R.B. Bennett: Significance, Judgement, and Perspective

Photo from CBC

Photo from CBC

Last Saturday, I spent a great deal of time in my car driving kids to violin lessons, water polo practices, and picking my partner up from the airport. En route to one of these activities, I came across a report on the CBC hourly news from Newbrunswick of a statue being constructed or sculpted at the request of the speaker of the Senate.

The speaker, among other Newbrunswickers, is trying to have a likeness of R.B. Bennett, Canada’s Prime Minister during the Great Depression, placed on Parliament Hill adjacent to the other honourees who loom in bronze. Here is the CBC piece via the website. (I apologize for not getting the audio, but nobody from CBC Newbrunswick will get back to me.): Newbrunswickers Pushing for R.B. Bennett Statue

The CBC asked an historian to weigh in. Dr. David Frank from UNB is quoted in the article. This prompted me to email him and ask his opinion on Bennett, significance, ethical judgement, and historical perspective. Here is our correspondence: https://www.evernote.com/l/AI9IUY6VjJtJ3LOXmg5ps4n-Kj7NrJoAiYM

Dr. David Frank (Photo from UNB)

Dr. David Frank (Photo from UNB)

He pointed me to a review he did of P.B. Waite’s biography of Bennett: https://www.evernote.com/l/AI9YsbYOwAdBCoItZXSjBlE2o-x-3_7CgO4

As you can see from the comments on the CBC article, this has caused a bit of a stir. Even the artists’ own mother was appalled by the idea. So who is this guy who conjures such debate in Canada?

Here are a few resources which I found handy:

Biographer John Boyko who shares a different perspective than Waite:

Boyko in the Winnipeg Free Press: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/stephen-harper-is-our-rb-bennett-95245904.html

Donald Benham’s review of Boyko’s book: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/books/theres-much-to-admire-in-nasty-tempered-rb-bennett-94646494.html

Excerpt from the Prime Ministers, edited by Chevrier: https://www.evernote.com/l/AI8WEwtPcZhMrZMuQi23QYWe3vQ1gEZtXRQ

Listen to Bennett himself as he addresses Canada: http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/politics/prime-ministers/prime-ministers-general/rb-bennett-triumph-in-canadas-great-dark-days.html

Here is the Library and Archives Canada flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lac-bac/sets/72157630058610173/

What do you think? Does Bennett warrant a statue? Can you use your historical thinking concepts to develop an argument? What evidence can you cite? Tweet using #SJRCanHis #Bennett or comment below. I am interested in your thought and reflection. Be clear, be courteous, and be smart.

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25 thoughts on “R.B. Bennett: Significance, Judgement, and Perspective

  1. Because I recently moved to Canada I never heard about the country´s eleventh prime minister Richard Bedford Bennett before. But after reading all of these informative articles about him, I pretty much understand the main message every one of them has: Bennett was not liked and almost hated during his time as a prime minister between 1930 and 1935, because people blamed him for being responsible and not changing the Great Depression. Today, however, our modern society values him for his achievements and Bennett´s contribution to Canada´s history.
    But there are also controversial debates about whether or not there should be a statue on Parliament Hill for him.

    In my point of view Bennett was a progressive thinker of his time and he influenced Canada´s society significantly due to his establishment of different companies to enhance the country´s industry and his idea of social safety. The rumours of his terrible character and his failure in the politics are not justifiable.

    By the invention of the Canadian Broadcasting Cooperation, CBC, Bennett “[…] increased the minimum wage and developed new unemployment insurance and pension program”. This was his first attempt to end the Great Depression and to help people to get work, earn money and feed their families. That this company was a huge success is visible by the lasting consequences of its establishment. Today the CBC still exists, almost 80 years after its founding, and serves as the national public radio and television broadcaster.

    Bennett also transacted his plan to enhance Canada´s economy by legislating strict corporate and financial regulations. Although this made him unpopular at this time, Bennett did not act this way to anger the population. His solely goal was to help Canada as a country to get out of the Great Depression, that brought unemployment and industrial collapse with it after the crash of the U.S. stock market in 1929. To further prevent the Great Depression from getting worst Bennett also created the Bank of Canada to have control of the monetary policies.

    Because the depression “was devastating to Canadian farmers and workers”, Bennett established the Canadian Wheat Board. It supported farmer families, stabilized the food prices and secured Canada´s position in the world´s agriculture market.

    In addition, Bennett also supported railway building in Canada and was the corporate lawyer for the Canadian Pacific Railway. We know today, that the railway was responsible for Canada´s creation and success. It connected the different provinces and made trading possible. Without the railway life in Canada would not be the same today.

    With all of these new companies Bennett “restructured Canada´s economy and its relationship with their government”. But why was he so hated during his time as a prime minister during the Great Depression?

    The answer is logical…

    During the Great Depression, hard times were present in Canada. People worried about losing their money, home, family and life. In such a situation it is obvious that people were not happy at all, but angry and fearful. Because the whole population was in a bad mood and frustrated that they couldn´t change the situation, they started to look for a person that could be blamed to be in charge of the depression. Bennett at this time was the prime minister of Canada and therefore the perfect scapegoat for the whole society. A letter addressed to the prime minister in 1934 states: “You said if you was elected, you would give us all work and wages, well you have been in the Prime Ministers shoes, now, for 4 years and we are still looking for work and wages. You took all our jobs away from us. We can’t earn any money”. Other people also accused Bennett of only acting in his own interest and for his own profit and said: “You have caused lots of people to kill their families and themselves rather than to slowly starve to death, or freeze to death”(http://www.canadianmysteries.ca/sites/norman/background/1930s/5394en.html).

