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he was considered an echo of George dented in Canadian practice, but, supBrown.
To men of these varied shades of thinking Edward Blake appeared to be the leader predestined to guide Canada out of the bogs of partizanship and colonialism. He was a man of outstanding capacity and scrupulous integrity. He was a Liberal who could be liberal to new ideas and old opponents. Not least, he was a Canadian born and bred, determined to assert for his country a more distinctive place in the world's affairs.
ported by two British instances; even so, he informed his constituents that it might not be possible for him to continue permanently in the Government. His presence in the administration, however tentative, undoubtedly strengthened it in the general elections which followed in January and February, 1874. No sooner were the elections completed and a strong majority for the Government assured than Blake resigned. He declared that his legal responsibilities
In the first Confederation parliament the opposition did not choose a leader. The different provincial groups had not yet fused into one. Dorion continued to lead the Quebec wing, while Smith and Holmes marshaled the Maritime contingents.
Blake was a member of the Ontario group, but as he was serving his first years of parliamentary apprenticeship, he was not yet in the running. Mackenzie, with six years of parliamentary experience and many more of party service, came to the front among the Ontario Reformers when Brown retired and Macdougall joined Macdonald. He soon made his place as virtual leader of the whole party, simply because unflagging industry and interest and unsparing criticism of every government weakness put him at the front of the fray.
would not permit him to continue in office even without departmental duties, and recalled the intimations he had given during the election. His critics declined to accept this explanation at face value. Conservative editors insisted that his resignation made evident a want of confidence in Mackenzie's policy. Macdonald, in his place in the House, criticized the transaction as an instance of selling under false pretenses: the administration had gone to the country as a Mackenzie-Blake govern
ment; it owed much of the support it received to the character and repute of the member for South Bruce; it had sold by sample, and one of the strongest claims for the cabinet cloth was that it contained a strong fiber all the way from Bruce that would stand sun, wind, or rain; now, that fiber was withdrawn before delivery, and the people were saying, "We have had palmed off upon us the same old brown stuff."
The Honorable George Brown
After eight months' service as leader of the opposition, Mackenzie was summoned to form a ministry in November, 1873, after the Pacific scandal had forced the retirement of Macdonald. With much difficulty Blake was induced to enter the cabinet. He would not, however, undertake any administrative tasks, and became a minister without portfolio, an expedient then unprece
In October, 1874, Blake delivered a speech to a Liberal county convention at Aurora that raised the hopes of the progressive wing and the ire of the standpatters. He first developed the issues on which he was in agreement with the whole party, indorsing the effi
cient and economical administration of Mowat in Ontario, and urging the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway with a view to the expansion of settlement on the prairies rather than to the immediate fulfilment of the rash undertaking to pierce British Columbia's "sea of mountains." Blake then proceeded to suggest new fields to explore. Compulsory voting, based on the recognition of the franchise as a sacred trust; extension of the suffrage, then limited to property-owners, by adding farmers' sons and income schedules; representation of minorities by some modification of the Hare system, and reform of the Senate were all urged with reasoned force. Some change in imperial relations was imperative:
Matters cannot drift much longer as they have drifted hitherto. The Treaty of Washington produced a very profound impression throughout this country. It produced a feeling that at no distant period the people of Canada would desire that they should have some greater share
of control than they now have in the management of foreign affairs. . . . This is a state of things of which you have no right to complain, because so long as you do not choose to undertake the responsibilities and burdens which attach to some share of control in these affairs, you cannot fully claim the rights and privileges of free-born Britons in such matters. . . . The time will come when that national spirit which has been spoken of will be truly felt among us, when we shall realize that we are four millions of Britons who are not free.
I know that I have made a rather disturbing speech, but I am not afraid of that. Not much good can be done without disturbing something or somebody. I may be said also to have made an imprudent speech; at least that might be said if I were one of those who aspire to lead their fellow-countrymen as ministers. It is the function of a minister to say nothing that can be caught hold of, nothing in advance of the public opinion of the day, and to catch the current of that opinion when it has gathered strength, and crystallize it in Acts of Parliament.
Blake recognized that he was departing from the usual path set for the leaders of a party when in power. He concluded:
Sir Charles Tupper
That is the function of a Liberal minister. The function of a Tory minister is to wait until he is absolutely forced to swallow his own opinions. It may be permitted to one who prefers to be a private in the advanced guard of the army of freedom to a commanding place in the main body, to run the risk of promulgating what may be a political heresy to-day and may perhaps become a political creed to-morrow.
