January 31, 1923

Motion agreed to.


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) presented the following message from His Excellency the Governor General: The Governor General transmits to the House of Commons a certified copy of an approved Minute of Council appointing the Honourable H. S. B61nnd. Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment, the Honourable Deceased Members

J. A. Robb, Minister of Trade and Commerce; the Honourable T. A. Low, Minister without Portfolio; and the Honourable John E. Sinclair, Minister without Portfolio, to act with the Speaker of the House of Commons, as Commissioners for the purposes and under the provisions of the Eleventh Chapter of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1906, intituled "An Act respecting the House of Commons."




William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, since last we assembled, some of our members have visited distant lands, have crossed continents and oceans, and, in the providence of God, have safely returned, or are returning, to resume their legislative duties. Four of our number have made "upon a vaster sea the unreturning voyage."

It is fitting that before proceeding with the business which parliament has been summoned to transact, we should pause for a moment, to give some expression to the sorrow which at this time we feel in our hearts; and to pay some tribute, however slight, to the memory of those who, in the brief interval which has elapsed since our previous session, have been taken from our midst.

As I have already mentioned, no less than four honourable members, each enjoying in special measure the regard and esteem of this House, have been removed by the Hand of Death; three of them in the month of October, and the fourth but a fortnight ago. Both sides of the House have been bereaved. Each has sustained a loss which is deeply felt in this parliament and throughout the country. We on your right, Mr. Speaker, have suffered most; no less than three of the four who are gone having been loyal and devoted supporters of the government, and one of them a member of it.

The first on this side to be taken was Mr. David Lafortune, K.C., at the time member for Jacques Cartier. Who is there, who has been in parliament during the twelve years Mr. Lafortune was a member of the Commons, will not deeply deplore the fact that he is no longer with us?

Mr. Lafortune was active in politics for many years. He was first returned to parliament in a by-election in 1909, was reelected in 1911, and again in 1917 and 1921.

At two previous general elections he 4 p.m. had also been the Liberal candidate.

For some thirty years he practised law in the city of Montreal, and attained in his province a distinguished position as a

lMr. Mackenzie King.]

member of the legal profession. Few members shared a more intimate knowledge of the lives and needs of their constituents or enjoyed more completely their confidence. His early life had acquainted him with the hardships and struggles of those in humble circumstances, and his energies in public life were directed in the main toward an improvement of industrial and social conditions.

Mr. Lafortune possessed rare gifts as a public speaker and as an advocate. Both at the bar and in parliament his talents were employed with zeal and effectiveness in the cause of the people. His fluency and ready wit, on more than one occasion, lent not a little merriment to the proceedings of this House. They were a part of a generous and kindly disposition which made him hosts of friends, left him without an enemy, and endeared him to to all who knew him well.

Dr. Edward Blackadder, one of the honourable members for Halifax, died within three days after Mr. Lafortune. He, too, had taken an active part in politics for a number of years, though he was returned to parliament only at the last general election. He was one of the Liberal candidates in 1911, and was again nominated as a Liberal candidate in 1917, withdrawing subsequently when it was decided to avoid an election in the constituency because of the Halifax disaster of that year.

It was apparent to us all that Dr. Black-adder was in failing health. The news of his death was not therefore, wholly unexpected, though it brought with it a sense of real loss to our public life. We all recall, as one of the most touching incidents of the last session of parliament, the fidelity with which, despite his all too evident infirmity, he attended the several sittings of this House, and sought to further to the utmost of his strength and opportunity the interests of his constituents.

The most modest of men, Dr. Blackadder was also one of the most cultured. He possessed a wide range of knowledge and experience and rare literary gifts. These he used with zeal in the advocacy of Liberal principles and ideals. Few men, in a brief career, have enjoyed activities as important and manysided. He was a practising physician, a journalist, a university professor and a member of parliament. His time and his talents were employed in the most unselfish manner in the service of his fellowmen, and in upholding a high standard in matters of public concern. At all times unassuming, well-informed, intensely earnest and sincere, he was a type of citizen this parliament and our country can ill afford to lose.

Deceased Members


The last to be taken from this side of the House was the Honourable Mr. Kennedy, Minister of Railways and Canals. Mr. Kennedy's death is so recent, and has come so near to all of us who were his colleagues in the government, that it is not possible to speak of the loss it has occasioned without emotion. That he is no longer with us is due, beyond all question, to the fidelity and tenacity with which, at great risk to his health, and as it has now proved, at the peril of his life, he held to his post of duty at a time when the business of his department demanded close and continuous attention. To his colleagues in the government, and to myself in particular, Mr. Kennedy's death has occasioned profound sorrow.