    The population made Bennett responsible for everything they opposed. When he, for example, set up work camps to support people during the depression, many people opposed this action and protested. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police ended these protests with violent actions and the workers made Bennett responsible for this. The prime minister, however, never “ordered the RCMP action, but he didn´t disapprove it either” and therefore he got more hated of the majority of the Canadian population.

    Bennett´s left party was known for its radical ideas, like the “excesses of capitalism and call for reform, regulation, and higher taxes”. Although these might not seem radical for us today, it is important to consider historical perspective and avoid presentism when analysing the situation. In a speech from 1935 Bennett clearly states his goal: “I am for reform. And, in my mind, reform means Government intervention. It means government control and regulation. It means the end of laissez-faire” (http://canadachannel.ca/canadianbirthdays/index.php/Quotes_by_Prime_Ministers_-_R._B._Bennett).

    For all of the above reasons people mostly think of Bennett as an arrogant millionaire and the “Monopoly man – top hat, waistcoat and watch chain”.

    But this quickly needs to change…
    Bennett believed in a judicious use of government power and his concept of social safety was very progressive. He fought for thinks that are normal nowadays, but were considered radical at his time, like minimum wages, old-age pensions, unemployment insurance and reforms for workers.

    Unfortunately, Bennett became prime minister during economic and financial difficulties in Canada. The population, therefore, didn’t appreciate his actions, because they were frustrated and found a scapegoat in Bennett.

    Although the Conservatives with Bennett won the election in 1930 due to their campaign to fight against the depression, the his time as a prime minister already ended in 1935 when he was defeated by the Liberals.

    After looking more closely at Bennett´s achievements, I support the idea of commemorating him with a statue on Parliament Hill. He should become the 8th Canadian prime minister having a monument there, because of his success in restructuring the Canadian economy and helping the country to get out of their Great Depression. Although finally Mackenzie King was the prime minister that ended the depression in 1939, he took many of Bennett´s ideas and implemented them.

    In Bennett´s speech from 1934 his great character and fight to help Canada to get out of the economic depression is visible, when he tries to inspire the population and to give them courage to be strong enough to fight against their situation.

    Although some people blame the Conservatives for only building a statue of Bennett for their own purpose, there is enough primary evidence to support that his achievements truly were very influential in Canada´s development and his character admirable. In Bennett´s speech from 1934 his great character and fight to help Canada to get out of the economic depression is visible, when he tries to inspire the population and to give them courage to be strong enough to fight against their situation.
    Especially during extreme hard days of the depression Bennett tried to help and support the population. Canadians addressed many letters to him requesting for help. One of them for example states: “Dear Sir, I am writing to see if there is any help I could get. As I have a baby thirteen days old that only weighs one pound and I have to keep it in cotton Wool and Olive Oil and I haven’t the money to buy it”. As a respond Bennett sent this helpless mother five dollars, with which she was able to buy groceries for one month and to save her baby´s life. This was not the only family Bennett helped and more heart-warming letters can be found here: http://www.cbc.ca/history/EPISCONTENTSE1EP13CH2PA3LE.html
    These letters and other primary sources prove that Bennett´s achievements and his charming characters are no myth in our society and the statue will not be build to support anyone´s purpose.

    “History will deem neither to be a perfect men – none of us are. It will judge neither to be a perfect prime minister —mistakes are inevitable”. This quotation supports my argument, that Bennett was a progressive thinker and should be remembered. People accused him of being responsible for the Great Depression only because they were frustrated. But we need to focus on his great and historically significant achievement: the creation of infrastructure programs, the establishment and supporting of important corporations and the enhancement of social safety. Bennett undertook “a number of bold initiatives that fundamentally restructured the economy and Canadians´ relationship with their government” and he was a great social reformer!

    Additional interesting sources about prime minister R.B. Bennett:

    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/91513/Canada/43009/The-Great-Depression

    http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/en/education/pdf/Gr10_Letters_Depression.pdf

  2. The debate of whether to construct a R.B Bennett monument has gained exposure. This debate relates to some of the historical thinking concepts including: ethical judgment and historical significance. To earn a monument on Parliament Hill, a Prime Minister needs to reach goals that further enhance the lives of Canadians. I believe Bennett deserves a statue. R.B Bennett is a very complex individual. As a Prime Minister Bennett created the CBC and the Bank of Canada during his 5 years in office. His list of accomplishments is fairly short compared to the other Prime Ministers with statues in Ottawa. Bennett was in office during the height of the great depression. Despite his conservative views, Bennett implemented left wing strategies in order to improve economic and political stability. Bennett had a persona of a businessman. He would dress very well and would buy and sell goods to make a profit. This made him a disliked man, especially during the depression. Although he was not liked by the Canadian people of his time, I think in hindsight he worked hard to keep Canada afloat during the depression, witch in turn improved Canada as a whole.

