Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, about seven
o'clock last night I received a telephone message from my colleague the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Rogers) asking me if I had received news that seemed more threatening at that moment than any which had been received before. He was referring to the possibility of Italy coming into the war
to-day. He mentioned, as his reason for asking me this question, that he had made an engagement to address the Empire and Canadian clubs at Toronto to-day, but was considering, in the light of the menacing situation abroad, the possibility of cancelling that particular meeting. He asked me my opinion about his doing so. I replied that I considered it important that all of us should realize the seriousness of the situation as it was at the moment, but said I was afraid that, if he were to cancel his trip to Toronto at this time, some undue alarm might be occasioned from the fact that the Minister of National Defence had not been able to carry out an important engagement which he had made. He said to me that he would like to be in the house to-day, and would arrange to fly to Toronto and return by aeroplane after the meeting.
I received this afternoon the intimation that my colleague and very dear friend had left this morning about eleven o'clock to go to Toronto to keep his engagement. He had been working on departmental work until the moment he left. At twenty minutes to three this afternoon word came that the plane in which the Minister of National Defence and others were flying to Toronto had crashed somewhere near Newcastle. It is my very sad duty to have to inform hon. members of the house that among others who were killed in that accident was my friend the Minister of National Defence.
I should say to the house that when we had concluded our conversation, the last words Mr. Rogers addressed to me were, "Very well, I will carry on"-carry on with the engagement that he had made. I feel that these are the words that he would like me to give to my colleagues, to all hon. members of this house and to the people of the country at this time. Come what may, a solemn obligation rests upon the shoulders of all of us, and that obligation is to carry on, no matter what the circumstances may be.
This house and the country will appreciate to the full, I believe, how great is the loss Canada has sustained in the death of the Minister of National Defence. I have known many noble characters in my life, but I believe I speak not only my own feelings but the feelings of my colleagues and of many others of those around me when I say that I have never known a more faithful public servant. I do not know that I have ever known a better administrator of public affairs. I have never known a more disinterested servant of the state, nor have I ever known a more beautiful nature or a nobler soul than that of Norman Rogers.