Mackenzie King Quotes

William Lyon Mackenzie King, 1874 – 1950

Born: 17 December 1874, Berlin, Ontario, Canada (now Kitchener)
Died: 22 July 1950, Kingsmere, Quebec, Canada

King studied economics and law at the University of Toronto (BA in economics 1895, LLB 1896, MA 1897) earned his MA in economics from the University of Chicago (1898), and a PhD from Harvard (1909), plus later work at the London School of Economics. Only one other Canadian Prime Minister held an earned PhD. He was Deputy Minister of the new Department of Labour from 1900 and won a seat in Parliament in 1908 but was defeated in 1911. He then worked as a consultant in labor relations, worked for the Rockefeller Foundation, and published Industry and Humanity (1918) in which he layed out his concept that government should take an active role in peaceful resolution of labor issues. He became the head of the Liberal Party in 1919 and Prime Minister in 1921, reducing the national debt and establishing an old-age pension plan, but lost in 1930 (giving the Tories the onus of being in charge of the Depression). He was returned to office in 1935 and is unable to stem the Depression, but the country’s attention is turning to Europe. As a mediator he supported the English and French efforts at appeasement, declared that Canada would not go to war unless Britain was attacked, and made some regrettable comments in admiration of Hitler. Popular opinion was not favorable toward England at the time and he made a point of not declaring war on Germany when the rest of the Commonwealth did, but brought the matter to Parliament a week later. He initially opposed conscription, winning support in Quebec, but adopted it later only for domestic service, and in 1944 reneged on that, sending draftees to the European Theater. His government introduced the Canadian Citizenship Act in 1946, making Canadians citizens of their own country for the first time; King was given a certificate of citizenship bearing the number 00001. In August 1948 he called a Liberal Party national convention in which he did not run for leadership, he resigned as PM three months later. With over 22 years as PM, he has served in that capacity longer than anyone else in Commonwealth History, but he has been criticized for lacking both charisma and creativity, in contrast to his friend Churchill. He planned but did not write his memoirs, although his diaries are apparently fascinating, and died at home of pneumonia. His stern visage appears on the Canadian fifty-dollar bill.

Mackenzie King quotes:

A true man does not only stand up for himself, he stands up for those that do not have the ability to.
    Mackenzie King

Every hour of useful work is precious.
    Mackenzie King

Far more has been accomplished for the welfare and progress of mankind by preventing bad actions than by doing good ones.
    Mackenzie King

For one cause or another, it has become necessary to impose restrictions upon the use of many commodities, including not a few of the necessities of life.
    Mackenzie King

Fortunately, the Canadian people in all their habits, are essentially a temperate people.
    Mackenzie King

Government, in the last analysis, is organized opinion. Where there is little or no public opinion, there is likely to be bad government, which sooner or later becomes autocratic government.
    Mackenzie King

I believed the people had a true instinct in most matters of government when left alone. That they were not swayed, as specially favoured individuals were, by personal interest, but rather by a sense of what best served the common good. That they recognized the truth when it was put before them, and that a leader can guide so long as he kept to the right lines. I did not think it was a mark of leadership to try to make the people do what one wanted them to do.
    Mackenzie King

I never dreamed that the day would come when, after spending a lifetime in a continuous effort to promote and to preserve peace and good-will, in international as well as in industrial relations, it should fall to my lot to be the one to lead this Dominion of Canada into a great war.
    Mackenzie King – Address to House of Commons (8 September 1939)

I’ve always found that you can control people better if you don’t see too much of them.
    Mackenzie King

If I am outspoken of the dangers of intemperance to members of our armed forces, it is because we are all especially concerned for the welfare of those who are risking their lives in the cause of freedom.
    Mackenzie King

If some countries have too much history, we have too much geography.
    Mackenzie King

It is what we prevent, rather than what we do that counts most in Government.
    Mackenzie King

Just when we most need to be clearheaded, in order to face the hard facts before us, there is all too frequently a very real inclination to give way to dangerous tendencies merely as an escape from realities.
    Mackenzie King

Once a nation parts with the control of its credit, it matters not who makes the laws.
    Mackenzie King

Only the man who disciplines himself strictly can stand for long the terrific pace of modern war.
    Mackenzie King

The politician’s promises of yesterday are the taxes of today.
    Mackenzie King

We must also go out and meet the enemy before he reaches our shores. We must defeat him before he attacks us, before our cities are laid to waste.
    Mackenzie King

When it comes to politics, one has to do as one at sea with a sailing ship, reach one’s course having regard to prevailing winds.
    Mackenzie King

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