Arthur Meighen

Arthur Meighen PC QC (/ˈmiːən/; 16 June 1874 – 5 August 1960) was a Canadian lawyer and politician who served as the ninth prime minister of Canada, in office from July 1920 to December 1921 and again from June to September 1926. He led the Conservative Party from 1920 to 1926 and from 1941 to 1942.

Meighen was born in rural Perth County, Ontario. He studied mathematics at the University of Toronto, and then went on to Osgoode Hall Law School. After qualifying to practice law, he moved to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Meighen entered the House of Commons of Canada in 1908, aged 34, and in 1913 was appointed to the Cabinet of Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden. Under Borden, Meighen served as Solicitor General (1913–1917), Secretary of State for Canada (1917), Minister of Mines (1917; 1919–1920), Minister of the Interior (1917–1920), and Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs (1917–1920).

In 1920, Meighen succeeded Borden as Conservative leader and Prime Minister – the first born after Confederation, and the only one from a Manitoba riding. He suffered a heavy defeat in the 1921 election to Mackenzie King and the Liberal Party, but re-entered Parliament through a 1922 by-election and remained as Opposition Leader. In the 1925 election, the Conservatives won a plurality of seats, just eight short of a majority government, but Mackenzie King decided to hold onto power with the support of the Progressives.

Meighen's brief second term as Prime Minister came about as the result of the "King–Byng Affair," being invited to form a ministry after Mackenzie King was refused an election request and resigned. He soon lost a no-confidence motion, however, and faced another federal election. Meighen lost his own seat, and the Conservatives lost 24, as Mackenzie King's Liberals re-took power.

After losing the 1926 election, Meighen resigned as party leader and quit politics to return to his law practice. He was appointed to the Senate in 1932, and under R. B. Bennett served as Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister without Portfolio until 1935. In 1941, aged 67, Meighen became leader of the Conservatives for a second time, following Robert Manion's resignation. He attempted to re-enter the House of Commons in a by-election for York South, but lost to the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation candidate and resigned as leader shortly thereafter.

Arthur Meighen

Former PM Arthur Meighen
9th Prime Minister of Canada
In office
29 June 1926 – 25 September 1926
MonarchGeorge V
Governor GeneralThe Lord Byng of Vimy
Preceded byW. L. Mackenzie King
Succeeded byW. L. Mackenzie King
In office
10 July 1920 – 29 December 1921
MonarchGeorge V
Governor-GeneralThe Duke of Devonshire
The Lord Byng of Vimy
Preceded byRobert Borden
Succeeded byW. L. Mackenzie King
Personal details
Born16 June 1874
St. Marys, Ontario, Canada
Died5 August 1960 (aged 86)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Resting placeSt. Marys Cemetery,
St. Marys, Ontario
Political partyConservative (1908–1917, 1922–1942)
Unionist (1917–1922)
Progressive Conservative (1942–1960)
Isabel Cox (m. 1904)
ChildrenTheodore Meighen
Maxwell Meighen
Lillian Meighen Wright
RelativesMichael Meighen (grandson)
EducationMathematics (B.A., 1896)
Law (LL.D., 1902)
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
Osgoode Hall Law School
Arthur Meighen's signature

Early life

Arthur Meighen's Birthplace
Arthur Meighen's Birthplace

Arthur Meighen was born on a farm near Anderson, Perth County, Ontario, to Joseph Meighen and Mary Jane Bell. He attended primary school at Blanshard public school in Anderson, where, in addition to being the grandson of the village's first schoolmaster, he was an exemplary student. In 1892, during his final high school year at St. Marys Collegiate Institute, which later became North Ward Public School in St. Marys (now known as Arthur Meighen Public School) Meighen was elected secretary of the literary society and was an expert debater in the school debating society in an era when debating was in high repute. He took first class honours in mathematics, English, and Latin.[1]

He then attended University College at the University of Toronto, where he earned a B.A. in mathematics in 1896, with first-class standing.[1] While there, he met and became a rival of William Lyon Mackenzie King; the two men, both future prime ministers, did not get along especially well from the start. Meighen then graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School.

In 1904 he married Isabel J. Cox, with whom he had two sons and one daughter.

Early professional career

He moved to Manitoba shortly after finishing law school. Early in his professional career, Meighen experimented with several professions, including those of teacher, lawyer, and businessman, before becoming involved in politics as a member of the Conservative Party. In public, Meighen was a first-class debater, said to have honed his oratory by delivering lectures to empty desks after class. He was renowned for his sharp wit.[2]

Early political career

Meighen was first elected to the House of Commons of Canada in 1908, at the age of 34,[3] defeating incumbent John Crawford when he captured the Manitoba riding of Portage la Prairie. In 1911, Meighen won re-election, this time as a member of the new governing party. He won election again in 1913, after being appointed to Prime Minister Robert Borden's Cabinet as Solicitor General.

