William Lyon Mackenzie King

By Robert Macgregor Dawson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ELEVEN
PARTY LEADER

"THIS IS TO BE A YEAR of momentous decisions so far as my own life is concerned." Such were the opening words of Mackenzie King's diary for 1919, and they in no way exaggerated the nature of the problem with which he was confronted. His life up to this time had been in general a preparation for public and social service, but the form which that service was to take was still unpredictable. He had been in turn a student in economics, politics, and law, a tutor, an editor, a civil servant, a Minister of the Crown, an author, and a consultant in labour relations; and although his present position as consultant was both interesting and profitable, he never regarded it as more than a stepping stone to something else. The greater his ability, the more necessary was it that his energies should seek some more permanent and continuous channels if it was to attain the maximum of effectiveness and if he was to achieve the maximum of satisfaction from it. This transient period was happily now drawing to a close. At the opening of the year three possible careers presented themselves, and it seemed certain that circumstances would force a decision about each within a few months.

The first alternative was substantially a continuation of the work on which King had hitherto been engaged for more than four years: the study of industrial relations which the Rockefeller Foundation had sponsored and the introduction of measures designed to provide more adequate representation of labour in the government of industry. He liked this type of work and his gifts as a conciliator and reformer were unquestioned. He had built up an international reputation as a consultant on industrial problems, and his intimacy with John D. Rockefeller, Jr. assured him not only employment but also the opportunity to excercise a profound influence on the labour policies of several of

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