Leadership of William Lyon Mackenzie King in the 20s

William Lyon Mackenzie King

William Lyon Mackenzie King was the tenth Prime Minister of Canada. He was born on December 1, 1874 in Berlin, which is know as Kitchener, Ontario. He dominated the Liberal and the Canadian Parliament for twenty two years. He led Canada through the harder and happiest time, the prosperous 20's , the entire Second World War, and half of the Great Depression. .

As a child, he was influenced by his grandfather, William Lyon Mackenzie King, who was the leader of the 1837 Upper Canada rebellion. King's dad was a lawyer; their family had a rich politics background. After King earned his M.A. of economics and law at the University of Toronto, he pursued a higher degree of education at Harvard and Chicago.

King was a very unique Prime Minister because of his strong interest in spiritualism through
mediums and seances. He tried to contact the dead, it was told that he had been in contact with his dead mother and important figures of the past for political advices, such as Laurier. He had contact with Laurier because he entered Laurier's Cabinet as the minister of labour in 1909.

King was elected as the Prime Minister in the 1921 federal election. As it was mentioned, he dominated the Liberal party and political life in Canada until he died on July 22, 1950 in Ottawa. He played a major figure in an era where Canada made the biggest changes. He was Canada's first deputy minister of labour.

King contributed a lot to the Canadian history. After he became the Prime Minister in 1921, he was involved in helping Canada's independence, building the country's image, and made great relationships with other countries such as the United States and France. Even though he didn't look like the type of people that would attract a lot of voters, he was a cautious, careful, and extremely shrewd politician. His intelligence helped made Liberal policies acceptable to various groups and regions across Canada. He listened to what Canadians want and tried his best to compromise among the different groups.

King was very Canadian; he was the one that declared Canada's independence to the world. Breaking the "mother-country" relationship with Britain was a long process. In the 1922 Chanak Affair, Britain requested Canada for military support, but King rejected the Britain. It was because he convinced that the Canadian Parliament decided not to send troops to get involved in another European war. In the 1920s, Canada started to become more of an isolationist, which meant that they didn't want to be in any foreign conflicts. By rejecting the Britain, King showed that Canada is an independent country that makes decisions without any interference. Unlike in World War I, Canada automatically joined the war as Britian made its first move.

In 1923, Canada and the Untied States signed the Halibut Treaty. This was an agreement on the fishing season for halibut in the north Pacific. King insisted that only Canadian and American representatives to sign and Britain agreed. Normally, Britain would always sign the treaties on behalf of Canada. After this, Canada was one step close to be independent. Three years later, King asked Governor General Julian Byng for a dissolution in the Parliament. General Byng was very stubborn so he refused, instead he appointed Arthur Meighen to be the Prime Minister, which eventually lasted for only a short period of time. King was elected again in the 1926 election and accused General Byng for ignoring an elected member of the Parliament.

Soon after King was elected again, he participated in the Imperial Conference. He and the other delegate
King on his campaign trail, 1926
s discussed the pow-
ers of the Dominions and their relationships with Britain. This time, King made it clear that Canada would make its own foreign policy and wouldn't be dragged along by the British. The Dominions came up with the Balfour Report, which stated that Canada and the Dominions were self-governing and independent countries. They were no longer to be called the Dominions of the British empire. However, they all agreed to remain part of a new Commonwealth of Nations. This commonwealth meant that the nations were equal in status and united by their common allegiance to the British monarch. Also, besides declaring the independence, King clarified the role of the governor general. The governor general is the representative of the Crown in Canada not an agent from Britain. Canada didn't have to talk to Britain through the governor general anymore. Because of this, the tradition is still continued, we are in a Constitution because the Queen is the highest in the Parliament, but she is limited to only a few things, though not enough power to govern the entire country.

King on the $50 bill

In the late 1920s, King and his Liberal party provided a cautious administration to reduce the federal debt. He also introduced the Old-Age Pension scheme. But in 1930, King was defeated by R.B.Bennett and his Conservative party because King didn't recognize how severe the Great Depression would be. Still, he remained his seat in Prince Albert and became the leader of the Opposition.

On December 11,1931, the Balfour Report finally became law. Canada was officially an independent nation. Through the hard work and leadership of King, Canada was no longer under Britain. The only exception was the the highest court was the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain and the amending power was still in the hands of the Britain. This was because the premiers of each province couldn't decide on a method to amend the British North America Act, which was why the responsibility was still Britain's.
Even though Canada achieved complete autonomy after King was defeated, but without his work and effort, Canada wouldn't be independent. Without King, Canada could not even be a separate nation, Britain might still be our mother country. Also, King had established global relationships with other countries around the world. He was man who told the world that Canada is now a country on its own.

The Prime Ministers of Britain and the four major Dominions (King: Left)

The Canadian Encyclopedia . Historica Foundation of Canada.William Lyon Mackenzie King. March 2, 2010.
First Among Equals- The Prime Minister in Canadian Life and Politics . 2002-01-29. Library and Archives Canada.March 2, 2010.

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