Quotes of PMs Arthur Meighen and RB Bennett

Here are quotes from two Conservative Prime Ministers – Arthur Meighen serving from 1920-21, 1926 and R.B. Bennett 1930-1935, through the years of the Great Depression in North America

  • We have one neighbor and one only, and that one an industrial colossus. It lies for four thousand miles along our border, producing what we produce, and doing constant but legitimate battIe to forestall us in the world’s markets and in our own. There is the dominating fact that meets Canadians every morning. – Arthur Meighen
  • The one unpardonable sin in politics is lack of courage. As a Government we are in an impregnable position, in point both of policy and of record, and I do not propose to make apology either by act [or] word. – Arthur Meighen
  • Loyalty to the ballot box is not necessarily loyalty to the nation. Political captains in Canada must have courage to lead rather than servility to follow. [criticism of McKenzie King] – Arthur Meighen
  • One great secret of successful debate: when you have a man under your hammer, never be tempted into doubtful ground and give him a chance to digress. How often I witnessed men in the House who had a case, and who really had their opponents cornered, doddle off into other ground and give the enemy a chance to change the subject and come out not too badly worsted. – Arthur Meighen
  • The slogan etched more deeply than ever on the heart of every Canadian should be: Unity, Stability and Progress. [Conservative campaign call of 1926] – Arthur Meighen
  • The powers of the Prime Minister are very great. The functions of and duties of a Prime Minister in Parliament are…supreme in their importance. – Arthur Meighen
  • We no longer live in a political Empire. [adoption that year of the Statute of Westminster] – RB Bennett
  • I propose that any government of which I am the head will at the first session of Parliament initiate whatever action is necessary to that end, or perish in the attempt. [1930 speech on the elimination of unemployment] – RB Bennett
  • In the last five years great changes have taken place in the world… The old order is gone. We are living in conditions that are new and strange to us. Canada on the dole is like a young and vigorous man in the poorhouse … If you believe that things should be left as they are, you and I hold contrary and irreconcilable views. I am for reform. And in my mind, reform means government intervention. It means government control and regulation. It means the end of laissez-faire. [on The Bennett New Deal of 1935] – RB Bennett
  • Your leadership of the party especially during the years when you were Prime Minister was marked by a distinction which has not been surpassed. . . . No one has ever been asked to carry the burdens of unprecedented depression such as you assumed and no one could have shouldered them with such ability. I am confident that we shall look to those years as landmarks in Canadian history because of your energy and direction. [on RB Bennett’s leadership] – Harold Adams Innis, professor of economics at the University of Toronto

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

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