Meighen's fiery, sarcastic, and partisan speeches gained him a following on the Conservative party backbench, who saw him as logical, informed, and principled. He gained a following among those in the party who felt Borden's government was aimless.

Cabinet minister

Arthur Meighen ca. 1914-1919 (retouched)
Meighen during his early years as a cabinet minister.

Meighen served as Solicitor General from 26 June 1913 until 25 August 1917, when he was appointed Minister of Mines and Secretary of State for Canada. In 1917, he was mainly responsible for implementing mandatory military service as a result of the Conscription Crisis of 1917. Noteworthy was the government's decision to give votes to conscription supporters (soldiers and their families), while denying that right to potential opponents of conscription such as immigrants.[4] Meighen's portfolios were again shifted on 12 October 1917, this time to the positions of Minister of the Interior and Superintendent of Indian Affairs.

He was re-elected in the December 1917 federal election, in which Borden's Unionist (wartime coalition) government defeated the opposition Laurier Liberals over the conscription issue.

As Minister of the Interior, Meighen steered through Parliament the largest piece of legislation ever enacted in the British Empire: The consolidation of a number of bankrupt and insolvent railways into the Canadian National Railway Company, which continues today.

In 1919, as acting Minister of Justice and senior Manitoban in the government of Sir Robert Borden, Meighen helped to subdue the Winnipeg General Strike. Shortly after the strike ended, he enacted the Section 98 amendments to the Criminal Code to ban association with organizations deemed seditious.[1][5] Though Meighen has often been credited by historians with instigating the prosecution of the Winnipeg strike leaders, in fact he rejected demands from the Citizens' Committee that Ottawa step in when the provincial government of Manitoba refused to prosecute. It took the return to Ottawa in late July 1919 of Charles Doherty, Minister of Justice, for the Citizens' Committee to get federal money to carry forward their campaign against labour.[1]

Meighen was re-appointed Minister of Mines on the last day of 1920.

Prime Minister, 1920–1921

Meighen became leader of the Conservative and the Unionist Party, and Prime Minister on 10 July 1920, when Borden resigned and William Thomas White declined the Governor General's invitation to be appointed Prime Minister. During this first term, he was Prime Minister for about a year and a half.

Meighen fought the 1921 election under the banner of the National Liberal and Conservative Party in an attempt to keep the allegiance of Liberals who had supported the wartime Unionist government. However, his actions in implementing conscription hurt his party's already-weak support in Quebec, while the Winnipeg General Strike and farm tariffs made him unpopular among labour and farmers alike. The party was defeated by the Liberals, led by William Lyon Mackenzie King. Meighen was personally defeated in Portage la Prairie, with his party nationally falling to third place behind the newly formed Progressive Party.

Opposition, 1921–1926

Meighen continued to lead the Conservative Party (which reverted to its traditional name), and was returned to Parliament in 1922, after winning a by-election in the eastern Ontario riding of Grenville.

Despite his party finishing in third place, Meighen became Leader of the Opposition after the Progressives declined the opportunity to become the Official Opposition. Unlike the situation with Laurier and Borden, who had a generally respectful personal relationship despite their clear ideological differences, there existed between Meighen and King a very deep personal distrust and animosity. Meighen looked down upon King, whom he called "Rex" (King's old University nickname), and considered him unprincipled. King viewed Meighen as an unreconstructed High Tory who would destroy the nation's social peace after the traumatic domestic events of World War I. The bitter and unrelenting rivalry between the two party leaders was probably the nastiest in the history of Canadian politics.[2]

Meighen's term as opposition leader was most marked by his response to the crisis at Chanak, in which British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill, then serving in the cabinet of David Lloyd George, leaked to the press that the Dominions might be called upon to help British forces in the Chanak, Turkey. With Parliament not in session, King refused to commit the country to military action without Parliamentary approval, and announced that the matter was not important enough to recall Parliament. Meighen strongly condemned King's statement, and quoted Laurier's remark made on an earlier occasion: "When Britain's message came, then Canada should have said, 'Ready, aye ready, we stand by you.'" The crisis subsided within days before any formal request for Canadian help could be made, and Lloyd George's government was a casualty of the whole affair. [6] Meighen was left with a reputation as being blindly in favour of Britain's interests.

