William lyon mackenzie king essay
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Monday, October 14, 2013
William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King, grandson of reformer William Lyon Mackenzie, was undoubtedly one of Canada’s most successful politicians.
He led the Liberal Party from 1919 to 1948, and his party governed the country during three mandates: 1921-26, 1926-30, and 1935-48.
A graduate of the U of T, the University of Chicago, and Harvard, Mackenzie King entered politics in 1900 as Laurier’s Minister of Labour.
With an interest in industrial relations, King mediated in a number of strikes, and created the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act, which his party passed in 1907.
Mackenzie King lost his seat in the election of 1911 and was unable to regain it in 1917 (the Conscription election); however, he maintained ties with the party. During the war, he worked for the Rockefeller Foundation and wrote a book.
In 1919, he was chosen to succeed Laurier as party leader, and in 1921, the Liberals got a small majority, and joined with the Progressives, a new party, to govern. The withdrawal of the necessary but precarious support of the Progressive Party led to a constitutional crisis when Governor General Lord Byng refused to dissolve Parliament on King’s request.
Although this King-Byng affair made it clear that governors-general were no longer free to intervene in Canadian affairs, the Conservatives took power again. However, Meighen’s government was soon defeated. Brazening out a scandal, the Liberals were elected and governed between 1926 and 1930.
During this era, they established Old Age Pensions and reduced the debt. King also continued to pursue the path of increasing autonomy for Canada, and at the 1926 Imperial Conference he helped craft and establish the nation’s Dominion status.
Following the stock market crash of 1929, the 1930 election returned the Conservatives to power under RB Bennett, but the Liberals were back in 1935. Before the war, King arranged some trade agreements with the US and the UK to help cope with the terrible economic problems at home.
When war came, King said Parliament would decide on Canada’s involvement. Having witnessed the conscription crisis of WWI, he also promised French Canadians they wouldn’t be conscripted for overseas service. In 1940 the Liberals called an election and won, and King put the nation into full war production. The same year, he introduced conscription for the defense of Canada.
By 1942, the conscription debate was back. A plebiscite showed a majority of English Canadians willing to let the government off its 1940 promise, with Quebeckers opposed. The pressure increased as volunteer numbers declined and losses mounted.
The conversation about conscription dragged on in Parliament until 1944. In response to continuing pressure from Britain for Canada to introduce full conscription, King told Churchill he couldn’t do it; the issue would tear Canada apart.
In the end, the war was nearly over when King finally sent some of the home defense forces overseas. However, although he lost his minister of defense in the process, he managed this backtracking without alienating French Canada.
Mackenzie King was the only wartime leader among the Allies to be re-elected in 1945 when the war was over. He represented Canada at the UN Conference in 1946.
On a personal level, he was decidedly eccentric. A single man, he was devoted to his dog Pat.
According to LAC, the two walked together in the morning and companionably enjoyed their evenings together, both drinking cocoa and eating oatmeal cookies.
He also joined the contemporary fad of spiritualism, and used a crystal ball to communicate with his dead mother, whom he apparently considered a source of political as well as personal counsel.
Essay: Mackenzie King – The Greatest Prime Minister of Canada
The greatest Prime Minister of Canada was? Mackenzie King our 10thPrime Minister of Canada and by far one of our greatest. William Lyon Mackenzie King accomplished a lot in his twenty-0ne years of ministering our Country Canada!
“It is what we prevent, rather than what we do that counts most in Government.” (Mackenzie King august 26, 1936) This statement sums up the best secrets of Mackenzie King’s success as prime minister, and perhaps, the key to governing Canada effectively. King’s record of prime minister is sometimes difficult to judge. He had no uninteresting images, he gave no repetitive speeches, and he champions no drastic stage. He is remembered for his easygoing, passive compromise and conciliation (Gregory, page 267). Yet Mackenzie King led Canada for a total of twenty-two years, through half the Depression and all of the Second World War. Like every other prime minister, he had to possess ambition, endurance and determination to become prime minister and, in spite if appearances, his accomplishments in that role required political acuity, decisiveness and faultless judgment.
