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Canadian federal election, 1921

 

Canadian federal election, 1921

Canadian federal election, 1921

December 6, 1921

235 seats in the 14th Canadian Parliament
118 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
 
Leader W. L. Mackenzie King Thomas Crerar Arthur Meighen
Party Liberal Progressive Conservative
Leader since 1919 1920 1920
Leader's seat Prince
candidate in York North
Marquette Portage la Prairie (lost re-election)
Last election 82 0 153
Seats won 118 58 49
Seat change +36 +58 -104
Popular vote 1,285,998 658,976 935,651
Percentage 41.15% 21.09% 29.95%
Swing +2.34% +21.09% -26.98%


Prime Minister before election

Arthur Meighen
Conservative

Prime Minister-designate

William Lyon Mackenzie King
Liberal

The Canadian federal election of 1921 was held on December 6, 1921 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons 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.

Since the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. Meighen had played a key role in violently suppressing the strikers and this earned him the animosity of organized labour.

Meighen attempted to make the "Unionist" party a permanent alliance of Tories and Liberals by renaming it the National Liberal and Conservative Party, but this name change failed, and most Unionist Liberals either returned to the Liberal fold or joined the new Progressive Party. Besides the labour strife and farm tariffs in the Prairie provinces, the Conscription Crisis of 1917 had a lasting effect on Tory fortunes by making the party virtually unelectable in Quebec.

The election was the first in which the majority of Canadian women were allowed to vote, thanks to reforms passed by the Conservatives. Five women also ran for office. Agnes Macphail of the Progressive Party was elected as the first woman MP in Canada.

Parliament was split three ways by this election. King's Liberals won a majority government of just one seat: they won all of Quebec, much of the Maritimes, and a good portion of Ontario.

The Progressive Party, including the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA), won the second largest number of seats, dominating the West, and winning almost a third of the seats in Ontario. Liberal and Conservative candidates were shut out in Alberta, with 10 UFA and two Labour candidates taking the province's 12 federal seats. The party won only one seat east of Ontario, however. Despite winning the second most seats, it declined to form the official opposition. It would be the only Canadian federal election prior to 1993 where a party other than the Liberals or the (Progressive) Conservatives won the second most number of seats.

The Conservatives lost the most seats up to that time of any governing party at the federal level. They won fewer seats than the Progressives (despite gaining more popular votes) but wound up forming the official opposition. The Conservatives won much of Ontario and had some support in the Maritimes and British Columbia, but won no seats in the Prairies or in Quebec.

Three Independent Labour MPs were elected: J. S. Woodsworth won his seat, largely due to his role in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, and William Irvine and Joseph Shaw were elected in Calgary.

Voter turn-out: 67.7%

Contents

  • Majority or minority? 1
  • National results 2
  • Vote and seat summaries 3
  • Results by province 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

Majority or minority?

The government that King formed in the parliament resulting from this election was Canada's first minority government. Although King's party won a slim majority of seats at the election, resignations changed the parliament from a small majority to minority.

The Liberal Party lost two by-elections to Conservative candidates, but had gained two seats from Progressives who crossed the floor, so its majority was not affected by these losses. From November 25, 1924, to the dissolution of parliament, it held a two-seat majority because of its victory in a by-election in a seat that had been held by the Conservatives.

The Progressive caucus was less united than the Liberals or Conservatives, due to the formation of the Ginger Group and the semi-autonomous United Farmers of Alberta group. The Farmer MPs had promised among other things that they would reject the traditional Parliamentary traditions such as that of bending to the will of the party leader and whip. Many Progressives argued that an MP should be able to vote against the party line so long as the vote was in accordance to his constituents' wishes. As a result, King always found enough Progressive MPs who were willing to back him on crucial votes and generally had a working majority, until after four years his government was brought down by an adverse vote due to a moment of confusion.

National results

118 58 49 10
Liberal Progressive Conservative O
Party Party leader # of
candidates
Seats Popular vote
1917 Elected % Change # % pp Change
     Liberal W. L. Mackenzie King 204 82 118 +43.9% 1,285,998 41.15% +2.34
Progressive T.A. Crerar 137 * 58 * 658,976 21.09% *
     Conservative Arthur Meighen 204 153 49 -68.0% 935,651 29.95% -26.98
     Labour J. S. Woodsworth 28 - 3   85,388 2.73% +0.90
     Independent 45 - 2   94,901 3.04% +2.40
United Farmers of Alberta   2 * 2 * 22,251 0.71% *
     Independent Conservative 2 * 1 * 12,359 0.40% *
United Farmers of Ontario   1 * 1 * 3,919 0.13% *
     Independent Progressive 1 * 1 * 3,309 0.115% *
     Unknown 9 - - - 15,293 0.49% +0.29
Socialist   1 * - * 3,094 0.10% *
     Independent Liberal 1 - - - 2,764 0.09% -0.32
Total 635 235 235 - 3,123,903 100%  
Sources: http://www.elections.ca -- History of Federal Ridings since 1867

Note:

* not applicable - the party was not recognized in the previous election

Vote and seat summaries

Popular vote
Liberal
  
41.15%
Conservative
  
29.95%
Progressive
  
21.09%
Others
  
7.81%
Seat totals
Liberal
  
50.21%
Progressive
  
24.68%
Conservative
  
20.85%
Others
  
4.26%

Results by province

Party name BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE YK Total
     Liberal Seats: 3 - 1 3 21 65 5 16 4 - 118
     Popular Vote (%): 29.8 15.8 18.7 18.9 30.1 70.2 50.2 52.4 45.7 47.6 41.2
  Progressive Seats: 3 8 15 11 20 - 1 - -   58
  Vote (%): 11.7 39.6 61.7 41.9 25.6 3.1 8.7 10.2 12.3   21.1
     Conservative Seats: 7 - - - 36 - 5 - - 1 49
     Vote (%): 47.9 20.3 16.3 24.4 38.8 18.5 39.4 32.3 37.2 51.1 30.0
     Labour Seats: - 2 - 1 - -   - -   3
     Vote (%): 6.8 11.1 0.8 5.7 2.3 0.7   3.5 4.8   2.7
     Independent Seats: -     - 2 - -     - 2
     Vote (%): 3.5     7.4 1.9 6.6 1.7     1.3 3.0
  United Farmers of Alberta Seats:   2                 2
  Vote (%):   12.9                 0.7
     Independent Conservative Seats:         1 -         1
     Vote (%):         0.9 0.3         0.4
  United Farmers of Ontario Seats:         1           1
  Vote (%):         0.3           0.1
     Independent Progressive Seats:         1           1
     Vote (%):         0.3           0.1
Total seats   13 12 16 15 82 65 11 16 4 1 235
Parties that won no seats:
     Other Vote (%): 0.4 0.2 2.4     0.6   1.6 5.2   1.0
  Socialist Vote (%):       1.8             0.1
     Independent Liberal Vote (%):         0.2           0.1

See also

References

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