Canada’s Growing Autonomy – Sociology Essay
The twentieth century was a turning point in Canadian history as Canada went through many changes, including economic, and population growths. Today Canada has a position in the world as one of the middle powers. This
was achieved by great progress on many fields during the twentieth century. The three most prominent events during the twentieth century which have helped Canada slowly drift away from Great Britain are the King-Byng affair in 1926, the Statute of Westminster in 1931, and finally the creation of Canada’s own flag, in 1965. In the twentieth century, Canada has grown increasingly autonomous from the United Kingdom.
In 1926, the King-Byng affair was a great step forward in Canada’s independence from Britain. It all began when Prime Minister Mackenzie King asked the governor general, William Byng, to dissolve parliament and call a general election, where he refused (Wales). As a result of Byng’s refusal, King ensured that, once back in power, he would strip certain powers from the governor general. This would make Canada more independent from the Queen and Britain. This event has changed the way the job of the governor general has been carried out throughout the twentieth century (Wales). After this event Canada could freely pass laws and bills, without fear of intervention by the governor general. As King said after the affair, “It is a complete control by an individual” about Byng (The National). This showed the kind of power the governor general had before this event, where as now he/she must accept the laws given to be signed. The King-Byng affair is one major event where Canada has moved forward in its independence from Great Britain because Byng refused to call an election, it changed the job of the governor general, and it reduced the amount of power this job has.
The statute of Westminster, in 1931, was another step forward in Canada’s autonomy from Britain. This statute removed some restricting acts from the past which restricted Canada’s independence including the Colonial Laws Validity Act of 1865 (Wales). This meant that Canada did not have to follow all the British laws created in Britain. This gave Canada more freedom and independence. As stated in the statute: “No Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the commencement of this Act shall extend or be deemed to extend, to a Dominion as part of the law of that Dominion, unless it is expressly declared in that Act that Dominion has requested, and consented to, the enactment thereof.” (Wales) This gave Canada the privileges to not follow all the same rules as the United Kingdom giving Canada more independence. This document gave all former dominions of the United Kingdom equal independence from the UK (Hallowell, 598). All former dominions had equal independence because they could now freely create their own laws without the UK looking over their shoulder throughout the whole process. The statute of Westminster has helped Canada’s independence come a long way because it removed binding acts from the past, gave way for Canada to create their own laws, and gave all former dominions equal independence as the UK.
When Canada created their own flag in 1965 they furthered their independence than ever before. The old flag, the Union Jack showed great ties with the United Kingdom because it had a strong bond with the UK (Wales). After the flag was created, the strong bond between the UK and Canada in their flags was broken and Canada was able to use and display their own flag. With the creation of the new flag Canada had their own flag to fly at international events (Wales). With the new flag Canada showed their independence from the UK in international events, such as the Olympics where Canada was respected for their own flag. Canada now had an original symbol to represent their country (Halowell, 428). The maple leaf is now Canada’s symbol which shows great autonomy from England because they are thought of being their own country without any affiliation with the UK. Canada’s new flag was a great step forward in Canadian independence from the UK because strong ties in the union jack was demolished, it gave Canada something to be represented by, and Canada become known as its own country instead of a country with a back bone in England.
Canada has grown increasingly independent from the UK throughout the twentieth century. Canada’s growing autonomy has been shown through the three important events discussed above: which are the creation of Canada’s flag in 1965, the Statute of Westminster in 1931, and finally the King-Byng affair in 1926. Canada should be greatly accredited for its increasing autonomy but on the other hand this process has been very slow. In addition, Canada still has many ties to the UK, which must be removed permanently for Canada to become its own independent country, with no backbone support by England.