Electoral history of Robert Borden

Conservative Party of Canada (1867–1942) Robert Borden Liberal Party of Canada

Prime Minister Borden

This article is the Electoral history of Robert Borden, the eighth Prime Minister of Canada (1911-1920).

A Conservative, he became Prime Minister after winning the federal election of 1911, defeating Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He won two general elections (1911, 1917) and lost two (1904, 1908). From 1911 to 1917, he led a Conservative government and from 1917 to 1920 led a Unionist coalition, formed over the issue of military conscription.

Borden was elected to the House of Commons of Canada eight times (1896, 1900, 1905, 1908 (twice), 1911 (twice), and 1917).

Borden retired in 1920 and was succeeded by Arthur Meighen.

Summary

Canada in 1911, when Borden was elected Prime Minister.
Canada at the end of Borden's time in office

Borden ranks eighth out of twenty-three prime ministers for time in office. He became Prime Minister in 1911, after defeating Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the Liberals, and was in office for a total of 8 years and 274 days. He served two consecutive terms, the first leading a Conservative government (1911 to 1917), the second leading a Unionist coalition government (1917 to 1920).[1]

Borden was the third of three prime ministers from Nova Scotia, the other two being Sir John Sparrow David Thompson and Sir Charles Tupper.

Borden lost the first two general elections he contested, in 1904 and 1908, defeated in both cases by Laurier and the Liberals. He won the third general election, in 1911, while Laurier became the Leader of the Opposition.

Borden led Canada during World War I. One of the major political issues during the war was the conscription crisis of 1917. Borden formed a coalition with Liberals who supported his conscription policy and led the coalition as the Government (Unionist) Party. Those Liberals who opposed the conscription policy remained with the leadership of Laurier, and fought the election as the Opposition (Laurier Liberals) party.

Borden stood for election to the House of Commons of Canada nine times (1896, 1900, 1904, 1905 (by-election), 1908 (twice), 1911 (twice), and 1917), although two of those were multiple elections in the same general election, as was permitted at that time. He was elected eight times (twice by acclamation) and defeated once (1904). At various times, Borden was elected for three different constituencies in two different provinces: Halifax, Nova Scotia; Carleton, Ontario; and Kings, Nova Scotia. He served in the Commons for a total of 25 years, 1 month, and 25 days.[2]

Borden retired in 1920, and was succeeded by Arthur Meighen.

Federal general elections, 1904 to 1917

Borden led the Conservative Party in three general elections, winning one (1911) and losing twice (1904, 1908). He also led the Unionist Party in his last general election (1917), which he won.

Federal election, 1904

Borden led the Conservatives in the 1904 general election. He had replaced Sir Charles Tupper as leader of the Conservatives and Leader of the Opposition in 1901. His opponent in the general election was Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Laurier and the Liberals again won a majority government and Borden continued as Leader of the Opposition.

Canadian Federal Election, 1904 - Parties, Leaders, Seats Won and Popular Vote
Party Leaders Seats Won Popular Vote
Liberal Wilfrid Laurier1 137 50.9%
  Conservative Robert Laird Borden2 70 44.4%
  Liberal-Conservative 5 1.5%
  Independent 1 1.5%
  Independent Conservative 1 0.5%
Labour 0 0.2%
Socialist 0 0.2%
  Nationalist 0 0.1%
  Independent Liberal 0 0.0%3
  Unknown4 0 1.1%
Total 214 100.4%5
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867

1 Prime Minister when election was called; Prime Minister after the election.
2 Leader of the Opposition when election was called; Leader of the Opposition after the election.
3 Independent Liberal candidates received only 309 votes nationally.
4 Election returns in 1904 did not require candidates to declare party affiliation. Some candidates did not list a party affiliation.
5 Rounding error.

Federal election, 1908

Borden again led the Conservatives in the 1908 general election. His opponent was again Prime Minister Laurier, the leader of the Liberals. Laurier again won a majority government and Borden continued as Leader of the Opposition.

