The attendance of the House yesterday, Mr. Speaker, was so small that after conference with my hon. friend the leader of the opposition, we both agreed that tbe moment then would not be opportune to call the attention of the House to the great loss we have sustained in the death of one of the most prominent members of this House, the late Mr. E. F. Clarke, inembei for Toronto Centre. We had been aware for some weeks past that Mr. Clarke had been suffering from an illness which his friends and admirers knew to be severe but hoped would not be fatal. We all cherished the belief that his strong constitution would be stronger than the disease which was attacking him, but by a strange fatality, it so happened that his death occurred on the evening of the very day when the press bulletins informed us he was out of danger and when it was hoped and believed that within a very short time he would again occupy the seat in this House which he held so long and well, but which is to be his no more. Such is the uncertainty of our lives. I am sure that when we parted last session, no one would have believed that our late colleague, then so strong and hearty, then in the full flush of health and activity, would have been the first victim in this parliament of death's relentless hand. This is but another illustration of the old truism, that we can never be sure of to-morrow, and that the future is ever full of uncertainty. When Mr. Clarke came here in 1896 he had already achieved in another sphere a very high reputation for ability. He had been long connected with municipal affairs in his own city of Toronto. Of that city he had been several times elected chief magistrate, and he had also won for himself a prominent position in the legislature of his province. It was therefore no surprise to us who had followed the politics of Ontario to find that as soon as he came here he commanded at once a prominent position. Those who had the pleasure of sitting with him in the last two parliaments ' will agree with me that he was one of the
ablest debaters we have ever had in a Canadian parliament. His speeches were always to the point, put in strong but never offensive language. There is no record that an offensive word ever passed his lips. He had the faculty of making his points as strong as they possibly could be made, without at the same time attacking anybody personally. I well remember the speech he delivered on rather a ticklish, if I may use the expression, subject, when resolutions were introduced some years ago in favour [DOT]of Home Rule for Ireland. The speech he made on that occasion was to my mind a model in every respect. I did not agree with him in his views, but it would have been impossible to present his case in stronger and more manly language. I need hardly say that his loss is one not only to that side, but to both sides. In saying this I am sure I echo the voices from my side as much as I do those of the other side. We may therefore sadly, but in the most united assent, convey to the family of our late colleague, the expression of the grief, not only of his colleagues of his own part}' but also of the party opposed to him in politics, and upon this occasion pay this last tribute of our sincere admiration for his many great qualities and our deep sorrow at his loss.