Inter War Years in Canada 1919-1939

Post-World War One
Aftermath of the Great War
After four years of war the world had
 New boundaries in Europe and
European powers were bankrupt.
 Communist government in Russia and
U.S. was on its way to becoming a world
power, so Canada now looks to the
south for a trading partner. The British
Empire was now the Commonwealth of
Post war Recession
Canada sees a post-war depression and
growth of discontent
 Inflation, high unemployment, regional
division, labour unrest
Returning Veterans
many troops wait to return home –unrest
in camps in Europe
 no work or training when troops returnwomen in their jobs
 government offered veteran $750
benefits -they want $2000
Labour unrest result of :
Munitions factories were closing because of lack
of demand
a quarter million out of work
Resource extraction industries have no markets
Unions grow from 143 thousand to 378 thousand
Workers had waited through war for wages to
Russian Revolution had promoted radical union
Western Canada has many new immigrants with
union experience
Winnipeg General Strike
Western Canada has many new
immigrants with union experience
 1919 Winnipeg General Strike –workers
want right to bargain
 June 21, 1919 – Bloody Saturdaytroops charge crowd
 Employers saw government action as
attempt to drive unions out
Discontent in the West
Western farmers dissatisfied with
controlled wheat prices
 Inflation rate were high because banks
wouldn’t lower interest rates – small
businesses go bankrupt
 Discontent leads to new parties on the
Canadian political scene
Post-Great War Politics
1919 – Wilfred Laurier dies and is replaced
by Mackenzie King
1920 – Robert Borden steps down as
leader of the Union Government and
members return to their traditional parties
Arthur Meighen is the new Conservative
1921- General election – Liberals win with
King as new PM
117-Liberals 50 – Conservative and NPP win
64 seats
The National Progressive Party
National Progressive Party
emerges on the federal
electoral scene with
T.A.Crerar as leader. The
party is formed in the western
provinces and has a rural
base in the farming sector of
Ontario and the Prairie
NPP and Regionalism
The NPP felt the old protective tariffs of the
past benefited the manufacturing sector but
hurt the farmers and they fought for
abolishing tariffs and lower freight rates.
Regionalism was entering Canadian
politics and became instrumental in the
“balance of power” with minority
governments depending on them. The
NPP challenged government to make
social change (ex Old Age Pension)
Canada Makes Moves Towards
Greater Autonomy
1922- Canada exercises new autonomy
by not supporting British in a war in
Turkey- Chanak Crisis
 In 1923 Canada negotiates its own
international agreement with US
(International Pacific Halibut Treaty)
The King-Byng Affair
1925- General Election – Liberals create a
coalition government with NPP support
(Conservatives- 116 Liberals - 99 +
NPP –24)
 1926- King-Byng Affair –Lord Byng
(Governor General) refuses to dissolve
parliament at the request of the PM after
corruption found in government – Meighen
becomes new PM but is forced to call an
election due to lack of support by the NPP
Mackenzie King
Lord Byng
Mackenzie King Wins Majority
1926 – King wins election with a majority
by managing to associate Meighen with
an abuse of the Constitution because
Byng hadn’t acted on the request of the
Prime Minister
 This leads to a change in the status of
the Governor General at the Imperial
Conference in 1926 which produces the
Balfour Declaration and more autonomy
Americanization of Canada
The twenties began with an economic
depression due to Britain and Europe
being badly in debt. Canada now looks
to the United States to sell its goods
 By the mid-twenties the post war
depression had ended and people were
back to work and times were good
The Roaring Twenties Begin
1926- new prosperity in Canada largely
due to trade with US
 US had come out of WWI a wealthy
nation (Britain in debt)
 Immigrants had once again come to
Canada after WWI
Americanization of Canada
Americans invested in “branch plants” in
Canada to avoid tariffs
 Canada has several new hydro-generating
plants (cheap energy)
 Canadians were put to work in Ont. and
Que. factories producing cars, clothing,
radios, gramophones, refrigerators
 Workers had lots of work logging, fishing,
mining, and producing pulp and paper –
extracting Canada’s natural resources
Americanization of Canada
The Canadian economy was based on
its primary industries while the more
beneficial secondary industries
developed in the US
 Farmers had a stable market
 Consumers had money to spend and
the economy boomed
Americanization of Canada
New highways built to trade between Canada
and US
New wealth created social and political change
Better education
provincial power increased
end of prohibition
Introduction of welfare programs
American cultural influences grew:
service clubs
Americanization of Canada
The Roaring Twenties created an overly
optimistic view of economic wealth
and dependence on the United
 Canadians felt the good times would
never end.
The Great Depression
The Causes of the Great Depression
 1. Drying up of world markets because
Europe was still under a huge
financial debt owed to US from WWI.
Britain and France owed U.S.
Germans could not pay reparations to
Britain and France
Causes of the Depression
2. Economic protectionism- raising tariffs
to protect industry was a problem
because it effectively closed trade
Causes of the Depression
3. Excessive credit buying
 The roaring twenties created a “buy now
pay later” attitude (over-speculation)
people borrowed money and bought on
credit assuming the good times would
never end. People bought stocks “on
margin” to invest with no source of
money to payback their loan.
