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Summer 2011

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Monday, June 6, 2011
Prof. C. Pennington
Borden, Canada, and the First World War
period in question is the period of Conservative politics in Canada
1914-18 WWI
there is no reassurance that WWI was worth it
it was a traditional clash of empires
who were making decisions about expanding their empires
Canada participated b/c it was a colony of Britain
not any more noble - still an empire suppressing and exploiting others
any notion that it was fought for democracy is false
what was it all for? what was achieved?
country rises to world stage
Canadian soldiers fight & have significant victories in battle field
Sir Robert Borden (1854-1937)
Intelligent, plodding NS lawyer
defeated Laurier in 1911
MacDonald and Laurier were different superficially
style and oratory skill - Laurier had them
both pure politicians: they lived for the struggle
enjoyed all aspects of management
Border did not like politics: it was not his nature
a lawyer by trade - one of the best; wealthy and prominent
went into politics as public duty: to give back since he was lucky in life
did not inspire: competent but did not seem to have much flare/charisma like those before him
was thought to be a handsome and athletic figure
was imposing
Conservative party leader, 1901-20
party was not regarded as top notch people
Prime Minister of Canada 1911-20
Bordens view of the Empire
Nationalist and Imperialist
Laurier would praise empire as long as Canadians could be autonomous and participate only in affairs of its
choosing and in the capacity they see fit
“call us to your councils”
Laurier said this to really mean don’t call us...
Borden was willing to go further than Laurier
he thought of himself as a British subject
believed in great civilizing project of the empire: to bring British civility and democracy to the world
he wanted to be in the British council making decisions
Loring Christie

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1st significant Foreign Policy councilor
came to Canada & worked for newly created department of Foreign Affairs
Borden came to trust him - also an imperialist
this was a person “whispering in Bordens ears”
Bordens diplomacy 1911-14
Relations w/the US
continued to improve
Bryce successfully negotiated treaties to dissolve problems w/ Canadians and Americans
1911: Borden used a lot of rhetoric but was forgiven by the US later
Wilson believed in lowering tariffs
Underwood Tariff 1913
reduced tariffs on goods coming in from Canadians and others
could trade freely while maintaining our own national policy
good for Canadian trade although economy was moving into a recession period
Peace Year’ 1914
100 year anniversary of War of 1812
Canadians celebrated
Relations with British
visit to London 1912
The Navy Issue
revolved around battleship construction
Lauriers proposal was to create a Canadian navy vs contributing money to the British for their fleet
not a good idea for Laurier - he lost the next election over the issue
The Canadian navy was considered aTin Pot Navy - too small a fleet; not enough power
Borden met w/churchill in Britain
Churchill emphasized the need for the British fleet to be built
Seeking a voice 1914-17
annoyance w/Britain
Borden became increasingly frustrated as could not get info from the British
did not know any more about military strategy and the wars long term goals than regular Canadians did - ho
got his news from the media
the same just voice” - basically Borden wanted all the colonies to have a say in the war effort
Naval aid bill 1912-13
to send $35M directly to pay for Three Dreadnought battleship fleet
short answer q on midterm - ID the right fleet
opposed by Liberals and Bourassa nationalists
Monk resigned in protest over bill going thorough
even though the bill was able to get through it was later defeated in the senate
Borden let it die since he was not willing to risk an election
IMP Canada was able to achieve nothing in navy defense
1914: there was no ‘tin pot navy’ and no contribution
the only navy Canada had were a pair of ships: one in the west coastThe Rainbow and 1 in the east
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