  3. R.B. Bennett was Canada’s Prime Minister during the Great Depression. He assured that he could combat the depression, yet once in office he “found it difficult to develop a coherent program” (John English). By the end of the depression, he was ridiculed by society. Cars towed by horses (because gasoline was not affordable) were called “Bennett buggies” in order to mock the fact that he hadn’t done anything to improve the economic situation of Canada. He suddenly, in 1935, adopted progressive taxation, unemployment insurance, health insurance and other major social reforms. Yet Canadians did not find it as convincing as Americans found Roosevelt’s New Deal. By October of that year, Bennett was out of office. He ended up abandoning government in 1938 when he suffered a humiliating loss in 1935, after winning only 39 seats. Lord Beaverbrook, one of his British friends helped him re-establish himself when he moved to a mansion in Surrey, Britain. Bennett was bitter towards Canada because he believed that the country had failed him rather than the other way around (John English).
    This being said, he did achieve things during his political career. He established the Relief Act (1926), created the CBC (1932), formed the Bank of Canada (1935) and created the Canadian Wheat Board (1935). However, I do not think that he deserves a monument in his honor.
    He is only twelfth out of 22 on a list of Canada’s favorite Prime Ministers made by McLean’s, with an average score of 2.65 out of 4 (http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/canadas-best-prime-ministers/). Even our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is above him on the list. Considering that Bennett bitterly left Canada after a horrible political loss, he has hardly left a memorable legacy deserving of a monument. Very few Prime Ministers have monuments on Parliament Hill and he doesn’t seem to have done as much as MacDonald or Trudeau. He certainly is not as liked on the Maclean’s list as other Prime Ministers and before this assignment I hadn’t even heard of him.

  4. I agree with Adrian’s thoughts that R.B. Bennett warrants a statue on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Bennett was Canada’s eleventh Prime Minister during the time of the Great Depression. This would be a challenging time for any Prime Minister to lead Canada. In reading these articles, the following excerpt drew my attention, “Bennett should be mourned as a courageous leader who contributed so much to what is now modern Canada” (Donald Benham).
    R.B. Bennett introduced social programs that define Canada today by initiating concepts such as: minimum wages, old-age pensions, and unemployment insurance. Almost ninety years later, these programs continue to exist and benefit the average Canadian. Institutions established by Bennett continue to be symbols for the average Canadian, for example, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the Bank of Canada, the Economic Council of Canada, the Canadian Wheat Board, and the Canadian National Railway (CNR). Since Bennett’s term in office, Canada has changed and evolved as a country. Bennett’s programs have also changed and evolved to meet the needs of Canadians. As I read these articles, the historical thinking concept of Continuity and Change came to mind. It was evident because Bennett’s initiatives continue to exist for the benefit of average Canadians, while Canada as a country, continues to change as it meets the challenges of 2015.

  5. I believe that R.B. Bennett warrants a statue, as he was the eleventh Prime Minister of Canada during the Great Depression. This was a difficult period of time, yet Bennett was able to combat the depression. John Boyko believes that “Bennett should be mourned as a courageous leader who contributed so much to what is now modern Canada”. Bennett is historically significant because he introduced new ideas that benefited the country’s society and economy.
    During his time in office, R.B. Bennett’s “use of government power could help forge a better society” (Donald Benham). He started the idea of society safety by initiating “unemployment insurance, minimum wages, old-age pensions and other reforms for workers and farmers” (Benham), which were all necessary at the time of the depression. Bennett created jobs by setting up work camps to build railways, as he was a large part of the creation of the Canadian National Railway. He had proposed radical solutions to the depression and even though he did not end it, Bennett made a difference. Canadians were struggling and “vented their frustrations with the Depression on him” (Benham). Bennett’s achievements have been overlooked, as his influence is still present today. Many of the institutions he created still exist and continue to benefit Canadians, such as the CBC, the Bank of Canada, and the Economic Council of Canada. It is clear that Bennett has left a positive impact by handling the situation the best he could while in a difficult time.

  6. R.B. Bennett was Canada’s Prime Minister during the Great Depression. I believe that he does deserve a statue on Parliament Hill. Although some people back when he was Prime Minister would not agree with me, I can look back from todays time and see why he deserves one. Everyone blamed R.B. Bennett for Canada’s terrible economic time during the great depression. R.B. Bennet was a rich man who dressed nice, which made many Canadians dislike him during the Great Depression due to mostly everyone being poor. R.B. Bennett was able to deal with this terrible economic time and the blame of the people. I agree with Kaeten above when he said that “Bennett was Canada’s eleventh Prime Minister during the time of the Great Depression. This would be a challenging time for any Prime Minister to lead Canada.” It is true that any other Prime Minister would have trouble to lead Canada during the Great Depression. R.B. Bennett came up with many strategies to improve the economy of Canada in the Great Depression. R.B. Bennett deserves a statue on Parliament Hill because of how he tried to improve the economy of Canada during the Great Depression.

  7. R.B. Bennett was the prime minister of Canada from 1930-1935. He represented the conservative party during a dark time in Canada, during the Great Depression. He has been compared to our current PM Stephen Harper, has been called an autocrat, but also has had a book written after him called “Bennett: The Rebel Who Challenged and Changed a Nation”. He is a man who created the CBC, and also the Bank of Canada. He was a man that was among the 21 other prime ministers of Canada. All of these credentials make him a historically significant man.

