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Alberta, Past and Present, Historical and Biographical
Vol 1 - Chapter VIII
Political History of Alberta-1905-1921


The first Legislative Assembly of Alberta met at Edmonton on March 15, 1006. Hon. C. W. Fisher, Cochrane, was elected Speaker and Mr. J. R. Cowell, of Red Deer, was clerk of the Assembly. Mr. A. J. Robertson, Nanton, led the opposition of two. The first duty of the Assembly was to organize the various departments of the public service. Many of the members of the Civil Service of the Territories were moved from Regina to Edmonton, and the various records applicable to the new Province transferred to the new capital.

One of the burning questions of the session was the determination of the capital of Alberta. There was strong rivalry between the cities of Calgary and Edmonton. The towns of Strathcona, Red Deer and Banff also desired the honor. The issue was settled by the Assembly by a vote of 16 to 8 in favor of Edmonton. Important measures of legislation included a complete revision of the Territorial law on real property, taxation of the right of way of railways, bonusing the sugar beet industry, and an act to enable municipalities to establish and operate telephones. The taxation of railways was very popular with the people, as it was regarded as a measure particularly aimed at the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, which had enjoyed exemption from taxation since its incorporation in 1881. The law was contested by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company in the courts and was held intra vires, only with respect to the Company's branch lines.

The most important public measure in 1907 was the decision of the Government to build rural telephone lines and trunk telephone lines to protect the public from what the Government alleged was the monopoly of the Bell Telephone Company. Overtures were made to this Company by the Government towards purchasing the Bell System in Alberta, but without success. In pursuance of its policy the Government built five hundred miles of trunk telephone lines between Lloydminster, Edmonton and Calgary. In matters of legislation the Railway Act was regarded as very radical, providing as it did for the acquisition by the Province of any railway under Provincial jurisdiction.

New measures of taxation provided for taxing corporations and assessing lands outside of school districts. The latter taxes were earmarked for the support of education.

Federal elections were looming up. Both parties held conventions to prepare their organizations for the approaching political battle. The Conservatives met at Red Deer, June 27th. The Liberals met four hundred strong at Calgary, October 22nd. These events marked the end of the isolation of Western provincial politics from federal politics. Both parties lined up behind their respective federal parties and for many years federal and provincial issues have been inextricably tangled.

Not much legislation was attempted in 1908. The most important Acts were the Workmen's Compensation Act, and an Act to empower the Government to purchase, lease, construct, maintain and operate telephone and telegraph systems and to issue debentures for the same. The Government issued four per cent thirty-year debentures, the first money borrowed by the Province of Alberta for extension of the Provincial telephone system.

The session of 1909 was a busy and important one. The life of the first Legislative Assembly was drawing to a close and legislation for creating machinery for holding an election was necessary. The Legislative Assembly Act was revised and the membership of that body increased to 41, one member for each constituency, excepting Calgary and Edmonton, which were given two members each. The term of the Assembly was increased from four to five years. A new Election Act was passed dealing with corrupt practices, qualification of voters, lists, registration and other matters in a manner more in keeping with the improvement of the country than was possible under the old Territorial law. The great question of the session was railways. The two leaders in the Legislature were equally emphatic in their public utterances in support of a forward railway policy. The rapid settlement of the Province in districts remote from the main lines rendered this the greatest need of the day. Accordingly, the Government decided upon the policy which seemed very popular in those days, of guaranteeing the securities of branch lines of the Canadian Northern, Grand Trunk Pacific, and the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway Companies.

This involved a total mileage of 1,761 miles, and a Provincial guarantee of $25,343,000. On the C. N. R. and G. T. P. lines were guarantees to the extent of 813,000 per mile, the bonds to run for thirty years at four per cent. In the case of the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway, which was designed to connect Edmonton with the river system of the North, the guarantee was for $20,000 per mile, the bonds to run for fifty years at five per cent.

On this policy the Rutherford ministry appealed to the electors on March 22nd. Meanwhile, the Conservatives held a Provincial Convention at Red Deer, and issued what was long afterwards known as the "Red Deer Platform." On the important questions of the hour there was little difference in the policies of the two parties. The Government won an overwhelming victory at the polls, the standing of the parties being one Socialist, three Conservatives and thirty-seven Liberals. Mr. R. B. Bennett, who had been defeated in 1905, and though not the official leader of the Opposition, was the real leader of the Conservatives in the campaign, and was elected for one of the Calgary seats. He vigorously denounced the Alberta and Great Waterways project, a portent of the storm he was to launch in the following session.

On October 3rd the corner stone of the new Parliament Building was laid by Earl Grey, Governor-General of Canada. lion. W. T. Finlay, Minister of Agriculture, resigned on October 21st, on account of ill health, and was succeeded by Hon. Duncan Marshall. At the same time Premier Rutherford enlarged his Cabinet by adding two Ministers without portfolio, Hon. W. A. Buchanan and Hon. P. E. Lessard.

For five years the politics of the Province had been placid and uneventful and the administration of public affairs progressive and honest. The session of 1910 witnessed a perturbation and upheaval that split the Liberal party into two factions, which more than a decade afterwards still regarded each other with some jealousy and distrust.

