The King/Byng Crisis


    In the 1921 election, William Lyon Mackenzie King's Liberals came to office with a minority government. For the next four years until 1925, the Liberals remained in power, in great part due to the support of the Progressives. When King called an election in October of 1925, the voters responded differently than King had expected or wanted; the Conservatives won 116 seats, the Liberals 101, the Progressives 24, the Labour 2, and Independents 1.

King had three possibilities open to him. Firstly, he could resign and hand over the leadership. Secondly, he could immediately dissolve Parliament. Thirdly, he could call a meeting in the House of Commons and ask the members if they would give him their confidence. King chose the third option, and led a government until the spring of 1926, when the Conservatives dug up a major scandal in King's Customs department.


    Fearing a non-confidence vote and the loss of all political power, King decided to call an election before he lost support of the Progressives. However, when he asked Governor General Lord Byng to dissolve Parliament, Byng refused, believing King should have resigned sooner. King subsequently resigned, forcing the election which returned him to office. The public appeared to blame Byng and Conservative leader Arthur Meighan for the sudden election.


    The King/Byng Crisis was the first time a Governor General had refused the request of a Prime Minister, wielding his royal prerogative. Since then, the rights of the Governor General have been clarified, and ultimately the Statute of Westminster was passed in 1931, granting each Dominion political independence. 

 Prime Minister Mackenzie King

 Governor General Lord Byng