Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Today in history: federal election produces minority government

King Byng Meighen
October 29, 1925 saw a Canadian election in which the incumbent Liberal government lost the popular vote and won substantially fewer seats than the Conservative opposition -- but remained in power, counting on the support of a third party.

The minority prime minister this time was William Lyon Mackenzie King. Eight months after this election, looming defeat in the House led King in June 1926 to request a dissolution and a new election. Governor General Byng's decision that the opposition Conservative were entitled to form a government and meet the House led to the King-Byng affair, in which King furiously attacked the governor general's refusal to take his prime minister's formal advice for a dissolution and a new election.

When King's government resigned, Conservative leader Arthur Meighen formed a government, was promptly defeated in the House, and was granted dissolution. King's campaign attacks on the governor general were popular on nationalist grounds but have not been, shall we say, much respected on constitutional grounds. In the election of September 1926, King again lost the popular vote but his Liberals secured more seats than the Conservatives and formed a new minority government, one that endured until 1930. Six different parties were represented in the 1926-30 parliament.

You may draw your own parallels to 2019 and possible 2020 events.
Follow @CmedMoore