AN ADDRESS BY HIS WORSHIP, MAYOR JAMES SIMPSON
Thursday, January 10, 1935
The guest speaker was introduced by the President of The Empire Club, Mr. Dana Porter.
MR. PORTER: His Worship, the Mayor, has chosen as the subject of his address to this Club today, "Exciting Events". It is probably true that a man who is really sensible to the excitement underlying the trend of events of the times must himself be of a stimulating personality. Throughout the long life of public service of His Worship, during which he has rendered service to this city as well as to other causes that are well known, this great record of his has been essentially a triumph of personality. And in addition to that, it must inspire him with a feeling of great pride and no little satisfaction to feel that the spirit of the time is, more than it ever has been, receptive to those principles to which he has always adhered and to those ideas which he has always persistently advocated.
I wish on behalf of the Empire Club--and I may say that there may be some here today who did not show the prescience and common sense, perhaps, to cast a vote for Mayor Simpson on New Year's Day themselves, but I am sure even those will join with the other members of the Club and guests in most hearty congratulations and in a welcome to this Club today-the first public appearance I believe Mr. Simpson has made since he became Mayor:
I think it is also fitting that I add, also on behalf of the Club, our most hearty congratulations to Mr. Somers who has been City Clerk for many years and who is with us at the head table. (Hearty applause). We all know the honour that has recently been conferred upon him by His Majesty, the King.
It is with great pleasure that I call upon His Worship, the Mayor of Toronto.
His WORSHIP, MAYOR SIMPSON: Mr. President and Gentlemen: I want to first of all express my own personal thanks to the Empire Club for giving me the honour to come before its members and others who are interested and, at the same time, to express to the citizens of Toronto my great pleasure at my election to the high position of Chief Magistrate and Mayor of this wonderful City of Toronto. (Applause.)
I am also very pleased that at the head table with me are my colleagues, members of the Board of Control, and we will work together during the coming year in a spirit of cooperation and good will, that we may render to the citizens of this City the type of service which they desire from men who are sincerely interested in the making of the City of Toronto the greatest city of its size in the world.
I do not know whether most of you are acquainted with my colleagues but I would like them to present themselves if they will rise while I mention their names: My good friend, Controller Robbins; (Applause) and my good friend, Controller McBride; (Applause) who, by unanimous choice, has been selected as our Vice-Chairman and President of the Council for the year. I am sorry--we had Controller Ralph Day with us, but he has gone, I presume to fill another engagement; and our colleague, Controller Wadsworth had to attend another meeting in West Toronto. He rang me up before I came and I said that I would excuse him and explain to the audience the reason he was not with us.
Now, Gentlemen, I recognize and realize to the fullest extent the great responsibility which is resting upon me at this time. You have invited me to deliver an address and I selected for my subject the one which has been recited to you by the President, the Chairman on this occasion. I did that because it was the wording that was uppermost in my mind when I was invited by my friend, Main Johnson, to speak to you. Each day of this present decade seems to have had some special thrill for me because of the ever continued evidences of a great change in the social order and it does seem, as your President has intimated, that some of the thoughts which have been uppermost in my own mind during many years have taken root in the minds and conceptions of men, not because they have been my ideas or my thoughts at all, but simply because I had expressed them openly, very candidly and, sometimes, courageously, having regard for the consequences of my utterances. And, therefore, I feel that at this time what I have to say and what is being said is of special interest to every citizen of this great city of ours because it seems to be the culmination of a great deal of, sometimes, acrimonious discussion, throughout the past few decades, and things are looming up or evolving as possibilities, and because of that the future realities may be measured in terms of the dreams and visions of the men who entertained those thoughts and ideas. But there is one great basic reason why this occurs. We are not all capable of producing the finest kind of creative thinking and I doubt very much sometimes whether any one in the human form is really responsible for any creative thinking or what I shall call originality in their thinking and expression, because sometimes we are merely vehicles, merely mediums, through which the finer thoughts which are conceivable are expressed and for that reason we should not take too much unction to our own souls when we have been saying things and doing things which have been an inspiration to others.
