1949 Canadian federal election

The Canadian federal election of 1949 was held on June 27 to elect members of the House of Commons of Canada of the 21st Parliament of Canada. It was the first election in Canada in almost thirty years in which the Liberal Party of Canada was not led by William Lyon Mackenzie King. King had retired in 1948, and was replaced as Liberal leader and Prime Minister by Louis St. Laurent. It was also the first federal election with Newfoundland voting, having joined Canada in March of that year, and the first election since 1904 in which the parts of the Northwest Territories were granted representation. The Liberal Party was re-elected with its fourth consecutive government, winning just under 50% of the vote. This victory was the largest majority in Canadian history to that point and remains, by any measure, the largest-ever majority won by the Liberal Party. As of 2017, it remains the third largest majority government in Canadian history.

The Progressive Conservative Party, led by former Premier of Ontario George Drew, gained little ground in this election.

Smaller parties, such as the social democratic Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, and Social Credit, a party that advocated monetary reform, lost support to the Liberals, and to a lesser extent, the Conservatives.

Chambre des Communes 1949
The Canadian parliament after the 1949 election

Voter turn-out: 73.8%

Canadian federal election, 1949

June 27, 1949

262 seats in the House of Commons
132 seats needed for a majority
  Louisstlaurent GeorgeDrew
Leader Louis St. Laurent George A. Drew
Party Liberal Progressive Conservative
Leader since August 7, 1948 October 2, 1948
Leader's seat Quebec East Carleton
Last election 118 65
Seats won 191 41
Seat change Increase73 Decrease24
Popular vote 2,874,813 1,734,261
Percentage 49.15% 29.65%
Swing Increase9.37pp Increase2.03pp

  M.J. Coldwell in 1944 Solon Earl Low cropped
Leader Major James Coldwell Solon Earl Low
Party Co-operative Commonwealth Social Credit
Leader since March 22, 1942 April 6, 1944
Leader's seat Rosetown—Biggar Peace River
Last election 28 13
Seats won 13 10
Seat change Decrease15 Decrease3
Popular vote 784,770 135,217
Percentage 13.42% 2.31%
Swing Decrease2.13pp Decrease1.74%pp

Canada 1949 Federal Election

Prime Minister before election

Louis St. Laurent

Prime Minister-designate

Louis St. Laurent

National results

191 41 13 10 7
Liberal PC CCF SC O
Party Party leader # of
Seats Popular vote
1945 Elected % Change # % Change
  Liberal Louis St. Laurent 258 117 191 +63.2% 2,874,813 49.15% +9.37pp
  Progressive Conservative George Drew 249 65 41 -21.5% 1,734,261 29.65% +2.03pp
     Co-operative Commonwealth M.J. Coldwell 180 28 13 -53.6% 784,770 13.42% -2.13pp
Social Credit Solon Low 28 13 10 -23.1% 135,217 2.31% -1.74pp
  Independent 28 6 4 -33.3% 119,827 2.05% -2.84pp
  Independent Liberal 15 8 1 -87.5% 30,407 0.52% -1.27pp
  Liberal-Labour   2 - 1   11,730 0.20% +0.19pp
Liberal–Progressive   1 1 1 - 9,192 0.16% +0.04pp
     Union of Electors Réal Caouette 56 - - - 86,087 1.47% +1.46pp
Labor–Progressive Tim Buck 17 1 - -100% 32,623 0.56% -1.58pp
  Independent PC 6 1 - -100% 8,195 0.14% -0.14pp
  Farmer-Labour   1 - - - 6,161 0.11% -0.07pp
  National Unity Adrien Arcand 1 * - * 5,590 0.10% *
  Nationalist   1 * - * 4,994 0.09% *
  Independent Social Credit 2 * - * 4,598 0.08% *
Labour   2 - - - 415 0.01% x
  Socialist Labour   1 * - * 271 x *
Total 851 245 262 +7.8% 5,849,151 100%  
Sources: http://www.elections.ca -- History of Federal Ridings since 1867