    Cause and consequence is also involved because of the lasting changes he made to our country. In our law class we look at a different case from the CBC almost every day. It is one of the most foremost news broadcasters in the country. The decisions he made while prime minister are lasting in Canada as well, “…he may well be regarded as a transitional figure…who contributed to the adjustment of the capitalist economy to the demands of Canadian democracy” (Waite).

    A crucial part of history is to understand and recognize our past so that we can learn from it for the future, Des Morton taught me that. Recognizing one of our past prime ministers, whether he was liked or not, is very important. Without even the talk of this recognition, I would have no idea who this man was or what he did (or possibly didn’t do) for our country. Although he definitely had his faults as a political leader, he left a lasting impact on our country and I don’t see how recognition is a bad thing at all.

  8. I agree with many of the comments already that R.B. Bennett does deserve a statue in his honor at the least. Like Carrie has said, Bennett was prime minister during the Great Depression, a very difficult time in Canada. As the Winnipeg Free Press states, it was not Bennett’s fault that he came in power during these economically hard times.
    Although nasty-tempered, Bennett has done many things to prove his significance in Canada. He invented the CBC to protect Canada’s nationhood, which still continues to thrive in present time. He started the Bank of Canada, and created the Canadian Wheat Board. ‘Bennett initiated the concept of the social safety net by introducing unemployment insurance, minimum wages, old-age pensions and other reforms for workers and farmers’ (Winnipeg Free Press). Many of these things that he has done still effect modern Canada today in positive ways.
    Bennett happened to be in power at a very difficult time, yet he still managed to persevere and do as much as he could to create progressive impacts even if they may not all have worked out. How could we say he is not historically significant when all the things he has done to change Canada prove otherwise? Bennett was in power during a very difficult time, but still managed to have a positive impact on Canada, and deserves a statue in his commemoration.

  9. Reading from the article and other replies it’s clear that R.B Bennet was blamed for many things because his time in office was during the Great Depression. He created the CBC, started the Bank of Canada, etc. What I found particularly interesting was how Bennet, “personally answered many of the hundreds of letters he received during the Great Depression, often giving money from his own pocket to needy Canadians.” (http://www.cbc.ca/history/EPISCONTENTSE1EP13CH2PA3LE.html). It’s undeniable to say Bennet tried to end the Great Depression, but we must keep in mind that was his job as the Prime Minister, to ensure the country runs as smoothly as possible.

    Looking at the statues of the Prime Minsters on Parliament Hill right now, I think it takes much more than to have done their terms in office well. There are 14 statues on Parliament Hill and the common trend between them all seems to be that they have revolutionized Canada in some way. To revolutionize an entire country means going against social norms, not simply doing their job well. The statues commemorate great figures that were thinking beyond their time, such as The Famous Five. These women went against social norm and revolutionized the country. Another example is the statue of Lafontaine and Baldwin, great politicians that created a peaceful movement for a responsible government.

    Just looking from the statues currently on Parliament Hill, it seems that in order to earn a statue it takes loyalty, accomplishments, and radical ideas that change Canada. I do think that Bennet deserves more recognition for leading Canada through such a difficult time, but like Elizabeth said he bitterly left Canada and, “has hardly left a memorable legacy deserving of a monument.” Looking at the other replies he seems to have been a good Prime Minister throughout the Great Depression; however, to say creating a radio station (CBC), no matter how big, to be on the same level of accomplishment as the women who won the “Persons” Case seems unreasonable. Though Bennet did well considering the time he was Prime Minister, I think his accomplishments are nowhere near those currently on Parliament Hill and that it would be an stretch to give him such a symbolic statue.

  10. To me, statues that represent historical figures do not contain value for the society and, as a tribute to any person, fail to represent the meaning behind its being built. When looking at a statue I am only able to see outward appearance of the figure it depicts and am unable to find meaning or value within the figure without visual symbols to decipher. But, people rarely express their values within clothing or posture so statues of people rarely have any visible meaning. So, to me, the construction of historic statues is praise that lacks meaning. Therefore the issue of whether R. B. Bennet deserves a statue is, to me, a non-issue. Instead, I think that to understand Bennet in more complexity history education regarding Bennet should explain his accomplishments and values in greater detail while education regarding the Depression within Canada should be less focused on his failure (since it was probably more a fault of the entire government) and more focused on the issues of the Canadian public at the time. If people wish to rid the public understanding of him as a caricature of an ostentatious and out-of-touch prime minister than the public must learn about him in greater detail
    Also, to address Bennet’s actions as a prime minister, while he did create institutions and implement policies which have become more successful he did not make much change within his own time. The accomplishments that are noted in the articles and videos are his creation of institutions such as the CBC, the Bank of Canada, and the Economic Council of Canada and policies such as minimum wages old age pensions etc. But they also note that these institutions and policies were not directly helpful to people of the Depression instead making noting more note of his accomplishments as “initiatives.” Therefore, my conclusion is that Bennet cared more about making Canada a better country than dealing with the Depression while he was prime minister.

  11. From reading the articles about R.B. Bennett, he seems like a person who was very unlucky with when he was elected. He was the prime minister of Canada during the height of the Great Depression, so he was blamed for much of the country’s troubles during the era. Despite this he has done numerous things that had a significant impact on the country, such as the creation of the CBC and introduction of minimum wage, unemployment insurance and old-age pensions. Those things affect Canada to this day, improving many Canadians’ lives. He attempted to lead a country through possibly its worst time, and continued to try despite not being liked in the public eye. I believe the fact that he was able to do what he did when he did makes him deserving of a statue at Parliament Hill.