At this particular time, particularly the last few days, the minds of the citizens of this great country have been turned to what appears to be a revolution in the thinking of the Prime Minister of our great country and which for a man holding that high position of responsibility and trust and a man who has had the confidence of the citizens of this country to the extent he has in enabling him to occupy that very dignified and important position, must be regarded by every one of us as making a contribution to the thought of our nation which is worth while considering. (Applause) It commands the attention of every man, no matter what his political views may be, and if we are all generous enough and free enough from political partisanships and prejudices and are guided by the truth in our everyday actions, if there is anything said with which we agree and in which we believe, we should be courageous enough to say it, no matter who is the expressor of it. (Applause) And I was very much interested, and this is something I want to present to you at this time, I was interested in ascertaining just how far the Prime Minister of Canada has travelled in his more recent declarations, and to measure the distance he had travelled I obtained a copy of the address he delivered before the Imperial Conference in the City of Ottawa not very long ago. This is his utterance on that occasion A state controlled standard of living, state controlled labour, state aided dumping, dictated by high state policy conflicts in theory and in practice with the free institutions of the British Empire. The subordination of individual rights and liberty to a national economic plan affronts our whole idea of national development. We must be active in the defence of our institutions. We must put before all else our peace and happiness.
Now, in the light of that declaration, analysis must of necessity be made as to the measure in which the Prime Minister of this country has changed his attitude upon the great questions he has been discussing. I can say to you frankly, Gentlemen that it is nothing new for me to understand the significance of the statements which he has made because in a sense they are of a revolutionary type of thought, revolutionary because they are getting somewhat away from the old basis of our discussions, if those discussions particularly apply to the conditions of life under which we have been living and the circumstances of life which we are all acquainted with.
In every nation in the world I see the evidences of change continuously, and the change is in a definite direction always, either progressive or reactionary, and I must confess that my conclusion, from many years of representing this great nation in Geneva and of attending conferences in the Mother Country and in travelling somewhat extensively, and I have had a fairly good opportunity of measuring the trend of thought in the nations of the world toward its specific destiny, and the proudest thing in my life today is to realize that whatever this tendency may be and we are all interested in it, it is to me--I am speaking for myself, an evidence that we are approaching progessively toward a realization of the great spiritual and moral forces which have operated continuously in society. (Applause) It is to me the evidence of this fact that we are gradually emerging from our appraisement of life and all its potentialities and all its significance, from units of great population in various decades that have been conscious all the time and have been motivated too much by the acquirement of the purely physical and material things of life and have neglected the higher spiritual and moral powers which man possesses, (applause) and I am less surprised, perhaps, than most of you are in Mr. Bennett, in the change of attitude he has taken as a great statesman because if, as his profession indicates to me from public utterances and contacts, he is a Christian man; that is, he has accepted as the basis of his own personal path, conditions that must of necessity enter into his public responsibilities and duties. He has accepted a basis for human conduct which motivates him and inspires him to do the things which he does and my own conclusions are that if he is animated by the right kind of idealism, based on a true Christian conception he will evolve toward the time when, with the masses of our intelligent wealthy men as well as others, he will realize the instability of material and physical possessions and will realize the eternal verities of the spiritual and moral forces of the human being.