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

x - less than 0.005% of the popular vote

Vote and seat summaries

Popular vote
Social Credit
Seat totals
Social Credit

Results by province

Party name BC AB SK MB ON QC NB NS PE NL Terr Total
  Liberal Seats: 11 5 14 11 55 68 8 10 3 5 1 191
  Popular Vote: 36.7 33.8 43.4 45.1 45.1 60.4 53.8 52.7 49.2 71.9 49.0 49.1
  Progressive Conservative Seats: 3 2 1 1 25 2 2 2 1 2 - 41
  Vote: 27.9 16.8 14.4 22.0 37.4 24.5 39.4 37.5 48.4 27.9   29.7
     Co-operative Commonwealth Seats: 3 - 5 3 1 - - 1 - - - 13
     Vote: 31.5 10.0 40.9 25.9 15.2 1.1 4.2 9.9 2.4 0.2 17.0 13.4
  Social Credit Seats: - 10 -   -             10
  Vote: 0.5 37.4 0.9   0.2             2.3
  Independent Seats: 1     - - 3 -         4
  Vote: 2.6     2.1 0.1 6.1 0.2       34.0 2.1
  Independent Liberal Seats:         1 - -         1
  Vote:         0.3 1.3 1.4         0.5
  Liberal-Labour Seats:         1 -           1
  Vote:         0.6 xx           0.2
  Liberal-Progressive Seats:       1               1
  Vote:       2.9               0.2
Total Seats 18 17 20 16 83 73 10 13 4 7 1 262
Parties that won no seats:
     Union of Electors Vote:         0.1 5.1 1.0         1.5
Labor–Progressive Vote: 0.8 0.7 0.4 2.0 0.7 0.3           0.6
  Independent PC Vote:         xx 0.5           0.1
  Farmer-Labour Vote:         0.3             0.1
  National Unity Vote:           0.4           0.1
  Nationalist Vote:           0.3           0.1
  Independent Social Credit Vote:   1.4                   0.1
Labour Vote:         xx xx           xx
  Socialist Labour Vote:         xx             xx
  • xx - less than 0.05% of the popular vote

See also

A. M. Klein

Abraham Moses Klein (14 February 1909 – 20 February 1972) was a Canadian poet, journalist, novelist, short story writer and lawyer. He has been called "one of Canada's greatest poets and a leading figure in Jewish-Canadian culture."Best known for his poetry, Klein also published one novella entitled The Second Scroll in 1951, along with numerous essays, reviews, and short stories. Many of his lesser-known works, including several unfinished novels, were published posthumously in a series of collections from the University of Toronto Press.

Adrien Arcand

Adrien Arcand (October 3, 1899 – August 1, 1967) was a Montreal journalist who led a series of fascist political movements between 1929 and his death in 1967. During his political career, he proclaimed himself the Canadian Führer.

He was detained by the federal government for the duration of the Second World War under the Defence of Canada Regulations.

Andrew Brewin

Francis Andrew Brewin (1907–1983), also known as Andy Brewin, was a lawyer and Canadian politician and Member of Parliament. He was the grandson of Liberal cabinet minister Andrew George Blair. His son John Brewin also served in the House of Commons of Canada.

Born on 3 September 1907 in Brighton, England, Brewin was a stalwart in the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and ran numerous times at the federal and provincial levels in the 1940 and 1950s. As a lawyer in the 1940s, he was retained by the Co-operative Committee on Japanese Canadians to contest the federal government's deportation orders affecting thousands of Japanese Canadians. Led by Brewin, the "Japanese Canadian Reference Case" was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada and later, on appeal, by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Brewin was also retained by a committee of Japanese Canadians who had been detained during the Second World War as "enemy aliens" in order to try to have their property restored. He succeeded in persuading the government to call a royal commission to investigate the question.In 1945, he was asked by Ontario CCF leader Ted Jolliffe to be co-counsel during the infamous LeBel Royal Commission that was looking into whether or not Ontario's premier at the time was employing a secret political police force. He was, for a time, the President of the Ontario CCF and was a candidate for the leadership of the Ontario CCF at the party's 1953 leadership convention, but lost to Donald C. MacDonald.

