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A farewell address from Prime Minister Mackenzie King

With his cautious policies and shrewd political skills, he successfully led Canada for almost 22 years. But behind closed doors, he held secret séances and had frequent conversations with his dead mother. As Canada's longest-serving prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King's public persona was staid and serious. After his death in 1950, however, his fascinating private life slowly came to light.

The prime minister is retiring and the CBC has gone to Laurier House to record King's parting speech. In this formal address from his home, King suggests Louis St-Laurent as a potential successor, and thanks Canadians for "the confidence you have extended to myself as prime minister." He also promises that even though he won't be prime minister anymore he'll continue to work for the betterment of Canada for the rest of his days.
• Louis St-Laurent had been a highly respected member of King's cabinet since 1942. His offices included Minister of Justice and Secretary of State for External Affairs.
• St-Laurent, a Quebec-born former lawyer, was actually contemplating retiring from politics in 1948 when King persuaded him to run for Liberal leadership as his successor. St-Laurent won the leadership and remained prime minister from 1948 until 1957.

• King had great respect for St-Laurent, partly because of his calm demeanour, vast knowledge of the law, and logical way of thinking. St-Laurent had also stood by King and supported his actions throughout the wartime conscription crisis.
• After retiring, King unfortunately did not have much time left to fulfill his promises of continuing to do good work for Canada. His health was failing throughout 1949, and he died a year later.
Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio Special
Broadcast Date: Nov. 15, 1948
Guest(s): William Lyon Mackenzie King
Duration: 3:32
Photo: National Archives of Canada

Last updated: February 26, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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