DECEMBER 17, 1981
GUEST OF HONOUR
The Honourable John Aird,
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF ONTARIO
CHAIRMAN The President,
BGen. S.F. Andrunyk, O.M.M., C. D.
Your Honour, distinguished guests, members and friends of The Empire Club of Canada: Christmas. That word has almost as many meanings as people in this room. It's the wide-eyed awe of children visiting a department store Santa Claus ... It's the cheery sound of Sally Ann bells ... It's lights and tinsel ... It's Bing Crosby ... It's hustle and bustle ... It's an inner warmth that begins inexplicably deep in the heart of even the most jaded ... It's the aroma of spices from the kitchen that brings back forgotten places and faces ... It's the sound of carols . . . It's family and friends ... It's home.
Christmas is all of these things. They might vary slightly in significance because of our national heritage, but they are there. And if you look back far enough they are all based in the true message of this celebration of the birth of Christ: "Peace on earth, good will toward all men."
Christmas is also tradition and The Empire Club of Canada has a number of fine traditions. One of the happiest of these is the presence of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario at this annual Christmas party.
Your Honour, on behalf of all who are gathered here today and those of our members who could not be present, it is my pleasure to extend to you, to Mrs. Aird and to your family our best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. We pledge to you our deepest affection and loyalty, and through you to Her Gracious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to invite His Honour, John Aird, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario to bring us greetings on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.
THE HONOURABLE JOHN B. AIRD:
Mr. President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: Thank you very much, Mr. President, for your warm welcome.
I do bring you greetings with the greatest of pride as Her Majesty's representative in this great province of Ontario. This has been a splendid year for the Crown in Ontario. It does not seem so long ago that we were honoured by the visit of Her Majesty the Queen Mother, in this very room and in other places in and about Toronto. We also had the wonderful visit of Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret shortly thereafter. And if I might speculate slightly and look forward to 1982 I am sure we are all looking forward to the visit of Her Majesty the Queen, perhaps sometime in the New Year.
Permit me to say several things of a rather more personal nature. I look across the room at the choir and band of the Grenville Christian College from Brockville. You heard your President talk about the meaning of Christmas. These young people, and I understand there are seventy-two of them, got up at 3:30 this morning and boarded the buses at five o'clock, and they are here in a spirit of Christmas. They deserve a special hand from us.
Could I also say something else which gives me great pride. Amongst the gathering today there are two most distinguished Canadians. They are two very dear friends of mine who have been most supportive of me as I endeavour to carry out the great traditions of the
office of Her Majesty's representative. Could I ask the Right Honourable Roland Michener and Mrs. Michener to please stand? If I have to look for an example of how I should conduct myself I don't really have to look very far.
I do bring you greetings on behalf of Her Gracious Majesty. I do wish you all the very best of greetings on behalf of Jane, my dear wife, on behalf of our four children and seven grandchildren, all of whom are under the age of eight. So you know what kind of Christmas we are going to have. I wish you well. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Your Honour,
for your message.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my pleasure to introduce the ladies and gentlemen who share our head table today. They are nearly all members of the Empire Club family. (Introduction of head table guests.)
The Empire Club of Canada is an institution and like all institutions it succeeds because many people participate willingly, cheerfully and energetically in its day-today affairs.
Two very important persons in this regard are Eleanor Cook, our executive secretary, and Betty McAdam, our office secretary. I am pleased to have this opportunity to publicly recognize their invaluable contribution to this club. I also want to thank two of the secretaries at the Ontario Safety League, Rita Renda and Tanya Blanchard, who keep up with much of the Empire Club correspondence which I, as the President, generate.
I would also like to express the club's appreciation to the Royal York Hotel staff which meets our needs in a most professional manner. In the forefront of this group are Tony Hauth, the catering manager; Harry Bittner, the assistant catering manager; and Adriano Ferreira, manager of banquet services, who sees that our Thursday meetings are conducted without a hitch.
Our thanks also go to Stanley St. John, our faithful pianist, whose music we have enjoyed for so many years, and to Murray McKercher, the club's photographer, who records on film our weekly meetings.
Another person who deserves our gratitude is George Stafford who for many years has been the chairman of our Christmas Luncheon Committee. He, almost singlehandedly, takes care of all the details that annually make this luncheon such a great success.
Finally, each year the Christmas Luncheon is the time at which we honour our Immediate Past President by presenting him with a commemorative scroll signed by our Honorary President, the Governor General of Canada. During his Presidency Dr. Reginald Stackhouse conducted the affairs of this club with great dignity and superb efficiency. It is my pleasure to present him with this scroll with the thanks of over two thousand admiring and grateful members of The Empire Club of Canada.
Mr. President, Your Honour, fellow members, ladies and gentlemen: Thank you, Mr. President, for this impressive scroll signed by yourself and the Governor General of Canada as the Honorary President of the club and awarded in the presence of our Honorary Vice-President who so warmly and devotedly represents the Crown in Ontario; and I am happy to add also in the presence of a distinguished former Governor General and a former President of this club. So I thank you, Mr. President.