The subject of dissension was the guaranteeing of the bonds of the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway Company and the details of the agreement made between the Railway Company and the Government for the construction of the road. During the autumn of 1909 the Railway Company succeeded in selling the bonds to the firm of J. P. Morgan & Company, of New York and London, at pal', the proceeds of which, S7,400,000, were deposited in certain banks in Edmonton to the credit of the Government. The Railway Company, of which W. R. Clarke, of Kansas City, an aggressive railway promoter, was President, signed an agreement with the Government on October 25th, for the construction of the railway. The next step was to organize the Canada West Construction Company, a subsidiary concern, to build the road. The Railway Company then assigned its rights in the proceeds of the bonds to the Construction Company, which, in turn, assigned its rights to the Royal Bank of Canada as security for advances made to the Construction Company for work done upon the railway. Meanwhile, the bonds had been resold to various investors at 110 by the Morgans, or $740,000 profit. Enemies of the Government jumped to the conclusion that President Clarke and certain members of the Government secretly participated in this profit. A good many members of the Legislature, who apparently thought the Morgans were in the bond business for others, and not for themselves, were influenced by these insinuations. It was afterwards proven at the investigation of the Royal Commission that these charges were untrue.

The Assembly met on February 10th. A few innocent questions on the order paper in the opening days of the session were the first signs of the storm that finally overthrew the Government. On the 14th, Hon. W. TI. Cushing resigned on the grounds as stated in his letter to Premier Rutherford, that he had not been consulted in the negotiations leading up to the agreement, and that the agreement and specifications signed by Premier Rutherford as Minister of Railways, with the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway Company, failed to protect the interests of the Province. In his statement to the Assembly, Premier Rutherford denied these allegations and asserted the negotiations were concluded with the full concurrence of the entire cabinet. Overtures were then made by President Clarke of the Railway on February 23rd to improve the conditions of the agreement and build a better road than required by the specifications of the original contract. These overtures were met by a resolution presented by J. R. Boyle and D. Warnock, purporting to expropriate the rights of the Railway Company, vest the same in the Province and proceed at once with the construction of the railway under the supervision of a Commission appointed by the Legislature. This resolution precipitated the most furious and acrimonious debate that has ever taken place in the Alberta Legislature. Public feeling ran high for and against the Government, and hundreds more than could be accommodated in the galleries struggled for admittance at every sitting. Mr. Gushing explained the reasons for his resignation, and stated that the railway could be built according to the specifications of the contract for $12,000 per mile. In rebuttal Premier Rutherford submitted the estimate of the Government's Engineer, Mr. R. W. Jones, of 820,000, and the Company's estimate of $27,000 per mile. Attorney-General Cross stoutly defended the agreement and the whole project. Two amendments were offered to Mr. Boyle's resolution. One by E. H. Riley and J. M. Glendenning was a straight want of confidence in the Government. The other by J. W. Woolf and John A. McDougall called for the acceptance of President Clarke's offer to revise the contract and improve the specifications, and to set aside $1,000,000 as a guarantee for the completion and operation of the road. The climax of the debate was reached in the speech of Mr. R. B. Bennett, the leader of the Conservatives, on March 2nd. lie spoke for five hours and made such an impression on the Liberal insurgents that they incorporated Mr. Riley's amendment into Mr. Boyle's resolution. Notwithstanding, the Government was sustained by a vote of 23 to 15. The insurgents, now acting with the Conservatives, refused to accept the decision of the House as final, and with the support of the two strongest Liberal newspapers in the Province, the Edmonton Bulletin and the Calgary Albertan, agitated for a new Government led by Chief Justice Sifton, Hon. Peter Tabot, or Hon. W. H. Gushing. On March 8th, Premier Rutherford invited Mr. Gushing to return to the Cabinet since a new agreement was to be made and he was loath to break with his old colleague. Hon. C. W. Cross refused to stay in the government if Mr. Gushing returned, and tendered his resignation next day. He was followed by Hon. W. A. Buchanan. Mi.. Cushing refused to come back and Mr. Cross withdrew his resignation. These events gave the insurgents and the Opposition the opportunity they had been seeking, and they promptly moved a no-confidence motion, which was lost by the narrow majority of 3, the vote standing 20 to 17.
It was clear the Government could not carry on the business of the House efficiently until the cloud of rumors that filled the country was dispelled. Oil 14th Premier Rutherford presented and carried unanimously a resolution drawn up by Attorney-General Cross and Mr. Bennett appointing a Royal Commission, Hon. D. L. Scott, Hon. Horace Harvey and Hon. N. D. Black, three Justices of the Supreme Court, to investigate the relations of the members of the Government, members of the Legislature and officials of the Government in connection with the incorporation and organization of the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway Company, the guaranteeing of the bonds of the Railway, and the contract for building the railway.

The House voted supplies for five months and after authorizing the construction of twenty-five miles of the railway adjourned on March 17th until May 26th. The Royal Commission had not completed its labors when the House reassembled oil 26th. The Lieutenant Governor informed the members he had accepted Premier Rutherford's resignation and had called upon Hon. A. L. Sifton, Chief Justice of Alberta, to form a Government. Mr. Sifton accepted the responsibility and on June 3rd announced his ministry as follows:

President of the Council, Provincial rf1.easl1.er and Minister of Public Works, lIon. Arthur Lewis Sifton; Attorney-General and Minister of Education, Hon. Charles Richmond Mitchell, Medicine Hat; Provincial Secretary, lion. Archibald J. McLean, Lethbridge; Minister of Agriculture, lion. Duncan Marshall, Olds.

