|Canadian political party|
|Leader|| Robert Borden,|
|Founded||October 10, 1917|
|Preceded by|| Conservative Party |
|Merged into||Conservative Party|
|Ideology|| British imperialism |
|Political position||Centre to centre-right|
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.
The Unionist Party continued to exist until 1922, at which time the Conservative elements re-formed the Conservative party.
In May 1917, Conservative Prime Minister Borden proposed the formation of a national unity government or coalition government to Liberal leader Sir Wilfrid Laurier in order to enact conscription, and to govern for the remainder of the war. Laurier rejected this proposal because of the opposition of his Quebec MPs, and fears that Quebec nationalist leader Henri Bourassa would be able to exploit the situation. Public opinion in Quebec was heavily against conscription, influencing the Liberal opposition to it due to the large number of Liberal MPs from Quebec.
As an alternative to a coalition with Laurier, on October 12, 1917, Borden formed the Union government with a Cabinet of twelve Conservatives, nine Liberals and Independents and one "Labour" member. To represent "labour" and the working class, Borden appointed to the Cabinet Conservative Senator Gideon Decker Robertson who had been appointed to the Senate in January and had links with the conservative wing of the labour movement through his profession as a telegrapher. Robertson, however, was a Tory and not a member of any Labour or socialist party.
Borden then called an election for December 1917 on the issue of conscription (see also Conscription Crisis of 1917), running as head of the "Unionist Party" composed of Borden's Conservatives, independent MPs, and members of the Liberals who left Laurier's caucus to support conscription.
Supporters of the Borden government ran for parliament as "Unionists", while some of the Liberals running as government supporters preferred to call themselves "Liberal-Unionist". Prime Minister Borden pledged himself during the 1917 campaign to equal suffrage for women. He introduced a bill in 1918 for extending the franchise to women; it passed without division.
This tactic split the Liberal Party: those who did not join the Unionist Party ran as Laurier Liberals. The election resulted in a landslide election victory for Borden.
Borden attempted to continue the Unionist Party after the war and when Arthur Meighen succeeded him in 1920, he renamed it the "National Liberal and Conservative Party" in the hope of making the coalition permanent. The Unionists had never been officially a single party, and therefore lacked the structure of an official party and Meighen hoped to change this.
In the 1921 general election, most of the Liberal-Unionist MPs did not join this party, and ran as Liberals under the leadership of its new leader, William Lyon Mackenzie King. Only a handful ran again as Liberal-Unionists or joined Meighen's renamed party. Prominent Liberal-Unionists who stayed with the Conservatives include Hugh Guthrie and Robert Manion.
Following the defeat of Meighen's government, the "National Liberal and Conservative Party" changed its name to the "Liberal-Conservative Party of Canada", although it was commonly known as the "Conservative Party".
During World War II, the Conservatives attempted to oppose the Liberal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King in the 1940 election by proposing a "national government" along the lines of the previous war's Unionist government. Accordingly, they ran in the election under the name National Government party, but did not repeat the success of the Unionist party and failed to form government.
The Progressive Party of Canada was a federal-level political party in Canada in the 1920s until 1930. It was linked with the provincial United Farmers parties in several provinces, and it spawned the Progressive Party of Saskatchewan, and the Progressive Party of Manitoba, which formed the government of that province. The Progressive Party was part of the farmers' political movement that included federal and provincial Progressive and United Farmers' parties.
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.
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Liberal–Unionists were supporters of the Liberal Party of Canada who, as a result of the Conscription Crisis of 1917 rejected Sir Wilfrid Laurier's leadership and supported the coalition Unionist government of Sir Robert Borden.
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Prior to the 1917 federal election in Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada split into two factions. To differentiate the groups, historians tend to use two retrospective names:
The 1917 Canadian federal 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. 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.
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Robert Cruise was a Canadian Member of Parliament for Dauphin, Manitoba.
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.
Arthur Meighen was a Canadian lawyer and politician who served as the ninth prime minister of Canada, in office from July 1920 to December 1921 and again from June to September 1926. He led the Conservative Party from 1920 to 1926 and from 1941 to 1942.
This article covers the history of the Liberal Party of Canada.
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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.
A Conservative leadership convention was held on October 12, 1927 at the Winnipeg Amphitheatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The convention was held to choose a new leader of the Conservative Party to choose a successor to former Prime Minister of Canada Arthur Meighen who had led the party since 1920. This was the first time the Conservatives used a leadership convention to choose a leader. Previous leaders had been chosen by the party's caucus, the previous leader, or by the Governor General of Canada designating an individual to form a government after his predecessor's death or resignation.
This article is the Electoral history of Robert Borden, the eighth Prime Minister of Canada (1911-1920).