An election was called for July 28, 1930. R.B. campaigned hard. During the campaign, between June 9 and July 28, he delivered over one hundred major speeches. His first campaign speech was even broadcast over the radio, a new concept in Canadian politics. Although R.B. was not bilingual, he could deliver carefully scripted speeches in French, but, of course, his spectacular speaking style shined when he spoke in English.
R.B.'s campaign speeches were not the only weapon in the Conservative electoral arsenal. The Ottawa office acquired a machine called an addressograph. With this machine and the lists of names gathered from the MPS, they were able to print 250,000 personally addressed pamphlets every three days. This machine allowed them to hear about a mass mailing that the Liberals were preparing, write a response, print it, and have it in the hands of supporters before the Liberal mailing even arrived. With the data gathered from the MPS ridings they were also able to carefully manipulate the message that appeared in the newspapers.
The Conservative election machine worked like clockwork and the Conservatives, under R.B.'s leadership, won a majority of the seats in the House of Commons; 134 out of the 245 total.
Throughout the campaign R.B. promised action on the economic woes that Canadians were facing. Now it was time to deliver. During R.B.'s term as prime minister there were 458 bills introduced to the House of Commons and 359 of those received Royal Assent. Some of the most interesting were:
- An Act to amend the Armistice Day Act - To designate the celebration of Armistice day on November 11 in each year and on no other day under the name of Remembrance Day.
- An Act to remove the necessity of the re-election of Members of the House of Commons of Canada on acceptance of office - To amend the existing legislation so as to provide that no member of the House of Commons, on being appointed to the ministry, need appeal again to the electorate.
- Statute of Westminster - Canada ceased to be a colony of Britain and became a proper country in her own right.
- Canadian Wheat Board - established as a mandatory producer marketing system for wheat and barley in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and a small part of British Columbia.
- Radio Broadcasting - When the government of R.B. Bennett passed the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Act on May 26, 1932, it established a pattern for Canadian broadcasting in radio, and later for television, that is evident to this day. In the late 1920's, there was serious concern that broadcasting was not serving the national interests of Canada, was heavily relying on American programming and was developing without organization. This resulted in the appointment of the (Sir John) Aird Commission whose recommendations formed the basis of the new Act.
This legislation created the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) in 1932, which was a Crown Commission responsible for licensing a series of public regional stations and private affiliate stations. At that time, the Commission took over the three existing network stations of the Canadian National Railway in Vancouver, Montreal, and Moncton. This mandate of promoting a distinctive Canadian expression further evolved with the creation of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), a Crown Corporation, in 1936.
Many modifications have been made to the CBC through the years, but the original concept of 1932 has been retained which provides a degree of control over Canadian broadcasting in its work to strengthen, enrich and safeguard the cultural, political, social, and economic fabric of Canada. These policies not only helped create a Canadian broadcasting industry promoting Canadian cultures, but helped to win over more Canadians in all five national time zones to listen to programs employing Canadian actors, musicians, singers, writers, composers, and other talent. Unlike either the United Kingdom or the United States, Canada's broadcasting system fell between the two, with a mixture of the public and private.
The original concept put forth in the CRBC Act by Bennett in 1932 to create a distinctive and independent Canadian expression in broadcasting has remained intact through all these developments.
- Bank of Canada - From early times, both before and after Canadian Confederation, the regulation of the nation's economy, its credit for international trade, the policy for the value of its money, and the actual printing of money was controlled by the commercial banks. Canadians came to criticize and mistrust this inefficient system during the Great Depression.
R.B. made a point of dealing with this problem. Acting on the recommendations of a royal commission, in July 1934, his government passed The Bank of Canada Act. This established the central bank, independent of direct government control, whose purpose was to "regulate credit and currency in the best interest of the economic life of the nation". The commercial banks were opposed to this, but the Bank was established and functioning in 1935.
The role of the central Bank of Canada was to maintain financial stability and regulate money supply. It would also influence interest rates and the value of the Canadian dollar, and stimulate the economy by its monetary powers. It provided for international economic cooperation, and in Canada, could be a lender of last resort to commercial banks.
R.B. regarded the Bank of Canada as one of his major achievements. It is notable that Canada, unlike other countries, had no commercial bank failures during the Great Depression.
- The Unemployment Relief Act, passed in 1930, provided grants for municipal public works projects. The Unemployment and Farm Relief Act was enacted in July 1931 provided funds to municipalities and the provinces for road building projects, as well as funds set aside for projects in the national parks. Similar acts were passed in 1932, 1933, 1934, and 1935.
- The Relief Act, 1932 - established under the Department of National Defence to help the growing numbers of unemployed. Work camp projects were established in every province, except Prince Edward Island, to provide single, unemployed men with a subsistence living. The work done included clearing and grading of landing fields, forestry work, road construction, and other work that could be economically carried out for the general advantage of Canada. The men were provided with food, accommodation, clothing, a free issue of tobacco, an allowance of twenty cents per day and in addition, necessary medical, dental, and hospital attention.
Canada hosted the British Empire Economic Conference in Ottawa from July 21 and August 20, 1932. More commonly known as the Ottawa Conference, it was attended by the leaders of the independent dominions of the British Empire (which later became the Commonwealth of Nations). This was the first occasion the conference was held outside the British Isles. The goal of the conference was to help each of the Commonwealth's dominions to address their ravaged economies through reducing or eliminating trade barriers between members while raising them against the rest of the world. R.B. dominated the meetings. The conference ended with many bilateral agreements in hand but without an overall trade arrangement.