Today in Canada's Political History - February 8, 1932: Arthur Meighen’s maiden address in the Senate

Former Prime Minister Arthur Meighen’s epic parliamentary career entered a new phase on this date in 1932. Appointed to the Senate on the advice of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett, Meighen delivered his maiden remarks in the Red Chamber. He also accepted Bennett’s invitation to serve as his government’s Leader in the Senate, and as Minister Without Portfolio in the Great Depression-era cabinet.

“Permit me by way of introduction to say in all earnestness that the years, five in number. or more, which have intervened between my public duties of other days and the present time have left a gap of greater extent than I had anticipated; a gap which I know must be bridged in order that I may be adequately in contact with the duties immediately before me,” he told his new colleagues. “I hope that while I am in the process of bridging that gap honourable members will be fairly indulgent. A great deal of ground has to be overtaken; but I am quite certain that the educative activities of this House, especially on the part of honourable gentlemen opposite, are at their highest at the present time, and that I shall receive the benefit thereof.”

Meighen then concluded: “With these remarks I take my seat, expressing my earnest desire to be of some service, as the link between the Government of the day and this Chamber, in opening the door of opportunity to the Senate, so that with the co-operation of honourable members on both sides of this House it may discharge to, the full its duty to the people of our country.”

You can read Meighen’s speech in full at this link...

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.

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