Post World War II was a time of incredible political change in Canada

MacKenzie King

In 1945, the C.C.F. was becoming popular.  King, the P.M. and leader of the Liberal party, wanted to find a way to “steal their thunder” and strengthen his party’s hold on Canadian politics.

He introduced unemployment insurance to give unemployed people some money when they were out of work.

King brought in a family allowance, which paid people a monthly payment for each child they had.

These two initiatives helped King win re-election in 1945 (the C.C.F. only got 16% of the vote).

Newfoundland

In 1949, the colony of Newfoundland became the last province to join Confederation.

Newfoundlanders voted in a referendum on the issue.  Joey Smallwood was a Newfoundland politician that enthusiastically supported joining.

In the end, Newfoundlanders voted 52% to join Canada.  Smallwood became their premier.

Louis St. Laurent

King retires in 1948 after more than 25 years as our Prime Minister.

The Liberals chose a Quebec lawyer to succeed him:  Louis St. Laurent.

He had an image as a kindly, old man and was nicknamed “Uncle Louis” by the press.  In reality, he was an aloof and arrogant man who was not friendly at all.

In 1957, the 75 year old St. Laurent ran for re-election and was soundly defeated by the Conservatives new leader, John Diefenbaker.

John Diefenbaker

Was a man of German-Canadian heritage from Saskatchewan

Known as an electrifying speaker and good stump campaigner (a man of the people who could thrill crowds).

First prime minister whose parents were not of either English or French background.  He saw himself as an outsider, not part of the Canadian business establishment that made up many of Canada’s political elite.

Was a ‘prairie populist’, a man of the people, committed to “unhyphenated Canadianism”—a belief in the equality of all Canadians, whatever their heritage.  This did NOT impress French-Canadians!

He also believed in preserving Canada’s British connections and standing up to the Americans, who he thought of as ‘bullies.’

In office, he championed human rights.  He appointed the first woman to his Cabinet and appointed an aboriginal Senator to the Senate.

He introduced a Canadian Bill of Rights to protect the rights of Canadian citizens.

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