William Lyon Mackenzie King, with Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the US president, 1943.
Politics and Government: William Lyon Mackenzie King
William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950), head of the Liberal
government throughout the Second World War, was Canada's greatest
political survivor: prime minister in the 1920s, when the country
became independent from Britain; in the Depression-ravaged 1930s;
and in the 1940s, the years of war and the Cold War which followed.
King led Canada for 22 years in all: 1921-1926, 1926-1930 and
1935-1948, and he added the duties of foreign minister for almost
all those years as well. His constant wartime goal, and greatest
success, was to prevent the split between English and French Canada
which had occurred over compulsory military service during the First
World War ( see
Conscription ). As one writer has said, he always looked at Canada
and its politics through the prism of national unity -- keeping
a big, diverse, easily-divided country together.
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