The choice of Mr. Sifton for Premier was not unanimous among the members of the Assembly. Certain members wanted ex-Attorney General C. W. Cross, others ex-Minister of Public Works W. H. Cushing, and J. R. Boyle to be in the new Government. E. H. Riley, Gleichen, resigned his seat as a protest against the exclusion of Mr. Cushing. The new Ministers all found seats in the bye-elections June 29th, but Mr. Riley was defeated by a Sifton supporter, Mr. A. J. McArthur, in Gleichen. Though the supporters of Mr. Cross were sorely disappointed he generously declared his adherence to the Sifton Government.

The Royal Commission completed its investigations oil 7th, and submitted a majority report signed by Messrs. Justice Harvey and Justice Scott, and a minority report signed by Mr. Justice Beck, a few days before the legislature met in November. The majority report considered the Government as mildly censurable in some of its arrangements and actions, but completely exonerated Premier Rutherford and Attorney-General Cross from having any personal interest in the scheme or negotiations. The minority report exonerated the Government and criticised Mr. Cushjug for his actions in the affair. Ten have passed, and nothing has ever been discovered that reflected oil honesty of the members of the Rutherford Government in all transactions with the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway Company.

Public interest in the Report of the Commission soon died down in the face of Premier Sifton's policy in dealing with the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway. In July the Railway Company defaulted in the payment of the first instalment of the interest and the Government was corn1)elled to pay it to the Morgans in London. The company did nothing during the summer toward construction. President Clarke refused to testify before the Royal Commission. The Railway Company became very unpopular with the public and the legislature. On November 24th Premier Sifton introduced a bill which afterwards passed the House, declaring that the proceeds and interest accruing from the sale of the bonds of the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway Company should become part of the general revenue of the Province and might be expended for any purpose authorized by the Legislature. The measure was vigorously opposed by ex-Premier Rutherford, Mr. Cross, Mr. Bennett, the entire Conservative opposition and a number of Liberals, followers of Mr. Cross, particularly Mr. James K. Cornwall, who had been instrumental in securing the organization of the Railway Company to develop the Northland. Immediately after the passing of the Act the Government served notice on the Royal Bank and presented a cheque for $6,042,830.06, being the amount standing to the credit of the Province in a special account and representing the portion of the proceeds of the Alberta and Great Waterways bonds deposited in that bank. The bank refused to pay the cheque and the Government immediately sued the bank for the amount. The litigation dragged on over two years and at times greatly embarrassed the Government. Although it is anticipating the events in this chapter, we shall follow the incidents and turns of this political imbroglio to their conclusion at once.

The trial of the issue was heard by Hon. Justice Stewart of the Supreme Court of Alberta in November, 1911, who gave judgment for the Province. His decision was upheld by the Court en Banc in April, 1912. Meanwhile, the Railway Company appealed to the Minister of Justice of Canada to recommend the disallowance of the Act to the Governor-in-Council. The Minister of Justice finally decided that the Act should not be disallowed on the ground that it would be prejudicial to the credit of the Dominion and not advisable in the interests of the Province to take legislative measures to prevent the improvident application of the funds. The bank appealed from the decision of the Alberta Courts in January, 1913, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The Privy Council sustained the appeal of the Royal Bank and declared that the legislature had no power to convert the funds raised for the specific purpose of building the railway into general revenue for other purposes and that the lenders were entitled to a return of their money if the objects for which the money was raised were not carried out. This right was a right outside the Province over which the Legislature had no jurisdiction. The Act was therefore ultra vires.

The decision was an embarrassing one for the Government. So confident was the Government of its position in the case that the Treasurer issued short term Treasury bills expecting to repay them with the money held up in the banks. It left the Government with a large temporary indebtedness on its hands which had to be met and gave the opposition strong party material in the Legislature and in the elections which followed in April, 1913. The decision was such a sudden reversal of the Government's policy that nothing was done in the first session of 1913' and at the conclusion of the session in March, Premier Sifton promised nothing would be done without consulting the Legislature. Accordingly, a session was called early in the fall of that year. The Act passed in 1910, which the Privy Council declared ultra vires, was repealed, and arrangements were made with Mr. J. D. McArthur, a well-known and reliable railway contractor, to proceed with the construction of the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway, to be completed by the end of 1915. The intervention of the war, the great increase in the cost of labor and materials, drove the contractor into bankruptcy and the Government was compelled to take over the construction of the road under circumstances that rendered the cost much higher than was originally provided for.

At last the Alberta and Great Waterways imbroglio was settled. At this date, and after several years have passed, it is difficult to understand why such acrimonious dissension should have arisen and why a ministry recently endorsed in a general election, and with an outstanding record of progressive legislation and efficient administration should have been forced out of office. But it was the first experience the Alberta legislature had with railway companies and railway contractors. The major criticism of the project by the members of the Assembly and press was that the Railway Company had no capital of its own. it did not yet occur to these ingenuous novices that the railways of the West have been built by men with faith and other people's money—much of it the money of the people of Canada.

Going back to the events of 1910 again the Conservatives held a Convention in July and elected Edward Michener, member for Red Deer, as leader of the Opposition, a position he held until he was appointed to the Senate in December, 1917. Mr. R. B. Bennett had retired to contest the Federal riding of Calgary in the election of September, 1911.

