The Politics of Chaos: Canada in the Thirties

The Politics of Chaos: Canada in the Thirties

The Politics of Chaos: Canada in the Thirties

The Politics of Chaos: Canada in the Thirties

Excerpt

The fascination for the 1930s is relatively recent. For those who lived through the depression the first reaction was relief that it was behind them. Only later could they remember with nostalgia the personal bonds forged by common hardships and economic disaster. For the younger generation, the 1930s is now part of history, a remote prewar decade, tinged with the romance of a period when life seems to have been simpler and less confusing. But this contemporary vogue for the 1930s is also linked to the concern for Canadian identity. In many ways the decade marks the beginning of modern Canada. The Canadians of that era were grappling almost for the first time with many of the problems which are still with us. A study of the 1930s is an introduction to the Canada of today.

This book describes the variety of responses to the problems of the era. It is a study of politics because politics dominated all discussions. It is biographical in its approach, not merely because Canadian politicians of the 1930s were colourful characters but also because they illustrate the diversity of responses during the decade. The introductory chapters sketch the social and political context in which these men operated. Many more individuals could have been included. There are no Maritime politicians because the sources for these men are inadequate; others had to be ignored because of space limitations. The selection is no more than an introduction to the politics of the decade.

The book began as a series of television lectures. I am indebted to Miss Nancy Fraser of CJOH-TV who produced the programs for the University of the Air. I am grateful to her for editing the scripts and also for her wide-ranging research for the graphics, some of which have been used as illustrations for this volume. The lectures have been revised and reorganized but the style is still popular rather than pedantic. I hope it is both readable and academically respectable.

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