May 20, 1935 (17th Parliament, 6th Session)


Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to express in words one's appreciation of the kindly sentiments voiced by the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) and the hon. leader of the third party (Mr. Gardiner). But I do appreciate their kindly expressions, and I thank them and thank this house from the bottom of my heart. Shakespeare said that:
The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.
So let it be. Whether or not there is any thought of that in the mind of hon. gentlemen who spoke I know notl I said to my hon. friend the Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) that there was another saying "de mortuis nil nisi bonum"; possibly that also was in the minds of some who are not in this chamber but perhaps within sound of the voices of those who are in the chamber!
But I should like to say how grateful I have been for, first of all, the prayers of many people. I do not refer to those formal expressions of sympathy or those formal appeals that are made to the Godhead, but to the letters I received from remote parts of the country, from the multitudinous poor, which make one believe after all that the great solid sentiment of this country is a sound sentiment and that the people have a proper appreciation of their relations to the problems of the country. Then to those who are members of this house, on bothsides, may I express my very sincere and deep sense of obligation for the kind terms in which they have expressed their interest in my well being and welfare. The right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) was particularly happy in the expressions of sympathy which he conveyed on behalf of himself and his party, and thesame might be said of the party opposite and to the extreme right. Then the flowers, the telegrams and messages from various parts of the world made one think that after allit was not a bad thing to be ill if for a
moment it afforded people an opportunity to speak well of one who is still living! But I value most the expressions of goodwill which have been made this afternoon with such apparent sincerity. I know that some -and this has been expressed in the printed page-have felt that there was no reason why one should be ill because one should not have worked so hard. Well, Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to say that during the last five years I have seen no opportunity to slacken or lessen the efforts I was compelled to make from day to day in the discharge of what I

Greetings to Prime Minister
conceived to be my duty to the country. That I overdid it is, of course, a matter that is known to most hon. members now; that I regret having overdone it is equally true, but if I had to do it over again I know of no way in which I might escape it, and I say that in all sincerity.
I am grateful for having had the opportunity to represent this country at the recent jubilee celebration, about which I shall make some further observations at another time. To the other matters referred to by the right hon. leader of the opposition, in connection with the discussions that took place in Great Britain between the prime ministers of the various overseas dominions and the Prime Minister and ministers of the motherland, I shall also refer later. It is sufficient for my purpose to say to this house this afternoon that the European situation is one of great difficulty, and at times it gives evidence of being very dangerous. But I am hopeful that the efforts which have been made during all these years by the government of the United Kingdom to secure, shall I say, a collective security pact and peace with disarmament, may prevail. Great Britain has disarmed to the point of insecurity; at this moment she finds herself in a position of very great difficulty. I think that is not too strong a statement to make in view of the knowledge we have all obtained from the press as well as from other sources. At this moment I shall not do more than say that I think it very desirable that I should at once make it clear that so far as this dominion is concerned no commitments were sought with respect to the matters to which reference has been made, nor were any given. I say that because it is desirable that there should be no false conceptions and no misstatements or misunderstandings abroad with respect to matters of such importance to us all. That the future is difficult to foresee goes without saying; that public men who have a firm and clear grasp of the situation are doing their utmost to preserve the world's peace is equally true, but that the task is difficult I do not for a moment deny.
A moment ago I was speaking of the health of the body politic. So far as my personal health is concerned, Mr. Speaker, I did consult the best opinions that I could secure, and the advice I have received is that if I were able to proceed with a certain amount of leisure and rest-I see one of my hon. friends who is a medical practitioner looking at me as though he knew what I was about to say, as he probably does-and avoid too much effort, in the fullness of time I might recover my wonted strength and health. I think I

should say to this chamber that they urged me not to return at this time, but knowing as I did what were the conditions with respect to this house and the date of its adjournment I felt it my duty to do so, whatever might be the consequences. I may not be able to give to public business that measure of attention and that strength of purpose that sometimes has characterized my conduct-so, at least, I have heard-but I shall do my very best while I am here to make clear what my appreciation of the situation may be with respect to the legislation that will engage the attention of the house during the balance of the session.
There are many things that men forget; there are some they always remember. When I say to you, my fellow members of this house, this afternoon that I shall never forget this moment, I but state the simple truth.

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