The second session of 1910 marked the first move on the part of the Liberal party in the Province to modify its position of 1905 on the question of the public lands, mines and other natural resources held by the Dominion pursuant to the Alberta Act. A motion presented by A. Bramley-Moore and James K. Cornwall was unanimously supported. But the motion was withdrawn, Premier Sifton stating that the Government was preparing a formal demand for the transfer of the natural resources to Alberta. This attitude had been adopted by Premier Sifton as soon as he became Premier a few months before, and apparently he found the rank and file of the party willing followers.

A number of bye-elections were held in 1911, all going against the Government. The new members of the Opposition were: Messrs. T. M. Tweedie, Calgary; H. W. Riley, Gleichen; Robert Patterson, Macleod; and J. S. Stewart, Lethbridge. The session held the following year was the first in which the Government was opposed by a regularly organized, effective opposition.

The policy of encouraging railway construction by a guarantee of bonds was continued. During the session over 1,800 miles of railway lines were assisted in this way, as follows:

(1) Grand Trunk Pacific, Bickerdike to the coal fields on the Embarras River, 58 miles, at $20,000 per mile.
(2) Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia, Edmonton to Peace River Valley, along the south shore of Lesser Slave Lake to Dunvegan, 350 miles, at $20,000 per mile.
(3) Canadian Northern Railway:
(a) Athabaska Landing to Fort McMurray, 175 miles at $15,000 per mile.
(b) From above line eastward to Lac la Biche, 40 miles, at $15,000 per mile.
(c) Athabaska Landing to Peace River Landing, 100 miles, at $15,000 per mile.
(d) Onoway to Pine River Pass, 250 miles, at $20,000 per mile.
(e) Edmonton to St. Paul de Metis, 100 miles at 813,000 per mile.
(f) Bruederheim to Vermilion, Wainwright and Medicine Hat, 200 miles, at $13,000 per mile.
(g) Calgary to Brazeau River, 100 miles, at $13,000 per mile.
(h) Camrose to eastern boundary, 80 miles, at $13,000 per mile.
(i) Cochrane to Edmonton, 100 miles, at $15,000 per mile.
(j) Calgary towards Saskatoon, 130 miles, at $13,000 per mile.

The total railway securities guaranteed by these Acts involved $25,755,000. The total railway mileage guaranteed in the Province at that date was 3,074 miles involving $44,098,000.

Very few guarantees were given by the Legislature after this session. It will be noticed the Canadian Pacific Railway did not share in this catalogue of guarantees so lavishly bestowed on the Canadian Northern Railway Company. It was a fine example of the methods of the Canadian Northern Railway interests in pre-empting territory for their lines to forestall their competitors. Many of these lines were never built on account of the intervention of the war, and happily for the taxpayers of the Province of Alberta, the Canadian Northern Railway Lines have been taken over by the Government of Canada and thus a heavy burden in annual interest charges has been thrown upon broader shoulders.

The Cabinet was enlarged in 1912 to include eight members. Two new departments were organized. The municipal legislation of the session of that year and the necessity of assisting and supervising the extension of local Government rendered a department of Municipal Affairs necessary. The Railway Acts and the pledging of the credit of the Province to guarantees of bonds made it advisable to create a new Department of Railways which was combined with Telephones. Besides the necessities of the public service there was also the pressure of party factions that induced Premier Sifton to stabilize his position as leader of the Liberal Party by taking in Hon. C. W. Cross and some of the leaders of the old insurgent group that overthrew the Rutherford Government, but had been left out of Mr. Sifton's first cabinet, two years before. The new ministry was announced May 4th as follows: Premier and Minister of Railways and Telephones, lion. Arthur Lewis Sifton; Attorney-General, Hon. Charles Wilson Cross; Minister of Public Works, Hon. Charles Richmond Mitchell; Provincial Secretary, Hon. Archibald J. McLean; Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Duncan Marshall; Provincial Treasurer, Hon. Malcolm MacKenzie; Minister of Education, Hon. John Robert Boyle; Minister of Municipal Affairs, Hon. Charles Stewart.

The bye-elections were held on May 27th. All the new Ministers carried their seats, but with reduced majorities. On the same date a bye-election was held in Cardston, where Mr. Martin Woolf, the Liberal candidate, succeeded Mr. J. W. Woolf, who had resigned his seat to reside in the United States. Protests, the first in Alberta, were filed against the return of Mr. Cross and Mr. MacKenzie, citing charges and alleging various kinds of political corruption. The petition against the election of Mr. Mackenzie was dismissed by the Supreme Court, while the one against Mr. Cross was before the courts when the General Election was held in the spring of 1913.

The results of the bye-elections, though strongly in favor of the Government, indicated that the Conservative Party was gradually recovering from the sweeping defeats of 1905 and 1909. A Provincial general election was now in sight. A Provincial Convention of the Conservative Party was held in Calgary on March 6th and 7th, attended by four hundred delegates. An elaborate platform covering Provincial and Federal issues was adopted. In the light of subsequent events some of the principles and policies adopted are exceedingly interesting. The Convention declared for an independent audit of the provincial accounts as soon as the party succeeded at the polls. Since that date the Liberal Party has been defeated, and its successor, the United Farmers' Party, has carried out this policy, and made an independent audit. The Convention pledged itself to legislation embodying the principle of the Initiative, Referendum and Recall. In the following year the Sifton Government passed the Direct Legislation Act, providing for the Initiative and Referendum, omitting the Recall. The law was never invoked except in case of restricting the sale of intoxicating liquors in 1915. The Initiative, the Referendum and especially the Recall, have never been popular with the old line parties in the Province. Few Conservatives in Alberta today adhere to this plank of their platform adopted in 1912. But the principle has been adopted in its entirety by the Farmers' Party and many members of that Party in the Assembly have placed their resignations in escrow in the hands of the United Farmers' Executive of the districts they represent.