  12. R.B. Bennett was the Prime Minister of Canada during the Great Depression. This was a tough time for Canada and in my opinion he deserves a statue in his honour because he lifted Canada up through such a tough time. In the article “There’s much to admire in a nasty-tempered R.B. Bennett, Donald Benham says “in what was widely labelled “Bennett’s New Deal,” Bennett took his party even further left in a series of five radio speeches to the nation in early 1935 that contained what were then radical solutions to the Depression”. Bennett helped Canada get through the Great Depression. There’s also a book written called “Bennett: The Rebel Who Challenged and Changed a Nation” which shows he was historically significant because although he wasn’t liked by many he did change Canada for the better. Bennett created the CBC, Bank of Canada and Canadian Wheat Board which are also historically significant. Benham also mentions in the article that “Bennett initiated the concept of the social safety net by introducing unemployment insurance, minimum wages, old-age pensions and other reforms for workers and farmers”. This shows Bennet cared for the people of Canada even though it wasn’t always perceived like that.
    In my opinion we have completely forgotten about Bennett even though he’s done so much for Canada and if some people do remember him they think of all the negatives such as him being Prime Minister during the Great Depression. Bennet really did do a lot for Canada and some of the things he’s done in the past still affect us today and therefore we should have a statue of him to honour him and educated Canada.

  13. I agree with Alicia’s statement that President R.B. Bennett was blamed for many of the difficulties experienced by the population of Canada during the Great Depression due to the fear and confusion present during those times. I also agree with Hannah Gibb’s statement that “[r]ecognizing one of our past prime ministers, whether he was liked or not, is very important”.

    Recently, the Speaker of the Senate in New Brunswick, along with many other New Brunswickers, have been pushing R.B. Bennett, Canada’s eleventh prime minister, by creating a statue of him to be placed on Parliament Hill. However, there are only seven statues of former Canadian prime ministers currently placed on Parliament Hill, which begs the question of whether or not R.B. Bennett is more deserving of a statue than other significant figures of Canadian history who are not currently commemorated in bronze. This is a particularly important question to ask when one considers that R.B. Bennett was the only former Canadian prime minister to be buried outside of Canada.

    I believe that R.B. Bennett is worthy of his own statue on Parliament Hill due to the many contributions he made whilst prime minister and disregarding his “arrogance, nasty temper and stubborn, foolish pride” (The Winnipeg Free Press) as well as the other various reasons for his ignominy today.

    Firstly, “[w]ith a reformist zeal that began long before Franklin Delano Roosevelt became U.S. president, Bennett created many institutions that are now Canadian icons. The CBC, the Bank of Canada and the Economic Council of Canada all sprang from Bennett’s fertile mind” (The Winnipeg Free Press). This illustrates Bennett’s historical significance as many of his contributions have had lasting and extensive consequences. His contributions are presently considered Canadian icons, and are symbolic of Canada’s national identity.

    Furthermore, “Bennett initiated the concept of the social safety net by introducing unemployment insurance, minimum wages, old-age pensions and other reforms for workers and farmers […] [H]e was also a leader in calling for railway reform and played a key role in the formation of the Canadian National Railway, the Crown corporation that competed against the CPR” (The Winnipeg Free Press).

    According to John Boyko, “[m]ost importantly, Bennett […] found [him]sel[f] addressing enormous economic and financial challenges that were not [his] fault but became [his] responsibility. Both created infrastructure programs that shovelled cash out the door to stimulate growth and create jobs. Both attended international conferences to try to coordinate actions and increase trade while addressing fissures in the world’s financial system that, despite the stability of Canada’s banks, was wreaking havoc at home […] Bennett undertook a number of bold initiatives that fundamentally restructured the economy and Canadians’ relationship with their government. He increased the minimum wage and developed new unemployment insurance and pension programs. To protect Canada’s nationhood and enhance its cultural industries, he invented the CBC. To protect the public from unfair practices and businesses from themselves, he legislated strict corporate and financial regulations. To wrestle control of monetary policy from the banks, he created the Bank of Canada. To save thousands of family farms, stabilize food prices, and help Canada’s position in world agricultural markets, he established the Canadian Wheat Board”. Bennett’s attempts to enhance the economy during the economic decline of the Great Depression is another reason for which he should be commemorated.

    Thus, the many changes that Bennett has effected during his time as Canada’s prime minister, particularly during a distressful period such as the Great Depression, illustrate his historical significance and warrant him a statue on Parliament Hill.

  14. Although the Prime Minister acts as the face of his/her political party and represents Canada on an international scale, the ideas in which they present aren’t necessarily ones which they forge by themselves. I agree with the fact that many of the left-winged bills brought forth in the house during Bennett’s legislation were in fact beneficial to Canadian society. The CBC and the Bank of Canada are both to this day key institutions which shape our nations highly regarded and influential identity. However in order to determine whether or not R.B Bennett is ‘worthy” of a statue on parliament hill we must face the facts.

