February 1, 1937 (18th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Robert Smeaton White

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. S. WHITE (St. Antoine-West-mount):

Mr. Speaker, I desire to add my poor tribute to the dear dead colleague whose passing we to-day mourn. He was my friend and intimate, and I think it is probably true to say that at the time of his death I was his oldest living friend. It was in 1879, fifty-eight years ago, that he began his journalistic career on the staff of the Montreal Gazette, with which paper I had been associated since June, 1874. My recollection is

The Late Hon. Charles Marcil
that Mr. Marcil as a youngster-he was then only nineteen years of age-had a great flair for politics. He began life as an adherent of the Conservative party, and his earlier speeches on the public platform were delivered in the cause of that party. Not many years thereafter, from convictions the sincerity of which no man who knew Charlie Marcil will for a moment doubt, he changed his party allegiance. Throughout the rest of his life it can be said that he was a consistent and stalwart member and supporter of the Liberal cause.
His attainments were great. He was distinguished in many ways. He not only served his country in this House of Commons, but he served the city in which he lived, Montreal, first as a member of the city council and subsequently as one of the commissioners to whom the management of the city was entrusted. Summing up his character in a word, one can say of him that he was a gentleman.
The duration of his public life is almost unexampled. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) referred to two other men in public life, Mr. John Haggart and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who sat in parliament for perhaps as long a period as did Mr. Marcil. Of course the outstanding example of public service in parliament was that of Macdonald, who sat for forty-seven consecutive sessions, first in the legislature of the old province of Canada and then in this House of Commons. In a way the greatest tribute that has been or can be paid to Mr. Marcil is the fact that during the nearly thirty-seven years in which he was a member of this house he represented the same constituency, which is at once a tribute to his integrity, his character, his kindliness, and his ability. He was a most fluent speaker, as has been said, in both languages. Having had an Irish mother he probably lisped English at his mother's knee, but doubtless he would call himself, because of his ancestors through a long line, a French-Canadian, as he was in heart and spirit. He was a broad-minded man. I would not call him a partisan; I think that would be an unfair term to apply to Charlie Marcil. I would call him a moderate Liberal. He was always ready to give and take, and any opponent who may have crossed swords with him or differed from him in discussion would at least have agreed that he was fair in the maintenance of his views, and would have concluded that discussion with an esteem and respect and even an affection for Mr. Marcil.
I have said that as a young man campaigning in the good old province of Quebec he
made a reputation as an orator. I know as a matter of fact, and he was no mean judge, that the late Sir Adolphe Chapleau, regarded Mr. Marcil as one of the rising young men of Canada, an appreciation that has been fully justified.
Let me just say this in conclusion. If it can be said of any man it can be said of Charlie Marcil that-
He had kept
The whiteness of his soul, and thus men o'er him wept.

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