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Lecture

Summer 2011


Department
History
Course Code
HIS102Y1
Professor
C.Pennington

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Monday, June 13, 2011
HIS311Y1
Prof. C. Pennington
Mackenzie King and ‘No Commitments
1921 - 1929
Canada joined the League of Nations but was not enthusiastic for the possibility of war entanglement later due to
Article X
Canada did very well for itself at the conference
Canada signed the Treaty on its own
historians agree that if any country gained anything it was the Dominions: they rose in international standing
Borden didn’t make it through: he had to go back home and deal w/domestic matters
difficulty of diplomacy at the time was that you had to be physically present and away form your duties if you
were to be heard
Bordens Legacy
the month after he resigned
became ill due to the stress of WWI
did not like politics and did not want to stand in the way of the party so it was an easy decision
successful Canadian contribution to victory in WWI
this increased international standing for Canada
however what the status was exactly was still undefined at Bordens leave in 1920
Borden said Canada isa nation but not a nation” i.e. Canada could make its own decisions only within the
allowance of the British empire
Bordens mixed legacy:
although he brought canada more into the world stage exactly what the contribution was is unclear
he also caused severe damage to national unity
for Borden winning the war trumped everything else: he chose winning the war over the needs of the
people
Conservative party was severely affected by his conscription decision: did not recover in Quebec until
Mulroney days
International Relations in 1920s
people were recovering from the war
Belgium and France were the most affected: there was a lot of physical devastation w/economic consequences
i.e. destroyed railway systems; damaged/destroyed structures, etc.
human devastations: millions killed
the League of Nations
was supposed to represent the new diplomacy
Balance of Power way (where war was a need) was to be replaced
league was crippled by some participants:
Germany (not allowed to join until later)
also the USSR was not allowed - because they were Communists
US never joined - probably the most crippling blow
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there were sanctions on Germans to limit military forces and make restitution efforts
French were given guarantee by the British that if the Germans did not comply the US would join the
effort
US senate saw little gain and a lot of cost in joining
main question: who might the US be called upon to defend b/c of The League?
US participated in international relations on its own terms: when it wanted to; could not be relied on
the issue of German reparations
clause that made the Germans responsible for the whole war
set the way for reparations - cost the German economy greatly
Germans did not raise taxes during the war b/c they assumed they would win
Weimar Republic: put to rest by Nazis
issue had the most significance in the agreement: it was made to humiliate Germany
Germanys collapse
due to reparations
survived on loans made by the US
they were called into a Conference in 1925 to try and settle on agreed European borders
thespirit of Locarno”
i.e. a sense of good will creeping back into the international world
still a time of bad memories though for all involved
Arthur Meighens Foreign Policy 1920-21
Meighen was a cabinet member in the previous parliament
Thomas White - Minister of Finance - refused Bordens offer to be the next Prime Minister thus the title fell to
Meighen
he was the ‘attack dog’ relied on to savage the Liberals with his oratory skills
very little nuance w/him - thought to be one of the most effective orators of his time
Meighens problem: he was narrow minded; extremely partisan: would support Conservatives and refuse
Liberals vehemently
in Bordens view you had to have imagination and compromise to be a successful leader which he thought
Meighen lacked
Borden recognized that Meighen would come across as too narrow minded and mean spirited for Canadians
Meighen was closely associated w/the Conscription Bill that divided the country: he wrote it
the British knew him as well and were not happy about his succession
he was not such a good friend to the British
was Prime Minister for about 18 months total
Anglo-Japanese Naval Accord of 1902
was the only major foreign policy issue Meighen dealt with during his term
significance: prior to WWI Japan was a neutral power and British decided to sign a treaty of naval power with
them
after German colonies in the Pacific were absorbed by Japan there was no one for the British to fight in the
Pacific
the US which had colonial possessions such as the Philippines could become a possible British enemy thus
this would leave Canada vulnerable to American attack in the instance of a war
if Britain renewed the Accord it would cement relations w/Japan (great decision for vulnerable Australia and
New Zealand)
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Britain would be dragged into a war if Japan and US started a war because of its alliance w/Japan
1920-21: Meighen campaigned against the Accord
IMP: Canada was ensuring that Britain had positive relations w/the US (in Canadian terms it would leave
Canada vulnerable to US attack)
Meighens position: under no circumstances could Canada accept this
Imperial Conference of 1921
Meighen gave Britain an ultimatum to drop the Accord - if not Canada would not accept the decision
IMP: it showed Canadas independence to make foreign policy decisions on its own
also not good diplomacy as it was a forceful and demanding way to approach the issue
Washington conference: Britain did not sign the accord with the Japanese, instead side stepped around the
issue so as not to anger the Japanese
the way Meighen dictated to British: tactic that did not go very well
Election of 1921
Meighen principles - platform theme
according to him the ultimate sin in politics was lack of principals
taking a principal position is dangerous as country is very diverse
he thought that even if they don’t agree w/the candidate and his views, Canadians would respect you and vote
for you
Conservatives did not win a single seat in Quebec
Liberals won - King
Mackenzie Kings incomprehensibility
King rhetoric was quantitative but he did not say a thing (he could speak for an hour and people would forget
what he had said)
he also gave each province the promise they wanted to hear (a world where political statements were not
scrutinized in real time)
Liberals 117
Progressives 65 (party of farmers from Saskatchewan)
Conservatives
IMP: it was the 1st minority in Canadian politics (Liberals in power were in peril - as they depended on the power
of balance to govern)
William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950)
Born in Berlin ON (Kitchener)
Lawyer and labour negotiator
also obtained PhD from Harvard (only PM to hold one)
at the time the PhD was seen as great credential
studied at U of T and overseas
made his mark as one of the premier labour negotiators of the time - it was an emerging field - in the ability
to resolve problems between labour and capital
he thought that any problem could be resolved through patience and empathy of the other side
he was not afraid to allow all Prime Ministers to voice their opinion
first joined public service as Minister of Labour
King lost his seat often during his political career
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