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1940 · members Canada members · 1949
Canadian federal election, 1945
245 seats in the 20th Canadian Parliament
June 11, 1945
First party Second party
King1947.jpg John Bracken.jpg
Leader William Lyon Mackenzie King John Bracken
Party Liberal PC
Leader since 1919 1942
Leader's seat Prince Albert (lost) Neepawa
Last election 177 39
Seats won 118 66
Seat change -59 +27
Popular vote 2,086,545 1,448,744
Percentage 39.78% 27.62%
Swing -11.54% -2.79%
Third party Fourth party
Leader Major James Coldwell Solon Earl Low
Party CCF Social Credit
Leader since 1942 1944
Leader's seat Rosetown—Biggar Peace River
Last election 8 10
Seats won 28 13
Seat change +20 +3
Popular vote 815,720 212,220
Percentage 15.55% 4.05%
Swing +7.31% +1.46%
Canada 1945 Federal Election.svg

The Canadian federal election of 1945 was the 20th general election in Canadian history. It was held June 11, 1945 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 20th Parliament of Canada. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King's Liberal government was re-elected to its third consecutive majority government.

The federal election was the first since the victory of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in the Saskatchewan provincial election, and many predicted a major breakthrough for the CCF nationally. A Gallup poll from September 1943 showed the CCF with a one point lead over both the Liberals and Conservatives. The party was expected to win 70 to 100 seats, possibly even enough to form a minority government. Despite the expectations, the party only won 28 seats.

1945 was also the first test of the newly named Progressive Conservatives. The Conservative Party had changed its name in 1942 when former Progressive Party Premier of Manitoba John Bracken became its leader. The party improved its standing over the old Conservative Party, but fell far short of challenging Liberal hegemony.

A key issue in this election seems to have been electing a stable government. The Liberals urged voters to "Return the Mackenzie King Government", and argued that only the Liberal Party had a "preponderance of members in all nine provinces". Mackenzie King threatened to call a new election if he was not given a majority: "We would have confusion to deal with at a time when the world will be in a very disturbed situation. The war in Europe is over, but unrest in the east is not over."

The Progressive Conservatives tried to capitalize on the massive mid-campaign victory by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in the 1945 Ontario provincial election. PC campaign ads exhorted voters to rally behind their party: "Ontario shows! Only Bracken can win!", and suggesting that it would be impossible to form a majority government in the country without a plurality of seats in Ontario, which only the Tories could win. In the event, the Liberals fell just short of a majority even though they won only 34 seats in Ontario to the PCs' 48 seats. Eight "Independent Liberal" MPs could be expected to support the government.

Social welfare programs were also an issue in the campaign. Another Liberal slogan encouraged voters to "Build a New Social Order" by endorsing the Liberal platform, which included

  • $750 million to provide land, jobs and business support for veterans;
  • $400 million of public spending to build housing;
  • $250 million for family allowances;
  • establishing an Industrial development Bank;
  • loans to farmers, floor prices for agricultural products;
  • tax reductions.

Campaigning under the slogan, "Work, Security, and Freedom for All -- with the CCF", the CCF promised to retain war-time taxes on high incomes and excess profits in order to fund social services, and to abolish the Canadian Senate. The CCF fought hard to prevent the support of labour from going to the Labour-Progressive Party (i.e., the Communist Party of Canada).

The LPP, for its part, pointed out that the CCF's refusal to enter into an electoral pact with the LPP had cost the CCF 100,000 votes in the Ontario election, and had given victory to the Ontario PCs. It urged voters to "Make Labor a Partner in Government."

The Social Credit Party of Canada tried, with modest success, to capitalize on the positive image of the Alberta Socred government of William Aberhart, asking voters, "Good Government in Alberta -- Why Not at Ottawa?". Referring to social credit monetary theories, the party encouraged voters to "Vote for the National Dividend".

Technically, the election resulted in a minority government as official Liberal candidates did not win a majority of seats. However, the election of eight "Independent Liberal" MPs, most of whom did not run as official Liberals because of their opposition to conscription (see Conscription Crisis of 1944), gave the King government an effective working majority in parliament. Most of the Independent Liberal MPs joined (or re-joined) the Liberal caucus following World War II when the conscription issue became moot.

