Mr. J. A. McGrath (St. John's East):
Mr. Speaker, in speaking to the motion for an address in reply to Her Majesty's speech from the throne, I would first of all like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a former member of parliament who is now deceased, Gordon F. Higgins, Q.C., O.B.E., whose death on October 13 last after a long illness came as a great shock to us in Newfoundland. He was the first member of this house for the constituency that I now so humbly represent. Mr. Higgins during his
The Address-Mr. McGrath tenure of office from 1949 to 1953 was widely known and respected by members on both sides of the house and his voice, speaking on behalf of Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders was a familiar sound in this chamber.
Gordon Higgins, like his father before him, played a very important role in Newfoundland politics. In 1946 he was elected to represent St. John's East at the national convention which was convened in St. John's by the British government to decide the political future of Newfoundland. He was, like many of us in Newfoundland, vigorously opposed to confederation, not in principle but in the way it was being brought about, and like many of his colleagues he advocated that if terms were to be negotiated with Canada these terms should be negotiated by our own elected government, between two sovereign states and not two political parties.
When the votes of the second referenda were tabulated and confederation with Canada won out by some 6,000 votes Mr. Higgins offered himself as a candidate to represent St. John's East at Ottawa. He did this because he felt that in the House of Commons he would have a chance to continue the fight for his beloved island home. Although he polled a good majority of the votes cast in the election of 1953 he was defeated by a split vote. From then on his health began to fail. His death came as a sad blow and I am sure that hon. members on both sides of the house who knew the late Mr. Higgins will join with me in extending deepest sympathy to his bereaved family.