to have been here during the strenuous five years between 1930 and 1935. Mr: Bennett was a man who seemed to me to welcome a fight. He never did anything to parry or ease the blows directed at him. As the Prime Minister has said, he enjoyed a fight. To me he appeared at first an aloof and forbidding character, but during the last few years that he was in this house, when I came to know him better and to know him personally, I found him a kindly and warm personality. I wish to associate this group with the tributes that have been paid in his honour today.

Mr. SOLON E. LOW (Peace River): Mr. 'Speaker, I wish to associate the group I represent with what has been said by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bracken), and tthe hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis). I did not know Lord Bennett

personally', but I was born and reared in the province in which he spent the greater part of his life. I knew of his great capacity, his brilliant career and I admired a number of the fine things he did which will leave their impression not only upon Canada but upon the commonwealth. I always admired the

great devotion he had to any cause he thought was right. We too sincerely regret his sudden passing.

Right Hon. L. S. ST. LAURENT (Secretary of State for External Affairs): Mr. Speaker,

may I have your indulgence and that of the house to add yet a few more words to the tributes which have been paid to the great Canadian lawyer, political leader and

parliamentarian whose memory will long remain with us all.

I wish to do so as one of the older members of the Canadian Bar Association, in the organization and development of which Mr. Bennett took so prominent a part from its very inception and of which he became the honorary life president at a meeting held in his home city of Calgary- in 1932 over which I had the honour of presiding.

The office of honorary life president was created and Mr. Bennett was appointed to it by unanimous resolution proposed by the late Mr. Rowell, afterwards Chief Justice of Ontario, and seconded by Mr. Campbell Mc-Laurin, now a Supreme Court Justice of Alberta, who had been Mr. Bennett's opponent in the preceding federal election. It was intended to be and was a unanimous tribute to Mr. Bennett's eminence as a Canadian lawyer; but even more it was a tribute to the high ideals he had constantly set and assisted in maintaining for the association itself. He had never regarded it as an association for the advancement of the professional and individual interests of its members, but rather as an instrument to further the interests of the nation as a whole and to provide opportunities to its members to be of greater service to the whole community.

There are many lawyers in Canada who never become members of parliament and who never have the opportunities which this parliament provides to form those personal contacts with their fellow citizens from all parts of Canada which are so valuable in assisting one to understand and appreciate the various viewpoints, social concepts and even honest prejudices that make up our aggregate national conscience.

The Canadian Bar Association brings all those lawy'ers together in periodical meetings where national problems are faced and discussed in an atmosphere of serious responsibility to the body' politic as a whole

The Late Lord Bennett

and from which each one carries away a deeper sense of national solidarity.

No one except perhaps the founder and first president of the association. Sir James Aikins, has done more than the 'late Viscount Bennett to make that body the effective instrument it has become for assisting in the development of a sound and enlightened Canadian consciousness. No one will be remembered longer and with greater respect and esteem than R. B. Bennett by all those who, over the years, had the privilege of co-membership with him in that association.

Mr. JOHN T. HACKETT (Stanstead): Mr. Speaker, a few words may be permitted at this time to one who as a very young man saw Mr. Bennett as he then was, from the galleries of the House of Commons, when he first came to parliament and who later knew him at the bar, in the Canadian Bar Association, and who as a Conservative member shared in a modest way his political fortunes.

Nature was generous to Richard Bedford Bennett. He was strong of body, of mind and of character. His natural endowment was enriched and developed not only by early training but by constant self-discipline; from earliest youth he learned "to scorn delights and live laborious days". He possessed gifts and graces which, taken alone, are rare, but in the abundance and variety in which they were found in his make-up, are rarer still. He had a flaming courage, a superb memory and a copious eloquence. He was a fearless and dominating personality. To his genius and daring in a period of great national peril we owe in no small degree the maintenance of peace and the preservation of many national institutions. His sleepless energy, his resourcefulness and masterful ways in any of the several fields of action in which he was called, during many years, to take part in behalf of country, never failed him.

He was a great advocate. He believed in the law and sought to make the institution of the law workable, permanent and effective. As one of the officers of the Canadian Bar Association, to the vitality of which he contributed so generously, and on behalf of my brethren in the law, and reechoing in part what has been so graciously said by the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. St. Laurent), I thought it well that I should say how deeply we mourn the passing of him who served, with an unstinted measure of devotion, his generation, his country, and that great institution of the law. In the

words of St. Jerome, he was possessed of magno et erecto animo, a great spirit, upright and purposeful.


Grote Stirling

Progressive Conservative


Mr. Speaker, as the only person in the house today who was a member of the administration of Right Hon. R. B. Bennett. I should like to add my word of tribute to that which has been paid by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), by my leader, and by others who have spoken.

For a third of a century this great Canadian occupied a more and: more dominant position in our national life, and I am quite satisfied that in due course history will place him in the niche to which he belongs. I am satisfied also that the niche will be among the very great in Canada.

So much for the public tribute we have been Honoured in paying. But, Mr. Speaker, there are in Canada a very great number of inarticulate people who are not in a position to pay public tribute to this man whose death they mourn: those who turned to him for assistance, for sympathy, for advice, for help of a more material nature. They will mourn his death today. In many cases that assistance which he ga%'e started them in their chosen vocation, in which they1 had their opportunity also to serve Canada,

It is not unnatural, Mr. Speaker, that I should look upon my association with Viscount Bennett as one of the great occasions of my life.