    Firstly, I think it is more important to commemorate the party leader as well as the members working underneath the leader as opposed to simply showing recognition for the leader. As I stated previously, to this day the political ideologies expressed by the PM are necessarily ones in which he created himself. Building a statue to commemorate one individual who simply acted as a representative for the ideas of others isn’t historically accurate and sends the wrong message. In addition to this, Bennet wasn’t the greatest leader during his time in office because he flaunted his economic status at a time of economic depression. Although the legislation of Bennet and his cabinet stand as crucial elements to Canadian society today, they didn’t advance the lives of Canadians at the time of their implementation. The great depression was at the peak of its devastation and people were concerned with other things.

    Due to these reasons I cease to recognize a legitimate reason to build a metal figure shaped to imitate the figure that R.B. Bennet once was and place it on Parliament Hill.

  15. People like to have someone to blame for their problems, and this is exactly what society had done during the Great Depression in regard to R.B Bennett. I agree with what Maryam has stated above that R.B Bennett was “blamed for many of the difficulties experienced by the population of Canada during the Great Depression due to the fear and confusion present during those times”. Bennett helped establish the CBC and the Bank of Canada which are two fairly significant industries in our society today.But then wwe should have statues honouring numerous people who helped establish As stated in the article in the Winnipeg Free Press, “Canadians vented their frustrations with the Depression on him”. Going through a Great Depression can obviously be a very scary thing and the fear Canadians were developing was being held accountable for the misfortune at the time.

    But as I slowly became more engrossed into this debate, I realized Bennett should actually not have a statue to recognize his position as a Prime Minister. As Hannah Gibb previously stated above that “[r]ecognizing one of our past prime ministers, whether he was liked or not, is very important”. But after doing some extra thinking, why? What is important of about honouring our Prime Ministers, because they were our Prime Minister? Should we have a statue honouring every Prime Minister? Trying to rap my head around these questions and truly define my words became a challenge. I believe we honour a Prime Minister because as Canadians we see in them what we want to see in us, a prime minister who is a good leader and strives for the best for their country, however Canadians never truly did admire R.B Bennett. Bennett didn’t do enough to help the rough economic times. Sure he did help found certain industries in our society today, but so did Steve Jobs, who does in fact have a statue. The statue of Steve Jobs honours his efforts in advancing technology; Bennett didn’t significantly improve Canada. In the CBC article Hanson’s mother expresses her views on Bennett saying, “he’s a terrible man!’”. Just by reading the comments on the CBC article, the theme of Bennett not being a liked man is very prominent. Bennett has been referred to as a “crummy Prime Minister” by multiple people in the comments.

    Bennett wasn’t the greatest leader and the fact that he is being compared to Steven Harper helps strengthen that argument. In conclusion R.B Bennett does not need to have a statue built in his honour because a vast amount of people disagree with this and don’t think he is honourable. Just because he was a Prime Minister of Canada doesn’t mean he should be honoured, it should be about what one accomplished and left behind as a recognizable mark.

  16. In my opinion, despite all the issues that R.B. Bennett caused for some people, especially during the Depression, he does deserve to be represented with a statue on Parliament Hill. Bennett should be recognized and historically viewed within Canada. Even though he might have not made the best decisions during his time here, he has definitely helped shape Canada into what it is today and how Canadians view our country. He is our 11th prime minister so he has affected our country in many ways politically, and has contributed to the overall development of Canada through his political views and his views during the Depression. This little contribution that Bennett brought into Canada’s political world, even if it did have flaws to it, helped our politics become better developed and better understood. Bennett did have a huge impact on Canada and its society therefore, I think that his legacy should be represented with a statue on Parliament Hill since he affected and changed our country in many ways.

  17. During the Great Depression in the early 20th century Canada was in a time of need and R.B Bennett was the man to step up to the plate as the Prime Minister of Canada, and he didn’t end up helping Canada too much. Being Prime Minister at this horrible time he was held accountable for what happend to the country of Canada. He promised a resolution he couldn’t completely follow up and for this reason he made fun of and taunted around Canada.

    To be acknowledged on Parliament Hill you have to have a great amount of positive historical significance, and if you read the paragraph above, that doesn’t seem like an accurate statement. But it is true that Bennett contributed to what we have in Canada today.
    Firstly, The three prime symbols he basically started include what is now the Bank of Montreal, CBC, and the Economic Council of Canada“ These organizations are crucial to the current day world and economy, showing he did have some positive significance along with some negative. But is that enough to get him a statue on Parliament Hill?

    I do think he is an important figure to Canada as he was a Prime Minister and created something for the current day. Although this seems like enough to earn him this acknowledgement we have to look at his image in the past. He was looked at as a coward and a massive joke. Someone famous with that kind of historical image does not deserve that kind of gratitude.

  18. During the Great Depression, the prime minister at the time was R.B Bennett. This made it challenging for R.B Bennett because the Great Depression was a difficult time for anyone especially for those who are along the government. R.B Bennett treated Canada as if the country failed him instead of himself failing the country. I think that he is a significant figure to Canada because he created the Relief Act in 1932, this act helped give the growing numbers of unemployed a subsistence living. He also created the CBC, the CBC now being one of the most popular news channels in Canada. He formed the Bank of Canada which is now the Canada’s central bank. I personally never had heard of R.B Bennett but most people know him for all the negative things he had done to Canada and did not really look at all the positive accomplishments he did. Because of all the things he has done for Canada, I think that he deserved a monument in his name.

