May 31, 1984

PC

Erik Nielsen

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Erik Nielsen (Yukon):

Mr. Speaker, many Canadians who knew General Pearkes in his later years as an outstanding Defence Minister in the Diefenbaker Government and Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, were unaware that he was a genuine Canadian hero.

He left the Royal North-West Mounted Police of fabled memory, where he was serving in Whitehorse, Yukon, to go overseas in the First World War, where he won every available medal for bravery and distinguished service, from the Victoria Cross, Great Britain's highest honour, to the Croix de Guerre, and including the Military Cross, Distinguished Service Order, and the United States Order of Merit. He was wounded five times, and was mentioned four times in despatches.

Following the war, he continued his military career as General Staff Officer at Royal Military College, Director of Military Training at National Defence Headquarters, and Officer Commanding, Military District 13.

In World War II he gathered new laurels as Major General in command of the First Canadian Division overseas.

In 1945, at a time when most men are thinking of retirement, he undertook a new career in politics and soon demonstrated the same qualities of courage, devotion to his country, and rugged honesty which he had displayed on the field of battle.

As Minister of National Defence in the Diefenbaker Government he upgraded the weaponry and equipment of our fighting forces, recognized and respected the NATO and NORAD commitments to the full and, in spite of his army associations, regarded the air as the first line of defence.

Both the Arrow and Bomarc controversies erupted while he was head of the defence portfolio, and with wit, honesty and good humour, he bore criticism for decisions which were based on carefully considered recommendations of the Chiefs of Staffs based on their conviction that manned bombers were already obsolete.

When he left the defence portfolio to assume the Lieutenant Governorship of British Columbia in 1960, George Pearkes was undoubtedly grateful for the opportunity to leave the turbulence of politics.

May 31, 1984

Of him it can be said that virtually his entire life was one of service. His contribution to Canada and democracy was always one above and beyond the call of duty. He gave more than was expected, and always with a quiet modesty and good cheer that became a man who never turned his back on the foe, whether military or political.

The thoughts of this House remember him fondly and go out today to his wife, Blytha, his close friends and family who have suffered a loss comparable only to that suffered by the nation.

Of him, John Diefenbaker once said, "He was a great soldier." We can do no better here today than echo those words.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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NDP

Ian Gardiner Waddell

New Democratic Party

Mr. Ian Waddell (Vancouver-Kingsway):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say a few words on behalf of our Party because I represent a riding in British Columbia which is one of the places that General Pearkes served so well. It has already been said that he was a Mountie. He was a Victoria Cross winner in World War I. He was a staff officer. He was a politician. He was Minister of National Defence. He was a representative of the Queen as Lieutenant-Governor of my Province of British Columbia in 1960.

He was a gentleman, a soldier, and a person of great integrity. If that could be said of any of us in the House, we would consider it to be a wonderful honour.

Most of my generation never served in the Armed Forces. Thank God we did not have to go to war. I believe we must thank people like General Pearkes and other soldiers who did go to war to serve Canada and help make the world a safer place for people of my generation.

It has been said that General Pearkes was a genuine Canadian hero. At the time of its fortieth anniversary, D-Day is much on our minds. Many of Canada's old soldiers are going over to the beaches of Normandy. I trust and hope that they will reflect today on the passing of General Pearkes. He had a full life and I think we should be thankful for that. Old soldiers never die.

On behalf of my Party I want to extend to his family our thoughts and gratitude for the fullness of this man's life.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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PC

Marcel Joseph Aimé Lambert

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Marcel Lambert (Edmonton West):

Mr. Speaker, when I came here as a member in 1957, it was to assume a post as first parliamentary assistant to the Minister of National Defence, the late George Pearkes.

As a veteran of World War II with a lot of friends at National Defence, and working under a man who was Officer Commanding, First Canadian Division, when I went overseas in 1941, not to his division but to another formation, I can assure the House that he had the loyalty of Canada's Forces behind him. As was indicated by the Hon. Member for Yukon

The Late George R. Pearkes

(Mr. Nielsen), there were tough decisions, I remember, on the Arrow and on the Bomarc. However, he always served as Minister of National Defence in the House with the greatest courtesy to all, and with a determination to get the job done.

May I just add a further note that in his role as Grand President of the Royal Canadian Legion, a year or so before he retired from that position he received an honour from the Legion in convention in Edmonton which is rarely accorded- a standing ovation on being introduced.

