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Vintage Toronto Ads: Ensure Stable Government

20110412toryad1926.jpg
Source: the Globe, September 13, 1926.

“Ensure stable government.” Isn’t stable government what the present-day Conservative party is promising if you vote for them during the current election campaign? Some things never change…
Mind you, the situation when voters went to the polls on September 14, 1926, was volatile. It was the second election campaign in less than a year, thanks to a highly unstable parliament. Despite coming in second place after the vote on October 29, 1925, William Lyon Mackenzie King’s Liberals clung to power with the backing of Progressive party MPs. King’s government faced a never-ending series of non-confidence votes launched by the Conservatives, which finally looked like they were going to succeed after a report regarding a scandal over booze smuggling at a federal customs warehouse was presented to the House of Commons in June 1926. What followed was the constitutional crisis known as the King-Byng affair, which one usually needs a scorecard to follow.
In the midst of procedural mayhem, Conservative leader Arthur Meighen assumed power for three days before falling to another non-confidence vote and being granted the dissolution of parliament that Governor General Lord Byng had just refused to give King. During the campaign, King worked out arrangements with the Progressives and strong farmer/labour candidates so that in ridings where one party was stronger, the other wouldn’t run (hence the reason for the majority of the 48 blacked-out ridings in the map above).


As John Duffy noted when he profiled the campaign in his book Fights of Our Lives, “For many reform-minded electors, the three-day Meighen government of 1926 had shown that the hated Tories had a chance at power as long as the Liberals and Progressives remained divided; voting Progressive seemed a luxury to be indulged when the Tories were safely off in third place, as in 1921, but not now.” Meighen initially focused on attacking Liberal corruption, but when that ran out of steam he pulled out the patriotism-to-Britain card and attacked King for being a rebel like his grandfather William Lyon Mackenzie.
Meighen’s plea for a stable government succeeded…for King, who, with a handful of Progressives who ran under the Liberal-Progressive banner, easily formed a majority. Toronto did not succumb to King’s charms, as all of the Conservative candidates listed in today’s ad won. The tightest race was in York North, where Thomas Herbert Lennox defeated Liberal Henry Arthur Sifton by less than 300 votes (King had held the seat from 1921 to 1925). Others on the local Conservative slate included three former mayors of Toronto (Church, Hocken, and Geary), and a rookie whose parliamentary career lasted into the space age (McGregor, who served as an MP until 1962).
Additional material from Fights of Our Lives by John Duffy (Toronto: HarperCollins, 2002).

Comments

  • http://www.realjohnson.com The Real Johnson

    I think the most interesting thing here is that the ad is so detailed in its explication of strategy. Apparently the electorate of 1926 was a lot more involved in politics (or at the very least the creator of this ad assumed so, I suppose). Any idea what the voter turnout was that year?
    Regardless, hopefully the similar tone of the election this year will lead to similar results. Uncle Steve has got to go.

  • g026r

    “Meighen’s plea for a stable government succeeded…for King, who, with a handful of Progressives who ran under the Liberal-Progressive banner, easily formed a majority.”

    1926 is actually probably one of the best arguments for some form of proportional representation. The Liberal and Liberal-Progressive combined share of the vote was actually lower than what Meighen's Conservatives received. (And it's not the only time that that has occurred in past elections.)

    It becomes particularly bad if you look at Manitoba, where the Conservatives trounced all comers in terms of actual votes, yet still failed to win a single seat.

  • canuck1975

    http://elections.ca/content.as

    All turnout results since 1867. In this case it was 67.7%.

  • http://www.realjohnson.com The Real Johnson

    I think the most interesting thing here is that the ad is so detailed in its explication of strategy. Apparently the electorate of 1926 was a lot more involved in politics (or at the very least the creator of this ad assumed so, I suppose). Any idea what the voter turnout was that year?
    Regardless, hopefully the similar tone of the election this year will lead to similar results. Uncle Steve has got to go.

  • g026r

    “Meighen’s plea for a stable government succeeded…for King, who, with a handful of Progressives who ran under the Liberal-Progressive banner, easily formed a majority.”

    1926 is actually probably one of the best arguments for some form of proportional representation. The Liberal and Liberal-Progressive combined share of the vote was actually lower than what Meighen's Conservatives received. (And it's not the only time in past elections that the government has had less popular support than HM's Loyal Opposition.)

    It becomes particularly bad if you look at Manitoba, where the Conservatives trounced all comers in terms of actual votes, yet still failed to win a single seat.

  • http://www.scotchblog.ca canuck1975

    http://elections.ca/content.as

    All turnout results since 1867. In this case it was 67.7%.