May 22, 1944 (19th Parliament, 5th Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)


Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

I am sure you, Mr. Speaker, and hon. members will not be surprised when I say that it is with great difficulty I find words wherewith to express my appreciation of the welcome extended to me this afternoon, as I return to my duties in the House of Commons.
May I say to my hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr, Graydon) that it was particularly pleasing to be welcomed by him, both as an old friend and as leader of the opposition in the house. There are times when, I imagine, my hon. friend would not welcome my return as cordially as he has this afternoon. But may I say to him that I have never come into the House of Commons at any time when I found myself more *pleased with having that opportunity. I thank him for the exceedingly generous and felicitous way in which he has extended a welcome on behalf of his party, and I thank too, my hon. friends, the leaders of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and the Social Credit parties for the equally felicitous and generous manner in which they have extended their good wishes, and those of their t{Mr. Graydon.]
followers. I shall ever remember with gratitude as well as pride, the welcome accorded from all sides of the house.
May I say to all hon. members that at no time have I been insensible of the burden of responsibility which was mine. If I have been fortunate enough not to disappoint too greatly any hopes or expectations they may have been kind enough to entertain of my representation of this House of Commons in Great Britain, I cannot be too grateful. The welcome which I received in Britain, which as my hon. friend the leader of the opposition quite rightly says was a welcome of the entire people of Britain, from their majesties the king and queen to those engaged in humble but essential tasks in that country at this time was certainly a welcome to the representative of the people of Canada and an expression of the feeling of the heart and mind of Britain toward the Canadian people. My visit afforded me an opportunity to realize how deeply the people of the United Kingdom feel toward the people of Canada. No words could begin to acknowledge the expressions that came from all sides as to the war effort of our country, and what it meant to have Canada and the other self-governing nations of the commonwealth represented at the side of the British government and people, at this of all times in the history of the world.
Had time permitted, and had I not just concluded a journey of over four thousand miles in one day and night, I should have liked to say something to the house of the many impressions gathered while in the United Kingdom, but doubtless I will have other opportunities for doing so. I shall accordingly make but a reference or two to those impressions. First, I should like to say that I think the conference in every way was a very great success, not only in what it. disclosed of unity of purpose, unity of feeling and unity of action on the part of all who were there, but also in what it represented, in a symbolic way, to other parts of the world of the complete unity of the British commonwealth of nations and their high purpose at this time. It would not be possible to overestimate the value which the discussions at the conference were to all present. We had the privilege, the very great privilege, of having the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Churchill, preside over practically all the meetings. It was an inspiration to have his leadership. I am sure hon. members will be pleased to know that the Prime Minister of Great Britain was never in better health and never displayed more vigour than at the present time. During the last few

