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At thfl Southbridge Towa Hail on Monday evening a well attended and very enthusiastic comp'imsotarv social wjp tende'ed by his Fupporters to Mr J. C Free, Liberal candidate for Ellesmere at tbe last election. Mr M'Mabon, chairman of tb.9 candidate's local committee, p'-e'idtd and amorgsfc those present was Mr G, Witty, M P. The social took the foim of a dance, and the gathering vaß thorough y represenfafivpj During the supper adjourned advantage was taken of tbe opportunity to make presentations to Mr and Mrs Frpe

Tbe obairmnn said it was a to see such a large number of ptople present to do honour to Mr Free, and be was eppecially plensfd to notice among tbe number some of Mr Free's political opponents. Tbe speaker read apologies for absence from Sir Joseph Ward, and Messrs T. E Y. Seddon L. M. Isittand G. W. Russell M b'P. Sir Joseph Ward stated in his letter of apology that Mr Free had put up a magnificent fight ngainst a strong and popular man. He bad fought a keen fight and the writer felt sure tbat if the election were to take place again to morrow Mr Free wonld be elected. (Applause ) Tbe chairman said that the liberals felt that they could not overlook the servic a rpndf r» ed by their candidate a d they desir d to ask Mr and Mrs Free to accept small tokens of tbe esteem in which they were held. ! Mr G. Witty, M P., who was accorded a very bearty reception, said be was very pleased to be present to as sist the Liberals of Ellesmere to do honour to Mr Free, who, although he had not been long amongst them, had evidently earned the respect and goodwill of the people, not alone in that part of tbe district, but through* out the electorate When on bi3 way down from Wellington some time be fore the session closed, to attend a meeting of Liberals at Lincoln, at which a candidate was to be selected for Elleemere, be happened to meet Mrs Seddon, wife of tbe late Hon R J, Seddon, who bad aeked him if tbe prospective candidate was tbe " Jim " Free who bailed from the West Coast. On reoaiving a reply in the affirmative Mrs Seddon said that Mr Free was one of tbe most straightforward and bonest men she bad ever met on tbe West Coast Mr Free had already proved that these words were right He bad fought a keen and clean fight, and bad all along realised tbat be was etending against one of the most popu lar men in Canterbury and tbat he had a bard nut to crack. Mr Rhodes bad made tbe statement before tbe election that Canterbury was going to return more Reform members to the House, but tbe prophesy bad not come true. Canterbury was one of tbe most advanced provinces in New Zealand, and it was also a Liberal pro* vince. Mr Free bad shown tbat be was no mean fighter and that he was a man to be reckoned with.

Mr Witty said he entirely agreed with the Liberal leader when he stated', that if the election contest was fought again to morrow Mr Free would come j out on top. The Ellesmere electors wanted a man who would help to ad vance the interests of the community, not of the individual. How many of those present 'that evening owed their position to the progressive legislation introduced by the Liberal Govern ment ? The worst of it was that men who bad enjoyed prosperity and made money during the Liberal administra fciSn, and who were now running motor carp, had gone over to the Tories. The men who forgot those friends who helped them to put them in that position were like the boy who forgot wb&i his parents bad done for him. Mr Free bad a bard task to perform, but

Uhere wag no doubt he would hay won had his supporters bette organised, They could not tell how soon another election might tike place and he would advise them ti be preon r< d.

Tbo return of Mr Free at fc'ie laafc election, said Mr Witty, wou'.d no' mo-ely bave meant a victory for Elles mere, but it meant that the L'beral Party would have been in power to clay He diil not wish to touch on party politics, but be wag fully justified, in =aying that never in the history of the country had there been fo much trick cry, humbug, or bungling, wilful, or otherwise, in connection with a gene ral election as with the last one. Those present were doing the right thing in acknowledging Mr Freo'e services. He knew from experience that an eleotion could not b? fought and won without money, and it required a great deal of courage to undertake such a task as Mr Free bad faced. There were some of Mr Free's oppon ents present, which was evidence of the fact that they respected him. One of the finest rewards a man could bave was to gain the respect and esteem of his fellow men.

