It was on this date in 1948 that Mackenzie King – Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister—chalked up another record in his ground-breaking career, becoming the Commonwealth’s longest-serving Prime Minister. It had been an incredible journey. Members of the House of Commons paused on this date to give Prime Minister King his due.
Here are the generous words of tribute delivered by CCF leader M.J. Coldwell that milestone day for Canada’s tenth Prime Minister.
Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):
Mr. Speaker, we of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation join in felicitation of the Prime Minister on this occasion. It is indeed a remarkable achievement to have been prime minister of this great country for approximately twenty-one years. It is just over two hundred years since Sir Robert Walpole relinquished the reins of office, having been in reality and in very truth the first prime minister of any country now included in this great commonwealth of nations which share a common democratic heritage and common parliamentary institutions.
The Prime Minister has made a great contribution to the growing up, if I may put it that way, of this country; to the achievement of its maturity as a nation. Since the time he came into office at the end of the first world war, succeeding Sir Robert Borden, who had insisted on Canada signing the treaty of Versailles in its own right, he has witnessed and aided the growth of that nationhood of which we are all proud. While we remember Walpole as the first Prime Minister of Britain, the present Prime Minister of Canada will perhaps be remembered for many things, but one of them will be that, during his long term of office, Canada in very truth obtained recognition throughout the world as a sovereign nation.
Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist. He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy. A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.