Consequently, when we discuss the economic policy of a great nation there is only one view we should possess in the development of any economic policy that has to do with a nation, the spirit and life of which is represented in individual men, women and children, and the first consideration of us all, no matter what political party we belong to, is how we are going to husband the resources of nature in the most economic and efficient manner to serve the highest physical and material needs of the citizens within our community. And when I say that, my citizen friends, I am conscious of the differentiation which is being made today by Christian men in the various religious denominations as to their responsibility in the pulpit as the leaders of religious thought. There are those who believe they should run to the one extreme of emphasizing only the spiritual and moral qualities of man, that which is eternal within us; and others, perhaps, who think we should emphasize more strongly the physical and material ideas and are talking along that particular line which is involved in various forms of political action and programmes and policies for reconstruction. My own conclusion, after years of actual service in many forms, is that the man who wants to be a real religious teacher today in this city or anywhere else, should make that happy combination of assembling the physical and material side of our lives with the spiritual and the moral, and try and point out that taking advantage of God's great bounty, physical and material, in an equitable distribution of the great bounties He has given us to satisfy adequately the physical and material needs of us all and not too abundantly, is a very important function in the administration of the affairs of any great nation. And at the same time, a nation cannot be really great unless its statesmen and citizens are animated by that Divine guidance, the basis of all true spiritual and moral development which has been given to us by the Holy Bible itself.
That may seem to you to be a very unique way for the Mayor of this City to express himself but I am just doing to you now what I have been trying to do to the masses of the people wherever I have been during the past years. The only difference is that now you are beginning to understand me a little better than you did twenty-five years ago. (Laughter and applause). And I want to say that my educational function or responsibility is progressively continuous because as I read some of the editorials in the daily newspapers I see there is great room for improvement yet. (Laughter). You cannot always measure newspapers and newspaper editors by the lessons they preach; you have to judge them and measure them by their examples and practices from day to day and consequently, I am naturally impelled by my inner self to say at this time that I want to pay this tribute to the Prime Minister of this country. The future alone will show and indicate how sincere the Prime Minister is, just as it does with us all, in fact. We preach one thing today and if our neighbours and friends find day by day as we walk along our way, that we are not carrying-out what we preach, their faith diminishes and they do not have much stock in us after all. The statesman is in exactly the same position. If he outlines a new policy which is not in conformity with the precedents established and the precedents he has always followed and he afterwards forgets all about it, by doing so he impresses on our minds that he didn't try as seriously as he should to increase the confidence of the people in him and he must suffer the lack of confidence of the people in him and in his declaration at the time he makes it. That is his responsibility and he must be prepared to take the consequences if his actions are not true to the ring in the magnificent gospel which he is preaching.
Now, I am not a Liberal; I am not a Conservative; I am a Labour man, affiliated with the C.C.F. organization. I know that a lot of you voted against me because
I was C.C.F. That is neither here nor there in the discussion of this question this morning, because if we are truly imbued with an idea we are right it is not a question of any temporary circumstance that will influence us; it is just the spiritual satisfaction that comes to us as we travel along the way--that is it.
In this case Mr. Bennett has laid out a programme for the future, a programme which at least gives assurance of the establishing of a better basis of equity and fairness in the relationship of employers and employees, a check upon the over avaricious and the over greedy which are in control of the very means of life of the masses of our people, a far and generous consideration for the toiling masses who for years and years have felt they have been excessively exploited in order to give the luxuries of life to those who were not deserving of them. And I don't say that in what I shall call a general explanation because there are magnificent exceptions to the rule always, and among some of our industrial kings today and our great financiers, there are hearts which beat just as tunefully as my own does toward the higher things of life. When I came to the luncheon of the Bank of Commerce in this building the other day, the friendship expressed, the welcome hand extended to me made me think I was in the meeting of the Toronto District Labour Council. (Laughter) So, after all, you see we are all human and we all have the capacity to be endowed with the finest sand most gracious gifts it is possible for the Creator to endow us with and material wealth does not make a particle of difference between the relationships of men, even though one is endowed with great wealth and the other has not a cent to call his own. If we can get that impression into the minds of some of our editors they won't blackguard me all the time because I haven't any property in my own name. (Laughter)
I see my old friend, George Henry, smiling. He never 'had to submit himself to the public ostracism that I have during the years of my public life, although there are some not any too kind to him.
