A striking and significant phenomenon of the Canadian political scene immediately following World War I was the rise and fall of a third party. Professor Morton describes and analyses the background and political history of this movement, and gives a graphic description of western economy and politics generally which will assist all readers towards a better understanding of the Canadian west and its problems.
The Progress party represented essentially an agrarian revolt against what western Canada considered to be Canadian economic policy and Canadian political practice. As seen through western eyes, our economic policy at the same seemed a metropolitan economy, designed by control of tariffs, railways, and credit to draw wealth from the hinterland and countryside into the industrial and commercial centre of Canada. Political practice appeared in much the same light. The classic national parties took on the guise of instruments used by the vested interests of metropolitan Canada to implement this national policy. Distrust and dissatisfaction mounted over the first twenty years of the century and impetus for independent political action on the part of the farmers increased proportionately.
While the western grievances were shelved during World War I, party lines were weakened by the coming to power of the Union Government, and allegiance in the west was easily turned away from the unsatisfying traditional parties after the Union Government was defeated. By 1919-20, organized farmer groups were definitely committed to a programme of political action.
About the author
W.L. Morton was Vanier Professor of History at Trent University from 1966 to 1975 and is once more Professor of History at the University of Manitoba, now on a post-retirement basis to lead a seminar in the history of the Hudson’s Bay Company. He was awarded the Tyrrel Medal of the Royal Society of Canada in 1968, and made an Office of the Order of Canada in 1969. He is the author of The Canadian Identity and The Progressive Party in Canada.