The Liberal government of Mackenzie King was soon beset with scandal. While the uneven performance of the government and disorganization of the Progressive movement created some opportunity for the Conservatives, Meighen generally refused to change from his general philosophy of restoring the pre-war social order and returning to National Policy level tariffs. His strategy in Quebec consisted of granting Esioff-Léon Patenaude general autonomy to run a full campaign without any interference from Conservative headquarters.

Meighen and the Tories would win a plurality of seats in the inconclusive election of 1925. King, as the already sitting Prime Minister, opted to retain confidence in the house through an informal alliance with the Progressives. Meighen denounced King as holding onto office like a "lobster with lockjaw."

Prime Minister, 1926

After a scandal was revealed in the Customs Department, King was on the verge of losing a vote in the Commons on a motion censuring the government. King, before the vote, asked the Governor General, Lord Byng, to dissolve parliament and call an election.

Byng, believing that the request was inappropriate considering the length of time since the election, Meighen's larger seat count, and King's uncertain control of confidence of the chamber, used his reserve power to refuse the request. King duly resigned as prime minister. Meighen, having secured a measure of support from the opposition Progressives, was invited by Byng to form a government, which Meighen accepted.

Because of the possibility of losing a vote in the Commons, Meighen advised Byng to appoint the ministers of the Crown in an "acting" capacity only, to avoid triggering the automatic by-elections Ministers faced when accepting their appointments at the time. King used the technique to mock the government and further his accusation that Meighen had acted irresponsibly by accepting Byng's appointment, attracting Progressive support to take down the fledgling government. The government lost a motion regarding the "acting" Ministers by one vote three days after Meighen's appointment. With no other parliamentary leader to call upon, Byng called the Canadian federal election, 1926.

Byng's actions became known as the "King-Byng Affair." Debate continues today about whether King was attacking the Governor General's constitutional prerogative to refuse an election request by a prime minister, or whether Byng had intruded into Canadian Parliamentary affairs as an unelected figurehead, in violation of the principle of responsible government and the longstanding tradition of non-interference.[7]

While Meighen's appointment as Prime Minister gave the Conservatives control of the country's electoral machinery, the Conservatives' weakness in Quebec and the West continued, and Meighen faced rousing attacks from Mackenzie King and the Liberals for accepting Byng's appointment. Although the Conservatives won the popular vote, they were swept from office as the Liberals won a clear plurality of seats and were able to form a stable minority government with the support of the Progressives. Meighen himself was again defeated in Portage la Prairie. His second term lasted three months.

Meighen announced his resignation as Conservative Party leader shortly thereafter, though during his speech at the subsequent leadership convention it became clear he was attempting to rouse the floor to gain a new term. Rejected, he moved to Toronto to practice law.

Senate appointment

Meighen was appointed to the Senate in 1932 on the recommendation of Conservative Prime Minister R. B. Bennett. He served as Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister without Portfolio from 3 February 1932 to 22 October 1935. He served as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1935 until he resigned from the upper house in January 1942.

Second Conservative leadership

In late 1941, Meighen was prevailed upon by a unanimous vote in a national conference of the party to become leader of the Conservative Party for the duration of the war. He accepted the party leadership on 13 November 1941, foregoing a leadership convention, and campaigned in favour of overseas conscription, a measure which his predecessor, Robert Manion, had opposed. As leader, Meighen continued to champion a National Government including all parties, which the party had advocated in the 1940 federal election.

Meighen, lacking a Commons seat, resigned from the Senate on 16 January 1942, and campaigned in a by-election for the Toronto riding of York South. His candidacy received the improbable support of the Liberal Premier of Ontario Mitchell Hepburn; this act effectively hastened the end of Hepburn's Liberal Premiership, and did not in any case grant Meighen durable electoral support. The Liberals did not run a candidate in the riding due to a prevailing convention of allowing the Opposition leader a seat. Still harbouring a deep hatred for the Conservative leader and thinking that the return to the Commons of the ardently conscriptionist Meighen would further inflame the smouldering conscription issue, King arranged for campaign resources to be sent to the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation's Joseph Noseworthy. Federal Liberal support and rising CCF fortunes ensured that Meighen was defeated in the 9 February 1942 vote.

