Mr. A. L. Smith (Calgary West):
Mr. Speaker, I take advantage of the looseness of our rules in connection with this debate
because it is the last time that I shall have the privilege of addressing you as Mr. Speaker. I wish to conform with what has always been the practice and to congratulate the mover and seconder of the address. I did not hear their speeches but I read them with care, and I can say that they are in conformity with the best traditions of this House of Commons.
Some few weeks ago I announced to my constituents my intention of bringing to a close my life here in Ottawa. I did that because I have always thought my first duty was to them. I of course communicated with my whip and with my leader who have so generously given me their friendship and their guidance. I have no intention now of making a speech to you. I recall that the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) once told me jokingly that I was am evangelical. I have since thought that he spoke much more truth than fiction when he made that remark; because on an occasion such as this there is a tremendous urge to tell the world what its troubles are and to advance cures for them. You will be glad to know that I have successfully put down that temptation. In fact, it seems to me that I have spent my whole life in putting down temptations, but not of that kind. This is no time for me to preach, and I have no intention of doing so.
My specific business this evening is to do one thing among others which I will mention in a moment. First, I want to thank the staff of this House of Commons; and by the staff, I mean everybody from the gentlemen at the table to the most humble and the newest page boy in the chamber. I must mention the protective staff; not that I have needed much protection, in a way, but I think if I have any championship in this house, it is in losing my stick, my hat, my coat, my keys and my files. The protective staff have always returned them, and done it with a smile. May I say that one of the impressions I carry with me from here is the kindliness with which all members of the staff-the dining room girls and everyone else-treat us members who are supposed to be little gods but who, after all, are just simple people dealing with other simple people. While speaking of the staff of the house, I want to say a word or two to the men of Hansard. Last summer when I had not much to do, I picked up a volume of Hansard and I read what I thought was a good speech. Then I found that it was attributed to me. You can imagine my shock on the discovery I then made. But I am indebted to Hansard for the excellent phrasing they used and which they attributed to me. I am inclined to think that I have been justified in one
kind of pure laziness. I have stubbornly-refused to correct my remarks in Hansard, and I am more than happy that I was sufficiently lazy not to do that because these people have done it much better than I possibly could have done it myself.
I now turn to another group of people with whom we are associated, namely, the members of the press gallery. I can only say one thing to them, namely, to thank them for their fairness, even generosity, to me in the time that I have been here. I also want to thank the press of Canada for the kindly things they have said about me. As one member of my family remarked-I think it was my daughter-"It is a wonderful thing to have these obituaries while you are still alive." That is pretty much what has taken place.
I now turn-and this is my business here- to this institution of the House of Commons and its members. There is practically nothing I can say except to wish each of them the best of good luck in this world. My prayer is, particularly in view of the difficulties with which they are confronted at the moment, that they may have God's guidance in their deliberations here.
I said I was not going to preach, and I will not except perhaps to say one thing. I have been doing a lot of thinking lately because I have had lots of time to think. I said to myself: "You have been there a few years"- I am in the seventh year now-"What did you come out with? What is your idea of the chief function or responsibility of the House of Commons?" I enumerated in my mind all the virtues that a man could have or a nation could have. I came to a very simple conclusion, a conclusion that I know to be right, namely, that perhaps the chief thing that rests upon us here is that within these four walls and in our hands rest the honour and conscience of the Dominion of Canada. You may differ about material things, but no nation ever yet made any mark in history over any length of time unless it did so with honour. When it lost that it went down, as those men in Russia will go down because they are without honour.
I borrow from the poet and say this, and this is the only thing that anyone can describe as an attempt at eloquence. I do not like that word, but I remember this couplet so well with respect to the conscience and honour of Canada. I say to you: Sirs, I charge you, keep it holy; keep it as a sacred thing. Without it everything we do will become dust and ashes even in our time.
Now I must go. Mr. Speaker, sometime ago I came through the door behind us. I
The Address-Mr. A. L. Smith know that I brought nothing with me. I think it was Omar Khayyam who said, as I shall say it in a moment:
Myself when young did eagerly frequent Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument About it and about: but evermore Came out by the same door where in I went.
I am glad the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) is in his place. Omar Khayyam talked about doctor and saint. He said he heard great arguments. I have heard great arguments, but I have not seen many doctors or saints. I am inclined to think that in Omar's day he was not referring to medical doctors. He must have been referring to the fellows who in these days would be a Ph.D. or something like that. I remember so well when I was young thinking that I would go to Chicago university in order to try to get a Ph.D. and be called a doctor, because in those days the fact was that you could get a Ph.D. while the train passed through just as you can buy a bottle of Coca-Cola today. As a matter of fact times have changed.
But I have not seen many doctors, I have seen only one saint. I am inclined to think that I have seen altogether too much of him and that saint is St. Laurent, who sits opposite.
I have already said, sir, that I have brought nothing with me. Before continuing I think I should say to the house that I am far from being incapacitated. I want to take this opportunity of correcting the false impressions that are very much abroad in this country, namely, that members of parliament are down here for a rather well-to-do holiday. In my own town I meet people whom I know quite well and they say: "Oh, you are on a short holiday, are you?" I had not been in the House of Commons for a while, but they did not know it. That did not make any difference. They think we are having a holiday. If fourteen hours a day is a holiday, sir, then I do not grasp at all the simple meaning of the word.
I do not claim that I worked fourteen hours a day. Nobody can. But there is a pull on your mind and a single trackness about this business which it is difficult to bear. That was particularly true last session when we worked fourteen hours a day six days a week. So far as I am concerned that put the climax on my position. The doctors-not the kind I spoke about a moment ago-are very fond of using the word "hypertension" these days. What it means, I do not know-but I think it is the father and the mother of high blood pressure, or something like that.
That is the position in which I find myself. It is not that I cannot work: I have been
forbidden to go through this routine which, apparently, is likely to last for some considerable length of time. I have been told
The Address-Mr. A. L. Smith definitely that if I do attempt this, then they will not accept the responsibility for what may happen.
I interrupted myself, so to speak, a moment ago when I said that I brought nothing with me. In a moment-and not more than a moment-I shall be going through that same door. But I go out greatly enriched by what I have seen here. In this arm I hold an armful of memories; the other is overflowing with friendship.
I speak of memories. I do not intend to tell you about them-with perhaps one or two exceptions. I think I shall miss the magnificent rages of the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) and then, after having finished his speech, seeing him sit down wearing that broad, beaming smile, thus enhancing a not otherwise unhandsome countenance.
I am afraid I cannot help mentioning my old friend and colleague, the late Tommy Church. I am going to sail his seven seas- but not with him.
You know, Mr. Speaker, while the leader of the Social Credit party was speaking the thought occurred to me that, if I could stick it, if I could sit here and listen to the hon. member for Lethbridge (Mr. Blackmore), who needs no provocation, expound the principles of social credit, ultimately I might understand the thing-which I do not at the present time.
I leave, Mr. Speaker, happy in the thought that there is not a member, not a person in this room, to whom I cannot bid "good morning"-and mean it. It may be that at times I may have unleashed the odd arrow. But I give you my word of honour, the tips were never dipped in the poison of hatred, or even of enmity.
And so I go. It is hard to realize that I go, not to return again. Tomorrow or next day I shall place in the hands of my whip those documents which are necessary for the carrying out of that intention which, sir, I have no doubt you have grasped, from what I have already said.
Years ago when friends parted the expression most commonly used was, "God be with you." That phrase has been abbreviated- corrupted, I think-until there remains just one thing to say, and that sincerely, "Good bye."
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY