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Show Summary Details Henderson, T. January Copyright year: Prices are subject to change without notice. It was practical needs rather than ideology that distinguished indirect from direct intervention in the economy. It was the first phase of modernization liberalism, which Macdonald embraced, and it is difficult to believe either that Angus L. A Provincial Liberal provides a significant boost to the emerging scholarship on the postwar political economy of the Atlantic Region. Henderson's contribution to the national historiography is twofold: He provides a first-rate portrait of the inner dynamics of the war Cabinet and a compelling case study of the difficulties high-profile provincial politicians had in making the transition to federal politics.

It is one of the best Canadian studies of how the mix of personal ambitions and rivalries, ideological differences, and divergent constituency considerations shaped policy at the federal If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click 'Authenticate'.

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MacMillan , the veteran Minister of Highways. After these preparations, the premier called a provincial election for June 29, Macdonald campaigned on his government's record. On election day, his Liberals were rewarded with 25 of the 30 seats in the legislature. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King had invited Macdonald to run for federal office during the general election of Although Macdonald turned him down, there were strong rumours in that Macdonald would soon enter federal politics.

Biographer Stephen Henderson writes however, that Macdonald wanted to remain as premier so he could present Nova Scotia's case to a Royal Commission on federal-provincial relations. The Depression of the s exposed glaring weaknesses in federal-provincial financial arrangements. Canada's poorer provinces found it impossible to cope with widespread poverty and hunger while the federal government resisted taking full responsibility for unemployment relief.

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Angus L. Macdonald: A Provincial Liberal

By , conditions had become so desperate that the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan faced bankruptcy. Macdonald wrote Nova Scotia's submission and presented it himself when the Commission held hearings in Halifax in February He argued however, that to maintain their independence, the provinces needed to collect indirect sources of revenue such as sales taxes. He also called for exclusive provincial control over such minor tax fields as gasoline and electricity taxes. A central part of Macdonald's case concerned the redistribution of wealth from richer provinces to poorer ones.

His argument was based on the premise that richer provinces benefited from national economic policies such as high tariffs while poorer provinces were penalized by them. Macdonald suggested that compensatory subsidies to poorer, less-populated provinces be based on need, not population, so that they could pay for government services available in other parts of the country without having to impose higher-than-average levels of taxation. The Commission's final report, released in May , reflected many of Macdonald's recommendations.

Mackenzie King called a federal-provincial conference in January to discuss the report. The provinces failed to agree on what should be done, but in April, the federal government went ahead on its own announcing it would levy steep taxes on personal and corporate incomes as a temporary measure to finance Canada's participation in the Second World War. The course of Macdonald's political career changed sharply after Canada declared war on Germany in September Three months later, Mackenzie King called a federal election and on March 26, , his Liberals won a decisive victory.

In spite of his victory, King was under pressure to recruit the country's "best brains" into his wartime cabinet. Ralston , a native Nova Scotian, to become his new minister of defence. Ralston agreed but imposed two conditions: Ilsley of Nova Scotia replace him as minister of finance and second that he get assistance in his new portfolio.

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King decided to appoint two additional ministers, one in charge of the Royal Canadian Air Force , the other to oversee the Royal Canadian Navy. He therefore, asked Macdonald to join the federal cabinet as minister of national defence for naval services. He handed over his responsibilities as premier to A. MacMillan and was sworn into the federal cabinet on July 12, Macdonald's five years in Ottawa were tumultuous ones.

He oversaw a massive increase in Canada's naval forces and played a key role in a political crisis that threatened to tear the Liberal government and the country apart. He also incurred the wrath of Mackenzie King, a political leader whom Macdonald grew to loathe. When he entered the federal cabinet in , Macdonald seemed a likely candidate to replace the aging King and one day become prime minister himself.

Mackenzie King wanted Macdonald to stand for a vacant seat in Kingston, Ontario.

Angus Lewis Macdonald - Wikipedia

It was a traditional Conservative riding that had been represented by Sir John A. Macdonald , Canada's first prime minister. In however, the riding had switched to the Liberals and King wanted to keep it. King that I did not know Kingston at all, nor its problems, nor its people", Macdonald wrote later. He won the seat by acclamation on August 12, It consisted of six destroyers, five minesweepers and about 3, personnel in its regular forces and volunteer reserves.