With its leader excluded from the Commons, the Conservative Party was further weakened. Meighen continued to campaign for immediate conscription as part of a "total war" effort through the spring and summer, but did not again seek a seat in the House of Commons. In September, Meighen called for a national party convention to "broaden out" the party's appeal. It remained unclear whether Meighen sought to have his leadership confirmed or to have his successor chosen. As the convention neared, news sources reported that Meighen had approached Manitoba's Liberal-Progressive Premier John Bracken about seeking the leadership, and that the convention would adopt a platform that would move the party toward acceptance of the welfare state. Meighen announced in his keynote address to the party on 9 December 1942 that he was not a candidate for the leadership and the party subsequently chose Bracken as leader, and renamed itself the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

Retirement and death

Following his second political retirement, Meighen returned to the practice of law in Toronto. He died from heart failure in Toronto, aged 86, on 5 August 1960, and was buried in St. Marys Cemetery, St. Marys, Ontario, near his birthplace.[8] He had the second longest retirement of any Canadian Prime Minister, at 33 years, 315 days, Joe Clark surpassed him on 12 January 2014.

Honorary Degrees

Honorary Degrees
Location Date School Degree
 Ontario 1921 University of Toronto Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [9]
 Manitoba 1932 University of Manitoba Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [10]


The Post Office Department issued a memorial stamp featuring Meighen on April 19, 1961.[11] In the same year, Meighen was designated a National Historic Person by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board.[12] Landmarks named after Meighen include:


Larry A. Glassford, a professor of education at the University of Windsor, concluded, "On any list of Canadian prime ministers ranked according to their achievements while in office, Arthur Meighen would not place very high."[1]

Meighen ranks as #14 out of the 20 Prime Ministers through Jean Chrétien, in the survey of Canadian historians included in Prime Ministers: Ranking Canada's Leaders by J.L. Granatstein and Norman Hillmer.

Electoral history

Canadian federal election, 1908: Portage la Prairie
Party Candidate Votes
Conservative MEIGHEN, Arthur 3,144
Liberal CRAWFORD, John 2,894
Canadian federal election, 1911: Portage la Prairie
Party Candidate Votes
Conservative MEIGHEN, Arthur 3,267
Liberal PATERSON, Robert 2,592
Canadian federal by-election, 19 July 1913: Portage la Prairie
Party Candidate Votes
Conservative MEIGHEN, Hon. Arthur acclaimed
On Mr. Meighen being appointed Solicitor General, 26 June 1913
Canadian federal election, 1917: Portage la Prairie
Party Candidate Votes
Government (Unionist) MEIGHEN, Hon. Arthur 4,611
Opposition (Laurier Liberals) SHIRTLIFF, Frederick 976
Canadian federal election, 1921: Portage la Prairie
Party Candidate Votes
Progressive LEADER, Harry 4,314
Conservative MEIGHEN, Right Hon. Arthur 4,137
Independent BANNERMAN, Alexander Melville 139
Canadian federal by-election, 26 January 1922: Grenville
Party Candidate Votes
Conservative MEIGHEN, Right Hon. Arthur 4,482
Progressive PATTERSON, Arthur Kidd 2,820
Canadian federal election, 1925: Portage la Prairie
Party Candidate Votes
Conservative MEIGHEN, Rt. Hon. Arthur 5,817
Progressive LEADER, Harry 4,966
Canadian federal election, 1926: Portage la Prairie
Party Candidate Votes
Liberal MCPHERSON, Ewen Alexander 6,394
Conservative MEIGHEN, Right Hon. Arthur 5,966
Canadian federal by-election, 9 February 1942: York South
Party Candidate Votes
Co-operative Commonwealth NOSEWORTHY, Joseph W. 16,408
Conservative MEIGHEN, Right Hon. Arthur 11,952

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Glassford, Larry A. (2016). "Meighen, Arthur". In Cook, Ramsay; Bélanger, Réal. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. XVIII (1951–1960) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  2. ^ a b The Incredible Canadian, by Bruce Hutchison, Toronto 1952, Longmans Canada
  3. ^ Arthur Meighen, Roger Graham, The Canadian Historical Association, Historical Booklet No.16, Ottawa, 1968, p.3
  4. ^ Creighton 1970
  5. ^ Creighton 1970, p. 160
  6. ^ Robert Macgregor Dawson, William Lyon Mackenzie King: 1874–1923 (1958) pp 401–16
  7. ^ J. E. Esberey, "Personality and Politics: A New Look at the King–Byng Dispute," Canadian Journal of Political Science 1973 6(1): 37–55 in JSTOR
  8. ^ "Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada – Former Prime Ministers and Their Grave Sites – The Right Honourable Arthur Meighen". Parks Canada. Government of Canada. 20 December 2010. Archived from the original on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ National Postal Archives Database, Library and Archives Canada, with details from a news release of 1961
  12. ^ Rt. Hon. Arthur Meighen National Historic Person, Directory of Federal Heritage Designations, Parks Canada, 2012
  13. ^ Marshall, Rita (12 October 2011). "Board puts former Mitchell Public School on auction block". Mitchell Advocate. Mitchell, Ontario. Retrieved 28 November 2014. Mitchell Public was closed in June of 2010.