Welcome to Prime Minister
years I have seen him on many occasions; at Washington, here in Ottawa and also in Britain, but I can say that I do not recall ever having seen Mr. Churchill display the vigour, the energy, the tirelessness and the utter freedom from fatigue that he displayed throughout the entire conference. This means a great deal to all of us.
The discussions were free, frank and friendly. I could not honestly say that there were material differences between us on any questions. There were shades of opinion; there were points of view that were perhaps different, arising out of the different geographical positions of the different nations of the commonwealth, and the local situations they must necessarily take into account, but there was no difficulty whatever in arriving at a convergence of view with respect to all matters that were discussed. The programme itself was very full. It covered a variety of subjects, dealing of course primarily with matters of defence, with plans of the whole war, but dealing also with questions of foreign policy, matters related to the period of transition, to post-war reconstruction, and to the fashioning of a new world order. In the nature of things the proceedings of the conference were very secret, and one has to be doubly careful at this moment to disclose very little of what took place within its secret councils. These are moments when the enemy is more active than he has been at any time. He would be quick to piece together remarks that might be made in different parts of the world as to what had taken place, and turn them to his own advantage. But I can say, and I am proud to say, that its entire proceedings were marked by a degree of unanimity and determination that it would be impossible to exaggerate.
I believe the house would be interested were I to give just a line which might come to hon. members as from Mr. Churchill himself, for it, better than anything else I can think of, describes wThat the conference meant not only to him but to all of us who were present from the other nations of the commonwealth. I give the words as spoken by the Prime Minister at the opening of the concluding session, at the time the representatives signed the declaration which was subsequently published. Mr. Churchill said:
We have found comfort in hours of stress and anxiety. In days when great military operations are proceeding with vigour, and, at last, not uncheered by hopes of success, we have found pleasure in meeting men whose companionship is .a comfort, whose comradeship is strong as a rock. . . . My confidence in the future is enormously strengthened by all that lias passed around this council board, and I am sure that
this meeting will in future years be looked back to as one of the important milestones in the history of our united association.
My hon. friends have been kind enough to make reference to my part in the proceedings. May I say to them and to other hon. members of the house that, if it was in any way satisfactory, that was due to the circumstance that I had the privilege of giving expression to what I believe to be feelings and sentiments which are held in common throughout this dominion. I sought to avoid' making reference to matters which might represent differences of opinion on any question.. The things that we all hold in common are so much greater than the things that divide us-that it was not difficult for me to feel that, when I spoke, I was speaking not for any particular party, not for either side of the-house, but for members of all parties in this House of Commons and for the people of Canada as a whole.
My stay in Britain over the past three weeks and more has permitted me to gain exceptional information from the inside, from those-who know more about the position of affairs-in Europe and throughout the world than-any other men; to obtain information from-those in the highest positions on the military side as well as from those in the highest positions on the civil side. I have been permitted, also, to see something of the tremendous developments that have taken place in preparation for the final great task which may come at any moment. As a result of what I have seen and heard, I feel more reassured than I have felt at any time as to the certainty of ultimate victory. But may I say also that I feel more deeply than ever that the struggle is going to be very much greater and more difficult than any of -us begin to comprehend!.
I believe it is going to be longer than perhaps most of us imagine. As to its being a difficult struggle, a hard and severe struggle, a stupendous struggle, there -can be no doubt. It will be the greatest conflict in arms that has ever taken place in the history of the world. We must be prepared, all of us, everywhere, to hear from time to time of situations that may cause us, for the moment, great concern. But let me say to the people of Canada, when that moment comes, have nodoubt whatever as to what the ultimate outcome of the struggle will be, for I believe, knowing the plans of the united nations and what is being done to give effect to them, that there can be no question at all as to what the ultimate outcome will be.
I should like to add a further word as a result of what I have heard and seen- and felt. I do not believe that this war is going to end
Welcome to Prime Minister

the conflict between the different classes and races of men. The enemy of to-day must be completely destroyed, but forces of evil have been let loose in this world which it is going to be difficult indeed to bring to bay. These forces of evil are going to continue to destroy much of what is best in the world, for many *days, I am afraid, possibly years, after the main struggle is over. In all of our deliberations here, as I am sure will be the case in the deliberations of all other assemblies of free nations, we must never lose sight of the fact that our greatest work may still lie ahead in seeking to trample under foot and slay the dragon that to-day is seeking to destroy humanity itself.
I have been impressed more than ever with the truth that Britain holds the gates of freedom for the world. She has carried a great burden through the years, almost through centuries, in keeping open those gates of freedom. She has been hard pressed, very hard pressed in recent years in keeping those gates ajar. I believe that if the nations of the commonwealth had not found it possible in their hearts, from aheir love of freedom and sense of justice, to *come immediately as they did to the side of Britain when this great struggle broke out, she herself might not have found it possible to keep those gates open. If those gates are * ever closed there will be no more freedom for men in this world, I believe, for a thousand .years to come. So I say that our task should :go beyond this war and that we must continue tto share with all freedom-loving peoples the igitaat task of keeping those gates of freedom, which Britain represents, open to mankind.
I should add that I never was so proud of Canada as I was in Britain when I saw what our armed forces meant to the people there, and what they are accomplishing. It was not my privilege, obviously, to witness our naval forces in action, though events took place at the time of my visit which caused us all to realize their service and sacrifice as perhaps they have not been recognized at any other moment. But I did have the privilege of [DOT]visiting our bomber group at one or two of its stations and of seeing something of the army and of its extent and work. I felt a pride in Canada's effort greater than any I have ' hitherto known or expressed. On some other *occasion I shall have a chance to say a word about that and about the work people on the farms and in industries in Canada are doing to keep Britain supplied with the food and the war materials she so greatly needs.
Let me conclude, Mr. Speaker, by saying that I was never more proud to be a Canaj
dian than I am at this hour, and I was never more proud to be a citizen of the British commonwealth.

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