Mr. Kennedy was elected to parliament as the member for North Essex at the general elections of 1917. He was returned in the general election of 1921. Few men have entered upon public life with more of promise, and even fewer in so short a time have won and merited so great distinction. With early manhood still on his side, his rare organizing genius and business ability had put him in a position of independence, where it was possible for him to place virtually the whole of his time and his talent at the service of the state. His generous nature, social disposition and known integrity combined with his business and political sagacity had gained for him not only hosts of personal friends and the confidence of his fellow townsmen and constituents, but the high regard of his fellow members in parliament and the esteem of the citizens of our country generally. His administration of the affairs of the Department of Railways and Canals revealed a positive genius for the work of government. He seemed to possess the very qualities most needed; untiring energy, undaunted courage, high integrity, sound judgment and vision. All of that is now lost to Canada in whose service he died. In a very true sense his death is a national loss. He was in every way worthy of the many tributes paid his memory from one end of our country to the other.

There is but one thing left to be done by those of us who loved and honoured him, and that is to emulate his courage; to take up our public tasks with renewed vigour and devotion, that the spirit which he exemplified so bravely may be kept alive in our midst.

All that I have said of our friend, the late Mr. Kennedy, might be said with equal truth, and fulness of meaning of the late Honourable James A. Stewart. Indeed, the parallel is so close as to be almost complete throughout.

Mr. Stewart entered the House of Commons as the Member for Lanark in the first session of the last parliament. He was returned at a by-election in May, 1918, and so sat through practically the whole of that parliament. He was again returned at the general elections of 1921, at which time he was holding the portfolio of Minister of Railways and Canals in the government of my right honourable friend, the leader of the opposition. I can sympathize with my right honourable friend, as I am sure he does with me, in the loss of one who was the most loyal of colleagues and truest of friends. I extend to him, and to those who sit around him, the sympathy of all honourable gentlemen on this side of the House, in the loss from their ranks of one whose splendid qualities of heart and mind were appreciated by us all, and who, though opposed to us politically, was genuinely respected and admired.

It may be said of Mr. Stewart as it has been of Mr. Kennedy that without question, the impairment of his health which, amidst the promise of years and fortunate circumstances, brought his life thus early to a close, was furthered by his high sense of public duty, and endeavour conscientiously to discharge his obligations as a representative of the people in parliament and as a minister of the Crown.

There would appear to be something more than chance in the tragic circumstance that these two men, both more or less of a like age, of like characteristics, attainments, and distinction in the business and political world, should have come beneath the roof of the same institution at the same time to wage battle against death, each with the companion of his life, a solitary watcher at his side. For a time it seemed that "one would be taken and the other left." Now they have both passed, "gentlemen unafraid," into the Great Beyond. It may well be that all this has come to teach those of us who are engaged in political controversies a wider tolerance and more of chivalry towards those who differ from us in opinion; and the nation, a larger measure of charity towards its public men!

All four of the honourable members who have been taken from us were alike in this: each loved mercy, each sought to do justly, and each walked humbly with his God. They were alike in yet another particular. Each enjoyed, in all that pertained to his personal and public life, the interest and devotion of a companionship which it was beautiful, and at times touching, to witness, and which it will ever be pleasing to recall. Our sympathy

Deceased Members

goes out in fullest measure to the ones who have been so greatly bereaved. It will be the unanimous wish of this House that an expression of its sympathy should be conveyed to Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Stewart, Madame La-fortune and Mrs. Blackadder, and to those who share their irreparable loss. To you, Mr. Speaker, we are fortunate in being able to look for the discharge of this sad duty on our behalf.


Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, in the

entire course of my membership of this House, now extending over a goodly number of years, there has never been an occasion before when the opening of parliament was clouded by the recollection of the death of so many members. Between our parting last session and our gathering now, no less than four, as the right honourable Prime Minister has said, have passed from among us. It is true, I think, of all, that, even when we parted at the close of last session, the hand of disease had been laid upon them-a premonitory touch was there, warning them of what might come. Each had been conducting a constant battle with physical infirmity. But nevertheless all were gallantly holding on and were doing a big day's work as each day passed, and all undoubtedly were hopeful that they would gather with us to share our tasks to-day. It is the seeming intrusion of the enemy of life in the season of activity and before the evening comes that makes the writing of the finger of Providence hard to comprehend. When the allotted span has run-a span that for thousands of years has remained almost unchanged, the measure of the tenure of our life on earth-when that span has run the passing of a man seems to fit in with the scheme of things; we submit in sorrow, and we imagine we understand. But when one falls from among us in the very middle of achievement and before the sun has sunk in the heavens, it is then that his journey seems not to be ended, but to be broken, and we fail wholly to understand-we realize that we do not know.