What I will say is that these are thrilling or exciting changes which are taking place and there is an abundance of them. I will get back to Mr. Bennett in a moment. 1 want to point this out: I have been a visitor in England on many occasions and I have tried to get the pulse of the political life of the Mother Country. Whatever may be said about the nations of the world and their contribution to human betterment, world wide, I am firmly of the belief and am convinced it is going to be up to the British Empire to give leadership in the fullest and noblest things and in their development, and I had to suffer a humiliation at Geneva not more than eighteen months ago when for the first time there came to the Labour organization and the Workers Group, particularly, delegates from a country which had had a revolution and the superiority complex displayed there which made all the other nations feel an inferiority complex was not at all to my liking, and I want to assure you that I am a firm believer in the democracy of Great Britain and the British institutions because whatever we may think about the masses of our citizens, the only true and noble way of dedicating the masses to the higher levels of intelligence and understanding of government institutions and the laws under which they have to be governed is in placing the responsibility for government upon the unit of the population because any other system that delegates to the few a mandatory power„ as the heads of authority to do the thinking for the people, are not administering public affairs in the manner they should be administered if you are going to have an intelligent population and have the laws administered on an equitable and just basis. That is why I believe in the British system. I have sat in the Mother of Parliaments; I have sat in the Reichstag in Germany; I have sat in the Chamber of Deputies in France; in the New Zealand Parliament and in the United States Congress and in many of the buildings which have been erected for the administration of affairs of great nations, but not any one appears like the British House of Commons and the House of Lords--though I may not cheer so lustily for the House of Lords--(Laughter and applause) and I want to say I am proud. I am a greater Britisher today than I was three years ago, (Further applause) and that is with no ill will toward any other nation in the world because my gospel is a gospel of international good will, of international peace, of international solidarity, and of the elimination of war as a means of settling international differences. Consequently, I naturally turn to the declaration of the Prime Minister of this country made very recently which shows a distinct trend toward another economic basis of life for the people of this great nation. It comes to us with greater worth and power because he is the Prime Minister of one of the youngest nations in the world but which holds the fifth position at Geneva in the industrial conferences because of the significance of our material development. And the significance to me is enriched because I realize that this country's potentialities are an indication of the realities of the future and we have no conception of what this great nation of ours is going to be like in the years which are to come. I only wish I could live another hundred years! And if you will be kind to me in the future„ little better than in the past I may give a good deal longer. (Laughter) You know I come from good old Scotch and English stock. That is about as good a breed as you can have--mixing a little Irish
CONTROLLER McBRIDE: I am glad you brought in the Irish!
MAYOR SIMPSON: Sam is glad I brought in the Irish. I want to have peace with him for the rest of the year. (Laughter) I don't want to inflict too much upon you but I am not through. (Voices: Go on, Goon!) I wouldn't think of closing the address just where I am now. I am just like Premier Bennett is going to be when he makes the last radio address--and the Star is waiting to hear that before they comment on it. Sometimes the sting is in the tail. I am just wondering whether it is going to be a sting or a nice pot of honey he is going to have in the final discussion and analysis of what he said before. Whatever that may be, we are all interested in finding out what the composite is to be after he has given his various deliverances over the radio. I was glad to read in the paper that Jimmy Woodsworth had given approval with some modifications which had, of necessity to be made, to the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister recently over the radio.