The Canadian parliament after the 1945 election

National results

Party Party leader # of
candidates
Seats Popular vote
1940 Elected % Change # % % Change
     Liberal Mackenzie King 236 177 118 -33.9% 2,086,545 39.78% -11.54%
     Progressive Conservative1 John Bracken 203 39 66 +66.7% 1,448,744 27.62% -2.79%
     Co-operative Commonwealth M.J. Coldwell 205 8 28 +250% 815,720 15.55% +7.31%
     Social Credit2 Solon Low 93 10 13 +30.0% 212,220 4.05% +1.46%
     Independent Liberal 20 2 8 +300% 93,791 1.79% -1.40%
     Independent 64 1 6 +500% 256,381 4.89% +3.65%
     Bloc populaire canadien Maxime Raymond 35 * 2 * 172,765 3.29% *
     Labour Progressive3 Tim Buck 68 - 1   111,892 2.13% +1.94%
     Independent PC 8 * 1 * 14,541 0.28% *
     Independent CCF4 2 * 1 * 6,402 0.12% *
     Liberal-Progressive   1 3 1 -66.7% 6,147 0.12% -0.48%
     National Government5   1   -   4,872 0.09%  
     Trades Union   1 * - * 4,679 0.09% *
     Farmer-Labour   2 - - - 3,620 0.07% -0.11%
     Independent Conservative 1 - - -100% 2,653 0.05% -0.18%
     Democratic W.R.N. Smith 5 * - * 2,603 0.05% *
     Union of Electors   1 * - * 596 0.01% *
     Socialist Labour   2 * - * 459 0.01% *
     Labour   1 - - - 423 0.01% -0.07%
     Liberal-Labour   1 * - * 345 0.01% *
     Independent Labour 1 * - * 241 x *
     Unknown 1 - - - 70 x x
Total 952 243 245 - 5,245,709 100%  
Sources: http://www.elections.ca -- History of Federal Ridings since 1867

Notes:

* The party did not nominate candidates in the previous election.

x - less than 0.005% of the popular vote.

1 1945 Progressive Conservative vote compared to 1940 National Government + Conservative vote.

2 1945 Social Credit vote compared to 1940 New Democracy + Social Credit vote.

3 1945 Labour Progressive vote compared to 1940 Communist vote.

4 The successful "Independent CCF" candidate ran as a People's Co-operative Commonwealth Federation candidate.

5 One Progressive Conservative candidate ran under the "National Government" label that the party had used in the 1940 election.

Results by province

Party name BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE YK Total
     Liberal Seats: 5 2 2 9 34 47 7 9 3   118
     Popular Vote: 27.5 21.8 33.0 32.7 40.8 46.5 50.0 45.7 48.4   39.8
     Progressive Conservative Seats: 5 2 1 2 48 1 3 2 1 1 66
     Vote: 30.0 18.7 18.8 24.9 41.4 9.7 38.3 36.8 47.4 40.0 27.6
     Co-operative Commonwealth Seats: 4 - 18 5 - - - 1 - - 28
     Vote: 29.4 18.4 44.4 31.6 14.3 2.4 7.4 16.7 4.2 27.5 15.6
     Social Credit Seats: - 13 - - - -         13
     Vote: 2.3 36.6 3.0 3.2 0.2 4.4         4.0
     Independent Liberal Seats: 1         7 -       8
     Vote: 1.7         5.9 1.1       1.8
     Independent Seats:       - - 6 - -     6
     Vote:       0.8 0.4 16.9 3.2 0.2     4.9
     Bloc populaire Seats:         - 2         2
     Vote:         0.3 11.9         3.3
     Labour Progressive Seats: - - - - - 1   -   - 1
     Vote: 5.9 4.5 0.8 5.0 2.0 1.0   0.6   32.4 2.1
     Independent PC Seats:         - 1         1
     Vote:         xx 1.0         0.3
     Independent CCF Seats: 1         -         1
     Vote: 1.4         xx         0.1
     Liberal-Progressive Seats:       1             1
     Vote:       1.9             0.1
Total Seats 16 17 21 17 82 65 10 12 4 1 245
Parties that won no seats:
     National Government Vote:         0.3           0.1
     Trades Union Vote: 1.1                   0.1
     Farmer-Labour Vote:         0.2           0.1
     Independent Conservative Vote:           0.2         0.1
     Democratic Vote: 0.6                   xx
     Union of Electors Vote:           xx         xx
     Socialist Labour Vote: 0.1                   xx
     Labour Vote:           xx         xx
     Liberal-Labour Vote:           xx         xx
     Independent Labour Vote:         0.1           xx
     Unknown Vote:           xx         xx

xx - less than 0.05% of the popular vote.

See also

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