971.062-B47 | The Premier Speaks to the People: the Prime Minister's January Radio Broadcasts Issued in Book Form
The Premier Speaks to the People: the Prime Minister's January Radio Broadcasts Issued in Book Form
1935, 20th century
23 x 15.5 cm
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
Keys to History
In January 1935, Prime Minister Bennett (1870-1947) took to the airwaves in a series of radio broadcasts outlining a revised conservative vision for the country. Bennett defended existing reforms such as the Bank of Canada. Borrowing from the new Deal of US President Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945), he also presented a reform agenda that included unemployment insurance, farm relief, an end to child labour and unsafe working conditions, uniform wages, and a maximum work week.
The Canadian public was shocked. Roosevelt's radio addresses or "fireside chats," which were designed to reassure a nervous public, were commonplace to the American people. B this was the first time that Canadians heard their leaders speak in such an open forum. More importantly, Conservative Party members complained, stunned by this apparent reversal of policy on the part of the Prime Minister. The press, unkind to Bennett even on a good day, pounced on the change in policy as inconsistency and a last-ditch effort to rescue his political career in an election year.
By the time of the fifth radio broadcast, some 800 000 Canadians were tuning in to hear the Prime Minister.
An Ottawa radio studio produced the half-hour broadcasts, which were picked up by 38 other stations across the country.
The R.B. Bennett government established the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Corporation, the forerunner of the CBC, in 1932.
The Prime Minister himself paid for the air time for his radio broadcasts.