  • Brown, R. C. and Ramsay Cook. Canada, 1896–1921: a nation transformed (Toronto, 1974)
  • Creighton, Donald (1970). Canada's First Century. MacMillan of Canada.
  • Graham, Roger (1960–1965). Arthur Meighen: a biography, 3 volumes. Clarke, Irwin.; the standard scholarly biography
  • Graham, Roger. "Some political ideas of Arthur Meighen," in The political ideas of the prime ministers of Canada, ed. Marcel Hamelin (Ottawa, 1969), 107–20.
  • Granatstein, J.L. and Hillmer, Norman. Prime Ministers: Ranking Canada's Leaders. HarperCollinsPublishersLtd., 1999. P. 75-82. ISBN 0-00-200027-X.
  • Thompson, J. H. and Allen Seager. Canada, 1922–1939: decades of discord (Toronto, 1985);

Primary sources

  • Meighen, Arthur. Unrevised and Unrepented II: Debating Speeches and Others by the Right Honourable Arthur Meighen (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2011), Edited by Arthur Milnes.
  • Meighen, Arthur. Unrevised and Unrepented: Debating Speeches and Others by the Right Honourable Arthur Meighen (1949)
  • Oversea Addresses, June – July 1921 by Arthur Meighen at

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Solicitor General of Canada
Succeeded by
Hugh Guthrie
Preceded by
Albert Sévigny
Secretary of State for Canada
Succeeded by
Martin Burrell
Preceded by
Esioff-Léon Patenaude
Minister of Mines
Preceded by
William James Roche
Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs
Succeeded by
James Alexander Lougheed
Minister of the Interior
Preceded by
Martin Burrell
Minister of Mines
Preceded by
Robert Borden
Prime Minister of Canada
Succeeded by
Mackenzie King
Secretary of State for External Affairs
Preceded by
Mackenzie King
Prime Minister of Canada
Secretary of State for External Affairs
President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada
Preceded by
Wellington Willoughby
Leader of the Government in the Senate of Canada
Succeeded by
Raoul Dandurand
Preceded by
Raoul Dandurand
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate of Canada
Succeeded by
Charles Ballantyne
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
John Crawford
MP for Portage la Prairie, MB
Succeeded by
Harry Leader
Preceded by
Azra Casselman
MP for Grenville, ON
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Harry Leader
MP for Portage la Prairie, MB
Succeeded by
Ewan McPherson
Preceded by
George Foster
Senator for Ontario
Succeeded by
John Bench
Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert Borden
Leader of the Conservative Party
Succeeded by
Hugh Guthrie
Preceded by
Richard Hanson
Leader of the Conservative Party
Succeeded by
John Bracken
Progressive Conservative
11th Canadian Ministry

The Eleventh Canadian Ministry was the first cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Arthur Meighen. It governed Canada from 10 July 1920 to 29 December 1921, including only the last year of the 13th Canadian Parliament. The government was formed by the National Liberal and Conservative Party. Meighen was also Prime Minister in the Thirteenth Canadian Ministry.

13th Canadian Ministry

The Thirteenth Canadian Ministry was the second cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Arthur Meighen. It governed Canada from 29 June 1926 to 25 September 1926, including only the last three months of the 15th Canadian Parliament, all cabinet ministers were acting cabinet ministers as Meighen hadn't been given the confidence of the house, and any cabinet ministers appointed by him would have had to resign their seats and run for re-election. The government was formed by the old Conservative Party of Canada. Meighen was also Prime Minister in the Eleventh Canadian Ministry.

1926 Canadian federal election

The Canadian federal election of 1926 was held on September 14 to elect members of the House of Commons of Canada of the 16th Parliament of Canada. The election was called following an event known as the King–Byng affair. In the 1925 federal election, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King's Liberal Party of Canada won fewer seats in the House of Commons of Canada than the Liberal-Conservatives of Arthur Meighen. Mackenzie King, however, was determined to continue to govern with the support of the Progressive Party. The combined Liberal and Progressive caucuses gave Mackenzie King a plurality of seats in the House of Commons, and the ability to form a minority government.

The agreement collapsed, however, following a scandal, and Mackenzie King approached the Governor-General, Baron Byng of Vimy, to seek dissolution of the Parliament. Byng refused on the basis that the Liberal-Conservatives had won the largest number of seats in the prior election, and called upon Meighen to form a government.

