Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, I wish I could begin to tell hon. members what it means to me to be surrounded today by those with whom I have been most closely associated in the work of government and in the work of this parliament, and to hear the kind tributes which have been expressed on this occasion. I know that hon. members will make allowance for some of the things which have been said much too generously. I can assure all hon. members that every word which has been spoken today will retain its place in my mind as long as memory itself endures.
I know that, in speaking of the twenty years I have been in the office of Prime Minister, a good many have said to themselves, "I do not know how to account for it." This comment has not been confined to those of any one party. I have heard that members of my own party have said the same thing
on occasions. I know that some hon. gentlemen opposite have said it repeatedly. I myself will not attempt to give an answer because I could not if I tried. All I wish to say is that, in looking back over those years and asking myself how it comes about that I should be speaking in this House of Commons to its members this afternoon, I can account for it, so far as my part may have contributed in any way, only by recalling what I owe to those whom my colleague the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie) has referred to this afternoon, and to a few others whom he might also have named. I believe that for all of us the best that is in us comes from the past. After all, we only play our little part as a result of the sacrifices which have been made by others and for which we reap the reward. So I thank my colleague for having reminded me, the house and country, of those who are much in my mind and heart today.
To speak of my years of office, I think I can truly say that such good fortune as I have had in my present position has been due in large part to the ministers of the crown by whom I have been surrounded, to their great ability and great loyalty. It has been due also to the marvellously loyal support which I have received over the years from those who have been my followers and supporters in this House of Commons. It has been due also in large measure to the assistance which has been given to the work of the Prime Minister's office by members of the public service, the assistance which has been given by officials of this house and by many who are in very humble positions. Without their efficient service and loyalty it would be impossible for any one in an important position to perform his public duties. I do not forget either the kindness of my friends of the press. Though some of them may differ with me, many of them have given me loyal and helpful support, and all have given me the best of comradeship.
May I say to hon. gentlemen opposite that while I cannot thank them for the fact that I am still in office, and hope to be in office for a little while longer at least, I thank them most warmly for the courtesies which they have extended toward me in all the years I have been here. I think I have been particularly lucky in the friendships I have had among hon. members on all sides of the house. I shall always remember gratefully the kindness that has been shown me on many occasions by the other side of the house and never more so, may I say, than today. Above all, I do not
The Prime Minister
forget at this moment what I owe to the confidence of the Canadian people over so many years. That is perhaps the greatest of all the rewards of public life and service.
Mr. Bracken, as leader of the Progressive Conservative party, I thank you very warmly for what you have said and for the hearty manner in which your words have been supported by members of your following. To you, Mr. Coldwell, may I say the same. I shall always remember what you have said, and equally the cordial manner in which those who sit around you applauded your words this afternoon. I thank you, Mr. Low, for your good wishes, and also for the generous support your followers have given your kind words. I thank you also for your reference to the political horse I have ridden over the years. My friend Mr. Breithaupt, who comes from the county in which I was bom and represents it so splendidly in this house, knows that I began quite early in life-I think it was perhaps before he was born-to ride a horse. I learned something about how to ride horseback personally and politically in the old. county of Waterloo. One of these days I intend: to return to the county which I first represented in this parliament and express my thanks for the teaching I received at that time, which has stood me in such good stead through all these eventful years. To my colleague Mr. Fournier, I am deeply grateful for reminding the country of how much I owe to my French-Canadian compatriots.
I should like, Mr. Speaker, to be able to express my thanks fully but you and all will realize I am sure that this is a moment when it is difficult indeed for me, after listening to what has been said this afternoon, no matter how long I may have been in parliament and in public life, to find words with which to express what is really deepest in my heart. I can only thank you, my fellow members of the House of Commons one and all; this I do irrespective of party; this I do with all my heart.
I hope I may be excused if I now leave the chamber. As my colleague the Minister of Veterans Affairs who is leading the house has just said, I am. to join His Excellency in meeting the President of the United) States and greeting him on his arrival. That will be in less than a quarter of an hour. Again I thank you all and. say God bless you.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES Fourth report of standing committee on external affairs.-Mr. Bradette.
Third report of standing committee on agriculture and colonization.-Mr. McCubbin.
Fifth report of standing committee on standing orders.-Mr MacLean.
Subtopic: FELICITATIONS ON COMPLETING HIS TWENTIETH ' YEAR IN OFFICE