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1908 · members Canada members · 1917
Canadian federal election, 1911
221 seats in the 12th Canadian Parliament
September 21, 1911
First party Second party
RobertLBorden.jpg WilfriedLaurier.jpg
Leader Robert Borden Wilfrid Laurier
Party Conservative Liberal
Leader since 1901 1887
Leader's seat Halifax Quebec East
Last election 85 133
Seats won 132 85
Seat change +47 -48
Popular vote 632,539 596,871
Percentage 48.56% 45.82%
Swing +2.34% -3.05%
Canada 1911 Federal Election.svg
The Canadian parliament after the 1911 election

The Canadian federal election of 1911 was held on September 21 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 12th Parliament of Canada. It brought an end to fifteen years of government by the Liberal Party of Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier. The election was fought over the issues of free trade with the United States, and the creation of a Canadian navy. The Conservatives formed a majority government under Robert Borden.

The Liberal government was caught up in a debate over the naval arms race between the British Empire and Germany. Laurier attempted a compromise by starting up the Canadian Navy, but this failed to appease either the French and English Canadians; the former who refused giving any aid, while the latter suggested sending money directly to Britain. After the election, the Conservatives drew up a bill for naval contributions to the British, but it was held up by a lengthy Liberal filibuster before being passed by invoking closure, then it was struck down by the Liberal-controlled Senate.

Many English-Canadians in Alberta, and the Maritimes felt that Laurier was abandoning Canada's traditional links to the United Kingdom. On the other side, Quebec nationalist Henri Bourassa, having earlier quit the Liberal Party over what he considered the government's pro-British policies, campaigned against Laurier in that province. Ironically, Bourassa's attacks on Laurier in Quebec aided in the election of the Conservatives, who held more staunchly Imperialist policies than the Liberals.

The base of Liberal support shifted to Western Canada. The West, seeking markets for its agricultural products, had long been a proponent of free trade with the United States. The protected manufacturing businesses of Central Canada were strongly against it. The Liberals, who by ideology and history were strongly in favour of free trade, decided to make the issue the central plank of their re-election strategy, and negotiated a free trade agreement in natural products with the United States. Although the Liberals still had two years left in their mandate, they decided to call an election to settle the issue after it aroused controversy.

The campaign went badly for the Liberals, however. The powerful manufacturing interests of Toronto and Montreal switched their allegiance and financing to the Conservatives. The Tories argued that free trade would undermine Canadian sovereignty and lead to a slow annexation of Canada by the U.S.

The election is often compared to the 1988 federal election, which was also fought over free trade. Ironically, in that later election, the positions of the two parties were reversed: the Liberals fought against the Tories' free trade proposal.

Voter turn-out: 70.2%

Contents

National results

Party Party leader # of
candidates
Seats Popular vote
1908 Elected Change # % Change
     Conservative 1 Robert Borden 208 82 131 +59.8% 625,697 48.03% +3.08%
     Liberal-Conservative 2 3 1 -66.7% 6,842 0.53% -0.74%
     Liberal 2 Wilfrid Laurier 214 133 85 -36.1% 596,871 45.82% -3.05%
     Independent Conservative 3 - 3   12,499 0.96% +0.50%
     Labour   3 1 1 - 12,101 0.93% +0.04%
     Unknown 10 - - - 25,857 1.98% +0.83%
     Independent 12 1 - -100% 10,346 0.79% -0.65%
     Socialist   6 - - - 4,574 0.35% -0.17%
     Nationalist Conservative 3   2 * - * 4,399 0.34% *
     Nationalist   1 * - * 3,533 0.27% *
Total 461 220 221 +0.5% 1,302,719 100%  
Sources: http://www.elections.ca -- History of Federal Ridings since 1867

Notes:

* Party did not nominate candidates in the previous election.

1 One Conservative candidate was acclaimed in Ontario.

2 One Liberal candidate was acclaimed in Ontario, and two Liberals were acclaimed in Québec.

Results by province

Party name BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE YK Total
     Conservative Seats: 7 1 1 8 71 26 5 9 2 1 131
     Popular vote (%): 58.7 38.5 39.0 51.9 53.5 44.1 43.6 44.5 51.1 60.8 48.0
     Liberal Seats: - 6 9 2 13 36 8 9 2 - 85
     Vote (%): 37.7 53.3 59.4 44.8 41.2 44.6 47.7 55.2 48.9 39.2 45.8
     Independent Conservative Seats:         1 2         3
     Vote (%):         1.5 1.6         1.0
     Labour Seats:         - 1         1
     Vote (%):         0.1 3.6         0.9
     Liberal-Conservative Seats:   -     1           1
     Vote (%):   4.1     0.8           0.5
Total Seats 7 7 10 10 86 65 13 18 4 1 221
Parties that won no seats:
     Unknown Vote (%):   1.0     2.1 2.6 8.7       2.0
     Independent Vote (%):   3.1 1.6 0.3 0.5 1.2   0.3     0.8
     Socialist Vote (%): 3.7     3.0 0.2 0.1         0.4
     Nationalist Conservative Vote (%):         0.3 1.0         0.3
     Nationalist Vote (%):           1.1         0.3

References

See also

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