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Prime Minister Mackenzie King addresses the nation on VE-Day

The Story

Leading Canada throughout the war has been a balancing act for Prime Minister Mackenzie King. He's had to fulfill Allied demands for supplies and fighting men overseas while keeping the country unified over a potentially explosive conscription issue. In his VE-Day address, King acknowledges the contributions of all Canadians in the armed forces, in the factories and at home. "You have helped to rid the world of a great scourge," he says. 

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News Special
Broadcast Date: May 8, 1945
Speaker: William Lyon Mackenzie King
Duration: 12:30
Photo: Library and Archives Canada / C-023260

Did You know?

• Like Allied leaders Winston Churchill and Harry S. Truman, Mackenzie King had to wait until May 8, the official VE-Day, to make his victory speech. His second-in-command, Finance Minister J.L. Ilsley, made a speech to Canadians on May 7 announcing that the following day would be a national holiday.
• Listen to a VE-Day speech by King George VI of the United Kingdom.

• Mackenzie King kept a diary. His notation for May 7 read in part: "This has been a good day -- a happy day, in some respects of work, but one in which the burden has been greatly lightened from the knowledge that Nazi militarism has, at last, been destroyed. It is sad beyond words... that the multitudes of innocent people have had to suffer so terribly for the guilt and the folly, vainglorious ambition of a handful of gangsters."

• As he mentions in this clip, King was speaking from San Francisco. He and a number of Canadian diplomats were there for the founding conference of the United Nations.
• Louis St-Laurent, King's francophone deputy, also gave a victory speech in French.
• King and St-Laurent made their speeches from a studio the CBC had set up in San Francisco to cover the progress of the United Nations negotiations.

• VE-Day coverage on the CBC continued on May 8 with official speeches, dramatized "victory" programs, on-the-spot coverage of celebrations in Canadian cities and in London, and dispatches from war correspondents overseas.

• In Holland, Marcel Ouimet captured the sounds of euphoric Dutch citizens singing their national anthem as they welcomed Canadian liberators.


Victory! The End of the War in Europe more