Brewin was first elected to the House of Commons of Canada on behalf of the CCF's successor, the New Democratic Party. Brewin sat as Member of Parliament for the Toronto riding of Greenwood from the 1962 election until his retirement in 1979.Coming from the theological tradition of figures such as Richard Hooker, F. D. Maurice, and William Temple, Andrew Brewin considered himself a Christian socialist and wrote a number of books and pamphlets on the topic. He was a member of the Fellowship for a Christian Social Order and the League for Social Reconstruction.Andrew Brewin wrote the book Stand on Guard: The Search for a Canadian Defence Policy, published by McClelland & Stewart in 1965, that explored Canada's military's changing role in the mid-twentieth century, including its participation in the then new concept of United Nations peacekeeping.

Brewin died on 21 September 1983.

Arthur J. Dixon

Arthur Johnson Dixon CM (December 1, 1919 – February 5, 2007) was a real estate and insurance agent, and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1952 to 1975 sitting with the Social Credit caucus in government and opposition. During his time in office Dixon served as the Speaker of the Alberta Legislature from 1963 to 1972.

Arthur Massey Berry

Arthur Massey "Matt" Berry (June 19, 1888 – May 12, 1970) was a pioneering Canadian bush pilot.

Bill White (Canadian politician)

William Andrew (Bill) White, III, OC (February 7, 1915 – January 23, 1981) was a Canadian composer and social justice activist, who was the first Black Canadian to run for federal office in Canada.

Donald Hugh Mackay

Donald Hugh Mackay (March 22, 1914 Lethbridge, Alberta – January 26, 1979) was the 26th Mayor of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

He spent his youth in Calgary and Drumheller, receiving most of his public school education in

Drumheller. In the early 1930s, Mackay settled with his family in Calgary. He was employed first by the Calgary Albertan and later for the radio station CJCJ. By 1943, at the age of twenty-nine, he was Manager of Station CJCJ.

In 1945, he ran for City Council and was elected, topping the polls for that year. Three years later, as Alderman, Mackay led the Calgary contingent on its high-spirited and much publicized visit to the Grey Cup in Toronto, an occasion generally credited with starting the tradition of Grey Cup reverie.where he rode a horse into The Royal York Hotel, a tradition that has continued each time Calgary is in the Grey Cup In 1949, he was elected Mayor, serving in that capacity for ten years, a period in which the City witnessed tremendous growth. A self-proclaimed civic-booster, Mackay traveled, widely promoting Calgary.

In 1949 and 1957, he made two unsuccessful bids in Federal politics.

In 1962, he joined the Downtown Development Corporation in Phoenix, Arizona and later, worked for

the Calgary Convention Centre and the realty firm of Cowley and Keith.

Edward Dow

Edward Ingo Dow (September 13, 1904 – December 23, 1992) was a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He served as a Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1959 to 1962, from 1966 to 1968, and from 1968 to 1969.The son of George Dow and Eleanor Mary Ingo, he was born in Pilot Mound, Manitoba. Dow moved with his family to British Columbia, later moving to Boissevain, Manitoba in 1915, where he became a prominent businessman in the community. Along with his father, he operated George Dow and Sons Mill, and later the Cockshutt farm implement business. In 1927, he married Dorothy Grace Taylor. Edward Dow served as mayor of Boissevain from 1946 to 1968.He ran for the House of Commons of Canada in the 1949 federal election as a candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada, but lost to Progressive Conservative J. Arthur Ross by 613 votes. He was expected to campaign for Brandon—Souris in the 1953 federal election, but unexpectedly declined the nomination.

