William Lyon Mackenzie King

By Robert Macgregor Dawson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOURTEEN
FIRST ADMINISTRATION, 1921-1922

ALTHOUGH Mackenzie King had finally reached his goal as Prime Minister, his political future and that of his party were by no means assured. It is true that under his relatively brief leadership the Liberals had made a remarkable recovery: the schism of 1917 had been in large measure repaired and the results of the election had given clear confirmation of the restoration of party unity. But the victory, while impressive, was incomplete. Not only had the Liberals failed by a narrow margin to gain a majority of seats, they had been unable to establish an understanding with the farmers, and their representation in Parliament thus lacked the breadth and variety which was indispensable for a national party. King was fully conscious of this weakness, and he had done his utmost to overcome it both before and after the election. He had endeavoured by fair words and practical proposals of co-operation to forestall the clashes in the conventions and the constituencies, but he had been defeated by the hostile attitude of the Progressives, who were exhilarated by their provincial victories and their success in the federal by-elections. He had made further attempts in forming his Government but his proposals had again been rejected; for the Progressives, having played a lone hand with such happy results at the polls, were now determined to put their fortune to the test in the much more complicated game which was about to begin in Parliament.

King was disappointed and somewhat irritated by the failure of the Progressives to respond to his advances, but he was by no means discouraged. He could afford to wait. A number of forces were working for him and in the long run were likely to bring about the union he desired. His recent negotiations with the Progressive leaders were not to be counted a complete loss. He had demonstrated his desire to have them in his Cabinet; they had been very friendly and even apprecia-

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