July 4, 1935 (17th Parliament, 6th Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I have much pleasure in seconding the motion just made by the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) and in associating myself and hon. members on this side of the house with the sentiments expressed in the address which it is proposed to present to His Excellency the Governor General on the approaching termination of his official connection with our country.
As the Prime Minister has indicated, the position of governor general holds for the occupant of that high office, relationships of the greatest significance and importance. The first of these relationships referred to by the Prime Minister is that of the governor general to the crown. There is also the relationship of the governor general to the government and to parliament and, as the Prime Minister has also indicated, there is the relationship of the governor general to the people of the country. I doubt if an incumbent of that high office could wish for more than that it should be said of him at the conclusion of his term of office that, as respects these relationships, he had been faithful to the best traditions which cluster around all three. This, I believe, can truly be said of the Earl of Bessborough. It can be said that, in his relationship to the crown, to the govern-[DOT] ment and parliament, and to the people, His Excellency has fulfilled the expectations of his sovereign, and, as we have just heard, of the government which was responsible for his appointment.
The Prime Minister has referred at some length to the relationship of the governor general to the crown. It is true, as the right hon. gentleman has said, that in common with all our interimperial relations the position of governor general has undergone farreaching and fundamental change with the course of time.
It is not so long ago that the appointment of the governor general was made, as the Prime Minister has indicated, at the instance of the government not of Canada but of Great Britain. The extent to which there has been consultation between the two governments has varied considerably from time to time, but I am sure I am right when I say that the voice of the Canadian government has been increasingly heard and lecognized as the years have gone by. It is a distinguishing mark of His Excellency's appointment that in letter as well*as in spirit the appointment was made on the advice of the Canadian Prime Minister without any intervention on the part of the government of Great Britain. As we are touching on these matters historically it is perhaps permissible at the moment for me to indicate how far that development had gone prior to the time at which my right hon. friend came into office.
The Prime Minister has referred to the appointment of His Excellency Lord Willing-don to the position of viceroy of India. I recall that at the time it became necessary to choose a successor to Lord Byng, then governor general, the British government communicated with the government of Canada in the matter. The British government submitted names which it thought might be acceptable, but the British government was informed by the government of Canada that We would wish to have included, among any names that might be submitted, the name of Lord Willingdon. In a communication to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, speaking as the Prime Minister of Canada, I pointed out that we were not anxious, at that particular time, to raise the question of at whose instance the governor general of Canada should be appointed as between the government of Great Britain and the government of Canada. I stated that if the government of Great Britain was prepared to carry out the wish of the Canadian government in the matter, as had been more or less the case in the past, that question would not be raised, 'but that we maintained the position that the appointment was one for which, like others related to Canada, the Canadian ministry should be responsible. When the imperial conference of 1926 took place in London I brought up the matter there, and one of the subjects I submitted for consideration at the conference was the position of the governor general with respect to the government by which he should be appointed. I took the position that the governor general -should be the ap-pointee of His Majesty's government of the do,minion

Address to The Governor General
in which he was expected to be the representative of the crown. That matter was fully considered by the conference of 1926, and as hon. members who are familiar with its proceedings know, a resolution was adopted unanimously by the conference of 1926 approving and asserting that as the position. With the enactment of the statute of Westminster no further word was needed to make it quite dear that so far as the appointment of the governor general of a self-governing British dominion thereafter was concerned that the appointment would be made on the exclusive reeommtnda-tion and responsibility of the Prime Minister of the day, having always in mind, as the Prime Minister has just pointed out, that whoever is appointed is the representative of His Majesty the King and that naturally His Majesty's own wishes in the matter must also be given the greatest respect and consideration. .
A further relationship to which the Prime Minister has referred is that of the governor general to the government and to parliament. Of the relationship of His Excellency to the government, I, of course, cannot speak; the Prime Minister alone can .tell us of that. But may I say to my right hon. friend at once, when he mentions that there have been rumours of some difference between His Excellency the Governor General and the Prime Minister, that I for one have heard no rumour of the kind, nor am I aware of anyone who has. There have been many rumours of differences between my right hon. friend and some of those who are very close to him; we know of one that has resulted in a very marked separation. But may I say that so far as the governor general is concerned I have heard of nothing of the kind, and I was not surprised to hear my right hon. friend say, as he did, that in the discharge of his own onerous duties he had found the wide political experience of Lord Bessborough and His Excellency's large financial and business experience as well a very great help to him while he has been in office, and that he had found in the intimate associations which he had been privileged to enjoy with the present governor general much for which he will long cherish a grateful memory and appreciation.
As to the relations of the governor general to parliament, there again it is for the Prime Minister to speak. But as leader of His Majesty's opposition and, in that position, having some responsibility to view generally all situations affecting parliament, I might perhaps be permitted to say a word. I believe that, from the beginning of the time Lord Bessborough came to Canada up to the present

