Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, in the
entire course of my membership of this House, now extending over a goodly number of years, there has never been an occasion before when the opening of parliament was clouded by the recollection of the death of so many members. Between our parting last session and our gathering now, no less than four, as the right honourable Prime Minister has said, have passed from among us. It is true, I think, of all, that, even when we parted at the close of last session, the hand of disease had been laid upon them-a premonitory touch was there, warning them of what might come. Each had been conducting a constant battle with physical infirmity. But nevertheless all were gallantly holding on and were doing a big day's work as each day passed, and all undoubtedly were hopeful that they would gather with us to share our tasks to-day. It is the seeming intrusion of the enemy of life in the season of activity and before the evening comes that makes the writing of the finger of Providence hard to comprehend. When the allotted span has run-a span that for thousands of years has remained almost unchanged, the measure of the tenure of our life on earth-when that span has run the passing of a man seems to fit in with the scheme of things; we submit in sorrow, and we imagine we understand. But when one falls from among us in the very middle of achievement and before the sun has sunk in the heavens, it is then that his journey seems not to be ended, but to be broken, and we fail wholly to understand-we realize that we do not know.
Dr. Blackadder had been a member of this House for only a few months. His family has been for generations a well known and highly respected one in the province of Nova Scotia. His passport to parliament was the same as that which accounts for the entrance of the great body of representatives in all democratic parliaments in the world,- the possession of those acceptable human qualities in which rather than in brilliant attainment, the mass of people put their trust. A wide and generous sympathy with
the lot of his fellows, a generous playing of life's game, modesty of manner and earnestness and integrity of character-these were the things that we all observed in Dr. Blackadder, and by these attributes we will remember him long.
Mr. Lafortune was a very extraordinary man He possessed two characteristics in pre-eminent degree-tenacity of purpose and a sunny temperament, warmed and vivified with humour. The course of this life is always a struggle, but in the case of Mr. La-fortune the journey was a very long and very steep one and he travelled it pretty much alone. From a youth and young manhood not blessed with any advantages of education he plodded through to a very considerable professional success. From most modest circumstances he worked on and on into comparative affluence. From obscurity he rose to a position of high public office and to a secure place in public esteem. His passing will not soon be forgotten by the members of this House, because he was the type of man one could not readily forget. He had an individuality that was distinctive, and his unique characteristics came to the surface in everything he set his hand to do.
Hon. W. C. Kennedy's death adds another to the honour roll-now one of considerable length, of Canadian ministers of the Crown who have died in office. For a long time he waged with conspicuous bravery an almost hopeless battle, and in the conduct of it he drew to himself the admiring sympathy of everyone, both friend and foe. The tribute paid to him by his fellow countrymen last week in the city of Windsor where the funeral service was followed by mourning multitudes; the warm, glowing, earnest eulogy of the Prime Minister this afternoon-these testify to the worth of the former Minister of Railways more fittingly and more impressively than I can do. But this I can say with the fullest assurance-no man could have fallen out of the ranks of the foe whose death would seem to us more like the loss of a friend. Mr. Kennedy was a man born to success-success not alone in some specialized form, the attainment of which in these times is a great life's work, but he reached success in every form that answers to the aspirations of a wholesome rounded man. In business he was farsighted and enterprising; he marched right through from humble beginnings to substantial wealth. In social life his very presence seemed to be all that was necessary to make him friends, he won his way just by the warmth of a genial personality. In
politics his rise was phenomenally rapid. In domestic life he was singularly happy. And all these successes, in the case of a man of Mr. Kennedy's mould, could be carried without exciting the envy of any one. He seemed to move in a perpetual atmosphere of comradeship and goodwill. His death is a distinct loss to this House, and I can well understand the feelings of the Prime Minister that his place in the councils of the government, as in the hearts of us all, will not soon or readily be filled.
There remains another, a fourth, one who was with us when we parted and who will join us no more in this arena of toil and strife. Hon. John Alexander Stewart, big constructive man of affairs, gallant friend, fearless fighter, clear-headed leader of men-he too has gone from us. The career of Mr. Stewart was one that warms the heart of youth. Not so much is that due to the high station that he ultimately reached, it is due more to the length of the journey, to the perilous path he travelled, to the cliffs surmounted, to the pluck and spirit he displayed. To these things are due the grip such a career has on the imagination of the young, and the fact that it fires the ambitions and commands the emulation of others. There could scarcely be imagined an obstacle calculated to prey on human vitality and throw a shadow over the path of a forward-looking mind which Mr. Stewart did not have to encounter. He was blessed by inheritance with little, if anything at all, of a material nature; but he did inherit a sound intellect and a will of iron. Early in his life he was attacked by one of the worst of maladies, and for three decades he waged a constant war against the dreadest of disease. There is nothing so haunts and depresses the spirit as an exhausting conflict with an unshakeable physical affliction. "The weariness, the fever and the fret" have robbed this world of some of the best of human treasures. Against such a handicap Mr. Stewart waged the struggle of life; but rarely did he reveal the spectre, the spectre that never left him, even to his closest friends.
Yield not thy neck
To fortune's yoke, but let thy dauntless mind
Still ride in triumph over all mischance.
That was the motto he followed through the bufferings and struggles of fifty years.
The personality of the hon. member for Lanark was the mainspring, indeed, it was the creator, of a series of industries that changed the face of the countryside in which he lived. The fruits of his energies were reaped by hundreds of happy people. Indeed, he held the belief-and he made good that
belief-that a concentration of will and intellect would win the day in competition with all other assets that so much command the envy and admiration of men. And wherever the hand of his operations went, the strength of his character became recognized, and larger and larger numbers came to rely upon his judgment and his leadership. He was one of the few big men of commerce-how few, only those of long parliamentary life fully realize-whose qualifications for parliament were as ample as their qualifications for business. Entering this House when far past middle life, on toward the half century mark, a member of it for the short space of four years, even then speaking very rarely, he nevertheless marched, and marched with ease, to a recognized place in the forefront of the House of Commons. His firm grasp of facts, his direct, visible march from premise to conclusion, the confidence he always inspired that on everything that counted he knew just where he stood, lucidity of statement that was simply the reflection of lucidity of intellect,-these were the qualities that accounted for his rapid rise in a short parliamentary term. And, indeed, these are all the possessions which in a modem British parliament any man really needs.
The place which Mr. Stewart had reached among the fifty men who comprised His Majesty's opposition was very much the same as that which he attained in the community in which he lived. He was the tried counsellor, the trusted of everyone, the friend of all.
It is, as the Prime Minister has gracefully said, fitting that a word should go to the families of the deceased, expressive of the solicitude of this House. To the widows of the two former Ministers of Railways-* two women who shared in a very peculiar way their husbands' fortunes, and shared just as intimately their husbands' cares; two women, as well, who enjoyed in a very marked degree the affectionate regard of hon. members here of all political parties, this House will not fail while honouring their husbands, to extend a tender, a very real, and a very lasting sympathy.
Subtopic: TRIBUTES PAID BY RIGHT HON. MESSIEURS MACKENZIE KING AND MEIGHEN, AND FORKE.