Prime Minister Meighen's government was soon defeated in a vote of non-confidence, and Byng agreed to dissolve Parliament and call new elections. Mackenzie King effectively campaigned against Byng in the election instead of against Meighen, and won the largest number of seats in the House of Commons despite receiving a smaller proportion of the popular vote than the Tories. The Liberals did not run candidates in all ridings, having an informal electoral pact with the Progressives and Liberal-Progressives. Note in particular the election results in Manitoba, where Meighen's party captured almost 40 percent of the vote, twice the vote share of any other party, but no seats. Thus, Mackenzie King's Liberals were able to govern with the support of Liberal-Progressive Members of Parliament.

Byng returned to Britain at the end of the year and was raised to the rank of Viscount as an expression of confidence in him.

After his party's defeat and the loss of his own seat, Meighen resigned as Liberal-Conservative leader.

By-elections to the 13th Canadian Parliament

By-elections to the 13th Canadian Parliament were held to elect members of the House of Commons of Canada between the 1917 federal election and the 1921 federal election. Prime Minister Robert Borden, then Arthur Meighen, led a majority government consisting members collectively known as the Unionist Party, during the 13th Canadian Parliament.

The list includes Ministerial by-elections which occurred due to the requirement that Members of Parliament recontest their seats upon being appointed to Cabinet. These by-elections were almost always uncontested. This requirement was abolished in 1931.

Charles Ballantyne

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne, (August 9, 1867 – October 19, 1950) was a Canadian politician.

A millionaire and one-time owner of Sherwin Williams Paints in Montreal, Ballantyne was president of the Canadian Manufacturer's Association and a member of the Montreal Harbour Board. He also raised and commanded the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards of Canada. He was appointed to Sir Robert Borden's World War I Union government. He held no parliamentary seat when Borden appointed him minister of public works, minister of marine and fisheries and minister of the naval service in October 1917. He became a Cabinet minister prior to being elected to the House of Commons of Canada in the December 1917 federal election; delayed for two weeks because of the Halifax Explosion. Ballantyne was one of a handful of Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs) elected from Quebec during the Conscription Crisis of 1917.

Even before the inquiry into the Halifax disaster had completed its proceedings on 4 February 1918, Ballantyne initiated the formation of a Royal Commission to investigate the Halifax Pilotage. As a result of the commission's findings (unpublished), Prime Minister Borden invoked the War Measures Act in mid-March. Subsequently, the government took control over the port of Halifax until the end of the war. Ballantyne retained his Cabinet portfolios when Arthur Meighen succeeded Borden as Prime Minister of Canada, but was defeated as a Conservative candidate in the 1921 election that brought down the Meighen government.

In 1932, Conservative Prime Minister R. B. Bennett appointed Ballantyne to the Senate of Canada. Ballantyne was appointed Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian Senate in 1942, and served in that role until 1945.

Conservative Party of Canada (1867–1942)

The Conservative Party of Canada has gone by a variety of names over the years since Canadian Confederation. Initially known as the "Liberal-Conservative Party", it dropped "Liberal" from its name in 1873, although many of its candidates continued to use this name.

As a result of World War I and the Conscription Crisis of 1917, the party joined with pro-conscription Liberals to become the "Unionist Party", led by Robert Borden from 1917 to 1920, and then the "National Liberal and Conservative Party" until 1922. It then reverted to "Liberal-Conservative Party" until 1938, when it became simply the "National Conservative Party". It ran in the 1940 election as "National Government" even though it was in opposition.

The party was almost always referred to as simply the "Conservative Party" or Tories.

Edmond Baird Ryckman

Edmond Baird Ryckman, (April 15, 1866 – January 11, 1934) was a Canadian politician.

Born in Huntingdon, Canada East, he was first elected to the House of Commons of Canada for the riding of Toronto East in the 1921 federal election. A Conservative, he was re-elected in 1925, 1926, and 1930. In 1926, he was the Minister of Public Works in the short lived cabinet of Arthur Meighen. From 1930 to 1933, he was the Minister of National Revenue.

Gideon Robertson

Gideon Decker Robertson, (August 26, 1874 – August 5, 1933) was a Canadian Senator and Canadian Cabinet minister.

Robertson was a telegrapher by profession and had links with conservatives in the labour movement. In January 1917, he was appointed to the Senate as a Conservative as a means of bringing in labour representation during the First World War. When Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden formed a Unionist government in October as a means of creating a national government for the war effort, he made Robertson minister without portfolio in order to give Cabinet representation from labour. On November 8, 1918, Robertson became Minister of Labour.

