Richard Bedford Bennett (1870-1947) was a leader of the Conservative party of Canada and prime minister during the Great Depression from the 1930s.
Richard Bedford Bennett was born at Hopewell, New Brunswick, on July 3, 1870, a descendant of pre-Loyalist settlers from Connecticut. There he soon built up a successful legal company and established a connection with the E. B. Eddy Company which has been to result in his holding a controlling interest in it 25 decades later. He also acted as a solicitor for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Bennett was a member of the Assembly of the Northwest Territories for 6 years and was elected to the Alberta Legislature in 1909, then resigned to contest and win against the Calgary East Riding for the Conservatives in the election of 1911. He didn’t run in the elections of 1917 but functioned temporarily in the ministries of Arthur Meighen of 1920-1921 and 1926. He symbolized Calgary West from 1925 to 1938. On Meighen’s retirement from public life in 1927, Bennett was elected leader of the Conservative party. Promising to end the rising unemployment of the Depression by”blasting” his way to world markets, and fortifying Conservative coffers with $600,000 out of his own fortune, Bennett conquered W. L. Mackenzie King from the general election of 1930.
In-office Bennett proceeded to establish a modest public works program to give employment, but his major reaction to Depression conditions was to raise the tariff to unprecedented levels, followed closely by an initiative that resulted in the establishment of preferential tariff arrangements within the British Empire. These policies probably further limited the Canadian export trade and increased the burden of the Depression on people who already felt it most. Such policies, the arbitrary treatment of protesters, and the clear cold aloofness of this bachelor-millionaire prime minister made Bennett an increasingly unpopular leader.
After 4 decades, under pressure from a little reform group in his party headed by H. H. Stevens, and also at the surface of the coming election, Bennett started to move toward reform. Through his brother-in-law, W. D. Herridge, Canadian minister to Washington, he became greatly interested in Roosevelt’s New Deal program. Early in 1935, to the shock of his Cabinet colleagues, that had been consulted,” Bennett announced in a series of radio speeches a”New Deal” of preparation and social security.
His government then enacted measures extending farm charge and establishing a natural-products advertising plank, unemployment insurance, and minimum wages and maximum hours in business. Following Bennett’s defeat in the election of 1935, the majority of the legislation has been ruled unconstitutional by the courts. Bennett remained as leader of the resistance until 1938 when he retired to reside in England. In 1941 he has created Viscount Bennett of Mickleham, Calgary, and Hopewell.