The RCN was assigned the task of escorting supply vessels transporting food and other materials needed to keep the war going. This convoy duty was critically important as German submarines or U-boats sought to starve Britain into submission by sinking supply ships. The RCN performed about 40 percent of the war's transatlantic Allied escort duty.

In the early part of the war, the Canadian navy lacked equipment that could detect underwater submarines as well as efficient radar for sighting ones on the surface. To make matters worse, Canada didn't have the long-range aircraft that were the most effective anti-submarine weapons. As supply ship losses mounted, the RCN struggled to catch up to the better-equipped British and American navies.

Macdonald himself lacked military expertise and often depended on senior naval staff who kept him in the dark about equipment shortages and other problems. Nelles , led to the effective dismissal of the latter in Biographer Stephen Henderson maintains that Macdonald played a key role in the wartime conscription crises that beset the federal government in , and again in , as Prime Minister Mackenzie King tried to avoid imposing compulsory military service overseas.


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  6. Macdonald himself strongly favoured conscription rather than relying solely on voluntary enlistment. A committed internationalist, he believed it unfair that some bore the sacrifices of overseas service while others escaped what he saw as their military obligations. Macdonald realized however, that conscription was highly unpopular in French-speaking Quebec and that enforcing it would split the country at a time when national unity was crucial. He also recognized that in the early years of the war, voluntary enlistment was producing enough recruits to meet the needs of the armed forces.

    Nevertheless, Macdonald continued to push the government to commit itself to conscription if circumstances should change. His position earned him the enmity of the politically cautious Mackenzie King. Undoubtedly, he came here expecting to possibly lead the Liberal party later on but has found that he will not be able to command the following that he expected".

    As the opposition Conservatives continued to press for overseas conscription, the King government held a national plebiscite on April 27, The plebiscite asked voters to release the government from its previous promise not to introduce compulsory war service. The results confirmed the sharp national split. English Canada voted strongly in favour and French Canada overwhelmingly against. Macdonald's two cabinet colleagues from Nova Scotia, defence minister J.

    Ralston , and finance minister J.

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    Ilsley , urged the government to introduce conscription immediately. A more cautious Macdonald wanted the government to commit itself to conscription should it be required to support the war effort. The crisis flared again two years later when the Canadian military called for overseas reinforcements. King however, suddenly dismissed Ralston during a cabinet meeting on November 1, Macdonald considered resigning, but said later he would have struck King if he had risen to leave. Instead he sat in his chair ripping sheets of notepaper into small shreds and dropping them on the floor.

    King himself seemed to recognize that if Macdonald had left, Ilsley would have resigned too, possibly taking other ministers with him and causing the government's collapse. In the end, King was forced to impose overseas conscription after the failure of the voluntary recruitment campaign, but the war ended soon after and his government survived unscathed.

    Macdonald, disillusioned by what he saw as the chicanery and ruthlessness of national politics, longed to return to Nova Scotia. MacMillan , the Liberals reaffirmed Macdonald's leadership at their convention on August 31, He had trouble making decisions, not because he was a procrastinator, but because he was not well. Nevertheless, Macdonald plunged into his role as a leading champion for the provinces.

    He argued that in order to maintain their independence, provinces needed exclusive jurisdiction over such sources of revenue as gasoline, electricity and amusement taxes. He lobbied for constitutional amendments designed to guarantee provincial rights. Such a policy, he maintained, would enable poorer provinces to sustain government services available in other parts of the country without having to impose higher-than-average levels of taxation. The federal government refused to recognize financial need as the basis for provincial subsidies. Aside from his role as a national spokesman for provincial rights, Macdonald presided over an administration that invested heavily in education.

    His government financed the building of rural high schools and extended financial assistance to Dalhousie University 's schools of medicine and law.

    The Macdonald Liberals easily won re-election in and , but the Conservatives made steady gains under Robert Stanfield , their new leader. The Conservatives for example, drew attention to kickback schemes under which brewing companies, wineries and distilleries contributed to the Liberal party in exchange for the right to sell their products in government liquor stores. However, Macdonald suffered a slight heart attack on April 11, , and was admitted to hospital where he died in his sleep two nights later, just four months before his 64th birthday.

    Stephen Henderson writes that the Nova Scotia legislature sat on the day of his death. Macdonald's seat was draped in Clanranald tartan and a sprig of heather decorated his desk. Macdonald's body lay in state for three days in the legislative building as more than , people filed past to pay their respects.

    Macdonald's death proved disastrous for provincial Liberals. There was no obvious successor to the popular premier.