Dr. Blackadder had been a member of this House for only a few months. His family has been for generations a well known and highly respected one in the province of Nova Scotia. His passport to parliament was the same as that which accounts for the entrance of the great body of representatives in all democratic parliaments in the world,- the possession of those acceptable human qualities in which rather than in brilliant attainment, the mass of people put their trust. A wide and generous sympathy with

the lot of his fellows, a generous playing of life's game, modesty of manner and earnestness and integrity of character-these were the things that we all observed in Dr. Blackadder, and by these attributes we will remember him long.

Mr. Lafortune was a very extraordinary man He possessed two characteristics in pre-eminent degree-tenacity of purpose and a sunny temperament, warmed and vivified with humour. The course of this life is always a struggle, but in the case of Mr. La-fortune the journey was a very long and very steep one and he travelled it pretty much alone. From a youth and young manhood not blessed with any advantages of education he plodded through to a very considerable professional success. From most modest circumstances he worked on and on into comparative affluence. From obscurity he rose to a position of high public office and to a secure place in public esteem. His passing will not soon be forgotten by the members of this House, because he was the type of man one could not readily forget. He had an individuality that was distinctive, and his unique characteristics came to the surface in everything he set his hand to do.

Hon. W. C. Kennedy's death adds another to the honour roll-now one of considerable length, of Canadian ministers of the Crown who have died in office. For a long time he waged with conspicuous bravery an almost hopeless battle, and in the conduct of it he drew to himself the admiring sympathy of everyone, both friend and foe. The tribute paid to him by his fellow countrymen last week in the city of Windsor where the funeral service was followed by mourning multitudes; the warm, glowing, earnest eulogy of the Prime Minister this afternoon-these testify to the worth of the former Minister of Railways more fittingly and more impressively than I can do. But this I can say with the fullest assurance-no man could have fallen out of the ranks of the foe whose death would seem to us more like the loss of a friend. Mr. Kennedy was a man born to success-success not alone in some specialized form, the attainment of which in these times is a great life's work, but he reached success in every form that answers to the aspirations of a wholesome rounded man. In business he was farsighted and enterprising; he marched right through from humble beginnings to substantial wealth. In social life his very presence seemed to be all that was necessary to make him friends, he won his way just by the warmth of a genial personality. In

Deceased Members

politics his rise was phenomenally rapid. In domestic life he was singularly happy. And all these successes, in the case of a man of Mr. Kennedy's mould, could be carried without exciting the envy of any one. He seemed to move in a perpetual atmosphere of comradeship and goodwill. His death is a distinct loss to this House, and I can well understand the feelings of the Prime Minister that his place in the councils of the government, as in the hearts of us all, will not soon or readily be filled.

There remains another, a fourth, one who was with us when we parted and who will join us no more in this arena of toil and strife. Hon. John Alexander Stewart, big constructive man of affairs, gallant friend, fearless fighter, clear-headed leader of men-he too has gone from us. The career of Mr. Stewart was one that warms the heart of youth. Not so much is that due to the high station that he ultimately reached, it is due more to the length of the journey, to the perilous path he travelled, to the cliffs surmounted, to the pluck and spirit he displayed. To these things are due the grip such a career has on the imagination of the young, and the fact that it fires the ambitions and commands the emulation of others. There could scarcely be imagined an obstacle calculated to prey on human vitality and throw a shadow over the path of a forward-looking mind which Mr. Stewart did not have to encounter. He was blessed by inheritance with little, if anything at all, of a material nature; but he did inherit a sound intellect and a will of iron. Early in his life he was attacked by one of the worst of maladies, and for three decades he waged a constant war against the dreadest of disease. There is nothing so haunts and depresses the spirit as an exhausting conflict with an unshakeable physical affliction. "The weariness, the fever and the fret" have robbed this world of some of the best of human treasures. Against such a handicap Mr. Stewart waged the struggle of life; but rarely did he reveal the spectre, the spectre that never left him, even to his closest friends.

