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235 seats in the House of Commons
118 seats needed for a majority
The 1917 Canadian federal election (sometimes referred to as the khaki election) was held on December 17, 1917, to elect members of the House of Commons of Canada of the 13th Parliament of Canada. Described by historian Michael Bliss as the "most bitter election in Canadian history", it was fought mainly over the issue of conscription (see Conscription Crisis of 1917). The election resulted in Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden's Unionist government elected with a strong majority and the largest percentage of the popular vote for any party in Canadian history.
The previous election had been held in 1911 and was won by Borden's Conservatives. Normally, there is a constitutional requirement that Parliament last no longer than five years, which would have resulted in an election in 1916. However, citing the emergency of the Great War, the Parliament of Canada approved a one-year extension, which was implemented by the British Parliament.The Borden government hoped that the delay would allow the formation of a coalition government, as existed in Britain.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, head of the Liberal Party of Canada, refused to join the coalition over the issue of conscription, which was strongly opposed in the Liberal heartland of Quebec. Laurier worried that agreeing to Borden's coalition offer would cause that province to abandon the Liberals and perhaps even Canada. Borden proceeded to form a "Unionist" government, and the Liberal Party split over the issue. Many English Canadian Liberal MPs and provincial Liberal parties in English Canada supported the new Unionist government.
To ensure victory for conscription, Borden introduced two laws to skew the voting towards the government. The first, the Wartime Elections Act, disenfranchised conscientious objectors and Canadian citizens if they were born in enemy countries and had arrived after 1902. The law also gave female relatives of servicemen the vote. Thus, the 1917 election was the first federal election in which some women were allowed to vote. The other new law was the Military Voters Act, which allowed soldiers serving abroad to choose which riding their vote would be counted in or to allow the party for which they voted to select the riding in which the vote would be counted. That allowed government officials to guide the strongly pro-conscription soldiers into voting in those ridings where they would be more useful. Servicemen were given a ballot with the simple choice of "Government" or "Opposition".
Soon after these measures were passed, Borden convinced a faction of Liberals (using the name Liberal-Unionists) along with Gideon Decker Robertson, who was described as a "Labour" Senator (but was unaffiliated with any Labour Party) to join with them, forming the Unionist government in October 1917. He then dissolved parliament to seek a mandate in the election, which pitted "Government" candidates, running as the Unionist Party, against the anti-conscription faction of the Liberal Party, which ran under the name Laurier Liberals.
The divisive debate ended with the country divided on linguistic lines. The Liberals won 82 seats, 62 in Quebec, with many other seats won in provinces such as Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Ontario in ridings with significant French Canadian populations. The Unionists won 153 seats. The three Unionist won seats in Quebec were all in mainly English-speaking ridings. That led to the Francœur Motion in January 1918.
Out of 235 seats, 33 were won by acclamation—17 to the Laurier Liberals (all in Quebec) and 16 to the Unionists (all outside Quebec). Two of the Unionist acclamations were for the riding of Halifax, where the only candidates were two Unionists, and where, eleven days earlier, the tragic Halifax Explosion had taken place.
|Party||Party leader||# of|
|1911||Elected||% Change||#||%||pp Change|
|Government (Unionist)1||Robert Borden||211||132||153||+15.9%||1,070,694||56.93%||+8.38|
|Opposition (Laurier Liberals)1||Wilfrid Laurier||213||85||82||-3.5%||729,756||38.80%||-7.02|
|Sources: http://www.elections.ca -- History of Federal Ridings since 1867|
* Party did not nominate candidates in the previous election.