He held this portfolio in 1919 during the Winnipeg General Strike. At the beginning of the action Robertson and Minister of Interior Arthur Meighen went to the city to meet the "Citizens' Committee of 1000" which had been formed by local businessmen and professionals in opposition to the strike. He refused to meet the Central Strike Committee to hear their demands. Robertson ordered federal government employees to return to work or lose their jobs. On June 17, he ordered the arrest of the twelve principal strike leaders, including J. S. Woodsworth. Robertson also supported the government's decision to send in the Royal Northwest Mounted Police to crush the strike in an action that became known as "Bloody Saturday".

Robertson earned the longstanding enmity of the left and labour movement for his role in the strike and, despite his background, was not considered a legitimate representative of workers by most of the working class. Robertson retained his position as labour minister when Arthur Meighen became Prime Minister of Canada until the government's defeat in the 1921 federal election. Robertson returned to government when R. B. Bennett's Conservatives won the 1930 election, and again became Minister of Labour, but remained unpopular with his constituents. When visiting Winnipeg in 1932, six thousand workers met him at the railway station with the slogan: "A Faker Comes to Town." He stepped down as Labour minister in February and died the next year.

Isabel Meighen

Jessie Isabel Meighen (née Cox; April 18, 1882 – September 6, 1985) was the wife of Arthur Meighen, the ninth Prime Minister of Canada.

She was born in Granby, Quebec. She married Arthur Meighen in 1904, and they had two sons and one daughter:

Theodore Roosevelt Meighen (1905–1979), whose son Michael Meighen is a Canadian former senator, lawyer and cultural patron

Maxwell Charles Gordon Meighen (1908–1992)

Lillian Meighen Wright (1910–1993)Meighen died at the age of 103 and was interred next to her husband in the St. Marys Cemetery in the town of St. Marys, Ontario.

John Dowsley Reid

John Dowsley Reid, (1 January 1859 – 26 August 1929) was a Canadian businessman, physician, and parliamentarian. A Conservative, he was a long-standing Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of Canada for the Ontario Electoral district of Grenville South (named simply Grenville after 1903). He was first elected in the Canadian federal election of 1891 and was re-elected seven more times.

During his years in the House of Commons, he served as a cabinet minister in a variety of posts in the Cabinet of Canada, including:

Minister of Customs (10 October 1911 – 11 October 1917)

Minister of Railways and Canals (12 October 1917 – 20 September 1921)

Minister of Customs and Inland Revenue (Acting) 2 September 1919 – 30 December 1919)

Minister of Public Works (Acting) (6 August 1919 – 2 September 1919) and (31 December 1919 – 12 July 1920)On 22 September 1921, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada on the recommendation of Arthur Meighen. He represented the senatorial division of Grenville, Ontario until his death.


Liberal–Unionists were supporters of the Liberal Party of Canada who, as a result of the Conscription Crisis of 1917 rejected Sir Wilfrid Laurier's leadership and supported the coalition Unionist government of Sir Robert Borden.

Much of the Ontario Liberal Party declared themselves to be Liberal–Unionists, including provincial party leader Newton Wesley Rowell, who joined Borden's Cabinet, and a variety of Liberal MPs.

In the 1917 election, many Liberals ran as Liberal–Unionists or Unionists against the Laurier Liberals.

After the war, most Liberal–Unionists rejoined the Liberal Party despite efforts by Borden and Arthur Meighen to make the coalition permanent by renaming the Conservative party the National Liberal and Conservative Party. Several Liberal–Unionists ended up staying with the Conservatives including Hugh Guthrie and Robert Manion.

Louis de Gonzague Belley

Louis de Gonzague Belley, (February 3, 1863 – July 9, 1930) was a Canadian politician.

Born in St-Alexis de la Grande Baie, Canada East, he was a lawyer before being acclaimed at the age of 29 to the House of Commons of Canada for the Quebec riding of Chicoutimi—Saguenay in an 1892 by-election. A Conservative, he was defeated in the 1896 election. In September 1921, he was appointed Postmaster General in the cabinet of Arthur Meighen. He was defeated in the 1921 federal election.

Michael Meighen

Michael Arthur Meighen, (born March 25, 1939) is a Canadian lawyer, cultural patron and former senator. A litigation and commercial lawyer who has practised in Montreal and Toronto, he is a member of the Bars of both Ontario and Quebec. He is a grandson of Arthur Meighen, the ninth Prime Minister of Canada.