Causes of the Depression
4. Over-production of products. New
methods of mass production which led a
situation where Canada couldn’t absorb
it’s own products
 Canada relied heavily on export of its
field, forests, water and mine products to
other countries – mainly the U.S.
Signs of Trouble
First sign of trouble was the wheat pools
not being able to get a decent price for
their product due to overproduction of
wheat (competition from Australia,
Argentina, USSR and Europe created a
glut in the market)
Signs of Trouble
Europe had no money to buy Canadian
factory products and the US raised
tariffs to protect their own domestic
 Prices fell because of oversupply,
factories closed, unemployment rose.
Businesses started to fall because of
debts owed for new expansions.
Shareholders sold stocks to try to get
their money out of failing companies
The Crash
October 29, 1929- Black Tuesday – New
York Stock Exchange crashed because
of a panic sell off by investors who fear
losing their life savings. People lost
millions. The Toronto Stock Exchange
followed soon after – panic ensued.
Effects of the Depression on
International tariffs put up and this led to
restricted trade and closed markets
resulted in million being put out of work
 Canada was hit hard because of its
dependence on exports of its factory
goods, and natural resources to the U.S.
Effects of the Depression on Canada
Prairie provinces were hit the worst
 bumper crop that flooded the market
drove prices down
 severe drought began and lasted seven
years ( dustbowl)
 The result was an economy that just
kept spiraling downward
 grasshoppers followed devouring what
Effects of the Depression on
200,000 forced from their farms
 per capita income dropped 71% in three
 2/3 of population in Saskatchewan are
put on some sort of public assistance
Effects of the Depression on
Overall Canadian incomes fell 50% one in four Canadians was out of work
 Two million out of ten million were living
on relief hand-outs and later in the
depression the government offered a
relief payment called “pogey”. People
had to publicly declare their own
financial failure to receive vouchers to
buy food.
Effects of the Depression on
Many proud Canadians were desperate
enough to go through the humiliation for
relief to be able to feed their family.
There was no unemployment insurance
or welfare programs – millions of people
forced to rely on charity. Many
Canadians were destitute, humiliated
and starving. The suicide rate in Canada
Politics of the 1930’s
Liberals were in power as the
Depression hit Canada.
 Mackenzie King doesn’t want to
acknowledge the severity of the
Depression- he doesn’t know what to do
and wants people to wait it out. “The
economy needed to”rest” after a long
bull market, it was a normal depression
like in 1913 and 1921”, “the economy
was fundamentally sound” he said.
1930 Election
King’s 5 cent piece speech
With an election coming up in 1930 King
mistakenly says he wouldn’t give a 5
cent piece for relief programs to any
Tory provinces- he appears uncaring
and unsympathetic and loses the
election (this benefits King later)
 Conservatives 131- Liberal 91- NPP 12Labour Party 3
R.B. Bennett Takes Power
RB Bennett takes power promising to
“end unemployment or perish in the
attempt”. He is a self-made millionaire,
corporate lawyer and business tycoon
who gave the provinces $20 million for
emergency relief ( King called this
“fiscally irresponsible” )
Bennett’s Plan Fails
Bennett raised tariffs on imports by 50% protectionism- this caused other countries to
respond with their own tariffs
-created the Bank of Canada to regulate
monetary policy
-created the CBC
Bennett plans all failed and the depression
-he becomes the scapegoat for frustrated
Canadians and people coin phrases like
“Bennett Buggies” “Bennett-burghs” “Bennett
tea” “Bennett Barnyard”
A Sign of the Hardship
People fight for jobs – discrimination
 Religious leaders- Depression was
punishment for the “loose living of the
 -Radicals like communist leader Tim
Buck are given stiff jail sentences.
Men Hunt for Work
Single men could get no relief so they
“ rode the rails”
 -Bennett created work camps for single
men- set up by the DND – they were like
slave camps, demeaning work, 20 cents
a day
 - over 170,000 men spent some time in
these camps
Trek on to Ottawa
Trek “On to Ottawa” led by Arthur “Slim”
Evans started as a protest movement in
the work camps that involved thousands
of men riding freight trains to Ottawa to
protest their treatment. The protest is
stopped in Regina and results in a
violent riot.
Bennett’s New Deal
In 1935 – pre election Bennett offers his
version of the “New Deal” a complete
180 turn offering unemployment
insurance, minimum wages (limit hours
of work),farm credit and farm
rehabilitation measures to deal with dust
bowl (soil erosion).