Here is my thought: Whatever we may think of each other in our every day life and close contacts, and we may perhaps understand that environment and education and the circumstances of life may make a distinct contribution to the differentiations which we have in the expressions of opinion, because we are susceptible to all kinds of influences which are round us in the formation of our opinions and ideals and in the expression of those opinions, whatever these differences may be, I think we will all try to be tolerant enough and generous enough to give some credit to other men if they differ with us in the opinions they express and I have it within my own soul and mind to say this now, that however much I may differ from you in the purposes of my life and the objectives I have before me, I hope the day will come when the profit motive will be eliminated entirely from industry and commerce in this nation and the other nations, when co-operation and service is the maximum of the contribution we can make when the gifts and endowments we possess will be so activated by us all that we shall not have the distinctions in society which we have today, of the opulent wealth on the one hand and the degrading poverty upon the other. (Applause)
I say that, my friends, because it is unchristian; it is not in harmony with the will of Christ or the will of God and when men are animated by the higher ethics and the higher spiritual conceptions of life they subordinate their private and personal interests to the good of others and the real enrichment of life. The joys and the satisfactions that are worth while can only come to men who render the greatest service with the endowments they have, not for themselves but for their fellow men as they travel along the road to the higher destiny in the world which is to be.
Consequently, the only true basis of the association of men is that association which comes because of their common belief that we are only here for a day and that is all. When measured with the span of Eternity, a three score years and ten on earth is a very insignificant particle of Eternity. If you don't believe there is an Eternity, if you don't believe the soul is immortal, then I can't see anything else but that you will travel in the valley of despair. If you are a believer in the immortality of the soul and the higher development and the continuous development which proceeds on and on after you are through in this life, then you will get lots of inspiration to do the things you ought to do in self-abnegation and sacrifice in order that those who are under-privileged and not so endowed as you and I are will profit by the contribution you have made during the day you are on this earth. And if there is any citizen who fears that because Jimmy Simpson is the Mayor of the city, by some mysterious process or programme he is going to suddenly by some revolutionary method change you from the present economic position in which you find yourselves into poverty and deny you the rights you have as citizens, you have mistaken the man. If there is going to be any change at all in your material and economic status, so far as I am concerned, it is coming about by education;, by an entirely different point of view and by following closely the British precedent of arguing the matter out, converting each other if we can, and by your intelligent vote sending men to Canadian parliament to carry out the highest aims of its statesmen in order that the nation as a whole may eventually emerge, not as a nation which appraises life in dollars and cents but in the service which we render to our fellow men and the contribution we have made during the time we have had that supreme opportunity.
And I want to say to Mr. Bennett, "Godspeed--if you are not just exactly where I am in your programme, you are at least travelling the same direction." He is travelling the same direction and if Mr. Bennett requires any stimuli or encouragement to make good what he is promising now and he will invite me to give it, I will give him all the stimuli he wants along that particular line and I hope in the days to come as we develop this great nation -just think of it! A nation which nature has decreed shall produce the strongest, the most virile, physically and intellectually, of any nation in the world. If He had not so designed it, He would have connected the St. Lawrence River with the Atlantic Ocean at an equal depth so the steamships could come from the Atlantic to the inland ports by an interior waterway, and have made the cities for all time to come on the Great Lakes. But He has placed obstacles in the way, that His own creatures, you and I, should have the supreme opportunity of expressing the finest intellectual gifts with which men have been endowed in the solving of the problems and the overcoming of the difficulties in the study of the technique of engineering and other great difficulties so that in the days to come there shall be monuments erected to the genius of our Canadian citizens. And we are proud that we are citizens of this great nation and the earmarks of our physical and material progress will be intelligibly upon the physical setting of our Canadian citizenship, and we shall live together in peace and harmony, vying with each other in the greatest contribution we can make to life; if we work together in harmony, in contentment and satisfaction, Canada will be the greatest nation the world has ever known. That is your responsibility; that is your duty, and I am with you to accomplish that great task. (Cheers, prolonged).
MR. DANA PORTER: Although in some respects, possibly, Mr. Bennett and our guest of today follow along different lines, nevertheless it must not be forgotten that the last words of Mr. Bennett's utterance at the Ottawa Conference were: We must be active in the defense of our institutions. We must put before all else our peace and happiness. (Applause)
We thank you, Sir, for what has been a most inspiring address, for something that is much more than a political speech, much more than an inaugural address. It is really a new expression of your philosophy of life and for this, Sir, we thank you, very, very much indeed.