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Borden, Canada, and the First World War - 1911-1921

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University of Toronto St. George
Chris Pennington

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 Borden, Canada, and the First World War – 1911-1921 • Details of why it was fought isn’t remembered; not really fought for democracy Change of Government in 1911 • Resulted in Laurier’s defeat after 15 years – defeated by “unholy alliance” between Borden and Bourassa, who both opposed Laurier for different reasons o English – thought Laurier wasn’t British enough o French – thought Laurier was doing too much for the British o Laurier was pushed into opposition • Borden – o thought that you should give back through public service when you’re successful o lost elections of 1904 and 1908 o was the leader o the Conservative Party from 1901-1920 and PM of Canada from 1911-1920 o In foreign policy, he was a Canadian nationalist and a British imperialist, he supported the empire but was willing to assert Canadian rights Borden’s Diplomacy 1911-1914 • Borden was elected on part of Laurier’s mishandling the naval crisis • At the time, there was no person in the department of external affairs who advised the PM; it was thought of as a post office – it kept track of foreign correspondence • Loring Christie – wanted to serve Canada and became the legal advisor to Borden from the DEA – he advocated the unity of the British empire and imperial foundation; was the first figure in the DEA who played a political role • For Borden, relations took a turn for the better with the election of Woodrow Wilson; he became PM at a time when US relations was getting better • 1913 – Wilson passed the Underwood Tariff – reductions on tariffs on products coming into the US, which was good for Canada; it was though to be in the best interest of the US, which was also good for Canada because the economy was slowing down • 1914 – celebrated as the “Peace Year” – the anniversary of the end of the War of 1812; Canadians and America saw peace, harmony, and friendship – hailed to the rest of the world as an example of how two countries can get passed their differences • With Britain – Borden promised to do more than Laurier; he initially approved of Laurier’s navy proposal but because the party didn’t support it, he opposed it. There was now more pressure on Borden to deliver; he met with Churchill who impressed the thought that Britain needed dreadnoughts and Borden was convinced this was the most valuable contribution to Britain and ended up enacted the Naval Aid Bill – 1912-1913 – would give Britain $35 million for the construction of 3 dreadnoughts to go to British service – it was a purely British policy, even though it was Canadian money o English Canada was mixed but thought favourably of this because it was what British needed o In Quebec, it was a tough sell – Borden didn’t set the foundation of support there and Laurier was defeated because of support for Bourassa, who completely opposed – they opposed giving Britain the money directly and thoug
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