Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):
I should like to inform the house of certain changes in the ministry on the occasion of the union of Canada and Newfoundland. Hon. James A. MacKinnon has resigned as Minister of Mines and Resources and has been sworn in as a minister without portfolio. He remains a member of the treasury board, and also Acting Minister of Trade and Commerce and Acting Minister of Mines and Resources.
Before announcing the further changes I should like to read to the house Mr. MacKinnon's letter of resignation and my reply. The letter from Mr. MacKinnon is as follows:
Minister of Mines and Resources Canada
Ottawa, Ontario, March 21, 1949.
Dear Mr. St. Laurent:
I have been thinking further along the lines of our recent conversation in which I informed you that my doctor advised me that I should, under no circumstances, consider seeking re-election to the House of Commons. I believe I should now make a public announcement to our friends in Edmonton West, so that they may be able to give immediate consideration to the choice of a candidate to contest the next general election. If you approve, I shall advise the Liberals of Edmonton West accordingly this week end. .
I have been very happy to be associated with the government responsible for completing the work of the Fathers of Confederation, bringing to a successful conclusion the union with Newfoundland. As
you know, I have been looking forward to being relieved of onerous departmental duties. I might make a further contribution to the harmonious completion of the union with Newfoundland by placing my portfolio at your disposal at this time.
It is, of course, going to be a wrench to sever my connection with a government I have been so happily associated with for so many years, but even apart from the state of my health, I feel it is desirable to keep bringing new blood into the administration, as we have been doing steadily for some years, in order to maintain the combination of experience and youthful energy which has enabled the party to serve Canada so well over the years.
I should be glad, therefore, if you would feel perfectly free to act on this suggestion of mine if it will lit in with your plans.
May I repeat here what I said to you personally- how proud and happy I am to have been associated for so many years with our late leader, Mr. King, and just recently under your own great leadership.
Assuring you of my continuing admiration and loyalty, I am,
Jas. A. MacKinnon
To this letter I replied as follows:
Office of the Prime Minister Canada
March 23, 1949.
Hon. James A. MacKinnon, M.P.,
Minister of Mines and Resources,
Dear Mr. MacKinnon:
I am grateful for your characteristically generous letter of March 21. No one can regret more than I do that your health will no longer permit you to face the rigours of a campaign for re-election to the House of Commons, particularly as your retirement will remove one of the small band of colleagues who have been with me since the first day I appeared in the council chamber.
At the same time, I know how arduous and devoted your services have been and how greatly you deserve some relief from the exacting responsibilities you have borne so long and with such distinction.
I agree, therefore, that it would be advisable to make an announcement now of your intention not to be a candidate in the next general elections.
Like you, I am impressed with the importance of doing everything we can to make the people of Newfoundland feel their province is a full partner from the first day of union. Your readiness to make your portfolio available will enable me to make certain rearrangements which will ensure full representation of Newfoundland in the ministry. I am sure all Canadians will be grateful for your patriotic suggestion that you make this personal contribution to the success of the new union.
I am going to ask you, however, to remain in the government as a minister without portfolio at least until the end of the present session. I feel it would be most unfortunate not to have the point of view of Alberta fully represented at the council table in the next few critical months.
It is my hope that the number of supporters of the government who will be returned in Alberta in
the next elections will be such that the only difficulty will be to choose the member who is best qualified to represent the interests and viewpoint of your province in the government of the nation.
I confess, however, it is not going to be easy to find anyone who could serve Alberta and all Canada with greater devotion than you have done over the past decade; and I hope you are going to continue for many years, though with lightened burdens, to contribute of your wisdom and experience to the public interest.
In conclusion, may I thank you again for all the help and encouragement you have given me over the years and, particularly, in these last few difficult months.
With warmest regards,
Yours very sincerely,
Louis S. St. Laurent.
Subtopic: UNION OF NEWFOUNDLAND WITH CANADA
Sub-subtopic: TRIBUTES TO MR. MACKINNON