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Was R.B.Bennett a Good Prime Minister

In: Historical Events

Submitted By bulldozer
Words 896
Pages 4
This essay will focus on the question “Was R.B. Bennett a good choice for the 11th Prime Minister of Canada?” To access the extent on how effective R.B. Bennett was on Canada between 1930 to 1935, this essay will help identify whether or not Bennett help shape Canada for good or for bad. After Bennett was inaugurated after former prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, he had a rough road ahead of him being elected at the start of The Great Depression. Only having done little to nothing after his first year in office and the public making jokes, Bennett had no choice but to revise President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to help bring Canada out of the Depression.
When the 1930’s election came rolling around, there were many assumptions that prime minster Mackenzie King would not be re-elected back into office. On the Conservative Party, the candidate that was running up against King was R.B. Bennett. When King made his speech in the House of Commons about how he would not give a “five-cent piece to any [Conservative] government,” R.B. Bennett was seen to be the next prime minster. When the Conservatives won 134 seats and the Liberals only won 90, the people of Canada saw a bright future for the country.
Bennett’s first year in office was probably the height of his career. When he entered his office he had action on his mind and that’s exactly what Canada got. One of the very first things that R.B. Bennett did as prime minister was creating the Unemployment Relief Act. This Act provided each province with 20 million dollars in relief to help stabilize the lives of each person living in the country. This is exactly what Canadians wanted that King wouldn’t offer them which made Bennett favoured by the public. After creating the Relief Act, Bennett didn’t do much more to help Canadians out of the Depression.
After the first year that Bennett assumed office he basically did nothing to help Canada during the peak of the Depression. In 1932 Bennett’s government created the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC). Bennett said that "This country must be assured of complete Canadian control of broadcasting from Canadian sources.” Of things that Bennett could have done, he chose to create a radio station. Canada was going through a depression. Bennett should be focusing on how to minimize the unemployment rate rather than creating something people would use for entertainment. With people raging because they were not satisfied with Bennett was doing, Bennett decided that he should create relief camps for single and unemployed men. These men usually worked on building roads, airports, military bases and parks. The men working in these camps were using relocated to the wilderness and only paid around two dollars a day. Becoming the butt of all jokes Bennett was worried that he wasn’t going to get re-elected in the next election that is soon approaching.
By 1935, the economy in Canada was worst then when it was before R.B. Bennett took office in July 28th, 1930. It wasn’t until Bennett finally realized that the majority vote for the upcoming election wasn’t in Bennett’s favour. When Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed office in 1932, he took action right away in 1933 and created the “New Deal.” With Bennett’s last resort, he revised this “New Deal” for Canada itself. In early 1935, RB released this “New Deal” to the public outlining what he would do to help Canada through the Depression. This revised “New Deal” drafted a number of bills on the agricultural loans, the exports, minimum wage, working hours, unemployment insurance and business legislation. Unfortunately this action that Bennett took was little too late for him. He lost the 1935 election to the former prime minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King.
So was R.B. Bennett a good choice for the 11th prime minister of Canada? In my opinion, while researching all the things that Bennett did during his five years as prime minister, I believe that he wasn’t a good choice. When Mackenzie King said his famous “five-cent speech” it ruined any chances of him being elected back into office. This speech angered the people of Canada so this may have swayed the votes. If King never had said this, he would have most likely been voted back into office. Bennett didn’t do absolutely anything to help lift Canada out of the Depression. When FDR created the “New Deal” to lift the US out of the Depression, Bennett out of a desperate state basically copied it. With Canadians even deeper in the hole, they had no choice but to give Mackenzie King another chance to prove himself. R.B. Bennett was a mistake by the Canadians in 1930 to elect into parliament.

Allen Levine, King, (Quebec: Douglas & McIntyre, 2011).
CBC Learning, "Relief Camps." Last modified 2001. Accessed December 20, 2012.
P.B. Waite, IN SEARCH OF R.B. BENNETT, (Quebec: McGill-Queens University Press, 2012).
University of Toronto, "BENNETT, RICHARD BEDFORD, 1st Viscount BENNETT." Last modified 2000. Accessed December 6, 2012.

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