Dow ran for the Manitoba legislature in the 1958 provincial election, but lost to Progressive Conservative incumbent Errick French Willis by over 1,000 votes in the southern riding of Turtle Mountain. He did not run in the 1959 election, but took the Turtle Mountain seat in a by-election on November 26, 1959, following Willis's resignation to accept the office of Lieutenant Governor. This by-election occurred at a time when the Progressive Conservative Party was dominant both federally and provincially, and Dow was only able to defeat his PC opponent Robert Cawston Aitkens by 106 votes.

The Progressive Conservative Party won a second consecutive majority government in the 1962 provincial election, and Dow lost to PC candidate Peter I. McDonald by over 800 votes. He recovered the seat in the 1966 election, however, defeating McDonald by only five votes out of about 5,000 cast.

These results were later overturned, and the seat was declared vacant on January 30, 1968. On March 4, Dow narrowly defeated PC challenger Allan Rose to capture the seat a third time. His return to office was short-lived, however. The Liberals lost much of their rural support base in the 1969 provincial election, and Dow lost his seat to PC candidate Earl McKellar by over 1,000 votes in the redistributed riding of Souris—Killarney.

He died in Killarney at the age of 88.

Eugene Forsey

Eugene Alfred Forsey, (May 29, 1904 – February 20, 1991) served in the Senate of Canada from 1970 to 1979. He was considered to be one of Canada's foremost constitutional experts.

Greg Power

Gregory J. Power (March 22, 1909 – May 15, 1997) was a politician, office holder, farmer, poet and athlete, who was born in Dunville, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. Power represented Placentia and St. Mary's from 1951 to 1956 and Placentia East from 1956 to 1959 in the Newfoundland House of Assembly.

The son of William and Gertrude Power, he was educated in St. John's and at Memorial University College. Power married Mary Ellen Crosbie. He was considered Joey Smallwood's right-hand man in the battle for Confederation of Newfoundland with Canada. He served as editor of the pro-Confederation newspaper The Confederate and wrote numerous editorial letters to local newspapers under the pseudonym "Housewife". His forte was satirical poetry.Power ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the 1949 Federal election in St. John's West. Failing to win a seat he was instead appointed the first chairman of the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation. He was elected to the House of Assembly for Placentia East in the 1951 Provincial election and became Minister of Finance. He later served a Minister of Highways during the extensive expansion of Newfoundland's road system during the 1950s. Power resigned from cabinet in 1959 and became critical of Smallwood.Power was twice winner of the O'Leary Newfoundland Poetry Award and endowed the Gregory J. Power Poetry Award, an annual competition at Memorial University of Newfoundland that aims to recognize and encourage young poets. He had a regular column in the newspaper The Evening Telegram.Power represented Newfoundland in the 1930 British Empire Games placing fifth out of six competitors in the triple jump. Several of his Newfoundland records were never broken prior to the switch to metric distances and as a result, still stand. He was inducted into the Newfoundland Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.He also owned Mary's Poultry Farms Ltd. With facilities in St. John's, Logy Bay and Dunville, Newfoundland. It was one of the largest egg producing operations in Atlantic Canada.

Power was awarded an honorary doctorate (LL.D.) at the Memorial University of Newfoundland Spring 1995 Convocation.He died May 15, 1997 in St. John's at the age of 88.

Herman Voaden

Herman Arthur Voaden, (19 January 1903 – 27 June 1991) was a Canadian playwright.

Joseph Zuken

Joseph (Joe) Zuken (December 12, 1912 – March 24, 1986) was a popular Communist politician in Winnipeg and the longest serving elected Communist party politician in North America.Joe Zuken's family immigrated to Canada from the Ukraine when he was still an infant. Raised in a secular Jewish environment in Winnipeg's working class North End he was educated at a secular Yiddish school in a socialist environment. He joined the Communist Party of Canada as a young lawyer and intervened in struggles for workers rights and in anti-fascist movements during the Great Depression.

