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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

King and Chaos

The 1935 Canadian General Election

A study of the groundbreaking inclusion of third parties in the Canadian election of 1935.

In 1935, Canadians went to the polls against the backdrop of the Great Depression and deteriorating geopolitics. The election was like no other, as five major parties competed for voters who were used to a traditional slate of Liberals versus Conservatives. King and Chaos examines the significance of this turning point in political history.

As the Conservative government splintered under the weight of outdated policies, the opposition Liberals watched the destruction. Meanwhile, the newly minted Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, Social Credit Party, and the Reconstruction Party broadened the electoral base, bringing working-class Canadians—and working-class issues—more directly into the political process. Although Canadians ultimately swept Liberal Mackenzie King back into power, King and Chaos demonstrates that the advent of third parties transformed the political landscape. And while other countries turned to dictators and demagogues, King delivered a less radical but equally important change:  an effective electoral machine and a national coalition of French and English Canada that dominated politics for the next generation.

320 pages | 19 halftones, 2 maps, 2 tables | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Turning Point Elections

Political Science: Comparative Politics, Political Behavior and Public Opinion


"David MacKenzie elegantly sets readers down in the mid-1930s, leading them through the Great Depression and the 1935 election with ease and expertise."

Christopher Dummitt, author of Unbuttoned: A History of Mackenzie King’s Secret Life

"By 1935 Canada was in crisis. The economy was in crisis, the federal system was in crisis, and the party system was in crisis. The federal election of 1935 was one of the most important in Canadian history, though it is not generally known to Canadians today. King and Chaos corrects that."

Robert Wardhaugh, author of Mackenzie King and the Prairie West

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