1930 Canadian federal election

Last updated
1930 Canadian federal election
Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg
  1926 July 28, 1930 1935  

245 seats in the House of Commons
123 seats needed for a majority
Turnout73.5% [1] (Increase2.svg5.8pp)
 First partySecond party
  Richard Bedford Bennett.jpg King1926.jpg
Leader R. B. Bennett W. L. Mackenzie King
Party Conservative Liberal
Leader since 1927 1919
Leader's seat Calgary West Prince Albert
Last election91116
Seats won13589
Seat changeIncrease2.svg44Decrease2.svg27
Popular vote1,863,1151,716,798
SwingIncrease2.svg3.08pp Increase2.svg1.29pp

 Third partyFourth party
Party United Farmers of Alberta Progressive
Last election1111
Seats won93
Seat changeDecrease2.svg2Decrease2.svg8
Popular vote56,96870,822
SwingDecrease2.svg0.55pp Decrease2.svg2.41pp

Canada 1930 Federal Election.svg

Prime Minister before election

William Lyon Mackenzie King

Prime Minister after election

R. B. Bennett

The 1930 Canadian federal election was held on July 28, 1930, to elect members of the House of Commons of Canada of the 17th Parliament of Canada. Richard Bedford Bennett's Conservative Party won a majority government, defeating the Liberal Party led by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.



The first signs of the Great Depression were clearly evident by the 1930 election, and Conservative party leader Richard Bennett campaigned on a platform of aggressive measures in order to combat it.

Part of the reason for Bennett's success lay in the Liberals' own handling of the rising unemployment of 1930. Touting the Liberal formula as the reason for the economic prosperity of the 1920s, for example, left the Liberals carrying much of the responsibility, whether deserved or not, for the consequences of the crash of the American stock market.

Liberal election poster in French, showing King forging a chain link. WLMK hammer and tongs Votez Liberal poster 1930.jpg
Liberal election poster in French, showing King forging a chain link.

King was apparently oblivious to the rising unemployment that greeted the 1930s, and continued to laud his government's hand in Canada's prosperity. Demands for aid were met with accusations of being the part of a great "Tory conspiracy," which led King to make his famous "five-cent piece" outburst, alienating a growing number of voters. In retrospect, one can understand King's reasoning. Both the Western mayors and provincial Premiers who had visited King with requests of relief were overwhelmingly Conservative: in the Premiers' case, seven out of nine. King concluded in Parliamentary debates that though aid was a provincial jurisdiction, the fact that he believed there to be no unemployment problem meant that the requests from the provinces appeared to be nothing more than political grandstanding. The Federal Conservatives had certainly exaggerated the Depression in its early stages solely to attack King's government.

Several other factors entered into King's defeat. Although obtaining funds from sometimes dubious sources was not a problem, the Liberal election machine was not as efficient as it once was, primarily due to the cause of the age and poor health of many chief strategists. King's campaign was the epitome of Murphy's law: every campaign stop appeared to meet the Prime Minister with some kind of mishap.

By contrast, Bennett's Conservatives were electric. The self-made man who led them had practically rebuilt his party (a significant part of it with his own funds) and developed an election machine which could rival the Liberals'. Aside from superior party organization, the Tories used it. They bought out newspapers in key areas (notably the Liberal strongholds of the West, and Quebec) and ensured that pro-Tory slants were kept. In the first election where radio played an important role, Bennett's vibrant, zealous voice was extremely preferable to King's. (The Tory machine, of course, ensured that only the best radio spots were available to Bennett.)

Also, Bennett's tariff policy, epitomized by his infamous promise to "blast" Canada's way into world markets, was extremely well received in the key Liberal strongholds of the West and Quebec. In the West, agricultural production had been hurt by worldwide overproduction, and certain agricultural groups in Quebec firmly endorsed Bennett's tariff policy. Bennett's Conservatives won much of the former Progressive and Farmers' vote in the West, and they were elected with 44% of the popular vote in Quebec as a protest vote.

