July 17, 1944 (19th Parliament, 5th Session)


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



No-if my
hon. friend will just be courteous and allow me to make my statement. I should like to have the position made perfectly clear. When I sawT in the press the statement that at the dinner there would be a broadcast by myself I immediately felt that some persons, perhaps a good many more than I had reason to feel might so regard it, might think that the occasion had been arranged from some political motive and that any address or remarks by myself on that evening would be made for purposes of furthering some political end.
I immediately ascertained who among my friends had the matter more immediately in hand. I not only spoke to them, but I put myself on record in a letter in which I stated that much as I appreciated the compliment of the dinner I felt I would have to decline to make any broadcast on that occasion, that were I to do so my own motives and the motives of the party would most certainly be mistaken. I asked that as some announcement had been made in the press to the effect that I would be broadcasting on that evening, a correction be made. I gave as my reasons not merely the possible misconstruction that might be placed on a broadcast at that time, but also my feeling that with the war at the stage at which it is at the present, I was the last one who would wish to be responsible in
any way for possible further political controversy at this time. Moreover I pointed out that there was likely to be a provincial election; in fact, a provincial election in the province of Quebec had been mentioned. It was some days ago that I spoke of this matter. Since then it has been decided to hold provincial elections in both Alberta and New Brunswick. It is natural that some persons should have minds akin to that of the hon. member who has asked this question. I pointed out such persons would assume of course that there must be something sinister and ulterior about the proposed recognition of the occasion in the manner suggested.
I have noticed in this morning's paper the following statement which I think puts the matter in its true light. I shall quote it as I believe it has been sent to the press generally throughout Canada:
A speech Prime Minister Mackenzie King is scheduled to deliver August 7 at a dinner marking the 25th anniversary of his leadership of the Liberal party will not be broadcast, it was announced last night.
The committee in charge of arrangements for the dinner said in a statement that an earlier announcement that the speech would be broadcast over the national network of the C.B.C. was made before consultation with the Prime Minister.
The statement added that Mr. King felt that any broadcast which might be made "would almost certainly be construed as having a political motive and as such might give rise to political controversy." This, Mr. King is most anxious to avoid . . . particularly at this stage of the war and at a time when elections are being held in three of the provinces of Canada.
(Elections will be held in Quebec and Alberta August 8 and in New Brunswick August 28.)
I hope that what I have said and what appears in the press will be sufficient to make perfectly clear that neither the committee in charge of this complimentary dinner nor I myself have any desire to make political capital out of this recognition by my fellow members in parliament of the 25th anniversary of my election as leader of the Liberal party of Canada.

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