1 % change for Government compared to Conservative Party (including Liberal-Conservatives) in 1911 election, and for Opposition to Liberal Party.
|Popular Vote (%):||68.4||61.0||74.1||79.7||62.3||24.7||59.4||48.4||49.8||54.3||56.9|
|Parties that won no seats:|
|Independent Liberal||Vote (%):||0.8||0.5||0.4|
The Conscription Crisis of 1917 was a political and military crisis in Canada during World War I. It was mainly caused by disagreement on whether men should be conscripted to fight in the war, but also brought out many issues regarding relations between French Canadians and English Canadians. Almost all French Canadians opposed conscription; they felt that they had no particular loyalty to either Britain or France. Led by Henri Bourassa, they felt their only loyalty was to Canada. English Canadians supported the war effort as they felt stronger ties to the British Empire. On January 1, 1918, the Unionist government began to enforce the Military Service Act. The act caused 404,385 men to be liable for military service, from which 385,510 sought exemption.
The 1921 Canadian federal election was held on December 6, 1921, to elect members of the House of Commons of Canada of the 14th Parliament of Canada. The Union government that had governed Canada through the First World War was defeated, and replaced by a Liberal government under the young leader William Lyon Mackenzie King. A new third party, the Progressive Party, won the second most seats in the election.
The Conservative Party of Canada has gone by a variety of names over the years since Canadian Confederation. Initially known as the "Liberal-Conservative Party", it dropped "Liberal" from its name in 1873, although many of its candidates continued to use this name.
The Unionist Party was a centre-right historical political party in Canada, composed primarily of former members of the Conservative party with some individual Liberal Members of Parliament. It was formed in 1917 by MPs who supported the "Union government" formed by Sir Robert Borden during the First World War, formed the government through the final years of the war, and was a proponent of conscription. It was opposed by the remaining Liberal MPs, who sat as the official opposition.
Robert James Manion was a Canadian politician best known for leading the Conservative Party of Canada from 1938 until 1940.
Newton Wesley Rowell, was a Canadian lawyer and politician and leading lay figure in the Methodist church. Rowell led the Ontario Liberal Party from 1911 to 1917 and put forward a platform advocating temperance. Rowell's Liberals failed to oppose the Whitney government's passage of Regulation 17 which restricted the teaching of the French language in schools alienating the province's French-Canadian minority.
William Stevens Fielding, was a Canadian Liberal politician, the seventh Premier of Nova Scotia (1884–96), and the federal Minister of Finance 1896–1911 and 1921–25.
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The 12th Canadian Parliament was in session from 15 November 1911 until 6 October 1917. The membership was set by the 1911 federal election on 21 September 1911, and it changed only somewhat due to resignations and by-elections until it was dissolved prior to the 1917 election. At 5 years, 10 months and 22 days, it was the longest parliament in Canadian history. The parliament was extended beyond the normal limit of five years by the British North America Act, 1916 as a result of World War I.
William Andrew Charlton, was a Canadian lumber merchant, businessman and politician.
Frank Broadstreet Carvell, was a Canadian lawyer, businessman, and politician.
The Military Voters Act was a World War I piece of Canadian legislation passed in 1917, giving the right to vote to all Canadian soldiers. The Act was significant for swinging the newly enlarged military vote in the Union Party's favour, and in that it gave a large number of Canadian women the right to vote for the first time.
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The 1919 Liberal Party of Canada leadership election was the first leadership convention held by a federal political party in Canada. It was originally called by the Liberal leader, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, as a national policy convention with the intention of reinvigorating the Liberal Party after eight years of being in opposition. The convention was also intended to re-unite the party, which had split as a result of the Conscription Crisis of 1917. The party had divided into Laurier Liberals, who remained in opposition, and a Liberal–Unionist faction which joined the wartime Union government of Sir Robert Borden in support of conscription. Laurier's death on February 17, 1919 resulted in the meeting being reconfigured as a leadership convention. Previous party leaders in Canada had been chosen by the parliamentary caucus or the outgoing leader. However, the Liberal caucus no longer felt that it was representative of Canada's linguistic and religious diversity and that allowing the entire party to select the leader would result in a more representative choice.
This article is the Electoral history of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the seventh Prime Minister of Canada.
This article is the Electoral history of Robert Borden, the eighth Prime Minister of Canada (1911-1920).