Autonomy Timeline


Paris Peace Conference

January 18, 1919 - January 20, 1920

The Paris Peace Conference was an international meeting that took place at Versailles, just outside of Paris. The purpose of the meeting was to establish the terms of the peace after World War I. Nearly thirty nations participated. The major decisions at the conference were the creation of the League of Nation, the five peace treaties with defeated enemies, and the drawing of new national boundaries to better reflect the forces of nationalism.

At the Paris Peace Conference, Canada was assumed to just be included with Great Britain. Prime Minister Borden fought, and was successful, to get Canada to have its own seat at the conference. This was the first major event where Canada was not simple represented by Britain. Prime Minister Borden also insisted that he be included among the leaders to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

Chanak Crisis

September 1922 - October 11, 1922

The Chanak Crisis was a threatened attack by Turkish troops on British and French troops stationed near Chanak to guard the Dardanelles neutral zone. The Turkish troops had recently defeated Greek forces and had recaptured Smyrna. The crisis was handled by the British cabinet and was a large contributor to the downfall of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George. By the terms of the treaty ending World War I, Britain was committed to maintaining troops there to protect the strait linking the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. When the Turks threatened the British troops, Britain sent a call out to its allies.

Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King sent a cable to Great Britain saying he would have to consult Parliament before sending troops. This was a signal that Canada no longer had to automatically be at war because Britain demanded it. This was the first occasion that Canada's government asserted their diplomatic independence from Great Britain.

Halibut Treaty


The Halibut Treaty was an agreement between Canada and the United States concerning fishing rights in the Northern Pacific Ocean. The International Pacific Halibut Commission was established by the treaty. The IPHC was a way for Canada and the US to jointly manage the Pacific halibut, which was in severe decline at the time. The commission had four members, but now has six, half Canadian and half American. The treaty also includes a closed season, so halibut are not fished during the more dangerous winter months. The treaty has been revised, mostly based on recommendations from a team of scientific researchers.

This was the first treaty Canada negotiated without Britain. Before this time, Canada always looked to Britain to ratify all international agreements they made. When Britain hear about the treaty, they wished to sign alongside Canada, like they had previously, but the Canadian Prime Minister, Mackenzie King resisted. He said that the treaty was only a concern of Canada's and the United States.

King-Byng Crisis


The King-Byng Crisis was a Canadian constitutional crisis. It occurred when Canada's Governor General, Lord Byng of Vimy, refused a request made by the Prime Minister, Mackenzie King. Prime Minister Kings' request was to dissolve parliament and call a general election. The crisis ended with King winning an eventual election. No governor general ever again publicly refused the advice of a prime minister. Byng was the first and only Governor General to refuse a request of a Prime Minister.

Since then, the rights of the Governor General have been clarified, and ultimately, granting each Dominion political independence.

Balfour Report


The Balfour Report declared that Britain and its Dominions were constitutionally equal to each other. The report was approved at the Imperial Conference of 1926. It formally stated that the Dominions of the British Empire were autonomous and equal with each other and with England. Because of this report, a new association was formed, called the British Commonwealth of Nations.

The document confirmed Canada as a fully independent country, united with Britain and the other Dominions through the Commonwealth.

Statute of Westminster

December 11, 1931

The Statute of Westminster is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. This act established legislative equality between the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire, and the United Kingdom. This marked the effective legislative independence of these countries. The Statute sets the basis for the continuous relationship between the Commonwealth realms and the Crown.

The Statute clarified the powers of Canada's Parliament. It granted Canada full legal freedom except in the areas where they chose to remain subordinate to Britain.