He had an honourable life since leaving the office of Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, where he was one of the most popular Lieutenant-Governors in recent history. We who have known him for many years watched his declining health with continuing concern. May we say that it is unfortunate he did not reach a century. On the other hand, I think his family and friends will be relieved that he has slipped quietly away. To his widow, Blytha, and to his son, John, may we all say we are sorry. George was one of Canada's great men.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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PC

Allan Bruce McKinnon

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Allan B. McKinnon (Victoria):

Mr. Speaker, General Pearkes was a legend in the Canadian Forces, but his life before he joined and after he left the Forces was equally outstanding. He came to Canada to homestead on a prairie farm in 1906. Then he joined the Royal North-West Mounted Police as a rookie and served as a constable, serving in the Yukon and elsewhere. In January, 1915, he joined the Canadian Mounted Rifles, now the British Columbia Dragoons, which was then a cavalry unit stationed in Victoria. He joined as a private soldier and worked his way up through the ranks, achieving a record in the year 1916 which has not been equalled before or since, of going from the rank of Sergeant through all ranks to the rank of Major in one year. He finished World War I as a Lieutenant-Colonel, with the Military Cross, Distinguished Service Order, and the most highly regarded decoration in the world, the Victoria Cross.

He remained in the permanent Force in that fine regiment, the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and, on the outbreak of World War II, he again went overseas in his country's service. He commanded the Second Brigade and then the First Canadian Infantry Division, where I first met him while serving under his command. I served under him again when he was General Officer Commanding, Pacific Command, and of course when he became Minister of National Defence in 1957.

His moves from the military to the House of Commons, to the Privy Council, and to Government House in Victoria, in his mind I believe, were simply a continuation of his public service and his duty.

It is difficult to find words to describe adequately the respect and affection which the people of Victoria, and indeed the Canadian public, felt for this man. To state it simply, they trusted him and they believed him. His service to Canada in war and in peace set an example which may never be equalled.

May 31, 1984

The Late George R. Pearkes

I wish to add the condolences of myself and of the citizens of Victoria to those already expressed by the Leaders of the Parties of this House and others, to his wife and family.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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PC

Donald W. Munro

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Donald W. Munro (Esquimalt-Saanich):

Mr. Speaker, Major General, the Hon. George Randolph Pearkes, Victoria Cross, Member of Her Majesty's Privy Council, Companion of the Order of Canada, Companion of the Order of the Bath, and awarded the Distringuished Service Order and the Military Cross, all titles and honours in the service of his country, died yesterday in Victoria. His honours were many; we are honoured to have known him.

As the Member who represents the same people of Esquimalt-Saanich for whom General Pearkes spoke in this place with such honour, dignity, civility and humanity, I cannot fail to be aware of the responsibility that now is mine. In fact General Pearkes set a model for all of us to follow as Members of Parliament speaking here on behalf of our constituents.

His record in the service of Canada and Canadians is one that is not easy to match. Arriving in this country as a young man in his late teens, settling on a farm in Alberta, which at that time had only recently been created a province of Canada, and spending the first few years homesteading there, gave him a deep appreciation of Canada's richness and its readiness to reward those who were prepared to work with its endless resources.

I suspect it also gave him, unless he brought it along with him, a healthy humility when confronted with God's manifold favours. He was a devout man, respecting his God, living by God's laws, and knowing he lived always in God's sight.

He served several years, much of it in the Yukon, as a constable in the Royal North-West Mounted Police. When war was imminent, he enlisted as a trooper in the Second Canadian Mounted Rifles. He trained in Canada and went overseas.

Late in October, 1917, and as a Major, he displayed the fearless courage that marked his whole life. Although wounded, he led his men with the utmost gallantry and disregard for danger-because he was under ground fire and air attack; he fulfilled his Colonel's orders, reached his objectives and returned with his company, depleted, it is true, but their task was fulfilled. His valour on this occasion at Passchendeale won him the Victoria Cross. Throughout that battle and in all his subsequent commands, as Major, later as Colonel, and eventually as Major-General, he never lost the common touch. Because he had grown up humbly, he never became arrogant. Success never went to his head. It merely gave him an added opportunity to serve his fellow men.

There are many instances of his love for his fellow men, his simple, direct approach to all he met, his kindliness, and his concern for people, all of which endeared the man to those who served him or with him, as Commanding Officer, Member of Parliament, Minister of the Crown, or Lieutenant-Governor.

