Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, the very touching tribute which the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has paid to our fellow' member is greatly apreciated by those who sit to your left. Doctor Edwards was our colleague, and perhaps we who were more intimately associated with him better understood his nature and appreciated his merits, but the observations of the Prime Minister leave no room for doubt that in this house he had made the influence of his personality strongly felt, and as the yeaTs passed, his true wTorth was but the better recognized. We mourn Doctor Edwards as one of the stalwarts of our party, one whose exposition of the principles of the party with which he was associated was at all times given with conviction, with earnestness and sincerity, and for that reason our grief is more than mere passing sorrow.
While we have lost a great party leader and might say with one of old, "A Mighty Prince has this day fallen in Israel," the loss to his constituents and to his country must not be under-estimated. No constituency was more loyally or more faithfully served by the member representing it in this house than the constituency represented by Doctor Edwards. His profession enabled him to have a very singular hold upon the affections of his constituents, for every medical man who is a member of the house realizes that he has a great advantage in being able to speak to bis constituents in terms denied to many others of us. That Doctor Edwards was greatly beloved by those he represented many of us have reason to know, for we have seen manifestations of their affection in more ways than one.
While the loss to our party and to his constituents is great, I feel that the loss to this Dominion is greater still. I know of no man who had a greater love and affection for his country and a more real devotion to its well-being than Doctor Edwards. He had a firm faith and a profound conviction that
The late Hon. J. W. Edwards
this country was destined to play a very great part, among the peoples of the world. He yielded to no man in his confident faith and belief that our true destiny was to be found within the empire of which he was so devoted a servant, and at all times, whatever might be the matter engaging his attention, he made reference to that fact.
I think you will agree with me, sir, when I say that in losing Doctor Edwards we have lost a great member of parliament. I cannot recall of whom that observation was made, but certain it is that it was made with respect to one who about two centuries ago played a great part in the parliamentary history of England. Doctor Edwards was a great House of Commons man. He believed in our
traditions. He had faith in representative government; he 'believed in the institutions of parliament, and respected and revered them. He had regard for forms, not for form's sake, but because he believed as most of us do, that in the maintenance of those forms we have the best guarantee for the preservation of the institution which we call parliament.
Then there was that side of his life which was so little known to many of us until we knew him more intimately-he was a great friend. His loyalty to his party was known to all, but his devotion to his friends was little understood. He was honoured by thousands of his fellow-Canadians by being placed in a position of very great authority in a powerful organization in this country, and yet I recall his saying to me that no man could point to a single observation that he had ever made in which he attacked any man's religion or denied to any one of his fellow-citizens the right to worship his own God under his own vine and fig tree. He had that tolerance which sometimes was denied to him. He had it to a singular degree. His love for his friends was very strong, and in this House of Commons, though sometimes his courage and the strength of his convictions found expression in terms that some of our friends took exception to, yet upon analysis, stripped of the surroundings under which the words were uttered, I think few could find cause for complaint or for just criticism.
We have indeed lost a friend, loyal, devoted and faithful friend, one whose service to his country cannot be measured by the accumulation of material possessions, but who has left behind him by his example and by the magnificent addresses which he delivered from
the Atlantic to the Pacific a feeling of faith in his country, based upon a stalwart Cana-dianism, coupled with a firm belief in the destiny of our empire and of this Dominion. These things will not easily nor soon be forgotten and as the years pass on I am satisfied that the feeling which was manifested yesterday when he returned to this House will be recalled as indicating the true measure of esteem and regard in which he was held by his fellow members. I recall, as the Prime Minister has mentioned, the words he spoke to me in the hospital only two days ago, and his appreciation of the manifestation of interest in his well-being shown by those whom he regarded as his political opponents, their inquiries as to his health and the hopes they expressed for his ultimate recovery, touched him greatly. I feel certain that his coming back to this house yesterday was influenced largely by a desire to express to those who had been so kind and had taken such an interest in his well-being his appreciation of their interest in his recovery.
I can say nothing more except this, that we do sincerely appreciate the observations that have been made by the Prime Minister, and we grieve with the devoted wife and family in the loss they have sustained. I should like to join with what my right hon. friend the Prime Minister has said in that regard, for only the day before yesterday I saw sitting beside the doctor's bed his devoted wife. Such relations are indeed an inspiration to every man who sees in them the development of the best in family life which, after all, is the foundation and the strength of all the institutions of our country. Love of wife and family, devotion to the companion of his life and to his children, were strongly manifested in our deceased colleague. It might be said of him, that though dead he still liveth amongst us. While there may be acute differences about many matters, there can be no difference of opinion as to the sincerity of his motives, the singleness of his purpose, the probity of his conduct, the integrity of his character, his great love for home and wife and children, his generous affection for his constituents and kind-hearted regard for his fellow men, his devotion to his country, his love for his empire and respect for this house of which he was so long a member.
We will long mourn him as a faithful and devoted friend whose loyalty was beyond question, whose devotion was beyond cavil, and whose single purpose in life was to serve
The late Hon. J. W. Edwards
his country well and who loved his fellow-men to the fullness of his great heart. I am sure too that we had too little appreciation of the breadth of his vision, the greatness of his intellect, and the power that he wielded throughout this country for the wellbeing of the commonwealth. Perhaps the words of a great poet truly express our sentiment:
He has outsoared the shadow of our night;
Envy and calumny and hate and pain,
And that unrest which men miscall delight,
Can touch him not, and torture him again.