  19. R. B. bennett should not be given a statue on Parliament hill as he was disliked by most Canadians at the time. In order to be honoured with a statue you have to be someone that the people looked up to and respected. However R.B. Bennett wasn’t exactly successful as prime minister. He faced a humiliating loss to Mackenzie King and fled to England after remaining as the opposition leader for while. Someone who runs away from their own country and then says that they feel like the country failed them (essentially putting the blame on the country) probably doesn’t deserve a statue. He didn’t even want his bones returned to Canada to be buried. It wouldn’t be right to show someone gratitude who doesn’t return the slightest bit of respect. That being said he wasn’t completely unsuccessful. He did found the CBC, the Bank of Canada and implemented various types of insurance that are vital even in todays economy, but overall he isn’t all that memorable.

  20. There shouldn’t be a statue of R.B. Bennett on Parliament Hill because R.B. Bennett lacks the historical significance. When you analyze how notable Bennett was at the time, people often saw Bennett as arrogant, stubborn, hot headed and overconfident, according to the Winnipeg Free Press article. Why was he like this? Well Bennett was a “very rich man with more experience in the minutiae of business and law than in politics” (Waite 415), and an “anglophile with little understanding of French Canada and a nostalgic sense of the Maritimes ” (Waite 415). Bennett’s ignorance of a large chunk of Canada, along with his high status in Canada, can all accumulate to his lack of understanding for others. As a rich person, it would be hard to understand what life would be like for those who have nothing; hence a reason why many people in Canada during the Great Depression did not like Bennett at all, due to his lack of acknowledgement for many who were suffering at the time. And yes, many could argue or have argued that Bennett did some great things during his time as Prime Minister such as establish the CBC or the Bank of Canada during the Great Depression to help with the economic problem. But in actuality, when Bennett established these very well known corporations way back in the 1930s, chances are that these corporations were nowhere near successful as they are today; much time and work had to go into making these corporations successful, probably done far past Bennett’s time as Prime Minister. And considering that fact that he is only known for these things, his accomplishments as a Prime Minister are nothing compared to those of say Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who establish the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that ensures that every individual is entitled to the same set of rights as everyone else in Canada. Or take Sir John A. Macdonald, who actually helped with Confederation. Those accomplishments actually impact people every single day. The CBC and the Bank of Canada? Sure, to some degree it impacts us, as only a percent of the population actually listens to CBC radio, but not as much compared to what other Prime Ministers have accomplished. And consider the fact of which of the seven Prime Minister are actually in bronze on Parliament Hill. Well, there’s Diefenbaker, Borden, Macdonald, Person, Mackenzie, Mackenzie King and some others. All of these Prime Ministers have contributed something that makes them historically significant. Putting Bennett on Parliament Hill would be the same as putting an ice cream stand outside in the middle of winter; he would seem really out of place.

    Work Cited:

    Waite, P.B. “In Search of R.B. Bennett by P.B. Waite.” Project Muse 83.2 (2014): 414-16. Print.

  21. Richard Bedford Bennett was Prime Minister of Canada from 1930 to 1935. He was prime minister in a time where the circumstance was hard. I believe that Bennet is a significant figure in Canadian history and there should be a statue created of him on Parliament hill. He wasn’t arrogant as people at that time thought. In my opinion Bennett and Canadian citizens just had a very different ways to make the depression better. Bennett believed on a more controlled approach, he wanted reform; he goes on to say, “I am for reform. And in my mind, reform means government intervention. It means government control and regulation” (http://www.cbc.ca/history/EPISCONTENTSE1EP13CH2PA1LE.html). He created the Canadian Broadcasting Cooperation (CBC). By starting this he made more work for people. He increased minimum wage, unemployment insurance and a pension program. His main goal was to end the Great Depression and help others earn money and be able to support them and themselves. In 1932, the federal government (under Bennett) gave the provinces $20 million in relief programs. He created labor camps to help provide unemployed single men. I agree with Alicia, because he did try to help the citizens, but they were distraught. They did in a sense use Bennett as a scapegoat. They were very angry with him, and despite his efforts the citizens did not like or respect him. He later moved to England, where he remained very bitter towards Canada. So can we judge the citizens? Can we judge him? I don’t think we can judge either of the two sides. Firstly because living in the Depression was extremely hard, and the people wanted more support from their Prime Minister, they would regard him as a man that did not know what it was like being poor in the Depression while he was wealthy (http://www.cbc.ca/history/EPISCONTENTSE1EP13CH2PA1LE.html), they were angry with him and circumstance. But we also can’t judge him because he was trying to create new jobs, and business so Canada could get out of the Depression. His plans did not always work because the Liberal would also constantly overrule him, and many other reasons. But like many of the other people have said he helped to establish the Relief Act, create the CBC, and took part in forming the Bank of Canada. So I think we should give Bennett recognition by building a statue on Parliament Hill, because he was a Prime Minister in an extremely hard time, and tried to do his best trying to fix the situation.

  22. I believe that he does not warrant a statue because he has not done anything of great significance. He was elected Prime Minister during the height of the Great Depression and could do very little to help the problem. Granted, he just had bad luck to be PM at that time but, he should have been more understanding and helpful rather than arrogant as the people said in the Winnipeg Free Press article. His election was not notable when you compare it to the Great Depression which was happening at the same time, his thinking in my belief was to ahead of the time and he probably did have the best solution but he did not do anything that is deserving of a statue.

