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Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King

The Longest-Serving Canadian Prime Minister

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Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada

Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada

Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

About Mackenzie King

Mackenzie King was Prime Minister of Canada off and on for a total of 22 years. A compromiser and conciliator, Mackenzie King was mild-mannered and had a bland public personality. The private personality of Mackenzie King was more exotic, as his diaries show. A devout Christian, he believed in an afterlife, and consulted fortune tellers, communicated with his dead relatives in seances, and pursued "psychical research." Mackenzie King was also extremely superstitious.

Mackenzie King followed the political path set by Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier in emphasizing national unity. He also started a Canadian Liberal tradition of his own by setting Canada on the road towards social welfare.

Prime Minister of Canada:

1921-26, 1926-30, 1935-48

Accomplishments of Mackenzie King

Social programs such as unemployment insurance, old age pensions, welfare, and the family allowance

Freer trade with the United States

Led Canada through World War II, surviving a conscription crisis that split Canada along English French lines. Introduced the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) which trained more than 130,000 air crew in Canada for the Allied war effort.

Mackenzie King brought in the Canadian Citizenship Act and became the first Canadian citizen in 1947.

Birth and Death

  • Born on December 17, 1874 in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario
  • Died on July 22, 1950 in Kingsmere, Quebec

Education

  • BA, LL.B, MA - University of Toronto
  • Fellow in Political Economy - University of Chicago
  • MA, Ph.D - Harvard University
  • London School of Economics

Professional Career of Mackenzie King

Mackenzie King was the first Canadian federal government Deputy Minister of Labour. He also worked as a labour consultant for the Rockefeller Foundation.

Political Affiliation of Mackenzie King

Liberal Party of Canada

Ridings (Electoral Districts)

  • Waterloo North (Ontario) 1908-11
  • Prince (PEI) 1919-21
  • York North (Ontario) 1921-25
  • Prince Albert (Saskatchewan) 1926-45
  • Glengarry (Ontario) 1945-49

Political Career

  • Mackenzie King was first elected to the House of Commons in 1908.

  • He was appointed Minister of Labour in 1910.

  • He was defeated in the general elections of 1911 and 1917.

  • In 1919, Mackenzie King was elected Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

  • He was elected as the member of parliament for Prince, PEI in a by-election in 1919.

  • In the next general election in 1921, Mackenzie King was elected in the riding of North York in Ontario.

  • Mackenzie King was sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada in 1921. He took the portfolio of Secretary of State for External Affairs at the same time.

  • In the 1925 general election Mackenzie King was defeated in North York, but remained as Prime Minister with the support of the Progressive Party.

  • He was elected in a by-election in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 1926.

  • The Liberal government was faced with a customs scandal and Mackenzie King asked Governor General Byng to dissolve Parliament. Byng refused and appointed Arthur Meighen as prime minister. The Meighen government lost a non-confidence motion just a few days later and a general election was called in 1926.

  • The Liberals returned to power, and Mackenzie King was sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada again in 1926.

  • The Liberals were defeated by the Conservatives in the general election of 1930 and R.B. Bennett became Prime Minister. Mackenzie King held on to his seat in Prince Albert and became Leader of the Opposition.

  • In the general election of 1935 the Liberals won a majority government. Mackenzie King was sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada, again.

  • Canada declared war on Germany in 1939.

  • The Liberals won another majority government in 1940.

  • In 1945, the Liberals again won a majority government, but Mackenzie King was defeated in Prince Albert.

  • Mackenzie King was elected in a by-election in Glengarry, Ontario later in 1945.

  • In 1948, Mackenzie King resigned as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and as Prime Minister of Canada, but continued to sit as a member of parliament. Louis St. Laurent took over as Leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister of Canada.

  • Mackenzie King did not run in the 1949 general election.

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