That the suggestions thus freely thrown out were disturbing to the old guard was sufficiently indicated by
the fact that the "Globe," though publishing the speeches of lesser lights delivered later in the proceedings, held over Blake's speech until an editorial counterblast could be prepared. In a series of editorials Blake's Canadian Pacific policy was indorsed, and a tribute paid to his vigor and independence, but there agreement ended. Senate reform was premature, compulsory voting a fad, the revision of imperial relations an academic issue. Canada was suffering from no injustice, conscious of no hampering and degrading influence exerted by her colonial status. Throughout the winter the discussion continued. The "Globe's" criticism was nominally directed against the Canada First group, and particu
larly against Goldwin Smith, the Oxford professor who had recently, after a temporary sojourn in Cornell, made Toronto his home, and who was a particularly shining and vulnerable mark because of his well-known belief that Canada must find her future in union with the United States, as Scotland had found her opportunity in union with England. The "Globe" poured scorn upon the "sucking politicians," "the Canada First mischievous little snake in the grass," "the diseased self-consciousness and absurd pretensions of these praters of Nationalism," and upon their program, of which "every plank was calculated to inspire sensible men with wonder if not with ridicule and contempt," and the whole was likened to Milton's "asinine feast of sow thistles and brambles." The Toronto "Mail," the leading Conservative organ, gave no more sympathy; the Canada First group were "beardless boys," and their proposals "the innocent work of bumptious lads who have not cut their eyeteeth in politics." But the "Globe" was the more fierce and pertinacious, for it was its camp that was threatened; "it is the shades, not the colors, that fight," as the French proverb has it.
Even on the question of the construction of the Canadian Pacific, Blake could not continue to follow his leader. When the handful of settlers in British Columbia insisted upon the precise fulfilment of the rash promise made by the Macdonald government to complete the building of a road to the Pacific by 1881, Mackenzie, for the sake of peace, was prepared to accept the compromise suggested by Earl Carnarvon, then colonial secretary, extending the term to 1890, providing for vigorous pushing of surveys, wagon-roads, and telegraph lines, and adding the construction of a road on Vancouver Island from Esquimalt to Nanaimo. Blake, convinced that the plan was folly and the demands of the British-Columbians preposterous, opposed even this concession. Mackenzie's resolution passed the Commons, but was rejected in the Senate by a majority of two. Undoubtedly Blake's criticism had contributed to its defeat and to the further postponement of a settlement of this troublesome issue.
For two years Blake served as minister of justice. The post was particularly congenial in that it gave scope for his mastery of constitutional principles and his policy of extending Canada's national powers. In a series of controversies with the Colonial Office, Blake stood firmly for carrying the principles of responsible government to their logical conclusion. He protested vigorously against a revision of the governorgeneral's instructions to conform with those designed for crown colonies, making the governor-general once what he had long ceased to be, a member of the working executive, and authorizing him to act independently of his advisers. He pressed for the abandonment of the instructions requiring the governor-general to reserve for the consideration of the British Government bills on certain subjects enacted by the Canadian Parliament. He contended that the prerogative of pardon should be exercised by the governor-general, as in the case of other powers, on ministerial advice. He insisted that the power of disallowing provincial statutes was vested by the British North America Act in the governor-general-in-council, that is, the cabinet, not in the governorgeneral acting on his own discretion or under London advice. In each and all he won his point, and contributed materially to the recognition of Canada's national status. In all these measures he had the warm support of Mackenzie, though when it came to discussions of a more sweeping change in imperial relations, Mackenzie had little sympathy with Blake's tentative acceptance of imperial federation.
In June, 1877, once more on the ground of ill health, Blake resigned his portfolio and took the nominal post of president of the council. Six months later he retired from the cabinet altogether. Mackenzie repeatedly offered to make way for him. In 1877 he wrote:
From the first I was more willing to serve than to reign, and would even now be gladly relieved from a position the toils of which no man can appreciate who has not had the experience. I pressed Mr. Blake in November, 1874, to take the lead, and last winter I
again urged him to do so, and this summer I offered to go out altogether, or serve under him, as he might deem best in the general interest.
But Blake would neither consent to displace Mackenzie nor rest content as his follower. In the election of 1878 he took no part, visiting Europe while Mackenzie was straining every nerve to combat the influences of commercial depression and the specious promises of protectionist soothsayers. He stood again for Bruce, but was defeated. For one session he was absent from Parliament. Then the resignation of the member for West Durham opened a way for him. With Blake's return to Parliament in November, 1879, the question of the leadership of the party again became urgent.
