Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, before proceeding with the business of the day, and on a matter of general privilege, I feel it would be appropriate to recognize the fact that today is not only the birthday of Queen Victoria, but it is also the birthday of the senior statesman of the British fellowship throughout the world. Today in South Africa Field Marshal Smuts is celebrating his eightieth birthday. It is appropriate that here in Canada we should indicate our own good wishes to a man who has contributed so much to the development of this great British association to which we belong; to a man who in his own life has given a remarkable demonstration of the way in which friendship may grow out of understanding, and, because of the genius of our system, those who have even been enemies can stand side by side in the great cause of freedom.
Field Marshal Smuts was actually in command of the Boer troops during a considerable period of the South African war. Shortly after that, when South Africa became associated with the rest of us in this common endeavour which is called the British empire, the British commonwealth, or by whatever other term one chooses to describe this really remarkable fellowship of free people, he showed the way in which the hand of friendship can be extended after hostilities have ceased. Surely there can be nothing more dramatic than the fact that one of the most gallant soldiers on the other side of the Boer war became the commander of the South African troops in the war of 1914-18, and again during the second world war was not only prime minister of South Africa but also the supreme commander of the South African troops.
Field Marshal Smuts has been a truly remarkable man, and his service has not by any means been confined to South Africa. Today, when thoughtful people everywhere are reaching out for a wider basis of understanding among the nations of the world, it 55946-177* * |
is interesting to recall that, out of his early experience, he has always sought the widest measure of understanding among nations. He is the only man in public life today who was an active representative of a government at the time the charter of the league of nations came into existence at Versailles in 1919. In the spring of 1945 he went to San Francisco with the experience of a man who had seen the dream of the league of nations emerge, and had seen that dream shattered. It was he who was largely responsible for the drafting of the opening paragraphs of the declaration of the United Nations. In that declaration he sought to overcome the weaknesses of the covenant of the league, which had failed to preserve peace.
Today this man, with eighty years behind him, still shows that out of all that experience he is building for the future. I feel sure that we in this House of Commons today, far separated in distance from South Africa, would wish to extend our best wishes for many happy returns to* this great citizen of the free fellowship to which we belong.
Subtopic: TRIBUTES AND FELICITATIONS ON HIS EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY