Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Mr. Speaker, I need
scarcely say I am indeed deeply touched by the welcome extended to me this afternoon on my return from a journey overseas. May I at once thank my hon. friends, the leader of the opposition and the leaders of the other parties who have spoken, for the cordial manner in which they have extended greetings on their own behalf and on behalf of their followers. May I say to the members of my own party, to my colleagues in the government and to our supporters, how delighted I am to be back again helping to share with them in the solution of some of the problems and in helping to bear some of the burdens which they have been carrying exclusively, during the time that I have been away.
I should like to say a word of thanks to the house for giving me the opportunity, which I have had in the last five weeks, of paying a very memorable visit to the old country. The main purpose of the visit hon.
members know was to participate in the proceedings of the conference of prime ministers which had commenced some weeks before I left, but which had been adjourned in order to give me the opportunity of joining with the premiers of the other nations of the commonwealth in reviewing situations and problems of common interest. I found that opportunity of exceptional value.
I shall keep in mind the wish expressed by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bracken) that I should report to the house on the conference at a later and more appropriate stage, but at this moment I should like to express very warmly my appreciation of the many courtesies extended by the government of the United Kingdom, and in particular by the Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, and the secretary of state for dominion affairs, Lord Addison; also of the courtesies extended by their colleagues, and the facilities that were afforded for gaining first-hand information on imporantant public matters from as many sources as possible during the period of my stay.
My absence covered a period of five weeks. Two weeks were spent in the trip to and fro.
I want to express appreciation of the opportunity that was thereby afforded to get a little rest and, while taking the ocean voyage and having the benefit of the sea air for that length of time, to reflect on many questions which are of real concern to us all. The three weeks in London were necessarily very much occupied with the proceedings of the conference and with consultations with different members of the government. During that period I also had the opportunity of witnessing the marvellous victory parade which took place in that city. That parade I believe will prove a line of demarcation between the past and its associations with war, and the future with its outlook for better conditions for human society. I wish 'all hon. members might have been privileged as I was to witness that parade. From what they have seen in the illustrated papers of views of the mechanized colum, they must realize something of the tremendous power it was necessary for the nations of the commonwealth and allied nations to exert in order to defend freedom and civilization from the enemies who were seeking to overthrow them. Similarly from a view of. the marching column one got a fuller appreciation of the tremendous contribution made by the manhood and womanhood of the different free nations toward victory. It has secured the condition we have in the world to-day which, though still one of unrest, is free from actual war. Looking
The Prime Minister
beneath the surface one could not but feel deeply the tremendous burden mankind seems to have had placed upon its shoulders in the recent past, and could not but wonder what will happen to human society if soon we do not find some way of effecting peace and good will among the nations of the world.
I should like to say a special word about the place our contingents, of the navy, the army and the air force, held in that memorable procession on the occasion of the victory parade. The Canadian contingents were recognized immediately by the multitudes along the streets and were given a wonderful reception. I was never in my life prouder of being a citizen of Canada than as I witnessed that parade, and reflected upon the position which Canada holds in the eyes of other nations as a result of the great part our defence forces have played in preserving the liberty of the world. May I add that I was never more grateful that this country is a member of the great community of nations which constitutes the British commonwealth and empire than I am at this moment, as a result of what I have seen and learned in a more intimate way in the course of this last visit. This is a time when all of us who love freedom cannot be bound together too closely by every possible bond that will cement relations between nations; and we are fortunate indeed in belonging to a great community of free nations which, in free combination with the powerful forces of the United States, have done and will, I believe, continue to do more to preserve freedom than would be possible in any other way.
I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, that on the way overseas or coming back I was not able to improve the opportunity along the lines suggested by my hon. friend, the leader of the opposition. But may I say that while I believe threescore years and ten are something of a handicap, I have not yet lost hope that there may be opportunities of happiness for myself and others, which he apparently so greatly desires should be mine.
I was deeply impressed while away by what I learned of the very serious condition of the world at the present time. It may seem a commonplace in the light of what has been stated from various sources to say it, but one could not participate in conferences such as we had, or have the privilege as was mine of conversing with those who have inside knowledge of the situation, without realizing that at this moment the situation in the world is in some respects as difficult as it has been at any time in history. In England, to appearances
fMr. Mackenzie King.]
at least, there has been some improvement. Outwardly at least the people look better; there is a note of hope, and a happier expression on their countenances. But they know that all the fortitude which was required during the war is still required to carry them through the situation facing them at the present time, and anything that can be done on this side I know will be appreciated over there more than words can express.
May I add that it does seem to me conditions in central Europe are deteriorating rapidly and greatly. Undoubtedly conditions are better in Holland, Denmark and Belgium, but they are still very difficult in France and are terrible in parts of Germany. Unless some means can be found whereby the new world, and countries that have supplies of food and clothing, can furnish those supplies to the people of some of the occupied zones and other parts of Europe, there may be conditions of famine, of strife and of turmoil which will amount to something in the nature of the spread of a new revolution throughout Europe. I think I am not wrong in giving that as an impression-not from what I have seen in Europe, because unfortunately I did not have the chance ito pay the personal visit that I had hoped I might, but from what I have gathered from those who have inside information.
The last word I should like to say at the moment is that, as far as one can judge what will go farther than anything else in helping to meet present world conditions is increased production and more effective distribution. The need in Europe to-day is to get industry under way, to get people at work. There is the prospect of a good harvest, but in some areas it has been impossible thus far to find any means whereby large numbers who should be employed can be given work, because of lack of fuel, food and transportation. Anything that can be done in the world to-day to furnish the necessities of life to those parts of Europe which are in dire need will not only mean salvation for them, but may well be in the nature of salvation for the world as a whole.
Subtopic: EXPRESSIONS OF WELCOME ON RETURN FROM OVERSEAS