On 3 October 1935, the leader of Fascist Italy, Benito Mussolini, ordered Italian troops to invade Ethiopia. The Italian Fascist government had embarked upon a policy of colonial expansion in northeast Africa. Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia, appealed to the League of Nations for assistance to halt Italian aggression.
Canada, along with Britain and France, refused to support military intervention to defend Ethiopian security, but the head of the Canadian delegation, Dr. Walter Riddell, proposed the imposition of economic sanctions. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, however, refused to support this measure. King publicly stated that the proposal represented the personal views of Dr. Riddell and did not reflect the official position of the Canadian government.
As a result, no action was taken to prevent the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, and the League of Nations clearly demonstrated that it could not provide collective security for its member states.