1940 Canadian federal election

Last updated
1940 Canadian federal election
Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957).svg
  1935 March 26, 1940 1945  

245 seats in the House of Commons
123 seats needed for a majority
Turnout69.9% [1] (Decrease2.svg4.3pp)
 First partySecond party
  Wm Lyon Mackenzie King.jpg Robert Manion.jpg
Leader W. L. Mackenzie King Robert Manion
Party Liberal National Government
Leader since 1919 1938
Leader's seat Prince Albert London
candidate in Fort William (lost)
Last election17339
Seats won17939
Seat changeIncrease2.svg6Steady2.svg
Popular vote2,365,9791,348,260
SwingIncrease2.svg6.64pp Decrease2.svg0.60pp

 Third partyFourth party
  Photograph of William Duncan Herridge (d. 1961) (10613346053).jpg Ac.woodsworth.jpg
Leader William D. Herridge J. S. Woodsworth
Party New Democracy 2 Co-operative Commonwealth
Leader since19391932
Leader's seatRan in Kindersley (lost) Winnipeg North Centre
Last election177
Seats won108
Seat changeDecrease2.svg7Increase2.svg1
Popular vote119,354388,103
SwingDecrease2.svg1.51pp Decrease2.svg1.07pp

Canada 1940 Federal Election.svg

Chambre des Communes 1940.png
The Canadian parliament after the 1940 election

Prime Minister before election

William Lyon Mackenzie King

Prime Minister after election

William Lyon Mackenzie King

The 1940 Canadian federal election was held March 26, 1940, to elect members of the House of Commons of Canada of the 19th Parliament of Canada. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King's Liberal Party was re-elected to their second consecutive majority government.


The election was overshadowed by the Second World War, which caused many Canadians to rally around the government. In response to this, the Conservative Party of Robert Manion ran on a platform advocating the creation of an all-party national unity government and ran under the name "National Government" in this election. Though Manion was personally opposed to conscription, the Liberals faced intense pressure in Quebec on the question and promised not to institute the measure. This promise was to haunt the Liberals as they faced increasing pressure from the military and especially from English Canada to bring in the measure. To release him from his September 1939 promise, King called a plebiscite in 1942 on the question. See also Conscription Crisis of 1944. It was the most successful election for the Liberal Party in its history, in which it captured 73% of the seats in the House of Commons.

Social Credit ran jointly with the New Democracy movement of William Duncan Herridge.

Some candidates of the Conservative and Social Credit parties insisted on running under the traditional names, however.

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) gained its first seat east of Manitoba, with the election of Clarence Gillis from Cape Breton Island. This election was the last one for its ailing leader, J. S. Woodsworth.

Electoral system

Most of the MPs were elected as the single member for their district, through First past the post. Four MPs were elected in multi-member ridings. These were in Halifax and Queen's (PEI). They were elected through Block Voting.

National results

1940 Canadian parliament.svg
PartyParty leader# of
SeatsPopular vote
1935 Elected% Change#% pp Change
  Liberal W. L. Mackenzie King 242173179+2.3%2,365,97951.32%+6.64
  National Government 1 Robert Manion 199*36-1,348,26029.24%+0.57
  Conservative 1839353,7991.17%
  Co-operative Commonwealth J. S. Woodsworth 9378+14.3%388,1038.42%-1.07
Social Credit 2 J.H. Blackmore 9177-41.17%46,2711.00%-1.51
  New Democracy 2 W.D. Herridge 17*373,0831.59%
Liberal–Progressive  443-25.0%27,8150.60%-0.07
 Independent Liberal 3212+100%147,2163.19%+1.96
 Independent Conservative 511-10,4310.23%+0.21
  Unity  2*1*12,3370.27%*
  United Reform Movement  1*1*13,8680.30%*
 Independent National 2*-*12,7100.28%*
Communist Tim Buck 8---8,6990.19%-0.27
  Farmer-Labour  2*-*8,1260.18%*
 National Unity 1*-*7,5340.16%*
 NDP 3 2*-*6,7610.15%*
  United Farmers of Ont.-Labour  1---4,7610.10%-0.06
Labour  1---3,9160.08%-0.25
  United Progressive  1*-*2,7270.06%*
  National Liberal Progressive  1*-*2,4340.05%*
National Labour 1*-*2,3540.05%*
  Anti-Conscriptionist  1*-*6420.01%*
Canadian Labour 1*-*3980.01%*
  United Reform  1*-*2690.01%*
 Social Credit-National Unity 1*-*2410.01%*
Sources: http://www.elections.ca -- History of Federal Ridings since 1867 Archived 2008-12-04 at the Wayback Machine


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

x - less than 0.005% of the popular vote

1 "Change" and "% Change% figures compare total of "National Government" and "Conservative" to 1935 Conservative vote.

2 New Democracy and Social Credit ran jointly under the New Democracy banner under the leadership of former Conservative William Duncan Herridge who had founded New Democracy in 1939 to promote his ideas monetary and economic reform, though several candidates continued to run under the old Social Credit name. The 3 New Democracy MPs elected were all Social Credit incumbents, including Social Credit parliamentary leader John Horne Blackmore while Herridge himself failed to win his seat. The party sat in the House of Commons under the New Democracy name until 1944 when its national convention voted to revert to the Social Credit name.

3Two candidates appear to have run under the "New Democratic Party" banner. It is unlikely that this was related in any way to the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation's adoption of this name in 1960. This may be a mis-reporting of party label - these candidates may have been "New Democracy" candidates.

Results by province

Party name BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE YK Total
  Liberal Seats:107121356625104-179
 Popular Vote:37.437.943.043.550.364.454.650.455.346.451.3
  National Government Seats:4-2122-51-136
  Conservative Seats:  --3-    3
 Vote:    1.2
  Co-operative Commonwealth Seats:1-51---1  8
 Vote:28.413.027.519.  8.6
  Social Credit Seats: 7 -      7
 Vote: 16.5 0.6      1.0
  New Democracy Seats:-3-- -    3
 Vote: 0.9    1.6
  Liberal-Progressive Seats:   21     3
 Vote:   4.70.8     0.6
 Independent LiberalSeats:-   -2--  2
 Vote:xx  3.3
 IndependentSeats:1----- -  1
 Vote: 0.2  1.3
  United Reform Movement Seats:  1       1
 Vote:  3.7       0.3
  Unity Seats:  1       1
 Vote:  3.3       0.3
 Independent ConservativeSeats:     1    1
 Vote:     0.9    0.2
Total Seats161721178265101241245
Parties that won no seats:
 Independent Nat. Gov.Vote:0.1    1.1    0.3
Communist Vote:    0.2
 Farmer-Labour Vote:    0.5     0.2
 National UnityVote:  2.0       0.2
 NDP (?)Vote:1.6   xx     0.2
  UFO-Labour Vote:    0.3     0.1
 UnknownVote:  1.2 xx     0.1
Labour Vote:     0.3   0.1
  United Progressive Vote:  1.0       0.1
  National Liberal Progressive Vote:    0.2     0.1
National LabourVote:     0.2    0.1
  Anti-Conscriptionist Vote:     0.1    xx
Canadian LabourVote:    xx     xx
  United Reform Vote:  0.1       xx

See also

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