George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)
Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, in joining with the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) in paying respect to the memory of one of the truly great of our time, I should like also to emphasize the fact, which has been referred to by the Prime Minister, that in his life Jan Christiaan Smuts demonstrated the very thing that all of us hope may be possible in the years ahead. I doubt if there is a more dramatic story in the whole history of free men than the record of a one-time enemy who engaged our own forces in the field of battle becoming the strongest advocate of the very system which he had sought to destroy by force of arms. It was probably a unique experience for men in similar positions for both Field Marshal Smuts and Mr. Churchill to sit down at the council table together during the last war as prime ministers of two of the partner nations within this fellowship
of ours, and recall the time when Mr. Churchill has been interrogated as a prisoner of war by Field Marshal Smuts, then a junior officer in the Boer army. He fought gallantly with the Boers for the things in which he believed. He accepted the situation which resulted after that war, and from then on not only became one of the great advocates of our parliamentary system, but also gave leadership, perhaps unequalled, in the formation of those two great international bodies which have sought to play their part in preserving peace.
I believe it is a matter of record that the name "League of Nations" was in fact suggested by Field Marshal Smuts. Furthermore, he had some thought of the dangers inherent in such an organization when he went further and suggested at one time that it might be called the "League of Free Nations." In that very suggestion there perhaps may be a thought worthy of consideration today. Again, because of his own vast experience and personal recollections of the great hopes and the tragic failures of the league, he was one whose views were regarded most highly at San Francisco, in 1945, because, out of the hope and then the discouragement, along with his great experience, he was in a position to warn of the weaknesses of the earlier covenant.
Field Marshal Smuts was a great leader in his own country, and a leader amongst men. No man has contributed more to the strength of the commonwealth of which we are a partner. I think all of us today will not only wish to join in expressing the sympathy that is being extended to his family, but will hope that in South Africa and throughout the rest of the world his life, and the friendship which grew out of strife, may be an example to all mankind.