William Lyon Mackenzie King

By Robert Macgregor Dawson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE
LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

MACKENZIE KING, though comparatively untried in politics, was in many ways particularly well fitted for the position of party leader. His political inheritance as a grandson of William Lyon Mackenzie and as Sir Wilfrid Laurier's bright young man recommended him to many Canadians. He had some administrative and political experience, and he had a record of successful accomplishment in all the tasks to which he had set his hand. He was young, vigorous, and exceptionally industrious. Above all, he had proved to be unusually adept in bringing about harmonious relations between conflicting interests by conciliatory methods. While this talent had been exercised in the sphere of labour and not of politics, it was the product of many qualities which were essentially political-an alert mind, a high degree of sensitivity in human relations, a bland and easy manner, an instinctive ability to find a common ground of agreement, and a gift for persuasive and mollifying statement which could minimize differences and make compromises more palatable.

These qualities Canada needed badly, and she needed them at once. The general post-war unrest and uncertainty were not to be quieted nor was any satisfactory solution of the many problems confronting the Canadian people to be found through the separate and exclusive groups and parties which were suddenly appearing and giving battle across the country. Only a party built on a Dominion-wide scale, sufficiently comprehensive to be able to integrate some of the existing groups and programmes and sufficiently well led to be able to make its appeal for unity and co-operation effective, could hope to carry Canada forward to the next stage in her development towards political and economic maturity. Although the Liberal party itself was not able at this critical time to meet the specifications, it was successful in

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