As Her Majesty's representative in British Columbia he earned the respect of all those he met and thousands more he never met.

Of no one in the country can it be said more justly that he won our respect because he respected each of us. A more fitting tribute for a great Canadian, a more worthy example for all of us, in whatever walk of life, would be difficult to find. His citation for the Victoria Cross begins "for most conspicuous bravery". For his record of service to Canadians for more than 70 years, I would suggest that we add "and for most conspicuous service".

To Blytha, his wife, to whom he was married for almost 59 years; to his son, John, and to his grandchildren, I am sure the House will want to express its sincerest condolences and prayers for their comfort in their loss. Their loss is ours too.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

May I suggest to the House that we rise and observe a minute's silence in memory of the late George Randolph Pearkes.

[Whereupon the House stood in silence for one minute.]

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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LIB

Gildas L. Molgat (Speaker pro tempore)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. Is there unanimous agreement that Question Period extend until five minutes past three?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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Some Hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   THE LATE GENERAL GEORGE R. PEARKES TRIBUTE TO ILLUSTRIOUS CANADIAN
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ORAL QUESTION PERIOD

THE ADMINISTRATION

PC

Charles James Mayer

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charles Mayer (Portage-Marquette):

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Prime Minister of which I have given him prior notice. It has to do with an article that appeared in yesterday's Globe and Mail concerning statements made by his Minister of Agriculture. I quote one paragraph:

A man should always wear a hat. ... No easier way to catch a cold in winter than to go bareheaded. And in summer, the sun'll roast your brains if you don't wear a hat. That's one reason they have low IQs in Africa. They don't wear hats.

Does the Prime Minister find this acceptable behaviour by one of his Ministers, and what has he done about it or intends to do about it?

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ADMINISTRATION
Sub-subtopic:   LIBERAL PARTY LEADERSHIP CAMPAIGN-STATEMENT ATTRIBUTED TO MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE-REFERENCE TO AFRICANS
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LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I always hate this kind of a question, although I did get notice of it. I received the clipping. I realize why the Hon. Member is only quoting one paragraph, as he said. If he read the next phrase after the one he stopped reading, it would have gone on to say:

May 31, 1984

Another reason, and a more important problem is malnutrition, something that as President of the World Food Council for the past two years he has been intent on doing something about.

He has done a great deal about it. I know Mr. Whelan. I know that he has constantly been raising the problem of malnutrition in Africa. He has been raising the problem in Cabinet. He has been trying to help refugees.

I would agree that the phrase about IQs and wearing hats does not sound very good when you look at it in black and white, but I would imagine Mr. Whelan did it with tongue in cheek. The Hon. Member for Saskatoon West looks disgusted at my answer. I remind him that his seatmate, the Hon. Member for St. John's West, talked about our former Minister of Finance, the Secretary of State for External Affairs, going to Gabon to be with people who were swinging from trees. Do you remember that? I remember it. I do not think that was a very good remark either, but we did not make a question out of it. I can give other examples.

I know Mr. Whelan. I know that he is very sensitive to the difficult economic situations in Africa. I certainly am not going to make a fuss about this.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   THE ADMINISTRATION
Sub-subtopic:   LIBERAL PARTY LEADERSHIP CAMPAIGN-STATEMENT ATTRIBUTED TO MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE-REFERENCE TO AFRICANS
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REQUEST FOR MINISTER'S RESIGNATION

PC

Charles James Mayer

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charles Mayer (Portage-Marquette):

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that many of the things the Prime Minister said in his response are total non sequiturs. His Minister, a Minister of the Crown, has uttered what most people would say is a totally unacceptable racial slur. If the Prime Minister does not ask for the Minister's resignation and continues to keep him in his Cabinet, he will cast some very serious doubts on his lifelong concern over civil liberties, his Charter of Rights, and his concern for minority rights. I ask him again whether he is prepared to ask for that Minister's resignation. If he does not, he will be launching his retirement on a very sour note that is in contrast to many of the things he stood for as Prime Minister of this country.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR MINISTER'S RESIGNATION
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LIB

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly not going to ask for his resignation, but I would ask the Hon. Member if maybe he goes out in the sun without a hat sometimes.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR MINISTER'S RESIGNATION
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May 31, 1984