All those factors led to Bennett's eventual election.

Canadian voters agreed with Bennett and the Conservatives were elected with a majority of 135 seats in the House Of Commons. The incumbent Liberals under William Lyon Mackenzie King became the official opposition after being reduced to 89, with the Progressives taking only 3.

Unfortunately for Bennett and the Conservatives, the Depression brought complex problems to politicians and extreme hardship for most Canadians. Bennett and the Conservatives lost the 1935 election to the Liberals under the previous Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

The Canadian parliament after the 1930 election Chambre des Communes 1930.png
The Canadian parliament after the 1930 election

National results

PartyParty leader# of
SeatsPopular vote
1926 Elected% Change#% pp Change
  Conservative R. B. Bennett 22991135+69.6%1,863,11547.79%+3.07
  Liberal W. L. Mackenzie King 22611689-21.1%1,716,79844.03%+1.29
United Farmers of Alberta  10119-18.2%56,9681.46%-0.55
Progressive  15113-72.7%70,8221.82%-2.41
Liberal–Progressive  883-62.5%44,8221.15%-0.94
Labour J.S. Woodsworth 842-50.0%26,5480.68%-0.95
  Progressive-Conservative  2-1 15,9960.41%+0.1
 Independent Labour 2*1*15,9880.41%*
 Independent Liberal81--100%14,4260.37%-0.25
  Farmer  5*-*11,9990.31%*
 Independent Conservative6---10,3600.27%-0.07
  Liberal-Labour  1---7,1950.18%+0.05
Communist Tim Buck 6*-*4,5570.12%*
  Labour-Farmer  2---3,2760.08%+0.04
 Liberal-Protectionist  1*-*2,7230.07%*
  Farmer-Labour  1*-*2,0910.05%*
 Independent Progressive 1*-*1,2940.03%*
  Franc Lib  1*-*4290.01%*
  Prohibitionist  1*-*2660.01%*
Sources: http://www.elections.ca -- History of Federal Ridings since 1867


* The party did not nominate candidates in the previous election.

Vote and seat summaries

Popular vote
United Farmers
Seat totals
United Farmers

Results by province

Party name BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE YK Total
  Conservative Seats:747105924101031135
 Popular vote (%):49.3%35.0%33.6%44.1%53.9%43.7%59.3%52.5%50.0%60.3%47.8%
  Liberal Seats:531212240141-89
  UF Alberta Seats: 9        9
 Vote: 28.4%        1.5%
  Progressive Seats: -2-1     3
 Vote: 1.9%8.1%6.4%1.8%     1.8%
  Liberal-Progressive Seats:  -3      3
 Vote:  2.1%16.2%      1.2%
  Labour Seats: - 2-     2
 Vote: 3.0 8.40.1     0.7
 IndependentSeats:1 - -1    2
 Vote:2.6 3.5 0.10.3    0.6
  Progressive-Conservative Seats:   1 -    1
 Vote:  2.7 1.0    0.4
 Independent Labour Seats:1  -      1
 Vote:6.5  0.1      0.4
Total Seats141621178265111441245
Parties that won no seats:
 Independent LiberalVote:   0.4 1.3    0.4
  Farmer Vote:  3.6       0.3
 Independent ConservativeVote:     
 UnknownVote:   0.5     0.2
  Liberal-Labour Vote:    0.5     0.2
Communist Vote:0.4  0.90.1     0.1
  Labour-FarmerVote : 0.6        0.1
  Liberal-Protectionist Vote:     0.3    0.1
 Farmer-Labour Vote:  0.6       0.1
 Independent Progressive Vote:     0.1    xx
  Franc Lib Vote:0.2         xx
  Prohibitionist Vote:0.1         xx

See also

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  1. "Voter Turnout at Federal Elections and Referendums". Elections Canada. Retrieved 10 March 2019.