Arthur Leroy Smith

Progressive Conservative

Mr. A. L. SMITH (Calgary West):

Mr. Speaker, I crave your indulgence and that of the house for only a moment. I wish to pay my tribute, if for no better reason than that Lord Bennett and I come from the same place, and' I have known him I think perhaps longer than and almost as well as anyone here. In 1898 he came to Regina as a member of the northwest legislature; I was a youngster visiting at my parents' home. At that time the northwest territories had a government. Sir Frederick Haultain was the premier, and the late Senator Ross, who lived next door to us, was the other member of the northwest cabinet. This morning I took occasion to look up some information concerning those days, and found there was only one copy left anywhere in the world of the budget of 1898. The total amount for that huge territory was 8224.925.24. The contribution to agriculture, for example, was 89.485. Much has happened since then; that is why I had occasion to look up these things. I remember that when he came, there was no opposition. I used to run up in the evenings, because they had evening sittings

The Late Lord Bennett

even then, to listen to the debate; and I remember that Mr. Bennett-and this was not unlike him-formed an opposition. The fact that he was the only member of that opposition did not make a bit of difference; one way or the other.

Since then, as I have said, many, many things have happened, and he indeed played a big part in those things. I have seen him only two or three times since he went to England, but I knew of him there from people who came back to us. His home, his ability, his friendship were thrown open to all Canadian soldiers during the second world war. I knew him as a politician, as an advocate; and in any matter on which I had anything to do with him in a forensic way we at all times found him a warrior brilliant and unafraid. In the vast storehouse of his mental equipment I think perhaps his greatest asset was the most phenomenal memory it has been my good fortune to observe. For all the members of this House of Commons, for the staff and members of the press gallery who knew him, I believe it can be truly said that this day a great soul has moved on. I conclude with a couplet by Lord Tennyson in his Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington:

Yea, let all good things await Him who cares not to be great,

But as he saves or serves the state.

That was Bennett.


Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. A. J. BROOKS (Royal):

Mr. Speaker, I learned of the passing of Viscount Bennett only as I was entering the house this afternoon. I feel that no words of mine can add anything to the tributes already paid to the memory of this great man. I do not intend to say anything of his many kindnesses to me when I came here as a young member some years ago. I do not intend to say anything of his great ability, which has been referred to so eloquently this afternoon by previous speakers. As a citizen of the province of New Brunswick, where Viscount Bennett was born, and where the graves of his ancestors for a number of generations back may be seen, I want to say on behalf of the people of that province who were so proud of Lord Bennett, as I know he was very proud of his native province, how much I am sure they mourn his passing. In his old county of Albert many older people still remember him as a boy with whom they went to school; and as I have said, they are proud indeed of this great Canadian and great statesman. Many great men have come from the province of New Brunswick. We think of Lord Beaverbrook; we think of Bonar Law, but I am satisfied that none of our sons will stand higher in the

memory of our people than will Lord Bennett, and that no part of Canada will mourn his passing more than his own native province.

Mr. JEAN-FRANCOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata): Mr. Speaker, following the various leaders and those who supported Mr. Bennett when he was head of his party, I want to pay my tribute as one of the oldest private members of this house. I knew Mr. Bennett probably better than anyone else, because we were discussing matters all the' time. Sometimes we were on speaking terms only across the floor of the house, but I retain a vivid recollection of him. I remember that the last speech he made as leader of the opposition before coming back as Prime Minister was so long that it delayed the prorogation of the house. He was fighting until the last moment about some estimate; and he was always very active. I remember also the opening of the special session in the fall of 1930, when he was jubilant, exultant and triumphant. He had a large number of supporters around him, and he was really towering. They applauded him very strongly and he seemed to be well satisfied with himself, and rightly so. I did not always believe in his policies. Sometimes he did not appreciate my opposition, but I always gave reasons why I could not agree with him. At the end I had an opportunity to talk with him, and it reminded me of the old days, when we were exchanging books with each other.

Well, having been the first commoner of this country he experienced a great disillusionment. I wonder if it was because some of his supporters were afraid to tell him the truth. I will say nothing about them, but at times it seems to me that if Mr. Bennett had been surrounded by true friends all the time, friends who would not have been afraid to tell him their personal feelings, he would have stayed here and would have remained a great Canadian figure in this country. Because he was unquestionably so. Although he moved to England, he was always considered a Canadian by the Englishmen and all the Britishers who met him over there. I have a happy recollection of the arguments I had with him. Sometimes his blows were strong, and at times we exchanged strong words. But I think of his countless charities and all the good he wanted to do during his lifetime. I am sure, recalling the name of one of his close supporters, that he has now reached the pearly gates, that he has been admitted to heaven by St. Peter; and all our discussions of the past are forgotten and forgiven.

Supply-Public Works




Mr. GORDON B. ISNOR (Halifax) moved that the fourth report of the standing committee on public accounts, presented to the house on June 17, be now concurred in. Motion agreed to.



Right Hon. J. L. ILSLEY (Minister of Justice) moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 377, to amend The Prisons and Reformatories Act.


Some hon. MEMBERS:



James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)



This bill is introduced at the instance of the government of Nova Scotia. It proposes to add an institution to the list of institutions mentioned in the Prisons and Reformatories Act as those in which young offenders may be detained.

Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.




Right Hon. C. D. HOWE (Acting Minister of Mines and Resources) moved the first reading of Bill No. 365 (from the senate) respecting certain national parks and to amend The National Parks Act. Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.



June 27, 1947