The new Parliament Buildings were opened this year (1912) by H. R. H. the Duke of Connaught and celebrated by a state dinner, followed the next day by a Grand Levee in the Assembly Hall. The new buildings were erected on the site of the Hudson's Bay Fort, which stood there from the early years of the 19th century.

The last session of the second Legislature opened on February 10th. It was a very busy session and the program of legislation indicated the approach of the elections. A redistribution bill was passed increasing the number of constituencies to 56. Acts were passed establishing Agricultural high Schools, Consolidated Schools, Co-Operative Associations, Assistance to the Farmers' Co-Operative Elevator Company, Direct Legislation. Increased taxing powers were given to towns and villages and an act designed to protect farmers from harsh treatment at the hands of implement dealers, the Farm Machinery Act was put on the Statute Book. The opposition was very critical of the Government's railway policy, and presented a resolution condemning the exemption of the railways guaranteed by the Government from taxation. The resolution was defeated by a straight party vote, Mr. Sifton declaring that it was the policy of the Liberal Government to encourage railway construction, and that at a time when nearly 3,500 miles of railways had been guaranteed by the Province it was had policy to begin taxing them.

The elections were held on April 17th, 1913, and resulted in the return of 38 Liberals and 18 Conservatives. Mr. C. R. Mitchell, Minister of Public Works, was defeated by Mr. Nelson Spencer, Medicine Hat, and Mr. A. G. MacKay, who was Mr. Cross' running mate in Edmonton, was defeated by Mr. A. F. Ewing. George Lane, the famous rancher, who was elected in Bow Valley over H W. Riley, resigned in favor of the Minister of Public Works. Mr. Mitchell was returned in the bye-election and so held his seat in the Cabinet. A crop of petitions grew out of the election, the most notable being in the Clearwater Constituency against the return of H. W. McKenney, the objection alleged being how could 105 votes be polled in a Constituency that had only 74 voters residing in the whole Constituency. The petition against Mr. A. S. Shandro, of Whitford, was successful, and Mr. Shandro was unseated. Mr. Shandro was the first Austrian-born citizen of the Province to be elected to the Legislature of Alberta. He was born in Galicia, emigrating to Canada when a lad. He rapidly assimilated Canadian ideas and methods, and soon became a leader among his people. He represented the almost wholly- Russian Constituency of Whitford until 1921. A notable addition to the Legislature this year occurred in the return of Mr. A. G. MacKay in the deferred election in Athabasca. Mr. MacKay had formerly been leader of the Liberal Party in Ontario and quickly rose to a commanding position in the Legislature of Alberta.

At the opening of the new Legislature in September, Hon. C. W. Fisher was elected speaker for the third time, an honor that he held until his death at the end of the session of 1919. The principal business was the settlement of the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway question by the execution of an agreement to build the railway with Mr. J. D. McArthur, according to the Act of Incorporation of the Railway Company. Other legislation of importance was the taxation of the Unearned Increment on land. The new measure imposed a tax of five per cent at the time of registration upon the increased value of the land excluding the improvements. A new Libel and Slander Act was passed and Juvenile Courts established.
After the session Mr. Wilfred Gariepy, member for Beaver River, was taken into the Cabinet as Minister of Municipal Affairs. Hon. Mr. Stewart was transferred to the Department of Public Works. Hon. Mr. Mitchell, who held the latter portfolio, became Provincial Treasurer. Premier Sifton had acted as Treasurer since the death of Hon. Malcolm MacKenzie in the previous March, but now desired to give his sole attention to the extension of railways and telephones.

The financial position of the Province was stated by the Premier on September 30th, to be a total outstanding indebtedness of $15,741,981. The total amount of authorized railway bond guarantees was 868,631,800, of which 830,124,700 were issued. The assets of the Province were estimated at $110,378,000.

The beginning of 1914 marks the advent of a more settled period in Alberta politics than characterized the events of the previous four years. Premier Sifton, by fearless and dexterous leadership triumphed over all his difficulties. Intellectually brilliant, a master of men, and endowed with a canny insight into their minds, familiar by long residence in the country with its deepest problems, a reformer, sometimes of an iconoclastic turn, and often arrogantly democratic, he was an ideal leader. He was implicitly trusted and sometimes feared by his colleagues in the Cabinet. He was always master of the House. His followers on the back benches believed he could lead them safely through every attack of the opposition, and he always did. He rarely left the House during a sitting. During a protracted debate, he generally tilted his chair backward into a comfortable position. A dry cynical smile froze on his face, making it impossible for an opponent to detect the working of his mind. If the House was in Committee he sat in the same position, nonchalantly smoking his black cigar, and except for an occasional raising of his eyebrows and the flashing of his piercing eyes, he sat as motionless as a statue and as silent as a sphinx. But when the moment came for him to reply he seemed to boil over with indignation and poured out a torrent of scathing ridicule, bitter taunts or inexorable logic, whichever he deemed necessary to rout his opponents.

Political events in 1914 were eclipsed by the war. In January the members of the Opposition visited Ottawa in a body to confer with the Federal Government and Dominion Conservative leaders on such questions as naturalization, Provincial control of lands, the chilled meat industry, technical education and other matters.

