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The “dirty thirties” had a great impact on the government, with its growing economic crisis. Not only was the government hopeless in resolving the issue, their attempts to aid the citizens were also unhelpful. Prime Minister R.B Bennett did little to satisfy the people and their needs. At first, he decided to raise the tariffs to incredibly high levels to try and protect the Canadian market. However, this could not stop the plummeting unemployment rates, and by 1932, one-fourth of workers were jobless. Due to this sudden drop, the prime minister had no choice but to give each province $20 million for relief programs. The relief program was a type of financial assistance given to some of the unemployed to keep them from starving, along with families who desperately needed help. Most of the time, the relief came in the form of vouchers that could be exchanged for food or clothing. Unfortunately, unmarried men were not eligible for this, and the government created another program to help these young citizens. Although unpopular, R.B. Bennett created labour camps in October 1932 to provide unemployed single men with shelter, food, and minimum payment. Living in bunkhouses, inside a semi-military type of camp, the men were paid 20 cents a day and worked on various projects requiring hard labour for 44 hours a week. Many men were convinced by trade unions that 20 cents a day was unfair and the payments should increase, leading to resentment towards the government. As a result, by April of 1935, the relief camps started to go on strikes in British Columbia, and also marched through Ottawa in demand for higher wages and better living conditions. Even though the prime minister’s government was not convinced by the strikers to change the camps methods, it was criticized greatly for establishing camps rather than making a program of reasonable work and wages. Eventually, the camps closed down in June 1936, and even the earnings of the 170 248 men were not enough to help the country with its financial issues. Therefore, the government was unable to provide the citizens with the jobs and money they needed, making non-traditional political parties step up and voice their opinions.    Millions of people in Canada were jobless, hungry, and homeless during the 1930’s, and could not provide for their families. Many were heavily in debt from buying credits and did not own many items of their own. Due to overproduction in factories, workers were laid off and had no money to spend on goods.  The unemployed were restless and some even marched across the country, like The Single Men’s Unemployed Association. These men needed jobs badly and so they marched through Toronto, Ontario, demanding for it. Others went from town to town across Canada looking for jobs-riding on railways by hiding in boxcars-out of desperation. Furthermore, prairie families in the west experienced the devastating droughts and storms first hand, which caused crop failures for years. As a result, between 1931 and 1937, 66 000 people left Saskatchewan, 34 000 left Manitoba, and 21 000 left Alberta; the majority being farmers who abandoned their farms. In short, the people of Canada were impacted significantly by the Great Depression and they deserved a government that was able to solve their problems.Every non-traditional party in Canadian politics during the 1930’s was created with hopes of developing a reliable government that could save the civilians from falling deeper into the crisis known as the “Great Depression”. A currently active party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), was formerly known as the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), a socialist party that operated from 1932 to 1961. The CCF’s founders were a mixture of farmers, labourers, and socialists, all united with the common goal of economic change. Notably, J.S. Woodsworth, the founding leader, was devoted to improving the human conditions during the Great Depression and had a strong belief in pacifism.  However, the CCF lost popularity amongst the people after WWII, and as a socialist party, it was accused of being associated with communism and was damaged by the Cold War. Similarly, the Social Credit Party, founded in 1935 and led by William Aberhart, was a conservative-populist party that was particularly popular in Alberta and British Columbia. Many members were desperate farmers due to droughts and dust storms ruining farms. Financially, the party went against traditional banks and promised to pay dividends of $25 every month. Once the Social Credit Party was in power in Alberta, it realized the treasury was not enough for the costs of the promises they made to the people. Furthermore, although the party won a large majority in the 1935 federal elections, it was not enough to run the entire country. While the party was greatly popular within British Columbia and Alberta, it did not have much influence elsewhere. Meanwhile, in 1935, the Union Nationale, a conservative and nationalist party, was founded in Quebec to fight for the rights of the French Canadians. Led by Maurice Duplessis, a lawyer from Trois-Rivieres, and former Conservatives party member, until his death in 1959, the party won six provincial elections between 1936 and 1966. Moreover, the party used issues such as the conscription crisis during WWI, uncaring attitudes of English businessmen, the desire to run their own affairs in the French Canadian population, and values represented by the Quebec Roman Catholic Church, to gain popularity. The people of Quebec were moved by the party and how it wanted to help the French Canadians, which gained the Union Nationale many voters. Unfortunately, the party did not have a big reputation outside of Quebec, and could not win any federal elections. To sum up, all three of these parties, aside from their different purposes, wanted to help the citizens of Canada recover from hard times and regain their prosperity.

Categories: Trade


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