1935 Election- King or Chaos
Mackenzie King points out this sudden
turn in direction and Bennett loses the
election and leaves Canada. King
returns to power under the slogan “King
or Chaos”. King questions Bennett’s
ideas as unconstitutional – provincial
King’s Lassize-Faire Approach
Mackenzie King returns with few
answers as to how the handle the
Depression. King returns to “lassizefaire” (hands-off) approach to the
King Abandons Balanced Budget
King signs a new trade agreement with
US that lowers tariffs
 He gives tax exemptions
 -1938 - He abandons the balanced
budget to get stalled economy moving
 He closes down relief camps and
opposes idea of more aid to provinces
Rowell-Sirois Royal Commission
King sets up the Rowell-Sirois Royal
Commission to study
 Federal /provincial relations and the
question of which branch of government
bears the responsibility for
unemployment insurance and other
social benefits.
A New Approach to Canadian
Political Life
Frustrated with the traditional two parties
and their mismanagement of the
Canadian economy during the
depression (many showed their
displeasure with the idea of brokerage
politics practiced by the traditional
parties) people looked for an alternative
political party to better represent them
as the NPP had done in the 1920’s.
The Politics of Protest
Dissatisfaction caused by certain
economic groups feeling betrayed
(farmers, labours) and certain regional
groups felt ignored by federal
 Radical political parties reached new
heights during the Depression
Communist Party
Formed in 1921 at a secret meeting in
Guelph, Ontario
 1931 – RB Bennett promised to crush the
Communist under an “iron heel” - Leader Tim
Buck and eight others arrested in raid and
 Buck serves five years hard labour in
Kingston and survives an assassination
attempt by guards which was only meant to
“frighten him” according to Minister of Justice
after the cover-up comes out in House of
Cooperative Commonwealth
Began in 1933- Led by James
Shavers Woodsworth who was
a Methodist minister who
combined Christian social
gospel with economic ideas of
socialism (former leader in the
Winnipeg General Strike and
Labour MP from Winnipeg)
The CCF was an alliance of
labourers, farmers and
intellectuals. The CCF believed
that big business was at fault for
the depression. Their goal was
to replace “free enterprise”.
Unlike the communist idea of
overthrowing government the
CCF wanted to introduce
“democratic socialism” to
The Regina Manifesto
The CCF policies were laid out in the Regina
Manifesto (drafted by Frank Underhill) and
stated: Government should “nationalize” all
productive business -mines, farms, financial
institutions and communication networks – all
profits should be used to provide social
benefits to everyone equally like:
Unemployment Insurance
Old Age Pension
Family Allowance
Free Medical Care
Minimum Wage
CCF in Parliament
In 1935 CCF win seven seats in House
of Commons and a young Tommy
Douglas of Saskatchewan is one of
them. He will be first premier of the
socialist government in Saskatchewan in
1944. He will also be first leader of the
NDP in 1961 (CCF + CLC = NDP)
Social Credit
Began in Calgary in 1934 -Led by
William “Bible Bill” Aberhart
(a principal and radio minister).
He combined political and
religious appeal with a genius for
campaigning. “The economy was
like a human body. Just like
blood must circulate to keep it
alive so must money circulate
through the economy”
(developed by Major C.H.
The Social Dividend
Social Credit was an alliance of western
farmers who felt the “Eastern” Banks
had betrayed them and would not lend
them money so it could circulate.
Aberhart’s solution – he wanted to
supply a social dividend or credit of $25
a month to every adult in the province to
give people purchasing power which
would lead to prosperity and job creation
and revive a stagnant economy
Finding Success in the West
Alberta elected 56 Social Credit MLA’s out of
63 provincial seats. After two years in power
Social Credit went to produce its “funny
money” scheme and the federal government
(Supreme Court) stepped in and declared it
illegal under the constitution (a federal
responsibility) - Aberhart once again blamed
the Eastern bankers. The Social Credit went
on the have long reigns in both Alberta and
BC. Aberhart replacement in Alberta was
Ernest Manning, father of Preston
1935- General Election –17 MPs elected
Union Nationale
Began in 1935 in Quebec -Led
by Maurice Duplessis who
turned a French Canadian
nationalist protest movement
into political party.
 They felt that since WWI
Quebec had been ignored and
that English control of business
and wealth within Quebec was
exploiting French Canadian
farmers and workers.
Union Nationale
In 1936 Union Nationale swept the
provincial Liberals out of power in Quebec
 Duplessis gains power by appealing to Fr.
Canadians and offering to retake control of
Quebec’s natural resources from the
English minority. He promises increased
provincial control, to secure new markets
for Quebec’s farm products, improved
working conditions and lower income
Duplessis’s Padlock Act
Duplessis is anti-union and anti-communist
he creates “Padlock Act” to throw
communist in jail for communist behaviour
which he said “is something that can be
felt”. He believed church has too much
power within Quebec
 He ruled Quebec until 1959 like a dictator
that would bully people with the Padlock
Act. The end of his time in office in
Quebec would mark the beginning of what
will be known as the “Quiet Revolution”.
The Person’s Case
Although the groundwork had been laid
during the Laurier Era, the Women’s
movement made significant steps during
the inter-war period. After achieving the
vote after WW1 , Agnes Macphail went on
the be Canada’s first female MP. In 1929
the British Privy Council ruled that women
were indeed “persons” under the law
thanks to the work of the Famous Five.

similar documents