Canada between the Wars 1919-1939

Canada between the Wars 1919-1939

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Canada between the Wars 1919-1939
I. The British Commonwealth of Nations-
The period between the wars brought: Culmination of Canada's growth to independent nationhood within the British Commonwealth. Prime Minister Borden - Included in the Imperial War Cabinet in London. He piloted- the dominions "should be recognized as autonomous nations of an imperial commonwealth." At the end of 1919 the Canadian government acquired
A. Decades of discord
Social labor history, national politics and relations in the empire.

Young people in this era grew up w/out stability (harsh war, unstable economy, and great depression)
1. Post War Recession
1919 Winnipeg General Strike was Canada's most influential labour action. After World War I many Canadian soldiers returned home to find few opportunities, all while companies had enjoyed enormous profits on war contracts. Wages and working conditions were dismal and labour regulations were mostly non-existent.
J. S. Woodsworth of Winnipeg, who had organized their political movement after the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. Meighen had played a key role in violently suppressing the strikers and this earned him the animosity of organized labour.
Intention of overthrowing Canadian capitalism through a series of crippling general strikes.
Attempted to unionize -workers from both industries went on strike to gain union recognition.
The strike was generally non-violent. The majority of the strikers were reformist, ("revolutionary socialism", which believes that there must be a revolution to fundamentally change a society.) not radical. They wanted to amend the system, not destroy it and build a new one.
1920s - Spiraling expansion of business.
Technical and industrial advances paced the rising standard of living.
II. National Politics
A. Government
Since the 1911 election, the country had been governed by the Conservatives, first under the leadership of Robert Borden, and then under Arthur Meighen.
Bordon, conservative 1911-20 (Union Government). Conscription means unity.
Meighan (1920-21, Union Government)
MacKenzie King, spirituarlist, liberal, union gov't disbanded, absorbed into conservative part.
Organized labour thereafter was hostile towards the Conservatives, particularly Meighen and Robertson, for their forcefull role in putting down the strike. Combined with high tariffs in the federal budget passed in the same year which farmers disliked, this contributed to the Conservatives' heavy defeat in the 1921 election. Succeeding Liberal government, made sure that the Winnipeg General Strike resulted in much improved working conditions for millions of Canadians. Liberal government under the young leader William Lyon Mackenzie King.
The election was the first in which the majority of Canadian women were allowed to vote.

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Four women also ran for office. Agnes Macphail of the Progressive Party was elected as the first woman MP in Canada.
B. Parliament split
King's Liberals won a majority government Quebec, much of the Maritimes, and a good portion of Ontario.
The Progressive Party won the second largest number of seats, dominating the West, and winning almost a third of the seats in Ontario. Progressive stood for : free trade, farmer's rights, and competition in railways
The Conservatives won only a few fewer seats than the Progressives and formed the official opposition. They also won a good section of Ontario and had some support in the Maritimes and British Columbia.
III. The Empire
Whenever Britain went to war Canada had to follow: i.e. Boar War, WWI. Treaty of Versailles, 1919 has own signatory. What is going on with British the empire at this point?
Cost a lot to keep an empire, financial strain after WWI, Imperialist adventures too costly, and Empire wanted to loosen its grip w/Britain.
1922 Crisis at Chanak, Canada did not want to participate in another British conflict
1926 Balfar Declaration confirmed Declaration of Equality: United Kingdom as well as the dominions
"Autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another." however, "united by a common allegiance to the Crown,
Resolutions - confirmed 1931 in the Statute of Westminster. Statue meant - Canadian sovereignty thus had been achieved by a long process of peaceful constitutional evolution, LEGAL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO MAKE FOREIGN POLICY. BENCH MARK DATE FOR THE NEWFOUND INDEPENDENT CANADA.
IV. Crisis of Western Capitalism
1929 - Industrial production began to slow significantly. October - stock market crash, unemployment and financial ruin across Canada, as it did elsewhere in the world.
Economic & industrial nations were faltering in Europe after WWI. "Staples" economy in Canada suffered after US. Industrial industry dried up. Candida and US were fare more integrated after WWI. Britain used indirect investment, i.e. Buy stock where US used direct investment, i.e. Buying and moving ‘branch plants' into Cda.
Unemployment skyrocketed
1930 elections, King (defeated)
Conservatives - Richard Bedford Bennett, Responsibility of dealing with the Great Depression. His inability to deal with the crisis, coupled with the severe drought in the prairies, led Canadians to desert the Conservatives.
1935 elections, Liberals back, a position held for 22 years.
Canada's New Deal – put the gov't into the ‘driver's seat' Offered: broader farm credit b/c people were leaving the farms, food supply was down, and cities were overpopulated. Minimum wage laws, unemployment and social insurance, natural resources ‘transfers' to the prairie provinces, give them the abilities to attract investments, trust regulations, increase continental trade.
1936 Start of modern welfare state – to stimulate growth, preparing roads, bridges, and forestry work.
IV Continuity vs Change
As Cynthia R. Comacchio explains it well in The Infinite Bonds of Family Canada , there is a large social and economical system in Canada. Family bond represents a large portion of why Canadian's reacted the way they did during the post WWI era and why National Policy was not in the peoples' best interest during this period of time.
Prior to WWI Canada created their model citizens through Immigration. There was rural space for farmers, and urban space for the rapid industrialization offered by technology, and factory work available for those that wanted it.
Cultural life was available through the theater. Even though there was the lack of state intervention, and the federal government didn't have a great influence in helping the Canadian family, the people still had the church to help or influence them. The people were mostly content with life.
National Policy created uneven development. Regionalism created a lack of Canadian experience, and unity unraveled. National politics in Canada needed to change both politically and socially. The structure of the country, the breaking down of the infinite bonds of the family, and Canada itself needed a fixed. The people of Canada were not happy with their government and what it represented. As in Two Solitudes Hugh McLennan dealt with 20 years of history. The national and international views of the French and the English, the duality, and separation of language, land, and nationality caused disunity. The rural to urban migration, social inequality, the geographical shield, and the role of religion all represented factors for the idea that WLM King and McQueen shared…idealism. They both believed Canadian nationalist could joint together, but saw fascism abroad. Canada had to step up to the plate because problems in the rest of the world; therefore, the agenda for a better Canada between 1919 and 1939 was to become a diplomatic country that could represent and support itself as one, and help maintain peace in the rest of the world as well as their own.
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