Canada Recent History

At the time of the creation of the “Dominion”, the conservative party was in charge of government which then had to yield, in 1896, to the liberal party.

With the 1911 elections, following incorrect political and commercial operations, its leader Sir Wilfrid Laurier, known to all as “Canada’s Grand Old Man”, the conservatives returned to power headed by Mr. Robert Borden, despite being the Senate with a liberal majority.

According to Abbreviationfinder, at the outbreak of World War I, Canada joined its British forces, which fought on several fronts on French soil with the loss of around 65,000 soldiers. Although there was, in this mournful circumstance, the strength of the Canadian conscience amply demonstrated, it also began a secessionist period in the territory, with provinces in which an attachment to France emerged and others more sensitive to England. So when compulsory conscription was adopted in May 1917, there were people’s uprisings in Quebec which in 1918 even went so far as to propose a secession.

But fortunately this did not happen. Indeed, when the Peace Conference was held in Versailles in 1919, Canada attended as an autonomous nation. In 1920, a Canadian Minister was appointed to Washington to deal with Canadian affairs in the United States. He attended the International Conference on Disarmament in 1921. The Canadian state had its own autonomous army: the “Canadians Corps”, its navy, the “Royal Canadian Navy” and its air force, the “Royal Canadian Air Force”, which with January 1, 1923, all became dependent on a Canadian ministry, that of “National Defense”.

Within the state there were the first changes in the formation of new parties. One was formed immediately, that of farmers, who called himself “progressive” and who proposed the establishment of an absolute free trade. With the death of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in February 1919, the liberal party passed under the command of Mr William Lyon Mackenzie King, who in the 1921 elections obtained 117 seats against only 51 of the conservatives, who however maintained the majority in the Senate.

Canada Recent History

The four years that followed were difficult especially for the various economic interests that the progressives did not consider satisfying. All this still contributed, and in a decisive way, to the change in politics and to the elections of 1925, the conservatives obtained the majority and in June 1926 Mr Meighen took office. However, he was placed in the minority in the House and therefore the elections had to be repeated in 1926, which completely overturned the result by reassigning the government to the liberals, and therefore to King.

The most important point of King’s program was to grant large tax breaks to British goods. But this was not the same thing as the conservatives, who meanwhile had another leader, Richard Bedford Bennet, who in 1927 had replaced Meighen.

They claimed to receive adequate counterparts from Great Britain and this they supported in the new elections of July 28, 1930:
they won and brought them to the Bennet government.

The economic crisis of 1929/33 was most felt in Canada precisely because of its production systems. In fact, despite the vastness of the cultivated lands, however, a monoculture system was followed, that is, in some areas, even of very large size, only one product was grown. And so while in the western part only wheat was grown, in most of the northern and central areas only wood pulp was produced, suitable for the manufacture of paper. By failing the production of other products, Canada found itself facing not only the lack of requests for its products but also the very high costs of its imports. And if the future of the country did not suffer tragic repercussions, it was only for the advantageous agreements agreed with Britain in 1931 and for a commercial treaty with the US

In 1935 the liberals won the election and King returned to the government. The economic difficulties were soon overcome; in the years before the 2nd World War there was a strong demographic and economic increase, so Canada started to be a world power.

In the international arena he made all his strength felt by going down to war next to the two mother lands, French and English, giving a considerable boost to the Allied successes.

In the domestic field he saw the increase in industrial productivity having to supply the armed forces and satisfy market demands. Between 1939 and 1944, exports quadrupled. But not with the US, towards which imports were ever greater, so much so that in late 1947 and early 1948, when there was a serious shortage of dollars, the government had to intervene to precisely reduce imports.

After the war, Canada had some problems: firstly because of the repatriation of about half a million soldiers overseas and secondly because of their reintegration into production activities. However everything was conducted in order, there were no excessive difficulties.

Then, together with the rapid population growth, there was also a remarkable prestige of Canada which came to be the most important state in the mediation between the US and the European states. Another important step in the definitive autonomy of the country was that which led to the cancellation from the passports of the wording “British citizen”, replaced by “Canadian citizen”.
Political and military solidarity with the US found its completion with the “Defense of the Canadian Arctic” program which, having become exceptionally important for the evolution of the air strategy, evidently Canada could not have defended alone in case of attacks by Soviet side.

In terms of increased importance in the American continent, the annexation to Canada of the populations of
Labrador and Newfoundland was counted, requested with a regular referendum on July 22, 1948 and proclaimed on April 1, 1949.

On June 27, 1949 the liberals won the elections for particular merits of their leader Louis Stephen Saint Laurent, who reaffirmed the close ties with the Commonwealth and the US, as the fundamental basis of all Canadian foreign policy.

Precise agreements were immediately established for the defense of the North American continent, further guaranteed then by the “Atlantic Pact” on April 4, 1949.

Saint Laurent was re-elected in 1953 and in August 1954 he started work on the canalization of the San Lorenzo river, to allow ocean vessels to access the Great Lakes. These works were completed at the end of 1959.

In 1955 Canada disagreed with the US. for the recognition of Formosa, being more inclined instead to that of communist China. In this circumstance Saint Laurent declared that Canada would not take the field alongside the US in case of conflict.

The most important and unexpected event of 1957 was the victory of the elections, after 22 years, of the formation of a conservative-progressive government led by John Diefenbaker, who, not looking favorably on the preponderance of the US economy in several Canadian sectors, he wanted to downsize what was the disposal of the American “surplus” by assuming hostile attitudes that in 1959 brought a certain tension between the two states, fortunately however smoothed out by the common interests in the Atlantic Pact.