William Lyon Mackenzie King was born in Berlin (later renamed Kitchener), Ontario in 1874. His father was a lawyer and his maternal grandfather was William Lyon Mackenzie, leader of the 1837 Rebellion in Upper Canada. From an early age, King identified with his grandfather, an association that influenced him throughout his political life.
King studied economics and law at the University of Toronto also, the University of Chicago. After graduating with an M. A. in 1897, he pursued his studies at Harvard. In 1900, he entered the civil service and became Deputy Minister of the new Department of Labor. King joined the Liberal party and won a seat in the 1908 election. The following year he was chosen Minister of Labor in Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier’s Cabinet.
After he lost his seat in the 1911 election, King worked as a labor advisor for the Rockefeller Foundation in the United States. He ran and lost again in the 1917 election. “Parliament will decide, he liked to say when pressed to act”. Unlike most English-speaking Liberals, he stood by Laurier in opposition to conscription (Johnson, page 134).
In 1919, King was elected leader of the Liberal party in the first leadership convention held in Canada. The party was still unpleasantly divided, with some Liberals in the Union government and some in Opposition. King stood on conscription two years before it won him the loyalty of Quebec. Furthermore his skills as a conciliator were well developed by his labor experience and he put them to good use rebuilding the party. The Liberals won the 1921 election.
The arguable issue of King’s first expression of office was tariffs and freight rates. King reduced them, but not enough to satisfy the prairie farmers, who gave their support to the Progressives, a new political party formed to represent their interests. After the 1925 election, King could continue his best part only with their support. The Liberals lost their vote of assurance the following year. The Governor General refused King’s request to separate Parliament and called on Arthur Meighen, Leader of the Opposition to form the government. This lasted only four days, until King called for a vote on the constitutional right of Meighen to govern. The Conservatives lost the vote and an election was called.
Although a recently – uncovered outrage involving the Liberal Minister of Customs, King and his party won the 1926 election. He took advantage of the success of the late 1920s to reduce the war debt and to introduce an old-age pension system. Although the Liberals lost the 1930 election, it was to their benefit in the long run. The worst years of the Depression were related with the Conservatives. The Liberals were reinstated in government in 1935.
King led the nation through the Second World War, during which Canada contribute food supplies, financial aid, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, ships, aircraft, tanks and over a million Canadian troops to the Allied cause. The close friendship of King with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U. S. President F. D. Roosevelt was one of the cornerstones of the Allied effort. (Larry, page 27). One of the secrets of King’s success as a leader was his ability to be familiar with the talents of his party members. He filled his Cabinet with really capable men and delegate to them the power to carry out their tasks.
National unity was King’s most important goal. He acknowledged that this didn’t mean forcing all Canadians to support one single vision, but accepting a huge number of differing, and sometimes conflicting, views. It was this understanding and his ability to cooperate that allowed King to successfully agree to the issue of conscription in 1944 and to avoid the divisiveness of 1917.
As a part of Kings ethics on social reform, King’s unemployment insurance in 1940 and family allowance in 1944. Maybe the most important sign of Kings success as prime minister is the fact that upon his retirement in 1948, his successor, Louis St. Laurent, won an election the following year and kept the Liberals in power for another eight years. Politics had been Kings life and a strenuous one at that; he died in 1950, less than two years after retiring.
The Greatest Prime Minister of Canada was William Lyon Mackenzie King. I feel that out of all the Prime Ministers of Canada that he did a lot for a country and our people. King kept his word on a lot of issues that his people were waiting to on or to be brought up. Mackenzie King was a goddess to most people, and some he came off as a strange human being. King had a lot of goals in his life one important one being National unity King understood and agreed to the whole conscription thing. As a Prime Minister of Canada I feel that it is a great task to make our country a better place to live and also a well-reserved environment. There are now 20 Prime Ministers of Canada and it is with great honor that I say with my research that has been accomplished that William Lyon Mackenzie King is by far the greatest Prime Minister of Canada.