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the two twenties

Course Code
Mc Kim/ Penfold

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The Two Twenties
I. The Elusive Twenties
The image of the 20’s is very optimistic. Referred to as the “roaring twenties.”
This is part of the 1920’s (fashion, cars, etc emerging), but there is another 1920’s
of unrest, instability, uncertainty, and pessimism.
Two pictures: optimistic, and pessimistic
II. The Search for Political Stability: first minority government in Canadian history
Progressiveness: represents farmers
William Lyon Mackenzie King (Liberal Prime Minister: 1921-6, 1926-30, 1935-
48): faces difficulties, as he is the first who doesn’t have majority (cannot pass
any legislation he wants). He is also facing a challenge from the east: Maritime
Rights Movement (1919). This is a cohilition of many different social groups
(labour, professionals, business, farmers). It is the business interest that really lead
this movement.
MRM flow from the declining economic and political power/important of
Maritime province. The population was growing more slowly, so their political
influence was declining, as they didn’t have a large population for voting.
Economy was beginning to decline relative to the rest of the country - tied
grievances with regional identity. They, articulating these grievances with a sense
of emerging patriotism. Argued for high tariffs and better railways to encourage
trade. But they didn’t argue this for economic reasons, but argued because it was a
basis of east west economy, that ran from the Atlantic the Pacific. They ought to
reflect that confederation bargain. Essentially an intellectual idea of what
confederation meant: that all should be joined together in the east west
MRM worked within existing party structure. Focusing initially on the liberal
party by 1925 they switched to the conservatives. This means that in 1921 king is
in a particular pickle. On his western front the progressives have broken apart
from the system. In order to govern, he needs support from those who want higher
tariffs, and those who want lower tariffs.
Solution was to ignore MRM and focus on progressives with minor lowering of
tariffs. Effect of strategy is to continue instability. Problem is that the liberals or
conservatives are unable to put together a stable government. In 1926 there is
stability as liberals win majority
III. The Assault on Prohibition: want laws extended after the war. Relatively successful
in their campaign. Most provinces extend prohibition laws. Seems as though the
prohibition movement is at the height of its power.
Under the dry regime, the weakness of prohibition are emerging. 2 basic problems
that become apparent in the 20’s: 1. Enforcing prohibition is a complete
nightmare (alcohol is still available despite prohibition because provinces and
enacted prohibition. Provinces can only prohibit establishments, but they can’t
prevent it from coming across boarders and production. Export goes to U.S. or
gets diverted into a complex underground smuggling industry/ this distributes
massive amounts of alcohol to consumers)
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