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HISB41H3 (45)
Lecture

Lecture 5

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Department
History
Course Code
HISB41H3
Professor
C Pennington

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Lecture 5
February-14-11
2:03 PM
Canada and the Dirty Thirties 1929-39
This Wednesday 5-7 - The Atomic Café
Mostly miserable period to lecture about
Period of stifling economic depression - colours everything else
Progress in arts and sports - dionne quintuplets
Mostly a dismal period
Today - start with economic themes
Causes and effects of great depression
Oct 1929 - wall street crash
Lasts from 1929-1939
Throughout the western world - especially N.America - economy never recovered
Worse till 1933 - 30% unemployment in Canada
Only marginally increased leading up to 1939
Causes - overproduction - based on optimistic outlooks - companies produced too much stock
When depression hit - there was much less demand in the economy
Companies producing so much stock shut down factories
Now people out of work - even less purchasing power bc people are unemployed
lack of purchasing power - people didn’t have money to purchase things with
international instability - ramifications for Canada - European economies did not recover from war
- Britain, Frace, Germany
Germany had reparations - had to get loans from US
Britain and France depended on loan payments - US stopped payments in 1928
Both Canada and US dependent on international trade - led to collapse
Dustbowl affect - freak incident - dry conditions - desertification of the west
For people who lived off the land - people just couldn’t live
Effects - decline of Canadas GNP by 40% - should grow 1-5% per yr
Imports down 55% - exports down 25%, 30% unemployment -rough figure 1.5 million canadians
depended on govt relief - population was only 10 million
Exports - were life blood of Canadian economy
If you had employment - it was a good time - things were cheap - they lived well
Some lived well while others were starving
Official records - no one starved to death - but that is hard to believe -people died bc of illness
due to malnutrition
Unemployment - more and more workplaces shut down and thrown into the street - same in rural
canada - western canada
Fundamental problem with unemployed - no social assistance - time period before it was socially
acceptable to take relief
www.notesolution.com
Some charity organizations - but most people fell back on their families - No unemployment
insurance until 1940
Responsibility for social assistance fell upon the provinces -social welfare responsibility of the
Province
Fed govt washed its hands of relief - it did help later - but only a fraction of what was necessary -
for relief - and for economic boost
Municipalities and provinces had fewer resources than feds - hard to provide relief
Western provinces went bankrupt
Just applying was humiliating experience
Esp. if you got it from govt agency
It was humiliating - era of individualism
To have to appeal for help - is a sign of ultimate failure - social stigma - govt encouraged that
stigma - they didn’t want people to become soft - made to be humiliating - public place - long line
- you submit to the means test - have to prove you are completely destitute - origin of universal
social assistance - it was cruel and unusual experience - people are already suffering
For those who couldn’t get relief - or couldn’t live off the relief - no national standard - need
30$/family to avoid starvation
Calgary 60$/mo
On east coast you could only get 19$/mo
Single male couldn’t get relief at all - assumed you were not looking hard enough
Going on the "pogey" - at the time it was meant in a pejorative sense
For people with mobility they would just hitch a ride on freight train
Moved in westerly direction
Vancouver was a major destination - most mild place in Canada - might not freeze to death
70,000 people riding the rod in 1930-40s??
People couldn’t get relief once they travelled - people passing through couldn't get money
Fed govt - feared this floating mass of unhappy single men - 1932 relief camps - run by military -
paid by fed - housed single unemployed men bw 1932-6 - in distant locations - N Ontario
You had two options - single unemployed male - go to camp or get arrested for vagrancy
They were kept In the camp essentially as prisoners
20 cents a day - hard manual labour
Point of camp - stop trouble makers
They got all these single young men - remote locations - nothing to do - so they talked about riots
- when the men were released - some caused riots
The early political response
The fairest thing to say about the leaders - they didn’t know what to do - assumed things would
get better - boom bust cycle of capitalism
Happened in the past
The dominant economic policy was laissez faire - do nothing - do not mettle - this was the
response of the PM - WLMK
He was never fond of taking chances
He had no fresh or innovative ideas to resolve the depression
In 1930 king called election - economy dominant issue - he made a rare mistake - said something
the people could remember - he was asked how much support would he give provinces to give
relief to its citizens - feds not obliged to help -would he give financial assistance to provinces with
conservative govt - he said he would not give them a five cent piece - people knew that he was
not going to do anything - he was soundly defeated - after almost a decade in office
R.B Bennett 1870-1947
Conservative leader - until Paul Martin - richest man to hold office
1930-35 Pm
www.notesolution.com
Born in NB - moved out west as a young man
Represented Calgary in house of commons
Not too many PM's from west
1927-38 Conservative leader - replaced Meighen
Bennett had the most money - he was willing to contribute of his own money - from being a
lawyer and a business man - he was willing to spend it to get elected as leader of conservatives
and PM - he spent 250,000 to get elected
He was reviled for being stereotypical millionaire - like the monopoly man
He was a great big gluttonous man - he was huge - deliberately overate - to give himself the
dignity of flesh - physically imposing
As depression wore on - he was increasingly out of touch
But in 1930 - that expertise - he seemed like a person who could get country out of depression
He said he would end depression or die - dramatic promise to make
Bennett's response to the great depression
He didn’t know what to do
Thought govt job was to keep budget balanced
Before the era of Keynesian economics - of govt stimulus
He didn’t come from that school of thought - it didn’t exist
He worked hard all his life - 16 hour days - no family no life - he was workaholic
Didn’t have sympathy for people who couldn’t make it - he thought that they were not working
hard enough
Not entirely unwilling to come to their aid - Unemployment relief act 1930 - 20 million stimulus
Budget was 500 million for the yr - it was considerable expense - but it was just a drop in the
bucket
1932 - all the nations of the empire called to Ottawa - imperial conference - but he didn’t have any
new ideas
Just raise tariff rates - in that way you raise revenue for domestic economy - brought international
trade to a halt - Canada dependent on international trade
His idea - push British to make concessions - free trade in empire - but Bennett didn’t want to
lower Canadian tariffs - British became frustrated - little was accomplished
Bennett styled himself as a British imperialist
Little accomplished at conference
As time progressed - he became more active - Bank of Canada - control over currency - gave
govt tools for intervention
Prarie farm rehabilitation act - to help farmers keep their home even while in default - new farming
techniques - farmers most hard it of all Canadians
Prevailing sentiment - Bennett didn’t care - he was one man show - he was dictatorial
Bennett unwilling to take advice - no royal commission called
Conflict in the way he was - it was not that he was uncaring human being - people who were
desperate wrote to Bennett - pathetic letters - collected in a book
People had no where to turn - so he wrote them personally - he wrote back - he sent money
One woman said she was going to lose home - he spoke to the bank
Nobody knew about that at the time
But at the same time he lived in Chateau Laurier - he asked to be moved because he was
annoyed by the view of homeless people
Heart attack in 1934 - from strain
But he couldn’t come up with new solutions
Section 98 - criminal code - used It to suppress opposition to govt - intended to stamp out
communism - severe penalties for protest - 20 yrs for affiliation to organization that preached
violence ex - down with Bennett
He used it to squash communist opposition to communism - "iron heel of ruthlessness'
www.notesolution.com