Canadian Federal Election, 1908 - Parties, Leaders, Seats Won and Popular Vote
Party Leaders Seats Won Popular Vote
Liberal Wilfrid Laurier1 133 48.9%
  Conservative Robert Laird Borden2 82 45.0%
  Liberal-Conservative 3 1.3%
  Independent 1 1.5%
Labour 1 0.9%
  Independent Conservative 1 0.5%
Socialist 0 0.5%
  Independent Liberal 0 0.4
  Unknown3 0 1.2%
Total 213 100.2%4
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867

1 Prime Minister when election was called; Prime Minister after the election.
2 Leader of the Opposition when election was called; Leader of the Opposition after the election.
3 Election returns in 1908 did not require candidates to declare party affiliation. Some candidates did not list a party affiliation.
4 Rounding error.

Federal election, 1911

Borden again led the Conservatives in the 1911 general election, which was fought on the issue of reciprocity (lowered trade barriers) with the United States. Naval policy was also an issue. Borden and the Conservatives won a majority government, defeating Laurier and the Liberals. Borden became Prime Minister and Laurier became Leader of the Official Opposition.

Canadian Federal Election, 1911 - Parties, Leaders, Seats Won and Popular Vote
Party Leaders Seats Won Popular Vote
  Conservative Robert Laird Borden1 131 48.0%
  Liberal-Conservative 1 0.5%
Liberal Wilfrid Laurier2 85 45.8%
  Independent Conservative 3 1.0%
Labour 1 0.9%
  Independent 0 0.8%
Socialist 0 0.4%
  Nationalist Conservative 0 0.3%
  Nationalist 0 0.3%
  Unknown3 0 2.0%
Total 221 100.0%
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867

1 Leader of the Opposition when election was called; Prime Minister after the election.
2 Prime Minister when election was called; Leader of the Opposition after the election.
3 Election returns in 1911 did not require candidates to declare party affiliation. Some candidates did not list a party affiliation.

Federal election, 1917

The 1917 election was Borden's last election. The election was fought entirely on the issue of conscription and Canada's role in World War I. Borden led a coalition of Conservatives and Liberals who supported the Borden government's conscription policy. Laurier was again his opponent, leading those Liberals who opposed the conscription policy. The election and the conscription crisis badly divided the country between English-Canadians, who tended to support conscription, and French-Canadians, who opposed it. Borden was re-elected and formed the Unionist (coalition) government.

Canadian Federal Election, 1917 - Parties, Leaders, Seats Won and Popular Vote
Party Leaders Seats Won Popular Vote
  Government (Unionist) Robert Laird Borden1 153 56.9%
  Opposition (Laurier Liberals) Wilfrid Laurier2 82 38.8%
Labour 0 1.8%
  Opposition - Labour 0 1.0%
  Independent 0 0.6%
  Independent Liberal 0 0.4%
Nonpartisan League 0 0.2%
  Unknown3 0 0.2%
Total 235 99.9%4
Source: Library of Parliament – History of Federal Ridings since 1867

1 Leader of the Opposition when election was called; Prime Minister after the election.
2 Prime Minister when election was called; Leader of the Opposition after the election.
3 Election returns in 1911 did not require candidates to declare party affiliation. Some candidates did not list a party affiliation.
4 Rounding error.

Federal constituency elections, 1896 to 1917

Borden stood for election to the House of Commons nine times, in two different provinces (Nova Scotia and Ontario), in three different ridings. He was elected eight times and defeated once.[2]

1896 Federal election: Halifax

1896 Canadian federal election: Halifax
Party Candidate Votes % Elected
Conservative Robert Borden 6,170 26.53 Green tickY
Liberal Benjamin Russell 5,997 25.79 Green tickY
Conservative Thomas Edward Kenny 5,616 24.15  
Liberal Michael Edwin Keefe 5,472 23.53  
Total valid votes 23,255 100.00
Source(s)
"Halifax (1867- )". History of Federal Ridings Since 1867. Library of Parliament. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
Two members were elected from the district.

1900 Federal election: Halifax

1900 Canadian federal election: Halifax
Party Candidate Votes % Elected
Conservative Robert Borden 5,705 25.67 Green tickY
Liberal William Roche 5,577 25.09 Green tickY
Conservative Thomas Edward Kenny 5,562 25.03  
Liberal William B. Wallace 5,380 24.21  
Total valid votes 22,224 100.00
Source(s)
"Halifax (1867- )". History of Federal Ridings Since 1867. Library of Parliament. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
Two members were elected from the district.

