On today’s date in 1926, during a House of Commons session lasting fewer than 15 minutes, William Lyon Mackenzie King announced his resignation as prime minister of Canada.
In the federal election of October 1925, Conservative Party leader Arthur Meighen topped King’s Liberals by 16 seats, with King been defeated in his own constituency of North York.
Despite these losses, the Liberal Party’s 101 seats were combined with the support of the Progressive, Independent, and Labour parties, which gained another 30 seats between them.
With their support, King was allowed to form the government.
Less than a year later, believing then-opposition leader Meighen should have an opportunity to form the government, King caused what’s fondly remembered as the “constitutional crisis.”
It was described as an uncharacteristically short speech, but there were implications: after King submitted his resignation to then-Governor General Julian Byng, Canada was without a government for at least a short period of time. King himself suggested the notion the country had no legal government.
Following the King-Byng Affair (also known as the King-Byng Thing), Meighen began serving his second term as prime minister of Canada, although it would be short-lived as he only remained in power until Sept. 25.
The “Thing,” however, is remembered for helping to redefine the role of Canada’s governor-general – and elsewhere throughout the British Empire – while being a catalyst in the negotiations to adopt of the Statute of Westminster in 1931.
PRIME MINISTERS SET
During the 1970s, Shell Canada featured King in a 15-medallion set dubbed “The Prime Ministers of Canada 1867-1970,” which included each Canadian prime minister between 1867 and 1970.
The set was issued for distribution from Shell dealers across Canada.
Meighen, meanwhile, was featured on a bronze medal issued by the Franklin Mint in the 1970s.
Meighen’s bust is depicted on one side of the four-millimetre medal while the other includes a lengthy inscription about the King-Byng Affair.