moment, His Excellency not only has sought but has succeeded, as between political parties in this country, in maintaining an attitude that has been scrupulously impartial. And may I [DOT]go a step further and say that I feel that, on many occasions, a word spoken in season, and a kindly act on the part of Lord Bessborough as the king's representative, have gone very far in some situations that were extremely irritating and baffling to help to make a rough place smoother than it otherwise would have been. Here again I join with the Prime Minister in appreciation of the difficult position of a governor general in what is expected of him in the matter of travel and speaking throughout the country, particularly in times of great, depression and stTain. Inevitably there must be a colouring of all efforts of an administration by the character of the times in which the administration is carried on. It has been Lord Bessborough's good or ill fortune to be in Canada in a period when, as mentioned in the address, the country has been suffering great depression, and strain. I think that, the addresses His Excellency has given from time to time, and which have always had about them a note of optimism, of hope and of faith, are deserving of mention and praise. He has sought at all times to give encouragement to the people. We know of his effort .to become acquainted with all parts of the Country, of his effort to become acquainted with the people, of his desire to inform himself of conditions and to identify himself with great causes, and of the extent to which he has been successful in identifying himself with and furthering patriotic and philanthropic as well as cultural developments in our country.
It is wholly appropriate that the address should contain special reference to the interest which His Excellency has taken in dramatic ant. I for one would like to have seen that interest and encouragement find its natural and complete fulfilment in the establishment of a national theatre in Canada. However, that consummation may come in the course of time, and, if it comes, it will owe its inspiration more than anything else to the dramatic competitions with which His Excellency's name will be permanently associated.
There is one other memorial expressive of broad human sympathies which I believe will .prove to be of an enduring character and regarding which I think it is appropriate to say just a word, and that is the great personal interest taken by Their Excellencies in the inauguration and promotion of the cancer fund established at the time of the king's silver jubilee. We know it is due to the magnanimity of His Majesty that the fund is

Salmon Trap Regulations
being used for research in Canada and for the treatment of cancer in Canada, but I believe it is an open secret that the form which the gift assumed owed much to a suggestion of His Excellency.
I believe all hon. members, and the country generally, will appreciate very much, and regard as eminently fitting, the reference which is made in the address to the part which has been taken in all matters pertaining to Government House and His Excellency's social and other responsibilities by Her Excellency the Countess of Bessborough. In referring to Her Excellency's "graciousness and charm" the words of the address have been well chosen. I am sure we all agree that Her Excellency has won, in a very complete way, both the admiration and the affection of the people of this country.
In conclusion may I add that in saying good-bye to Their Excellencies, we shall hope they will carry away from Canada memories as cherished and as pleasant as those which they are leaving in our midst. When again in the old country they will I am sure often think of the days of their sojourn in Canada. In so doing I trust they will always feel there is in Canada an abiding interest in all that pertains to their welfare and that of the members of their distinguished family, and that they have at all times the best of wishes of the Canadian people.
,Mr. G. G. OOOTE (Macleod): In the absence of the hon. member for Acadia (Mr. Gardiner), I would like to say on behalf of myself and members of this group that we join very heartily in the kindly sentiments expressed at this time by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) and the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) to Lord and Lady Bessborough. I trust Their Excellencies may carry with them the very kindliest remembrances of their stay in Canada, and I am sure we will all be glad to welcome them back to this country at any time they may be able to visit us.

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