From The Maple: In the latest article for The Maple’s Great Gilded North series, Mitchell Thompson takes a historical deep-dive into the wealthy elites and politicians in Canada who admired the violent regimes of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in the first half of the twentieth century.
Thompson brings to light disturbing quotes from several speakers at the prestigious Empire Club of Canada who applauded fascist Italy as well as Nazi Germany, just months before the Kristallnacht pogrom, which saw at least 91 Jewish people murdered and approximately 40,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps.
As well, Thompson notes that prominent Conservative politicians, including former prime minister R.B. Bennett, lent support to Canadian Nazis like Adrien Acand, who fancied himself the “Canadian Führer.”
Thompson also cites a 1937 quote about Hitler from the diary of then-Liberal prime minister Mackenzie King, who had recently met with the Nazi leader in person: “My sizing up of the man as I sat and talked with him was that he is really one who truly loves his fellow man, and his country, and would make any sacrifice for their good. That he feels himself to be a deliverer of his people from tyranny,” King wrote.
Thompson writes: “Soon after, Hitler began threatening British interests, and Canada was at war. This, suffice to say, does not owe itself to any profound hatred of racism or fascism on the part of the Canadian elite.”
Additionally, Thompson finds, Canadian media in the 1930s ran stories applauding the fascist regimes. The Globe, for example, praised Nazi politician Hermann Göring’s “sense of humour,” and published articles about Italy with headlines like “Italy Prospers Under Blackshirts.”