The Fall & Rise of Mackenzie King, 1911-1919

By F. A. McGregor | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 15
A Political Setback in 1917

During his years of work with the Rockefeller Foundation and as industrial counsellor, Mackenzie King had never lost touch with the political scene in Canada. His relations with Laurier remained intimate, and he continued to hold a place of influence in the Liberal Party. He had given a minimum of attention to the riding of North York, where in 1913 he had been nominated as Liberal candidate. In spite of the urgent appeals of his supporters to make at least an appearance in the riding, his visits were infrequent. J. M. Walton, the energetic secretary of the North York Reform Association, kept up a steady barrage of appeals which increased in volume and vehemence with every rumour of an election -- and there were many such rumours -- and with every flutter of activity in the local Tory organization. 'You must get here visibly,' he pleaded. 'I fear for the results if you don't appear; absence is your only danger; it is about as urgent as that you should make your appearance at your own wedding.' Time and again Mackenzie King repeated his willingness to have them choose another candidate, and each time he was reassured, as he expected to be, that his followers would give no thought to such a change. His counterappeal to them was to make up for his necessary absence by doing more effective work in organizing themselves. He had yielded to local pressure, however, by spending the month of August 1916

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