Prior to the Second World War Zuken was connected with theatre in the city, both on-stage as an actor and off-stage, including an attempt to put on Eight Men Speak in a Winnipeg theatre.

As a lawyer he defended the party and left wing trade unions in court against state repression and later established a legal clinic to give poor people access to legal representation.

In 1941 Zuken was elected to Winnipeg's school board and was one of the few Communists to win re-election through the Cold War. He fought for the establishment of kindergartens, free textbooks, and higher salaries for teachers.

After serving on the school board for twenty years he was elected, in 1961, to Winnipeg's city council on behalf of the North End ward which had been represented since the 1930s by fellow Communist Jacob Penner. As an alderman he fought for public housing, public hospitals and rights for the poor.

Although Zuken's membership in the Communist Party was controversial, he was respected by politicians across the political spectrum for both his intelligence and his political commitment. In early 1969, he won the unanimous support of his colleagues on city council for changes to Winnipeg's Tenant Act. The reforms included the establishment of a landlord/tenant review board, restrictions on eviction notices, and improvements to the privacy rights of tenants.In 1979 Zuken unsuccessfully ran for Mayor of Winnipeg and won 18% of the vote.

He remained an alderman until his retirement in 1983 due to poor health.

Though a loyal member of the Communist Party he expressed public criticisms of the Soviet Union in the 1970s for its restrictions on Jewish emigration and official anti-semitism in Poland in the late 1960s.

Zuken's older brother, William Ross (Cecil Zuken), was also an active Communist politician, and served as leader of the Communist Party in Manitoba from 1948 to 1981.

Lloyd Shaw (socialist)

Lloyd Robert Shaw, (7 February 1914 – 16 October 1993) was a Canadian businessman, political activist and organizer, and a member of the Order of Canada.

Mel Doig

Melbourne A. Doig (died October 25, 1998) was a longtime Communist politician in Ontario, Canada. He served as leader of the Communist Party of Canada - Ontario in the 1981 provincial election, and was a prominent member of the federal party.

Doig was raised in a working-class community of Montreal, Quebec, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the McGill University in 1932.[1] He also joined the Communist Party of Canada in the 1930s. Doig campaigned as a candidate of the Labor-Progressive Party in Welland in the 1949 federal election, and subsequently in a 1950 federal by-election in the same riding. He described himself as an organizer, and finished fourth on both occasions.

Doig served on the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada in the early 1980s. An article in The Globe and Mail lists him as having been 68 years old in 1980.

The same article cites Doig as making the following comments in the 1980 federal election: "We are struggling to bring about a socialist society based on the interests of the majority of people who fight the exploitation of a minority. While we do see the possibility of achieving this end through the parliamentary process, we do not rule out the possibility of armed struggle if necessary . . . nor are we fighting for a socialist state and government that can be voted out of office through the ballot box."[2]Doig campaigned in St. Catharines in the 1979 and 1984 federal elections, and in the Toronto riding of St. Paul's for the 1980 federal election. He described himself as a journalist in 1979 and 1980, and as a secretary in 1984. Doig never came close to winning election.

During the 1981 provincial campaign, Doig called for a "new majority" of Members of Provincial Parliament who would end the foreign control of provincial industries. His party's platform called for the nationalization of natural resources, and government takeovers of plants that were in financial jeopardy. The Communist Party did not run a full slate of candidates, and Doig argued that some members of the New Democratic Party (NDP) could become part of the "new majority" in the legislature.[3] He received 162 votes in Dovercourt, finishing last against NDP candidate Tony Lupusella.

