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The interwar years in Canada

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edward ewacha

on 25 April 2015

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Transcript of The interwar years in Canada

Canadian Autonomy, Women's Rights, the Roaring 20s, & the
Great Depression

The Interwar Years (1918 - 1939)
Suffragist Movement
The Labour Movement
When? Where?
The Red Scare
During the WWI, labour shortages were constant because all the men were serving in the war.

350,000 soldiers return and want their jobs back from women

To get better pay and working conditions, Unions helped in bargaining power of workers by uniting all workers in one voice.

Instead of having many little Unions, a call was made out to create
One Big Union (Power in Numbers)
Soldiers Come Home
“I fought for my country and I can’t even get a JOB!”
Bolshevik (Communist) Revolution
in Russia
Destroyed the monarchy in Russia
Private ownership banned
Collective planning instead
Russian Influence
In 1919 workers did not have:
Unemployment insurance (Today it’s called E I )
Workers compensation

Workers formed trade unions to gain:
Improved housing
Job training
Higher pay
Why Unions?
1911: Winnipeg was the 3rd largest city in Canada & the most unionized.
Strike talk has a history in city's culture
Context: Unions in Winnipeg
1918 – Winnipeg City council outlaws the right to strike.
Reaction: Municipal workers strike in protest.
Result: City backs down in defeat
Lesson: strength in numbers + militancy = victory
Unions in Winnipeg
1919 a General Strike was called because of…
Massive Unemployment
Social Unrest
Rising Inflation

Union leaders saw it as a fight for collective bargaining.
Government saw it as an attempt to launch a full scale Bolshevik Revolution
Winnipeg General Strike
What rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would this proclamation have violated if it happened today?
Decent wages (85 cents/hour)

An eight hour work day

The right to collective
What Did They Want?
272 Police strikebreakers were deployed
Machine guns were mounted on trucks
An armed assault tank with 11 man crew.
Army standing by
Mounties were ready
Winnipeg General Strike
Over Reaction?
And so here we are…in Canada
Strike Continues…
Citizens Committee of One Thousand
called for the arrest of strike organizers
This was against the law, so the law changed
Revised to allow the government to arrest, detain and deport naturalized citizens on the suspicion of advocating revolution.
June 21, riot broke out
Strikers overturned a trolley
Police started hitting and firing
Two killed - 20 injured - 80 arrested
By dusk the army ruled the streets
This day was called Bloody Saturday
Was over by June 25 (lasted 6 weeks)
Many families never recovered from the financial loss
Some strikers did not have jobs to go back to
Some strike leaders got involved in politics
Ending the Strike
Some unions became more radical, many influenced by the Bolshevik Revolution
Government clamped down on unions, some were banned
First “
Red Scare
” in Canada
The Women’s Movement
Women received the vote in various provinces during WWI.
1916: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta 1916.
1917: BC & Ontario

Who started it?
Nellie McClung led the fight
Known as the “Holy Terror”
Clashed with Manitoba MP over the issue of women getting the vote
Women get the Provincial during WWI

McClung stages a female parliament
Addressing the question “Should men get the vote?”

“Man is made for something higher and better than voting. Men were made to support families…why if men start to vote, they will vote too much. Politics unsettles men, and unsettled men mean unsettled bills, broken furniture, broken vows, and divorce” – McClung in her play
It Begins….
Wartime Elections Act 1917
Mother, Sisters, and Wives of soldiers in the armed forces were given the vote.
Must be over the age of 21 to vote.
Motive was to help the Conservatives win the election and bring in Conscription.
Women get the Federal Vote
Agnes MacPhail first MP
She called for Prison Reform
Founded the Elizabeth Fry Society – To help women who have been imprisoned.
1954 she was going to be appointed to the Senate, but died before she got to do that.
First Female MP - 1921
Emily Murphy, from Alberta, was the first magistrate in the British Empire (1916).
The PM wanted to appoint her to the Senate
The Person’s Case 1929
According to the BNA Act, only qualified “persons” could hold such influential positions (like a senator)

British common law: Women were not considered “persons” in matters of “rights or privileges.”
Didn’t anyone tell you, women aren’t “persons”!!!
Emily Murphy noted that under section 24 of the BNA Act, only “qualified persons” could be appointed to the Senate, so she issued a challenge to Ottawa
Prelude to the Famous Five
She also discovered something during this time
A rule stated that any five concerned citizens could request a hearing from the Supreme Court of Canada on any point in the BNA Act.
So in 1927 she got four other leading suffragists, all from Alberta, to launch a challenge. They are the “Famous Five”
The Famous Five
“The exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours.”
– Lord Chancellor Sankey of the Privy Council
On April 24, 1928 the SCC announced that women were NOT legally persons.

The Famous Five took this to the British Privy Council in London.

On October 18, 1929, Britain ruled against Canada
The Challenge
Underlying issue:
Canada still not completely independent

Britain had overruled the decision made by Canada’s highest court.

It was a victory for women, but a blow to Canada’s sovereignty.
Bittersweet for Canada
The Women's Christian Temperance Movement
Sought Prohibition The act of banning all production and sales of alcohol
Crime Dropped and Poverty rates lowered.
But a new form of crime appeared "Bootlegging;" the smuggling and supplying of alcohol.

"Speakeasies" were secret places where you could buy and consume alcohol
Problem: Many men were drunkards and spent their paychecks on booze.
Summary: Women made many political and societal gains in the late 1910s and 1920s due to the traditional barriers being broken by WWI.
Women got the vote both Provincially and Federally.
Women were able to hold positions of influence.
Women were able to improve their living conditions.
Move for Independence
Canada obtained its own seat in the League of Nations, separate from Britain.
Canada was an independent signatory of the Treaty of Versailles
BUT Canada was not a ‘country’ like the other signatories
Canada’s participation
at the conference ticked the
USA off!
Paris Peace Conference - 1919
British troops were sent to Turkey
feared that Turkey might occupy the port of Chanak,
Would give Turkey control of a waterway leading from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
Britain tried to force Canada into getting involved in an overseas conflict
Chanak Crisis - 1922
Canada signed its very own first international treaty with the USA

The Halibut Treaty with the U.S. helped protect Canada’s Pacific Fisheries
Halibut Treaty - 1923
In 1926 a scandal had the Canadian Dept. of Customs get kickbacks from bootleggers.
HOC loses faith in the Minority Liberal Gov.
King rushed to the GG, Julian Byng to dissolve the HOC and call an election.
Byng refused King, inviting Meighan (Leader of Opposition) to form new government.
King-Byng Crisis
In the election that followed, the scandal was forgotten and King rambled about the meddling of the GG.
King won with a working majority
Meighan had been humiliated
And Lord Byng, who was a war hero, was vilified
Canadian political independence had been reasserted
Message was clear – royals were to be ornaments – they were not to interfere
At the Imperial Conference, the Balfour Declaration formally recognized Canada and other dominions as
“autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status [and] in no way subordinate.”

Aknowledged that the Governor General was only a representative of the British monarch (like today)
Balfour Declaration - 1926
Created the British Commonwealth
British Commonwealth = a trade and military alliance of independent dominions united under the British Crown
These dominions were free to make their own laws
Canada became a sovereign state as part of the British Commonwealth of Nations
Statute of Westminister - 1931
Summary: With the end of WWI, Canada earned new admiration and recognition from around the world for their achievements in WWI. This translated into a more confident and independent attitude for Canada during the 1920s.
King - Byng Continued...
The belief that communism could take over the Western Democracies, like it did Russia.
Full transcript