March 16, 1931 (17th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, the
right hon. the Prime Minister has just given expression to feelings which I am sure will be shared by all hon. members of this house. We who constitute this parliament come from many parts of a large Dominion. The fact is, however, comparatively we are a small company with the result that when one of our number is taken away we feel the loss individually and collectively. There are few places in which there is borne in upon us more frequently or impressively the uncertainty and the brevity of our allotted span than in these halls of parliament where from day to day we contend with each other in debate and then in a moment become silent and united in our sympathy as we think of those whose voices we shall hear no more. It were well were we also reminded of the charity which we do well at all times to accord to those with whom our lot may in different ways and places be cast.
The two hon. members who have passed away since we were last assembled here had been in parliament about the same time, but it was for but a short period. The member for East Hamilton, the late Colonel Rennie, was returned to parliament at the general elections of 1926, and the late Arthur Bettez, member for Three Rivers-St. Maurice, was returned at the general elections of the year preceding. The fact that they were in the House of Commons for but about five years all told doubtless is the reason why they were less known to the public through their activities in parliament than through their activities in other spheres of public service, and particularly their services to the communities in which they lived, where the appreciation of their interest in civic and public affairs won for them the recognition which brought them to this house as the representatives of their respective constituencies.
Colonel Rennie, as the Prime Minister has just said, held a foremost place in his profession as a physician and a surgeon. He was also prominent as a soldier. The services which he rendered alike to his profession and to the army during the period of the Great war won him real distinction. He had close and intimate friends among members on both sides of the house, and I extend to the right hon. Prime Minister and to those who are associated with him my very sincere sympathy in the loss of one who was a personal friend and a loyal supporter of the party to which they belong.
May I also thank the Prime Minister for the sympathy which he has extended to myself and those of us who belong to the Liberal party in the loss which we have sustained through the passing of the late Arthur Bettez. His loss will be felt very much on this side, but by no one more than by myself, to whom at all times he accorded a close friendship and a very loyal support. Mr. Bettez's activities were mostly associated with the city of Three Rivers in which he was born and where he lived throughout his life. He was in 1913 elected an alderman and held that position for nearly a decade. In 1923 and again in 1925 he was elected mayor and continued to hold that office until the time of his death. His capacity for civic affairs and his experience and interest in them caused him to be chosen as vice-president of the Canadian Union of Municipalities. He was returned to parliament three times, on the last two occasions by very large majorities.
As the Prime Minister has said, Mr. Bettez owed the position he achieved in municipal-federal politics very much to his own personality and to the deep and abiding interest which he had in the well-being of the working classes whose representative he was in a very true sense alike in municipal, provincial-federal fields. His political battles were far from easy ones but they won to his side a large personal as well as political following. _ He will be remembered by all who knew him as a fearless fighter, and sturdy champion of the people to whose cause he gave much in the way of personal sacrifice.
I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that you will convey to those who have been bereaved, to Mrs. Rennie and to Madame Bette?, and also the son and daughter of the latter, the sympathy which this house extends to them.
Before resuming my seat may I be permitted to add, Mr. Speaker, how pleased we all are that Your Honour has fully recovered from the indisposition from which unfortunately you had been suffering until within the past day or two. Also may I say that I am sure that it is deeply gratifying to members in all parts of the house that two of our number who during the period of the recess had had very serious illnesses are being restored to complete health and strength. There was general delight yesterday to see the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe), the ex-Minister of Justice in his seat. May I say I am sure all are equally gratified to know that the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) is progressing very favourably, and that we hope that it will not be long before he has

Representation Act

fully recovered and is again able to take his accustomed part in the proceedings of this house.

Full View