Mr Witty then handed to Mr Free a gold so , , reign cage and a bag well filled wit! ivereigns, and to Mrs Free a gold pei Tit set with pearls and a peridot, as ' xpressions of the high es teem in which they were held by the Liberals of Ellesmere. Mr Wittypaid a warm tribut to Mrs Free for the manner in which she bad looked after her husband's affairs during the time he was electioneering Loud applause) Mr Free was loudly cheered on re ing to respond. After expressing thanks on behalf of bis wife and him self for the gifts and the cordial ex preseions of good will and esteem, be said that when he bad been suggested as a likely candidate be stated clearly that be bad no wieb to stand if a better man could be found. The choice bad fnllpn upon him, and be bad entered the contest feeling that be bad, as another speaker bad said, "a hard nut to crflck," but at the same time he realised that Ellesmere was really a Liberal constituency. He would not bave been in the position be occupied to day but for the Liberal Government and be was giad of tbe opportunity to do something for the party that bad done co much for him. He was spe* cially pleased to see Mr Witty present tbat evening and from what ha knew of Mr Witty he felt that tbe member for Riccarton was not a man who went to Parliament for bis own bene fit, but for tbe benefit of humanity, There were too many men nowadays who went to Parliament more for their own benefit than to help the people who put them tbero. He felt sure Mr Wbitty bad a great career before him. Ho bad had an oppor tunity of becoming a Cabinet Minister but had declined tbe honour. When the proper time came, however, I'r Witty would take his right place So far as the Ellesmere seat was concerned, said the speaker, be was oonvinced, that it could be won easily. jld any portion of the district where or ganising had been done there was a very marked increase in the figues polled for Liberalism as compared with the figures for the previous election, and if committees had been formed in the centres to work like those at Little River, Halswell and Soutbbridge tbe result of tbe election would undoubted' ly bave been different. He thought there was abundant room for complaint about the size of the places used as polling places, and fchia was a matter i that ehould be rectified on a future j occasion.

As Mr Witty bad said, an election campaign could not be fought and won without money. They were fighting a party that bad plenty of money, and could afford to spend a ! good deal on the election contests. He ! gave tti '. party all credit for having i earned > a money, and felt that they 'had a . rfect right to spend it, m thry thought fie. If every Liberal in New Zealand gave a chilling to a ! campaign fuod the Liberal Party ! wruld be nble to fight its elrcion con testa with a far gctater hope of win j ning, and with less hardship to the

candidate. He was proud to be able to state tbat no to an or woman could truthfully say tbat be had fought tbe figbt unfairly, and the same could be paid about big opponent. Mr Free said he bad made no enemies—or very few. He would again thank them for fbeir presents and for the confidence they had reposed in him. He was quite willing to come forward again in the future if big services were required, but be would always be glad to stand aside if a batter man could be found (Applause and cheers). Mr T. B. Howson, who occupied a seat on the stage, congratulated Mr Free upon tbe clean figbt be bad put up, He had the greatest re3peot for Mr Free, and the only fault he had to I find with the guest was that if he b&d been elected be would bave gone into the wrong lobby to record his vote. Mr Howson spoke of the hard work Mr Free bad done as a member of the Ellesmere County Council in oonneci tion with the formation of a drainage area at Taumutu, to drain lands ad jacent to two lagoons, and asked hie acceptance of a gold watch and chain as an expression of appreciation of bis services. Mr Free suitaaly acknowledged the gift.—"Lyttelton Time*."

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Bibliographic details

ELLESMERE CANDIDATE HONOURED., Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIV, Issue 3411, 2 April 1915

Word Count

ELLESMERE CANDIDATE HONOURED. Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIV, Issue 3411, 2 April 1915

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