November 12, 1940 (19th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Hon. R. B. HANSON (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has given a very eloquent appreciation of Mr. Chamberlain and of 'his position in and contribution to the empire, and I am grateful for the opportunity afforded to me to pay a tribute to his memory.
Mr. Chamberlain was an Englishman-not born in the purple, as it is said, but truly a notable product of that great middle class non-conformist England which made her great in commerce, in industry, and in the sciences and arts.
The son of a great imperialist, he did not choose in his early years to follow in his father's footsteps; rather did he choose the path of commerce and peaceful pursuits. But he was bred in the Birmingham tradition-the tradition of public service-and after serving his fellow citizens in the municipal arena as Lord Mayor of his city it was inevitable with his background that he should enter parliament and become one of the leaders of the nation. He served in several ministries, first as Postmaster General, Paymaster General, Minister of Health and subsequently Chancellor of the Exchequer, and finally Prime Minister of Britain.
It has been said that he was severely competent as an administrator. In the domestic field he did his best work in the health ministry where he instituted many reforms. Yet he was a man who found zest in living. He was a famous fisherman. I know something of the joys of that pastime. On the day he became Chancellor he wrote in his diary:
What a day! Two salmon in the morning and then Chancellor of the Exchequer in the afternoon.
What more could a man want? And yet, when Mr. Baldwin retired in 1937, Mr. Chamberlain went to the highest and greatest position in the empire, Prime Minister, almost as a matter of course. And he took the position without show or ostentation-another duty to be performed, another task to accomplish.
There are those who will say he failed. He laboured for peace in our time. He believed he had attained it, only to find that all his hopes had crashed. He laboured for decency in international affairs, only to find that he had been dealing with a band of robber barons who knew no decency, no honour, and who have had no equals in history. But because he was a man of courage, because he had failed in the other alternative, he did not hesitate to lead the nation into the great struggle-reluctantly no doubt, but none the less courageously.
We all remember Munich! But who is there among us so bold, in the light of the then known facts and pledges, as to condemn Mr. Chamberlain for Munich? Who is there who would not have rejoiced if Munich had in fact succeeded?
History-that history which is written from a true perspective-will do him justice. It may condemn his judgment. It may say he lacked wisdom. It is so easy to criticize and so difficult to achieve really great deeds. But of one thing I am certain: history will record his rectitude, his courage, his high purpose, and his sincerity.

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