Christmas is a time for giving thanks. One blessing for which I give thanks at this Christmas season is living in this country. The tragic news of this week surely makes us all the more conscious of how precious a thing freedom is. So precious it can be seized by those who threaten us. I refer to this at our Christmas Luncheon because events of this week have shown the importance of the public forums the club provides. Democracy's life breath is the free air of open debate and each week this club offers an incomparable forum for exchanging ideas on great issues. This may not seem much to us when we are so accustomed to enjoying it, but I can believe there are many in this room who could tell us what a privilege this forum is. I am therefore thankful for the honour of having served this club and this society, making as it does such a contribution to keeping democracy alive in this great country of ours. Thank you.
Thank you, Dr. Stackhouse, for those
It is jokingly said that behind every successful man is a surprised mother-in-law. Of course, we know that is not true. Success in any organization or in a marriage depends on a partnership in which people respect, encourage and support one another. As a small token of our appreciation and admiration for her understanding and assistance during her husband's year as the President of this club, I now invite Henry Stalder, our First Vice-President, to present Margaret Stackhouse with a bouquet of roses. (Presentation of roses by Henry Stalder. )
Ladies and gentlemen: you have heard enough from me. It is now time for us to enjoy a program of Christmas music by the Grenville Christian College Choir under the direction of the College's Musical Director, Stewart Gillis. Grenville Christian College, located in Brockville, is a residential school for boys and girls of grades seven to thirteen with an enrolment of two hundred. It provides a learning atmosphere of love and discipline where the student can achieve full potential--mentally, physically and spiritually. It is wholly owned and staffed by the members of a community of convinced Christian people who have dedicated their lives to the service of others under the dynamic leadership of its Headmaster, the Reverend J. Alistair Haig.
Please join me in giving the Grenville Christian College Choir an especially warm welcome to the Empire Club.
A program of Christmas music was then presented by the Grenville Christian College Choir and band.
Ladies and gentlemen, the appreciation of the Empire Club will be expressed by Major General Bruce J. Legge, the President of The Empire Club Foundation and a distinguished Past President of the club.
Mr. Chairman, Your Honour, Reverend Sirs, fellow members of The Empire Club of Canada: Our distinguished President has given me the impossible task of rendering an appreciation of this great and festive occasion.
In the first place, the Reverend Dr. Reginald Stackhouse, the Principal of Wycliffe College, is honoured for his presidency of the club. Dr. Stackhouse knows it was another kind of theologian, Mark Twain, who described his ambivalent position: "I don't like to commit myself about Heaven and Hell. You see, I have friends on both sides." In The Empire Club of Canada we are on the side of Heaven whose music we have heard today in the exquisite and enchanting carols of the choir of the Grenville Christian College. At Christmas we are always inspired and entertained by superb musicians, but on your behalf I can say that this young Christian choir is "nulli secundus," second to none.
We Royalists in the Empire Club respect the patronage of music and the arts as a traditional example of the best that is the Crown in Canada. We thank Your Honour for being our Honorary Vice-President and for so unselfishly serving all the people of this province as the representative of Her Majesty the Queen of Canada in such an infinity of ways. This Christmas meeting allows us to publicly acknowledge our thanks to you both in your appointment and in your person.
Perhaps it is just because it's Christmas that some people want to throw their arms around you, and there seem to be other people who want to strangle you simply because it's Christmas--with all its commercialism. In this splendid Royal York Hotel we praise the hotel for half a century of serving our club so generously. Canadians are said to like fat books and thin women--if the Royal York continues to nourish us so well, we will have to reverse the adjectives in The Empire Club of Canada because we certainly enjoy these bounteous Christmas luncheons. There is also the fairy tale side of Christmas with its merriment, good cheer, the happy indulgence of rich fare and Santa Claus. In a previous life Your Honour would be able to recall that politicians are often seen as Santa Claus by a majority of voters at election time. The great Al Smith, when running for Governor of New York, used to wryly comment that give-away politicians were always popular because "nobody shoots at Santa Claus."
On this very day our world is burdened with political cruelty. The military tyranny in Poland is destroying the last vestiges of "good will toward men." We can only thank God for our safety, freedoms and comfort in Canada. It is a gift that no one could ever truly merit, and as we grieve for Poland and Afghanistan and a myriad of countries where people are tormented, we can reflect on the transitory nature of political wickedness. At the time of the Saviour's birth in Bethlehem one of the most powerful Romans ever to be Emperor was Caesar Augustus and the Gospel recounts that "A Decree went forth from Caesar Augustus that all should be taxed." It was because of that order that Mary and Joseph were compelled to make the arduous journey to Bethlehem where the Prince of Peace was born.
Only students of history and devout Christians now know who Caesar Augustus was, but the preachings of the Prince of Peace have come down to us for two thousand years. Mr. President, I thank you and the members of The Empire Club of Canada for promoting "the interests of Canada and the Commonwealth" and the Benefactors of the Empire Club Foundation for simply being generous benefactors.
Thank you, General Legge.
Ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand for the singing of our national anthem led by the Grenville Christian College Choir. Kindly remain standing while the Vice-Regal party leaves the room.
My warmest Christmas greetings to all of you, and may 1982 bring you much happiness and prosperity.