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Published by McGill-Queen’s University Press (2009) $35.00
Hard Cover 257 page with 8 plates of photos
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Excerpt From the Introduction
Little has been written about Bennett’s time in the House of Lords – indeed he remains the most neglected of Canada’s full term Prime Ministers. Summoned to the House of Lords in 1941, Bennett played a subtle yet important role of importing Canada into the Parliament at Westminster. While he was one of a number of Canadians to serve in the House of Lords, he was the first Dominion Prime Minister to take a seat there.
In December of 1945 Bennett, for example, took to his feet and bluntly warned both the Lords and Britain itself of the dangers he saw in the financial post-war arrangements His Majesty’s British government was contemplating to engage in with the Americans. Bennett felt the U.K. was abandoning the system of Imperial preferences for trade within Empire and Commonwealth he had himself given so much of his public life to see establish. It was a man free of all political constraints who honestly stated the following at Westminster:
“I venture to think that when that crisis comes there will be men and women who will look back upon this time and say, as they contemplate it and our hurry, our undue anxiety and lack of courage with respect to the British Empure, ‘This was our darkest hour.’”
This book is divided into three sections; at the beginning of each section is an explanatory note. The first section includes Bennett’s speeches in the House of Lords. These cover a diverse range of issues from comforts for merchant seamen, to civil aviation, and of course, the war effort. We also see the electric side of Bennett’s interests and thinking when he raises, for example, the plight of the British inventor or discourses on the coal industry. But the common theme included in all of Bennett’s orations in the Lords is the Canadian experience and the Commonwealth. The second section covers the various tributes and obituaries offered to Bennett’s memory following his death. Through these the reader is offered a view of Bennett in his own time, and with some distance from his premiership. The last section includes Bennett’s Inaugural address as Rector to Queen’s University at Kingston in 1935 and a number of short articles related to renewed interest to Canada’s eleventh Prime Minister.
Editors: Christopher McCreery and Arthur Milnes
Foreword by The Right Honourable John N. Turner, PC, CC, QC