The first war session met on October 7th and lasted fifteen days. When the war broke out a Liberal Convention was in session at Calgary with five hundred delegates. It decided to abandon party action. Dr. Michael Clark, M. P., fathered a resolution which was unanimously endorsed by the Convention, declaring a party truce in the face of the crisis that threatened the Empire. At the opening of the Legislature this truce was ratified by both parties in a unanimous resolution, pledging the entire resources of the Province to the Empire and its Allies, in what the resolution stated was a struggle for the "continuity of democratic civilization".

A number of non-contentious Acts were passed this session. The extra Judicial Seizures Act provided that every distress, excepting for taxes, must be made by a sheriff, or his bailiff, who must have a proper warrant under heavy penalties for infraction. The Foreclosure and Sale Act materially reduced costs and expenses of litigation in enforcing rights under mortgages, agreements for sale, and other encumbrances. The costly method of writs and pleadings was replaced by a simple procedure. Taxes were increased and new ones imposed on pool-rooms, bowling alleys, travellers for liquor houses, bartenders, circuses, travelling shows and clubs. The pessimism induced by the catastrophe of the war put the House and the people in a proper Puritan spirit to accomplish such reforms without discord. A tax was imposed on uncultivated lands of one per cent of their assessed value. It affected over 20,000,000 acres of land in the Province, held for the most part by speculators. A tax of two-and-one-half cents per acre was levied on timber lands. Considerable legislation was passed for the relief of the people in war time. The Government did not impose a moratorium, but Premier Sifton announced there would be no seizure or sale permitted under any document without the Order of a Judge, and he warned certain loan companies if they took advantage of war conditions to renew loans for long terms at increased rates, means would be found to prevent them from doing any further business in the Province—a characteristic Siftonian threat.

The Direct Legislation Act gave the Prohibitionists an opportunity to take the first step to abolish the bar and curtail the liquor trade. On October 12th they presented a petition signed by 23,000 electors, and submitted a Prohibition Liquor Act. On October 19th, in accordance with that request, Premier Sifton without opposition, provided for the submission of the Act by a referendum on July 21, 1915. The Prohibitionists, led by the Alberta Temperance and Moral Reform League, contested the issue with the Licensed Victuallers' Association throughout the summer of 1915, and finally won by a vote of 58,295 for prohibition and 37,509 against. A bye-election was held in Wetaskiwin in the fall of 1914, clue to the death of Chas. H. Olin. He was succeeded by H. J. Montgomery, the Liberal candidate.

For some time there had been growing in the Province an agitation for some supervision of the issue of municipal debentures and the sale of shares of the various Joint Stock Companies. In the session of 1915 legislation was passed creating the Board of Public Utility Commissioners, with very wide powers over these and other matters, in regulating the actions of municipal and public service corporations.

The party truce of 1914 began to disappear in the session of 1916. Mr. Edward Mitchener, supported by eager and able lieutenants, particularly Mr. T. M. Tweedie, Mr. A. F. Ewing and Dr. G. D. Stanley, led a vigorous opposition against the Government, but without avail. The administration of the Liquor Act by the Attorney-General's Department was specially singled out for attack this session by Dr. Stanley of High River. A Royal Commission was asked for to investigate charges in which it was alleged that the agents of the Government had collected funds from the licensees of hotels for election purposes; that the licensees of hotels had paid large sums to the agents of the Attorney-General, in order to escape prosecutions under the Liquor Act; and also had obtained concessions in connection with liquor licenses. The Government offered to have these charges investigated by the Public Accounts Committee, and pledged that if sufficient evidence was found it would order a judicial enquiry. With respect to the charges of stifling prosecutions, Premier Sifton challenged the Opposition to commence criminal proceedings in the Courts and all expenses of the prosecution would be paid by the Government. He further illuminated the Assembly with the statement that he knew these charges had been in secret circulation a year before and were being used by some of the hotelkeepers as a threat to deter the Government from passing a prohibitory law.

The construction of the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway and of the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway were other matters that the Opposition wanted investigated by a Royal Commission. A resolution to this effect was introduced April 17th by Dr. T. H. Blow, of Calgary. This was the first of a yearly phillipic against the railway policy of the Government by this indefatigable member, until he left the Legislature in 1921. Another resolution asked for the investigation of the conduct of four ministers for alleged interference with the regular administration of justice in dismissing a certain Justice of the Peace and releasing certain prisoners. The ministers were able to refute these charges very easily and both resolutions were defeated. Then Mr. R. E. Campbell, of Rocky Mountain, proposed a vote of censure against Premier Sifton for permitting alleged payment of unfair wages and bad treatment by the contractors of the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway respecting employees on this railroad. In these debates, the bitterest heard in the Assembly since the Alberta and Great Waterways affair in 1910, the defence of the Government fell mainly on Premier Sifton, who displayed a courage and resourcefulness that won him the solid and enthusiastic support of every Liberal member in the Assembly.

It is questionable if men of more parliamentary experience would have followed the same course as the members of the Opposition did that session. But it may be taken as the first wholesome sign that parliamentary government was developing iii the Legislature. Under British practice the party system is necessary and vigorous, fearless opposition is as indispensable for good government as a strong cabinet backed up by a safe majority.