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Description
Lecture 5 February-14-11 2:03 PM Canada and the Dirty Thirties 1929-39 This Wednesday 5-7 - The Atomic Caf Mostly miserable period to lecture about Period of stifling economic depression - colours everything else Progress in arts and sports - dionne quintuplets Mostly a dismal period Today - start with economic themes Causes and effects of great depression Oct 1929 - wall street crash Lasts from 1929-1939 Throughout the western world - especially N.America - economy never recovered Worse till 1933 - 30% unemployment in Canada Only marginally increased leading up to 1939 Causes - overproduction - based on optimistic outlooks - companies produced too much stock When depression hit - there was much less demand in the economy Companies producing so much stock shut down factories Now people out of work - even less purchasing power bc people are unemployed lack of purchasing power - people didnt have money to purchase things with international instability - ramifications for Canada - European economies did not recover from war - Britain, Frace, Germany Germany had reparations - had to get loans from US Britain and France depended on loan payments - US stopped payments in 1928 Both Canada and US dependent on international trade - led to collapse Dustbowl affect - freak incident - dry conditions - desertification of the west For people who lived off the land - people just couldnt live Effects - decline of Canadas GNP by 40% - should grow 1-5% per yr Imports down 55% - exports down 25%, 30% unemployment -rough figure 1.5 million canadians depended on govt relief - population was only 10 million Exports - were life blood of Canadian economy If you had employment - it was a good time - things were cheap - they lived well Some lived well while others were starving Official records - no one starved to death - but that is hard to believe -people died bc of illness due to malnutrition Unemployment - more and more workplaces shut down and thrown into the street - same in rural canada - western canada Fundamental problem with unemployed - no social assistance - time period before it was socially acceptable to take relief www.notesolution.com
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