Yield not thy neck

To fortune's yoke, but let thy dauntless mind

Still ride in triumph over all mischance.

That was the motto he followed through the bufferings and struggles of fifty years.

The personality of the hon. member for Lanark was the mainspring, indeed, it was the creator, of a series of industries that changed the face of the countryside in which he lived. The fruits of his energies were reaped by hundreds of happy people. Indeed, he held the belief-and he made good that

belief-that a concentration of will and intellect would win the day in competition with all other assets that so much command the envy and admiration of men. And wherever the hand of his operations went, the strength of his character became recognized, and larger and larger numbers came to rely upon his judgment and his leadership. He was one of the few big men of commerce-how few, only those of long parliamentary life fully realize-whose qualifications for parliament were as ample as their qualifications for business. Entering this House when far past middle life, on toward the half century mark, a member of it for the short space of four years, even then speaking very rarely, he nevertheless marched, and marched with ease, to a recognized place in the forefront of the House of Commons. His firm grasp of facts, his direct, visible march from premise to conclusion, the confidence he always inspired that on everything that counted he knew just where he stood, lucidity of statement that was simply the reflection of lucidity of intellect,-these were the qualities that accounted for his rapid rise in a short parliamentary term. And, indeed, these are all the possessions which in a modem British parliament any man really needs.

The place which Mr. Stewart had reached among the fifty men who comprised His Majesty's opposition was very much the same as that which he attained in the community in which he lived. He was the tried counsellor, the trusted of everyone, the friend of all.

It is, as the Prime Minister has gracefully said, fitting that a word should go to the families of the deceased, expressive of the solicitude of this House. To the widows of the two former Ministers of Railways-* two women who shared in a very peculiar way their husbands' fortunes, and shared just as intimately their husbands' cares; two women, as well, who enjoyed in a very marked degree the affectionate regard of hon. members here of all political parties, this House will not fail while honouring their husbands, to extend a tender, a very real, and a very lasting sympathy.


Robert Forke


Mr. ROBERT FORKE (Brandon):

Mr. Speaker, amidst the pressing duties of life we are sometimes called upon to pause for a moment and to realize that here we have no abiding city. The House has lost four valuable and highly esteemed members through death. I should like to add a few .words of tribute to the memory of those departed members, but I shall not speak at any length after the very eloquent and feeling speeches

Deceased Members

which we have had from the right hon. the Prime Minister and the right hon. the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen). I had not a long acquaintance with any of the deceased, but sitting here day by day, month after month, during the last session of parliament, one could not help forming a fair estimate of the men whose loss we now deplore.

The late Mr. Kennedy, I think, must very easily have impressed all new members as being a man of ability and character, whom it was well to know, a real man in every sense of the word. He undertook a great task and discharged it faithfully and creditably, and I am sure we all keenly regret his death. In Mr. Kennedy's decease the Prime Minister has lost a valuable friend and the government an able counsellor, while the country at large has suffered an equal loss.

In Hon. Mr. Stewart, too, we all recognized a man of ability, one who proved a shining light in this House and whom we could all admire. We know his record, and I am sure we deeply deplore the fact that he will be with us no longer. It did not require very much discernment, nor much knowledge of character, to realize not only that Mr. Stewart was a man of ability, but that also he was of a kindly and genial nature. Surely we all sincerely regret the loss of these two bright lights.

I shall not labour the fine qualities of Dr. Blackadder. Studying him across the floor of the House, I came to admire him. I learnt that he was a highly valued member of his community, and that he had lived a useful life and had done much service for his country. Not only the House, but his constituents as well, will greatly miss him.

Of Mr. Lafortune a great deal might be said. As I sat in this chamber last session I could not help being impressed by the assiduous attention he paid to his duties, as well as by his regular attendance throughout the session.

I cannot speak about his past services, not having been acquainted with him, but I am confident he must have been greatly beloved by his constituents. He had lived a long and useful life, and having done his day's work he has been called home and has gone to rest at eventide. With the other two eminent speakers who have referred to these departed gentlemen, I think it is but fitting that some intimation should be given to the bereaved, as has been done this afternoon, of the esteem in which those who have gone were held in this House, and whose presence we shall greatly miss.

On motion of Mr. Mackenzie King, the House adjourned at 4.45 p.m.

Thursday, February 1, 1923


January 31, 1923