The Sale of Intoxicating Liquors Act was passed without discussion, almost without a comment, except that Premier Sifton said that it would be enforced. This Act carried out the terms of the petition of the prohibitionists, endorsed by the plebiscite of the previous year. It abolished the sale of intoxicating liquors as beverages, and provided for the sale of such by Government Vendors under the certificate of a medical practitioner. Equally unanimous were the passing of the Equal Suffrage Act, the first in Canada, the only dissentient in the Assembly being Mr. Lucien Boudreau, the member for St. Albert, a strong French-Canadian riding, and an Act for the Relief of Volunteers and Reservists, which provided a moratorium for all who had enlisted for service in the war. The effect of the war was apparent in the shortage of teachers, over six hundred having enlisted. The fear of alien outrages led the Government to insure the Parliament Buildings against such risks, with Lloyd's, for $2,000,000.

In the session of 1917 the Opposition increased their determination to fight the Government and its policies. The debate on the address was the longest before or since that time. A series of resolutions condemning the Government's administration of railways, telephones, the Civil Service and other matters were submitted by the Opposition, and defeated by the Government's supporters. These debates brought out the strength of both parties and served as fine political propaganda for the elections, which took place on June 17th, shortly after the prorogation of the Assembly.

By this time several members of the Assembly were overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, viz.: Brigadier-General J. S. Stewart, C. M. G., D. S. O., of Lethbridge, Commanding 3rd Canadian Artillery Division; Major C. S. Pingle, Redcliffe; Major R. B. Eaton, Hand Hills; Captain R. E. Campbell, Rocky Mountain; Lieutenant F. A. Walker, Victoria; Lieutenant G. E. L. Hudson, Wainwright; Lieutenant J. E. Stauffer, Didsbury; Pte. Gordon Macdonald, Pembina.

The Legislature recognized the patriotism and services of these members by passing a Special Act electing them again to the new Legislature elected June 17th of that year.

Provision was also made by a Special Act for the representation of the Soldiers and Nursing Sisters of Alberta for electing two members at large. The result of the elections was the return of thirty-three Liberals, nineteen Conservatives, two representatives of the Non-Partisan League (Mrs. L. C. McKinney, Claresholm, and James Weir, Nanton), and Captain Robert Pearson and Nursing Sister Roberta McAdams, representing the soldiers and nursing sisters overseas. Mrs. McKinney and Miss McAdams were the first women ever elected to a Canadian or British Assembly. The Legislature now had fifty-eight members, compared to forty-one in 1909, and twenty-five in 1905.

After the election the stress of the war overshadowed Provincial affairs. The absolute necessity of maintaining the Canadian Divisions in France up to strength precipitated the Conscription issue and led to the formation of the Union Government for Canada.

Premier Sifton had been from the beginning an ardent advocate of a vigorous prosecution of the war and desired to subordinate everything to secure a successful termination. The prospect of a bitter party campaign throughout the Dominion of Canada and the consequences of a strictly party enforcement of Conscription, induced Alberta's premier to join the Union Government. He was succeeded by Hon. Charles Stewart, a member of the Assembly since 1909, and of the Ministry since 1913. The vacancy thus created was filled by the appointment of Hon. G. P. Smith, member for Camrose since 1909 to the Portfolio of Provincial Secretary.

The Stewart Ministry was sworn in on October 16th as follows: Premier, President of the Council and Minister of Railways and Telephones, lion. Charles Stewart; Minister of Public Works, Hon. A. J. McLean; Minister of Education, lion. J. R. Boyle; Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Duncan Marshall; Attorney-General, Hon. C. W. Cross; Minister of Municipal Affairs, Hon. Wilfred Gariepy; Provincial Treasurer, Hon. C. R. Mitchell; Provincial Secretary, Hon. G. P. Smith.

Two Alberta vacancies in the Senate were filled before the end of the year by the acceptance of these honors by Mr. Edward Mitchener, leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, and by Mr. W. J. Harmer, Deputy Minister of Railways and Telephones for Alberta. A notable event of the year was the establishment and organization of the Alberta Provincial Police to take the place of the Royal North West Mounted Police.

There was little political controversy in Provincial affairs in 1918. Alberta, in common with the rest of the Dominion, was making supreme effort to win the war. The Province gave liberally to the Patriotic and Red Cross Funds, and assisted in the reestablishment of Returned Soldiers. Mr. George Hoadley was elected Leader of the Opposition by a caucus of the Conservative members a few days after the opening of the Legislature. Many of the members from overseas were in attendance this session, but the House deeply grieved the death in action of Lieutenant J. E. Stauffer. An important Act of the session was the Hospitals Act, which provided for the formation of Hospital Districts and the establishment of hospitals therein, supported by local taxation. The Supreme Court of Alberta rendered an important judgment relating to the law of divorce in Alberta. The judgment established the competency of Alberta Supreme Court to grant divorces on the ground that the Matrimonial Causes Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1857, was in force in Alberta by virtue of the North West Territories Act, which enacted that the laws of England as they existed prior to July 15th, 1870, should be in force in the North West Territories until the same were repealed or altered by proper authority.