Mount Arthur Meighen

Mount Arthur Meighen is a 3,205 m (10,515 ft) mountain located in the Premier Range of the Cariboo Mountains in the east-central interior of British Columbia, Canada. The mountain is south of the head of the McLennan River and immediately west of the town of Valemount, British Columbia.

The name honours the ninth Prime Minister of Canada, Arthur Meighen, who held office for only fifteen months in 1920-1921 and three months in 1926. He died in 1960, thirty-six years after leaving office. The mountain was officially renamed after Meighen in 1962. Prior to that, it had been called "Carpé".

Raymond Ducharme Morand

Raymond Ducharme Morand, (January 30, 1887 – February 2, 1952) was a Canadian politician.

Born in Windsor, Ontario, he was first elected to the House of Commons of Canada for the riding of Essex East in the 1925 federal election. A Conservative, he was defeated in the 1926 election. He was re-elected in the 1930 federal election and was defeated in 1935 and 1940. In 1926, he was a Minister without Portfolio, Minister presiding over the Department of Health (Acting), and Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment (Acting) in the short lived cabinet of Arthur Meighen. In 1935, he was the Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons.

Reconstruction Party of Canada

The Reconstruction Party was a Canadian political party founded by Henry Herbert Stevens, a long-time Conservative Member of Parliament (MP). Stevens served as Minister of Trade in the Arthur Meighen government of 1921, and as Minister of Trade and Commerce from 1930 to 1934 in the Depression-era government of R. B. Bennett.

He was Chairman of the Price-Spreads Commission in 1934. Stevens argued for drastic economic reform and government intervention in the economy. He quit the Bennett government and formed the Reconstruction Party when it became evident that the Tories would not implement the proposals of the Price-Spreads Commission.

The party was also isolationist and opposed Canadian involvement in a European war and opposed the League of Nations sanctions against fascist Italy for its invasion of Ethiopia.

The Reconstruction Party nominated 174 candidates in the 1935 federal election. It won more votes nationally than the other new parties. The Liberal vote was 2,076,394, the Conservatives 1,308,688, and that for the Reconstruction Party 389,708; while the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the Social Credit parties garnered 386,484 and 187,045 votes respectively. Many of the votes that the party won were taken away from the Conservative Party. In 48 ridings, the margin of victory for the Liberal candidate over the Conservative candidate was less than the number of votes received by the Reconstruction Party candidate.

Despite receiving 8.7% of the vote, the party won only one seat in the House of Commons of Canada - H. H. Stevens in Kootenay East riding. The Reconstruction Party came to an end when Stevens rejoined the Conservatives in 1938.

The Party had a short lived provincial wing in Alberta that ran one candidate in 1935 Alberta provincial election and picked up 192 votes.

Rodolphe Monty

Rodolphe Monty, (November 30, 1874 – December 1, 1928) was a Canadian politician.

Born in Montreal, Quebec, he was educated in law at Université Laval and McGill University. He was called to the Bar of Quebec in 1897 and was created a King's Counsel in 1909. In September 1921, he was appointed Secretary of State of Canada in the cabinet of Arthur Meighen. A Conservative, he was defeated in the 1921 federal election in the riding of Beauharnois. He was also defeated in the riding of Laurier—Outremont in the 1925 election.

William Benjamin Ross

William Benjamin K.C. Ross (December 12, 1855 – January 10, 1929) was a Canadian politician, lawyer and businessman.

A lawyer by training, Ross practised law in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He also pursued business interests such as helping found the Halifax Electric Tramway Company Limited. Ross was appointed to the Senate of Canada as a Conservative in 1912 by Sir Robert Borden.

In January 1926, he was appointed Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian Senate by Tory leader Arthur Meighen, and served briefly as Government Leader in the Canadian Senate when Meighen formed a short-lived government later that year. After the Conservatives lost the 1926 election, Ross resumed his position as Opposition Leader. Ross remained in that position until his death in 1929.

York South

York South was an electoral district (or "riding") in Ontario, Canada, that was represented in the House of Commons of Canada from 1904 to 1979.

The riding is notable for the 1942 federal by-election in which newly elected Conservative leader Arthur Meighen was defeated in his attempt to win a seat in the House of Commons by the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation's (CCF) candidate (assisted by the Liberals). The election was a major breakthrough for the CCF, and ended Meighen's attempt to return to politics. In later years, it became known as perennial leaders' riding, the home district for both CCF and New Democratic Party (NDP) leaders Ted Jolliffe, Donald C. MacDonald, David Lewis and Bob Rae.

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