30e législature, 3e session

L069 - Fri 28 May 1976 / Ven 28 mai 1976

The House met at 10:10 a.m.



Mr. Speaker: It is with deep regret that I inform the House of the passing of the Hon. W. Ross Macdonald, PC, CD, QC, LL.D., the immediate past Lieutenant Governor of this province.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, I am sure it is a great sense of sadness that we experience at this moment. I can recall very well when I first met the former Lieutenant Governor when he was a guest of a relative of the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt), as a matter of fact, when they used to visit on the shores of Georgian Bay. He was then a very active member of the House of Commons and I was not then a member of this Legislature.

In his own kindly fashion, he tried to persuade me of my errors in political philosophy. I think in later years he came to realize that perhaps those errors weren’t as significant as he once thought. In fact, I was almost under the impression some days when we attended certain functions with him that he had almost become converted in that sense of the word.

He was one of the very fine men that I have had the pleasure of knowing in my experience in public life. The kind of example that he set as an individual and the very great dignity that he brought to his office were really an example for each and every one of us. He had a very great sense of humour and was one who pursued his responsibilities with enthusiasm, dedication and with a particular interest in the people of this province. He spent a lot of time, as you know, Mr. Speaker, visiting the various communities throughout Ontario and always took a particular interest in the students and in the school system.

I can recall his checking with me as to whether or not he had the authority to give half-holidays when he visited certain communities and, while we couldn’t clearly define this for him, he succeeded in granting those half-holidays in any event. The children literally loved him. He had an amazing rapport with young people and this was something too that the people of this province over the years ahead, I’m sure, will remember.

Ross Macdonald was one of the truly great public servants of this province, a man whom those of us who had the pleasure of knowing him grew to respect and to like. No matter what our political affiliations, we regarded him as a friend. I would like, on behalf of the government, to extend my condolences to the members of his family and perhaps, in particular, to his grandchildren of whom he thought so very highly. I would like just to say in a very personal way that in my tenure here as Premier while he was the Lieutenant Governor it was an association that I shall long remember because he was a man of great intellect, great integrity and a very human individual indeed. It is a very sad moment in this House and, on behalf of the government, we do express our regrets.

Mr. MacDonald: Mr. Speaker, with regret and sadness I join the Premier in expressing our tribute to the late Ross Macdonald.

For those members of the House who were here when he was the Lieutenant Governor, I am confident that each one feels a sense of personal loss. The characteristic that stood out in Ross Macdonald was his warmth of relationships with people, irrespective of their political beliefs; indeed I would almost say particularly because of their political beliefs that they happened to be in some degree of opposition. He could always disagree without being disagreeable.

He was a public servant who had served in what is normally deemed to be a partisan sense, as a member of a political party which he served in many, many ways. Yet when he moved from that into the nonpartisan role of Lieutenant Governor he handled it in such an impeccable way that I never heard of a single person who suggested there were critical touches of a legitimate early partisanship.

He was a noble head of a noble clan. I join with the Prime Minister in expressing our sleep regrets to the family and particularly to the grandchildren.

Mr. Nixon: Mr. Speaker, of course there was a feeling of sadness when we heard the news this morning of Ross Macdonald’s passing. He came to Ontario as Lieutenant Governor after a very full political career. I am sure you are aware that he not only served for many years as a member of Parliament but as Speaker of the House of Commons and you, sir, know what a load that can be and what a responsibility. He went on as government leader in the Senate to participate actively as a member of the cabinet of the government of Canada in that capacity.

Many people thought he had completed a career of outstanding service when he received the appointment as Her Majesty’s representative here in the province. But this is where we got to know him very well indeed. All of the things that have been said are abundantly true, except perhaps the Premier’s feeling that he was beginning to slide back politically a bit. Although he was a great partisan during his elected years, he could always treat politicians and everyone else in this community with the greatest of ease on a person-to-person basis, which is a quality which endeared him to everyone.

As a man, his family is outstanding. They are all well-educated and grew up with an appreciation of service to the community which reflects in their many activities right now.

As a politician, he was always extremely successful after his election in 1935. But I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, as a resident of the area which he represented for so many years, of the real love and respect with which Ross Macdonald was held over these years and certainly is held at the present time.

The Premier and the member for York South mentioned his high good humour. Even as a Lieutenant Governor with an endless series of events which took him to all parts of the province, he was always the last to leave, if possible, these great functions. His spirit and enthusiasm certainly put many of us younger participants to shame.

He certainly will be missed. If there was ever a man in public life in this province who is and can be an example to us all, Ross Macdonald is that man. He had a sense of public service which has been unexcelled and an understanding of the real bonds that make the democratic system work which, as I say, must be and can be a great example to us all. He got a great deal out of a great life and always, in my view, by putting all that he had into it. So it is with a great sadness that we realize this has happened and yet with a feeling really of elation that the man’s life has been so full and so rewarding to us all.

We want to extend our condolences to the family. He will be missed as a father and grandfather and as a good friend.

Hon. Mr. Davis: Mr. Speaker, one brief observation: Some of us would regard it as a slide forward rather than a slide backward. I’m sure the late Lieutenant Governor would look at it in that same fashion.

Mr. Speaker, out of respect for, and just as importantly -- speaking for those members of the House who did have the privilege of knowing Ross Macdonald -- out of our affection for him as an individual, I will move the adjournment of the House.

Hon. Mr. Davis moved the adjournment of the House.

Motion agreed to.

The House adjourned at 10:20 a.m.