Cabinet changes occurred on the dismissal of Attorney-General Cross on August 22nd, by Premier Stewart, and the elevation of Hon. A. G. Mackay to a seat in the Cabinet. Hon. J. R. Boyle was appointed Attorney-General, Hon. A. G. Mackay became Minister of Municipal Affairs and Public Health. Hon. G. P. Smith was transferred to the Department of Education, and Hon. Wilfred Gariepy accepted the office of Provincial Secretary. On September 25th Mr. Gariepy resigned and Hon. Jean Coté, member for Grouard, was appointed in his place. A bye-election in Red Deer constituency to fill the vacancy caused by the elevation of Mr. Edward Michener to the Senate resulted in the return of Mr. J. J. Gaetz, a Liberal, against Mr. F. W. Galbraith, independent Liberal, but described by his opponent as a Unionist.

The year 1919, possibly as a result of relief from the strain of the war, witnessed important political developments. The farmers made up their minds to fight the old political parties and formed the United Farmers of Alberta Political Association as the announcement of its formation ran "to supervise political organization in Federal and Provincial constituencies." The Liberal party held a Convention in Calgary, declaring a stand against continuance of a Coalition Government after the conclusion of the war, and adopted a clear-cut party platform. At the opening of the session of the Legislature, Mr. James Ramsey, Junior member for Edmonton, was elected leader of the Opposition by the Conservative members of the Assembly. The strength of the Farmer Movement revealed itself in the constituency of Cochrane held November 3rd, when Mr. Alex. Moore, the Farmer candidate, easily won the election against the best efforts of the Liberal organization—a premonition of the startling success of the Farmer Party in the next general elections.

In the session of 1920 C. S. Pingle, member for Redciiff, was elected Speaker of the Assembly, and Mr. A. F. Ewing, senior member for Edmonton, leader of the Opposition.

The financial difficulties of the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway and the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway gave serious concern to the Government. During the session $1,000,000 had been voted by the Assembly for the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway and $100,000 for the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway. Finally the Government was forced to assume control of both railways, after the refusal of the Federal Government to take them over and incorporate them in the National System. Arrangements were completed with the Canadian Pacific Railway Company in July to operate the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway under lease for five years and a company was organized for this purpose, Mr. D. C. Coleman, of the Canadian Pacific Railway, President, and Mr. J. A. Macgregor, an able Canadian Pacific Railway Superintendent, as General Manager. It was decided by the Government to operate the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway as a Government railway.

The complex and unsatisfactory financial state of many of the municipalities in the Province compelled the Government in the session of 1920 to provide for the appointment of several special bodies to adjust matters of municipal finance, and assessment. The most important of these was the Municipal Finances Commission, composed of Honourable Justices Harvey, Beck and Hyndman of the Supreme Court of Alberta, and Mr. H. M. E. Evans, of Edmonton. An Assessment Equalization Board, composed of J. H. Lamb, Deputy Minister of Municipalities, W. J. Jackman, Secretary of Rural Municipalities, investigated assessment policies of the municipalities and reduced them to a basis of reasonable uniformity.

The Government renewed its demand upon the Federal Government for the transfer of the Crown lands, minerals and royalties within the Province to the Province on a different basis to that of Previous demands. By the terms of the demand of 1920 the Government of Alberta was willing to pay back to the Dominion of Canada the monies received in lieu of lands if a proper accounting were made of the various revenues taken from the Crown lands of the Province since 1905 by the Dominion of Canada, and if the same were paid over to the Province of Alberta.

Hon. A. G. Mackay died on April 24th, deeply lamented by the Assembly and country. Hon. C. R. Mitchell took charge of the Department of Municipal Affairs and of Public Health, which he administered until the defeat of the Government the following year.

The political activities of the United Farmers continued with growing vigor and numbers. The membership increased from 18,135 in 1918 to 33,000 in 1921, and although the United Farmers of Alberta Political Association was disbanded at the Annual Convention in 1920 it did not halt or disorganize the plans of the United Farmers to obtain political control of the Province. The United Farm Women's Association, under Mrs. Marion L. Sears, who had succeeded Mrs. Walter Pariby in the Presidency, was potent in rallying the women electors to the support of the Farmers' cause. The precipitous fall of the price of farm products, the Young-Fordney tariff, which excluded Canadian cattle from the United States market, caused just discontent among all classes of farmers. A conviction voiced by Mr. H. W. Woods, President of the United Farmers of Alberta in the words: "Agriculture has not been fostered to a degree commensurate with its rational importance" steadily grew stronger. At the Annual Convention of 1921 a Provincial political platform was adopted and it was resolved to contest every rural constituency in the next elections with Farmer candidates. The elections followed, July 17th. The distinctive features of the election were the absence of criticism of the Government's policy by the Farmer candidates and the precision and power of the Farmer organization. The result was thirty-nine Farmers, fourteen Liberals, four Labor, three Independents, one Conservative.

On the 26th of July, a Convention of the Farmer members-elect was held in Calgary to choose a leader. The choice fell upon Mr. Herbert Greenfield. Mr. Greenfield was not a candidate. He was a prominent member of the Executive of the United Farmers of Alberta. The Stewart Ministry held office until the Greenfield Ministry was formed. On August 13th Premier Greenfield announced his Cabinet as follows: President of the Council, Provincial Treasurer, and Provincial Secretary, Hon. Herbert Greenfield; Attorney-General, Hon. J. E. Brownlee; Minister of Agriculture, Hon. George Hoadley; Minister of Municipal Affairs and of Public Health, lion. R. G. Reid; Minister of Education, Hon. Perrin Baker; Minister of Railways and Telephones, Hon. Vernon W. Smith; Minister of Public Works, Hon. Alex. Ross (Labor); Minister without Portfolio, Hon. Mrs. Walter Parlby.


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