May 4, 1936 (18th Parliament, 1st Session)


Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, the generous terms in which the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has spoken will not soon be forgotten by those of us who knew Mr. Plunkett as friend and colleague. I should like on my own behalf as well as on behalf of those with whom I am associated to express to the right hon. gentleman, not as leader of a party but as leader of this house, our very sincere and grateful appreciation of his kind words on this occasion. '
We are once more reminded that death is ever with us. The sickle of the grim reaper has appeared very early in the life of this new parliament. Out of two hundred and forty-five members one has been taken from us, although it is now but May and we first met in February.
Mr. Plunkett came into the House of Commons in a by election in 1928. He was reelected in 1930, and in 1935 he was again reelected after a very strenuous contest. If one were to ask what qualities ensured his election in the city of Victoria I would say that essentially the first was that he was a man of integrity and of the highest character. He was not a man who wore his heart upon his sleeve, and many who did not know him little appreciated the kindly heart that beat under a somewhat, shall I say, rugged exterior. But those of us who came to know him realized not only that he was a man of character and integrity and of great simplicity and directness in speech and action, but that he was possessed of a sense of loyalty that nothing could destroy. He was proud of his city and proud to be the member for Victoria-prouder than most men who represent constituencies, because he had been absent in the great war for a very considerable time, and came back only to find confusion in his own business. When he was elected he felt it was indeed the proudest moment of his life. His pride in Victoria he expressed in many ways.
The Late D'Arcy B. Plunkett

As a public man he took but little part in the debates of the house, but he was most regular in his attendance both in the chamber and in committee, and made himself singularly well informed with respect to all matters which engaged the attention of pariiament. Over and above all that he was a man of great industry, although that fact may not have been apparent to those who sat in the chamber with him. He attended to his correspondence in a manner which I believe commended him to his constituents; he was always busy looking after the interests of his friends and constituents, whether they were his political supporters or otherwise.
He was a great Canadian in the sense that he believed in his country, its destiny and its future. Although he represented the city of Victoria, in the far west, he never forgot that in Ontario he had first seen the light. Obviously his loss to all of us is great, but even greater to those of us who knew him better than to others who knew him only casually. While in the first loss of a member of this parliament the house as a whole has suffered a bereavement that is not easily understood, we, small in numbers, who sit to your left, Mr. Speaker, have lost a well beloved comrade and colleague and one who by his loyalty and devotion to those with whom he was associated and to his party had greatly endeared himself to all of us.
I never think of the passing of one who is active in public life and who has to endure all that public men must endure,-the vicissitudes of life, the vicissitudes of position, criticism, sometimes unreasoning, and commendation sometimes equally unreasoning -without recalling those beautiful words of Shelley. I believe upon this occasion I might well repeat them as indicating what must be the position of those who, in the midst of their public duties, are struck down and go to their reward:
He hath outsoared the shadow of the night;
Envy and calumny and hate and pain.
And that unrest which men miscall delight,
Can touch him not, and torture not again;
From the contagion of the world's slow stain.
He is secure, and now can never mourn
A heart grown cold, a head grown grey in vain.

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