Right Hon. J. G. Diefenbaker (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, I rise for two purposes today. The first is to make reference in a general way to the services of my friend the right hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. St. Laurent) and to say to him that without regard to party considerations I speak for the membership of this house when I re-express what I said on a previous occasion, namely that all of us deeply regret that his physical condition made it impossible for him to carry on and discharge the difficult and onerous responsibilities of leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition.
I speak as one who has known him for many years. On occasions such as this all of us who have been here for three or four parliaments, engaged in the service of our country, must be conscious of the advancing of the years. I knew him as president of the Canadian Bar Association; I knew him in his other capacities; when he came into the House of Commons in December, 1941, as minister of justice and attorney general, accepting the tremendous challenge of war as an incentive to entering into public life. I knew him as secretary of state for external affairs from September 4, 1946, and at the time he was chosen as leader of the Liberal party in August, 1948. I knew him at the beginning of his prime ministership on November 15, 1948, and I have also known him in the last few months in his capacity as leader of the opposition.
As was said on another occasion by one of my predecessors, Mr. King, when he was referring to Mr. Bennett, I am not here for the purpose of estimating the place to be given by posterity to the contribution he has made. I am here for the moment, however, to wipe aside those political controversies which separate us and to say this. We regret what has taken place. As I said before, whatever our political differences may be they have been exercised in the traditions of our citizenship and in the realization that each of us, from whatever part of the house
he may come, is making that contribution which according to his conscience represents the best for Canada.
Subtopic: TRIBUTE TO OLD, WELCOME TO NEW