The political landscape of the sixties was not calm for Canada which saw unemployment rise and suffered an industrial recession. Diefenbaker was worried about joining the EEC (European Economic Community) of Great Britain, an essential trading partner of Canada. But already in 1961 the crisis seemed overcome.

In 1963 Diefenbaker suffered electoral defeat and Pearson was elected to immediately face the serious problem of French-speaking Quebec separatists. At that time there were scandals and heated political conflicts for which Pearson was forced to leave the power that was taken over by Diefenbaker.

Liberals worked hard on social legislation, banking policy, the regulation of constituencies and did not fail to criticize the US on the subject of Vietnam.

Then in 1967 there was the Universal Exposition in Montreal, to celebrate the centenary of the Canadian Confederation, in which 70 nations participated. In the same year, a visit by General De Gaulle to Quebec brought up the theme of separatism. In 1968, with the coming to power of Trudeau, Quebec was able to take advantage of a new policy aimed at healing the divergences with the central power through the enjoyment of wider autonomous measures.

But Trudeau had to overcome several other economic and political obstacles and finally the elections of 1972 and 1974 managed to give him the necessary majority to carry out his reform policy and his fight against inflation and unemployment, while managing to increase both production and exports. It also regulated foreign investment, followed a more equitable conduct in the field of oil and taxation and launched numerous plans for economic development. Throughout the 1970s the Canadian political scene was centered on the issue of Quebec and bilingualism, which became mandatory in all federal acts. Quebec, however, on its own in 1977 passed a law establishing the compulsory use of the French language for all,

In June 1984 Trudeau resigned and the conservatives, led by B. Mulroney, returned to the government. His first act was the Meach Lake agreement of April 30, 1987, which entered into a pact between Ottawa, the capital, and the other provinces, leaving Quebec with the status of a “separate company”.

This was not signed by three provinces: New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Manitoba, and then it all started again, including the separatism of Quebec.

In the seventies and eighties Canada suffered the same difficulties that the whole western world had; the doubling of the population, also due to immigration from Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia; two oil crises, unemployment, inflation and exaggerated price increases.

The energy plan, already promoted by Trudeau, had little success and the grandiose public works, desired by the provinces, such as the James Bay of Quebec hydroelectric basin, have so far recorded very high costs without, however, the return of some fruit.

Thus, between the difficult economic situation and the Quebec issue, the Canadian federal governments of the 1990s were faced with many socio-political-cultural difficulties.

Following the failure of the Meach Lake agreement, in August 1992 in Charlottetown Mulroney, together with the prime ministers of the ten Canadian provinces, they elaborated a new constitutional reform plan.

These reforms intended to grant greater autonomy to the provinces, especially in the cultural field; the natives were recognized as having the right to self-government, and finally Quebec was given the right to a quarter of the seats in the Federal Lower House and a third of the judges in the Canadian Supreme Court, mostly Anglophone. This proposed reform was submitted to a popular referendum in 1992 and was inexorably rejected with 54.4% of the vote.

Mulroney saw more and more consensus to his government but the reasons were also other. The main one was certainly the economic recession that had brought unemployment to very high levels; then the application of some taxes on goods and services and also a planned establishment of a free trade area, together with Mexico and the United States, as the Canadian people saw in this a need to undergo a mainly American economic and cultural model.

In June 1993 Mulroney then resigned from both the party’s and the executive’s lead positions. Pending the general elections, which would take place in October, the government was entrusted to K. Campbell.

These elections were won by the Liberal Party, led by J. Chretien, who had developed his election campaign mainly by offering cheap accommodation, with a promise of public works and cuts in military spending.

But the most important fact that emerged from these elections was the great affirmation of Bloc Quebeçois who, which arose in 1990, thus became the official opposition party.

And the Quebec issue continued to occupy Canadian politics and in 1994 the Bloc Quebeçois leader, J. Parizeau, after winning the provincial elections, proposed a popular referendum with the topic: secession.

Three main elements made possible a possible victory for the secessionists. First: the Federal Constitution did not unilaterally declare the sovereignty of a province. Second: uncertain, to say the least, would have been the role assumed by the neo-state in international organizations and in relations with the other English-speaking Canadian provinces which, certainly, did not intend to make concessions to the secessionists. Third: the number of English and native elements was far superior and, for sure, it could have claimed for itself the same right to recognition that Quebec required at that time.

On October 30 of the same year the referendum took place and the secessionists were defeated. Parizeau resigned from both positions he held, which were taken on by L. Bouchard, leader and founder of Bloc Quebeçois.

In 1996 the Canadian federal government made every effort to restore the economy and furthermore, in the context of constitutional reforms, it moved towards a policy of prohibition for Quebec to unilaterally proclaim the secession.

As far as foreign policy was concerned, in 1996 the government, supported by Mexico, opposed the provisions of the Helms-Burton law with which the United States claimed to prevent Canadian companies from investing their capital in Cuba on nationalized assets. from Castro.

On June 2, 1997 with the new federal elections the liberals of Chretien maintained the majority and the Bloc Quebeçois recorded a sharp decline. In the same year, the Canadian federal government made a change to the internal borders between the provinces, creating a new state, the “Nunavut”, until then part of the Yukon.

The area, inhabited by the population of the “Inuit”, had already undergone a radical transformation since the sixties with the advent of the extractive industries of both gas and oil.

With this division from the industrial territory the “Inuit” natives could return to their customs and thus reconcile their needs with their traditional economy.