1904 Federal election: Halifax

1904 Canadian federal election: Halifax
Party Candidate Votes % Elected
Liberal William Roche 7,430 26.53 Green tickY
Liberal Michael Carney 7,277 25.98 Green tickY
Conservative Robert Borden 6,830 24.39  
Conservative John C. O'Mullin 6,472 23.11  
Total valid votes 28,009 100.00
Source(s)
"Halifax (1867- )". History of Federal Ridings Since 1867. Library of Parliament. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
Two members were elected from the district.

1905 Federal by-election: Carleton

On Mr. Kidd's resignation, January 1, 1905, to provide a seat for Robert Laird Borden.

Canadian federal by-election, February 4, 1905: Carleton
On the resignation of Edward Kidd, January 19, 1905
Party Candidate Votes Elected
Conservative Robert Borden acclaimed Green tickY
Total valid votes
Source(s)
"Carleton, Ontario (1867-08-06 - 1968-04-22)". History of Federal Ridings Since 1867. Library of Parliament. Retrieved March 24, 2020.

1908 Federal election: Halifax

In the 1908 general election, Borden stood in two constituencies as was permitted at that time: Halifax, Nova Scotia and Carleton, Ontario. He was elected in both ridings but chose to sit for Halifax, and resigned the Carleton seat.[2]

1908 Canadian federal election: Halifax
Party Candidate Votes % Elected
Conservative Robert Borden 7,386 26.80 Green tickY
Conservative Adam Brown Crosby 7,115 25.82 Green tickY
Liberal William Roche 6,635 24.08  
Liberal Michael Carney 6,423 23.31  
Total valid votes 27,559 100.00
Source(s)
"Halifax (1867- )". History of Federal Ridings Since 1867. Library of Parliament. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
Two members were elected from the district.

1908 Federal election: Carleton

In the 1908 general election, Borden stood in two constituencies as was permitted at that time: Carleton, Ontario and Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was elected in both ridings but chose to sit for Halifax, and resigned the Carleton seat.[2]

1908 Canadian federal election: Carleton
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Elected
Conservative Robert Borden 2,667 67.28 +3.72 Green tickY
Liberal James Ernest Caldwell 1,297 32.72 –3.72
Total valid votes 3,964 100.0  
Conservative hold Swing +3.72
Source(s)
"Carleton, Ontario (1867-08-06 - 1968-04-22)". History of Federal Ridings Since 1867. Library of Parliament. Retrieved March 24, 2020.

1911 Federal election: Halifax

1911 Canadian federal election: Halifax
Party Candidate Votes % Elected
Conservative Robert Borden 7,040 25.46 Green tickY
Liberal Alexander Kenneth Maclean 6,946 25.12 Green tickY
Liberal Edward Blackadder 6,879 24.88  
Conservative Adam Brown Crosby 6,787 24.54  
Total valid votes 27,652 100.00
Source(s)
"Halifax (1867- )". History of Federal Ridings Since 1867. Library of Parliament. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
Two members were elected from the district.

1911 Federal Ministerial By-Election: Halifax

At this time, newly appointed Cabinet ministers had to stand for re-election. It was customary for the other party not to field a candidate.

Canadian federal by-election, October 27, 1911: Halifax
Party Candidate Votes Elected
Conservative Robert Borden acclaimed Green tickY
Total valid votes
Source(s)
"Halifax (1867- )". History of Federal Ridings Since 1867. Library of Parliament. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
Called upon the appointment of Robert Borden's as President of the King's Privy Council for Canada and his becoming Prime Minister of Canada, 10 October 1911.

1917 Federal election: Kings

1917 Canadian federal election: Kings
Party Candidate Votes % Elected
Government (Unionist) Robert Borden 3,941 60.96 Green tickY
Opposition (Laurier Liberals) James Sealy 2,524 39.04
Total valid votes 6,465 100.0  
Source(s)
"Kings, Nova Scotia (1867-08-06 - 1925-09-04)". History of Federal Ridings Since 1867. Library of Parliament. Retrieved March 24, 2020.

See also

References