  23. R.B Bennett was the 11th Prime Minister of Canada during the great Depression. Like anybody, Bennett was not perfect and had many flaws. His flaws however, make me believe that he is someone who should not be commemorated with a statue on Parliament Hill.

    The Great Depression was a huge economic downfall during the 1920’s. Bennett was the Conservative opposition leader and ran against Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King in the 1930 federal election. Bennett told a Moncton audience while on his campaign trails “The Conservative Party is going to find work for all who are willing to work, or perish in the attempt. Mr. King promises consideration of the problem of employment. I promise to end unemployment. Which plan do you like best?”” (CBC) However, once Bennett was voted into office, he did little to actually put his plans and ideas into affect for pulling the Canadians out of the Depression. Bennett even thought that “governments should interfere as little as possible in the free enterprise system” (CBC), which ultimately led him to be one of the most hated mans during the Great Depression. People were angry and upset and it was easy to blame Bennett considering he was heatless and arrogant. He “soon became the focus of a nation’s anger as hard times intensified.” (CBC). Bennett was so unpopular “he became the target of endless jokes. Cars that were towed by horses because there was no money for fuel were called “Bennett buggies.” (CBC)

    Jacie made a really good point when she said, “it seems that in order to earn a statue it takes loyalty, accomplishments, and radical ideas that change Canada.” Although Bennett had some amazing ideas, they were never put into affect. He had every opportunity to change Canada but didn’t, which ultimately led to his downfall as Prime Minister.

    For Bennett’s credit, he did have a very hard and stressful job being the leader of Canada during a dark and horrid time, and he does deserve credit for creating the Bank of Canada and the Canadian Wheat Board in 1935, and creating CBC in 1932.

    Taking into consideration the state that Bennett left Canada in, he does not deserve a statue. Bennett did not have any empathy for Canadian citizens and had no idea what it was like living though such a hardship. Bennett greatly lacked compassion.

    The statues on Parliament Hill are there to celebrate amazing people who took their ordinary ideas, and turned them into extraordinary things such as the Famous Five. In order to be celebrated on Parliament Hill, I think that the Prime Minister must have been truly significant and had a positive lasting impact on Canada, and to me, Bennett does not fit those requirements. There is a reason that not every Prime Minister has been remembered with a statue, and it would be unfair to create a statue of someone for the sake of creating one.

    I never even heard of R.B. Bennett before this assignment and it seems to me as if people are now in a state of panic trying to honor him. And for what exactly? For letting his people down when they needed him most? People looked up to him and had hope in him and he let them down. To me, that is something that should not be admired.

    Just because Bennett was a Prime Mister does not mean he deserves a statue.

  24. When a country is in need for change they will usually look to a leader to take care of it. When a country is in a disaster, the leader will be accused for it. R.B Bennett was the eleventh Prime Minister of Canada between 1930-1935. Unluckily this was the worst years of the Great Depression in Canada. At the time Canadians were desperate for a change and when Bennett was elected the citizens of Canada hoped that would happen, but were not happy when they disagreed with Bennett’s plans.

    After reading the articles and watching the videos, I understand there is a lot of controversy over whether or not Bennett deserves commemoration and a statue at the Parliament Hill. The debate has focussed mainly on his flaws and successes during his time as Prime Minister. Using ethical judgment I can see that being Prime minister at the time of the Great Depression would have been difficult in itself, but trying to bring your own country out of this depression was nearly impossible. Bennett in my mind was the type of leader needed during the time of the Great Depression. He made bold moves, statements, and inquiries. Although many people disagreed with these movements, something drastic needed to be done to make change. Bennett introduces social programs such as minimum wage, unemployment insurance and pension programs, which at the time confused many people because it was a drastic change and very new. He was also a fundamental figure in the creation of The Bank of Canada and CBC as Simran stated earlier, both of which we still use frequently today. Also Bennett was well known for supporting the expansion of the railway which is widely known to have substantially helped Canada grow economically.

    However, I do agree with what Simran said about why he should not be commemorated. Although he took risks, and was partially blamed unjustifiably for the great depression, he was not well liked by his people. Although Prime Ministers will never be liked by everyone they govern, they should do what is in favour of the people. I understand, by using historical thinking, how mad I would be as a citizen in Canada struggling in the Great Depression, but Although Bennett did introduce many new systems, he was not fully responsible for the ending of the Great Depression. Alicia had stated “Although finally Mackenzie King was the prime minister that ended the depression in 1939, he took many of Bennett´s ideas and implemented them”. I understand what Alicia is saying, but if Mackenzie King actually implemented Bennett’s ideas he is the one responsible for the Ending of the Great Depression in Canada. One’s Ideas are only useful if implemented properly, and Mackenzie King new how to do it so the people would be happier.

    Although I understand why Bennett may not deserve to be commemorated, I still think he deserves to be. I believe he was Prime minister at the one of the worst times in Canadian history, and his bold actions were needed. Not only have some of his ideas continued to thrive in Canada today, but he did the best Job he could. Sometimes a country needs a leader that is going to do what is logical, and not what keeps every single citizen happy.In the end the way he dealt with the Great Depression had an initial bad response from citizens, but they failed to realize it would help their country in the long term.

  25. I got what you intend, thanks for posting .Woh I am delighted to find this website through google. “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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