Philip Petursson

Philip Markus Petursson (October 21, 1902 in Pinecreek, Minnesota – May 12, 1988) was a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He was a New Democratic member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1966 to 1977, and briefly served as a cabinet minister in the government of Edward Schreyer.The son of Olafar Petursson, he moved to Foam Lake, Saskatchewan with his family during his first year of life and then moved to Winnipeg nine years later. He was educated at the University of Manitoba, the University of Chicago, the Meadville Theological School. He was an ordained Unitarian minister, and served as an executive member of the Western Canadian Unitarian Council; in the 1930s, he studied at the University of Iceland so as to be able to conduct services in that language. He also served on the Winnipeg School Board from 1942 to 1951, and was a member of the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Winnipeg Municipal Hospital Commission, and the Welfare Council of Winnipeg. He married Thorey Gislason in 1926. In 1953, Petursson gained attention in Winnipeg's religious community for speaking out against the concept of hell.

He ran for the House of Commons of Canada in the federal election of 1949 in the riding of Norquay, but lost to Liberal Robert James Wood by almost 4000 votes. He ran again the federal election of 1965, this time placing third in Winnipeg South Centre against Progressive Conservative Gordon Churchill and Liberal Fred Douglas.Petursson was elected to the Manitoba legislature in the 1966 provincial election, defeating incumbent Progressive Conservative Richard Seaborn in the north-end Winnipeg riding of Wellington. In 1968-69, he supported Edward Schreyer to replace Russell Paulley as leader of the provincial NDP. He was re-elected by an increased margin in the 1969 election, in which the NDP formed a minority government under Schreyer.On July 17, 1969, Petursson was named Minister of Cultural Affairs. It was always intended that he would return to the backbenches after a brief period in office, and he was indeed dropped from cabinet on November 4, 1970. Petursson remained an active parliamentarian, and was re-elected in the election of 1973. He did not seek re-election in 1977.He died in Winnipeg at the age of 85.

Ray Stevenson (political activist)

Raymond Leslie Stevenson (December 17, 1919 – August 24, 2004) was a writer and political activist in Canada. He was an executive member of the International Council for Friendship and Solidarity with Soviet People and Associate Editor of Northstar Compass - the organization's organ publication. Stevenson wrote articles for and worked on Northstar Compass for over 13 years. Stevenson was an executive member of the World Peace Congress which aimed to promote peaceful coexistence and nuclear disarmament. He was also a trade union organizer, activist and leader in Canada.

Stevenson was a member of the Communist Party of Canada from 1940 to 1998, and served for many years on its Central Committee and many of its Commissions.

Robert F. McLellan

Robert Faulkner McLellan (September 8, 1914 – November 23, 1988) was a Canadian politician. He represented the electoral district of Colchester in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly between 1945 and 1949. He was a member of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.McLellan was born in 1914 at Truro, Nova Scotia. He was educated at Mount Allison University and Dalhousie Law School. He married Helen Gladys Stuart in 1941. McLellan first attempted to enter provincial politics in the 1941 election, but was defeated. He ran again in 1945, and was elected in the dual-member Colchester riding with Liberal Gordon Purdy. In the 1949 election, McLellan was defeated by Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield and George Isaac Smith. McLellan ran as a Liberal candidate in the 1958 federal election, but was defeated by Progressive Conservative Cyril Kennedy in Colchester—Hants. On January 5, 1966, McLellan was appointed a County Court judge, and served in the position until September 30, 1981. McLellan died on November 23, 1988.

Tim Buck

Timothy "Tim" Buck (January 6, 1891 – March 11, 1973) was a long-time general secretary of the Communist Party of Canada (known from the 1940s until the late 1950s as the Labor-Progressive Party) from 1929 until 1962. Together with Ernst Thälmann of Germany, Maurice Thorez of France, Palmiro Togliatti of Italy, Earl Browder of the United States, and Harry Pollitt of Britain, Buck was one of the top leaders of the Joseph Stalin-era Communist International.

Tom McEwen (politician)

Thomas Alexander "Tom" McEwen (February 11, 1891 – May 11, 1988) was a Canadian labour organizer and Communist politician.

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