This political state of Canada’s effective independence from the mother country found its practical explication and progressive affirmation in the postwar period through the 1921 conference, which affirmed the principle (already proposed in that of 1918) that the prime ministers of the Dominions had the right to communicate directly with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and vice versa; the appointment, in 1920, of a Canadian minister in Washington to deal continuously and directly in Canadian affairs with the United States, without officially renouncing the principle of diplomatic unity of the British Empire; the participation of Canada, like the other Dominions, in the Washington International Conference for Disarmament in 1921; to the agreement of December 6, of the same year, between Great Britain and Ireland which explicitly took the Dominion of Canada as a model for the “Irish Free State”, as regards its relations with Parliament and with the imperial government; and so on. Even in the military field, as in the political one, Canada, while remaining an integral part of the British Empire, was by now an autonomous nation, equipped with its own army (i Canadian Corps), its navy (the Royal Canadian Navy), its air force (the Royal Canadian Air Force): Canadian military forces operating in Canada or in other parts of the Empire, alone or in concert with others metropolitan or imperial forces came to depend, with 1 January 1923, on a single Canadian ministry, that of “national defense”.
Inside the country, meanwhile, the two old historical parties of Canada (conservative and liberal), already before the war no longer distinguished themselves from more than purely regional issues, disintegrated and new ones emerged: the most important of these was the the farmers’ party, recruited especially in the western provinces and called itself progressive ; party in favor of an expansion of trade if not of absolute free trade. After the dissolution which took place in the ranks of the Liberal Party, even before the war, in the elections of 1911 conducted on the customs platform, a new disagreement had arisen during the war on the hot ground of compulsory conscription. A group of it, which broke away from the old leaderLaurier, who – although an ardent supporter of the cause of the allies and in favor of conscription – did not admit the obligation of this except following a plebiscite and therefore had refused to participate in a coalition ministry with Borden, adhered to the proposals of Borden and he entered that coalition which, in the elections of 1917 (the first held in Canada with suffrage including women), was victorious. In February 1919, however, Sir Wilfrid Laurier died, and he was succeeded in the presidency of the Liberal party (especially strong in the province of Quebec) an old minister of Labor, Mr. William Lyon Mackenzie King, grandson of that Mackenzie who in 1837 he had led the rebellion in the province of Ontario. The following year, Borden, Distraught from his dual job as Canadian prime minister and member of the “imperial cabinet of war” and of the Versailles peace conference, he had to retire from the government, giving way to a member of his cabinet, the Meighen. In 1921 the conservative-liberal coalition dissolved and in December of that year the general elections gave only 51 terms to the conservatives while they gave 117 to the liberals (among them, the entire representation of the province of Quebec), 65 to the progressives and 2 only to the Labor Party which had lost even the little following it had before, with the threatening general strike in Winnipeg in the spring of 1919. Following these elections, the federal government passed into the hands of the King, who, however, only maintained himself thanks to a laborious agreement with the progressive party: an agreement in the lower house all the more necessary for the liberals, as the upper house, the Senate, still maintained its conservative majority. In fact, the flashing of this agreement and the emergence of the struggle between the House of Representatives and the Senate, in the delicate railway matter in particular, forced King in 1925 to appeal again to the federal electoral body: especially since new aspirations and divergences of views, especially in customs matters, they needed to assert themselves in the political field. The maritime provinces were affected by the more rapid development of the continental internal provinces; the agricultural West was believed to be exploited by the industrial East; farmers, forced to compete in an unprotected world market, they complained about the high prices paid to the protected manufacturing; while the latter claimed that the tariffs were already so basic as to allow American products to invade the Canadian market and to result in the forced closure of his already affected factories, textiles in particular, by the reduction of a third of the tariff in favor of imports British. All, then, weighed on the financial burdens that grew after the war and reached the annual expenditure of one billion dollars, between governments (federal and provincial) and local authorities. All of this affected the general elections in October, weakening both dominant parties in favor of the third. The conservatives in fact won 117 mandates, the liberals 102 and the progressives 23; 2 or 3 were the independents. In the absence of a majority party, and in the contradiction of a possible union between protectionist conservatives with partisan progressives of low tariffs, against the liberals denouncing protectionism, the King, confident just in case in the help of the progressives, remained for the moment in power; but the following year, the governor-general Lord Byng did not accept his proposal to dissolve the ill-trusting parliament, he resigned, leaving the field open to the conservative party which returned to power in June 1926 with Mr. Meighen. However, with the new ministry placed in the minority in the Chamber, it was necessary to dissolve the parliament; and the new elections of autumn ’26 reversed the results of the previous ones, giving the liberals 117 mandates, against 90 for the conservatives and 29 for progressives. Thus the King rose to power.
One of the cornerstones of the liberal program was the granting of large tax breaks to British goods. But this was opposed by the conservatives, whose new leader Richard Bedford Bennet, replaced at Meighen in 1927, declared that they, while remaining faithful to the idea of imperial cooperation, before making special conditions to Great Britain they wanted to be sure of obtaining adequate compensation for their country. And in the last elections, on July 28, 1930, the conservatives’ program triumphed: they obtained 138 mandates, against 85 for the liberals and 19 for smaller groups. The King consequently had to resign, giving way to Bennet.
More interesting, however, than the recent internal political evolution, if not the very new imperial and external one, is, even after the war, the socio-economic evolution of the great Anglo-Saxon country: hence no less than from this chapter the recent history of Canada must infer from the chapters concerning the country’s economic activity.
The exchange of diplomatic representations between Canada and foreign countries began in July 1927, with the United States. Then followed France and Japan. As far as our country’s direct relations with the Canadian federal government are concerned, they have practically intensified in recent years; and arose spontaneously with the rise of various issues with that domain, which were essentially economic, commercial and emigration issues, and were partly defined with the commercial treaty of 1923 and also with an administrative agreement, sanctioned by the exchange of letters between the ‘on. Mussolini and the Canadian Prime Minister, on emigration, navigation and colonization.
The commercial treaty of 1923 between Italy and Canada, negotiated, stipulated and signed in London, reproduces to the letter the Franco-Canadian treaty of the same year; while it gives us the most favored nation clause for goods routed directly from Italy to the ocean and river ports of Canada, it remains practically of little importance to us, because unfortunately, due to the lack of a direct shipping line, Most of the goods are routed via the United States and are therefore charged with the more expensive general tariff.