March 21, 1929 (16th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, we who sit to
your left desire to associate ourselves with the very moving observations that have been made by the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), for we realize that in the passing of Marshal Foch there has departed from this world one of its very greatest citizens. He was great not only as a military genius, not only because in a moment of great peril, when he was entrusted with grave responsibilities, he discharged them in a manner wholly satisfactory to those who had reposed their confidence in him, but he was great because of the possession of those qualities which one of our own great writers has referred to as the earmarks of true greatness. He was a man of great humility, with a high sense of duty, a fine regard for his obligations to his fellow-men, and above all, with a true respect of his obligations to his Creator. We are told that at moments of the direst stress and strain, when the fortune of armies hung in the balance, it was his custom to repair to a little chapel and there to offer his devotion through Mother Church to his Creator. For one possessed of such power and occupying such a high and responsible position, to be mindful at moments of great crisis of his obligations to his God was characteristic of this great soldier and truly great man.
We do indeed grieve and sympathize with France in the death of her greatest soldier, one whom we have reason to regard not only with the highest esteem, but more, with almost affection because in a great crisis of the war it was to the Canadians he turned
Death of Marshal Foch

as the spear head of his attack, realizing that in their valour, in their bravery and their courage, he had the instrument best suited to accomplish the purpose which he had in mind. That in itself was a wonderful tribute paid by a great soldier to the valour and courage of our Canadian soldiers.
We grieve to-day with practically the whole world. It is an odd circumstance but it is a fact that the deceased marshal had never heard a gun fired in anger, until after the Great war broke out. Until then he had had no military experience in the field. He had been simply a student of war, and his two military textbooks are perhaps the two greatest books on war that the world has seen, for he applied to modern conditions the science of Napoleon, and in so doing made victory possible.
I remember having heard in England that a number of soldiers were regretting that Field Marshal Earl Roberts was not acquainted with the German language, and was therefore unable to appreciate the great works that had been produced by some of the masters of war in the German empire. But Earl Roberts remarked that he did not think it essential that he should be thus qualified because there was a colonel on the staff college of France whose works he did understand, and who he believed in the event of there being a great war within a limited number of years must be the man in whom the armies of many nations would repose their confidence. The foresight that characterized the view of Earl Roberts at that time was amply justified by the result.
The affection in which the late Marshal Foch was held in Great Britain is evidenced by the fact that our sovereign conferred upon him the Order of Merit, and indeed Foch was a Field Marshal of the British army at the time of his death. No greater honour could have been conferred upon a man who was not a British subject than was conferred upon Marshal Foch by the sovereign of the British Empire.
It is fitting that we in this parliament of Canada, the oldest and the greatest of the overseas dominions, should associate ourselves with the citizens of the great republic where he was bom and of which he was such a distinguished citizen, associate ourselves also with the motherland and the other overseas dominions and with the other nations who were associated and allied with us in the Great war, in their grief at the passing of one whose, genius, whose foresight, whose steady nerve, whose devotion to duty, whose calmness in the great moments of the war
[Mr. Bennett.}
enabled him to snatch victory where defeat seemed imminent, and made the path of duty the path of glory, as was said by one of our own great poets when speaking of Nelson. And so to-day we associate ourselves with the right hon. the Prime Minister in the tribute that he has paid to this great figure which has just been removed from amongst us. We grieve with his native land, but we rejoice that a soul so great has passed to his eternal home.

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