HIST 261: League of Nations 1
1930’s: League of Nations
It would take the Second War to fix the Great Depression for Canada.
During 1931 foreign issues were not a focus, the economic crisis was. The military declined because
Canada could makes cut as it didn’t feel threatened.
People did believe in collective security League of Nations
● League of Nations was supposed to protect each other, didn’t really do anything.
● In Sept. 1931: Japan invaded China, League did nothing.
Isolation was favoured because of the depression people wanted to deal with their own countries first.
Oscar D. Skelton: in charge of foreign affairs in the 30’s. Strong Canadian nationalist, believed isolation
was a good idea, wanted to stay out of foreign affairs. Admired America’s self interest, lack of
involvement in league of nations.
Most Canadians believed Canadian should stay out of external conflicts since they had lost so much in
Mackenzie King wanted to avoid dividing the country again, so he avoided acting.
Oct. 1935: Italy invaded Ethiopia, Canadian delegates in League of Nations recommended action. The
government ignored the remarks, because they were worried French Canadians would side with Italy
and they had promised peace. Italy successfully invaded Ethiopia, making the league look ineffective.
1936: Hitler was invading the Rhineland, which went against the treaty of versailles. King was
determined to avoid being forced to go to war and argued that the league of nations should act more
like a mediator.
1937: Imperial Conference. Britain knew that it would need help from its dominions. Tried to make
King want to support Britain, but Canada was not prepared to submit. Mackenzie King would refuse to
guarantee troops or supplies and instead talked about economic appeasement.
Mackenzie King also went to Germany in 1937. By this time Hitler had transformed Germany and
pulled Germany out of the depression. Mackenzie King was impressed. King told Hitler that in the event
of war Canada would stand by Britain, but he did not tell Canada or the commonwealth. Canadian
Military spending began to slowly creep up.
In 1938, Germany invaded Austria and then began to make claims to Czechoslovakia. HIST 261: League of Nations 2
Mackenzie King decided he would not consider being neutral. He believed Canada’s selfinterest lied in
strength of the British Empire. He began to ensure that he would have political consensus.
The Munich accord (Sep. 1938) signed by Neville Chamberlain, Mussolini, and Hitler. King praised
Chamberlain but still increased the military budget.
However, Mackenzie King did not want to interfere with Spain’s civil war. The rebel right wings tried to
overthrow the republican government.
● The Canadian government feared taking action because of how it might split Canada.
Left wing Canadians rallied and in 1936 Fascism began to spread throughout spain. The Rebel army
was much bigger and had more support.
● The Republic government appealed to the world for help, but countries did not help. The
democratic government was