Mackenzie had committed the crime of being defeated. Many were ready to lay the blame for the party's failure upon his unbending rigidity, his lack of conciliatory manners, his over-caution. As a matter of fact, Mackenzie had been prepared, in 1876, to compromise on the tariff issue to the extent of a slight increase in the general rates for additional revenue, with any protection effects that might be incidental, but had been prevented by the opposition of the Maritime Liberals, and the Maritime Provinces in 1878 had gone sweepingly protectionist. He had been anxious, when he saw the tide going against him, to bring on the elections in June instead of in September; Cartwright, Mills, Burpee, Jones, as well as Laurier and Huntington, urged the same course, but some Quebec and Maritime members were not ready, and against his better judgment Mackenzie yielded. Yet when all allow ance was made, it was clear that he had not kept in touch with the country, too absorbed in the administrative work of the heaviest department to have adequate leisure for party leadership or general guidance of policy. Laurier
came back after a speaking tour in Ontario convinced that the Government was going to be defeated, but Mackenzie scouted his forecast and insisted to the last that they would have a sweeping majority.
During the week after the election
Mackenzie announced to several friends his intention to resign and to let the members choose a leader who might be more successful. But as the year went on and his fighting spirit revived, he thought better of it, and no resignation was offered. A second session came, with Blake once again in his seat, but still there was no hint of withdrawal. Through the whole session Mackenzie did not once summon a caucus of the party, an omission unprecedented for many years. The death of Holton and Brown during the session robbed him of two of his closest personal and political friends, Holton dying in March, and Brown, shot by a drunken, discharged workman in the same month, lingering on in pain until May. Still the lonely and austere leader gave no sign. Discontent mounted, until finally the chairman of the caucus, "Joe" Rymal, called a meeting on his own initiative. A resolution was passed, asking Mackenzie to consider the question of the leadership. Five of his late colleagues, Cartwright, Burpee, Smith, Pelletier, and Laurier, were asked to put the matter before him. Laurier was ill, and not present at the caucus. Smith, Burpee, and Cartwright called at his rooms at the Russell House and asked him to go with them to Mackenzie's office. He could not go that day. Next morning the five went to Mackenzie's room in the Commons. Pelletier did not enter. The others greeted Mackenzie, then stood ill at ease. Burpee mentioned that the party had held a caucus.
"Yes, I heard about that," was Mackenzie's gruff response. A pause followed, then Pelletier entered. Mackenzie turned to him. "Pelletier," he said, "is not this simply a conspiracy of Mills and Rymal to put Blake in?"
"No, Mr. Mackenzie," Pelletier stammered; "we thought that in your state of health
"There is nothing the matter with my health. It is all a conspiracy of a few men." Then came another pause, more lengthy and more painful. At last, seeing the older men mute, Laurier spoke out:
"As a sincere friend of yours, Mr. Mackenzie, I must tell you that it is not There is a general movement. We
have been defeated; you have been defeated; it is only human nature that a defeated army should seek another general. There is not a man who has not high regard for your services, but there is a general feeling-"
"Very well," Mackenzie broke in; "if that is so, I shall very soon cease to lead the Liberal party."
Late that night, just as the House was about to adjourn at two A.M., Mr. Mackenzie rose.
"I desire to say a word or two with regard to my personal relations to the House. I yesterday determined to withdraw from my position as leader of the opposition, and from this time forth I will speak and act for no person but myself." That was all. For twelve years more Mackenzie sat on the Liberal benches, slowly worn down by a fatal paralytic malady, taking less and less part in the proceedings of the House, ntil in his last sessions he appeared a mere ghost of the fighter he once had been. With grim lips he saw his successor come and go; with mellowing comprehension he watched Macdonald manage men; and then, in 1892, a year after his great rival, he passed from the scene.
Edward Blake became the leader of the Liberal party in May, 1880. He continued to lead it for seven years and through two general elections. He and his followers alike were filled with hope and enthusiasm when the pilgrimage began; he was wearied and disappointed when it ended. The Fates, his own temperament, the adroitness of his opponent, the renewal of dissension in his own party, the influence of protected manufacturers, and the loading of the dice in electoral redistribution, proved
too much even for his great powers of intellect to master.
The Macdonald government, elected on a policy of readjusting the tariff to favor Canadian industries, lost no time in giving the producers of textiles, furniture, boots and shoes, sugar, foodstuffs, and iron and steel products from pig-iron to farm implements, the protection they demanded. At the same time the long depression which had shadowed the whole continent came to an end; trade revived in the United States, and
gave a fillip to industry in its Northern neighbor; soon Canada had passed from bankruptcy and soup-kitchens to rising chimneys and feverish speculation. Naturally, the public gave credit for the betterment to the change in fiscal policy. The national policy seemed justified and firmly rooted.
Even had the chances of attack on the "N. P." seemed fair, Blake was reluctant to make the tariff the issue. He had no small sympathy with protection on its national side, and was prepared to give the policy a fair trial, while criticizing its chief excrescences. With this policy Laurier agreed. He had shared in the desire of the Parti National to give infant industries a chance, and at this time differed with the out-and-out protectionists more in questions of degree and application than in questions of principle. During the session of 1882 the opposition assault on the tariff was directed against specific schedules. Laurier moved the abolition of the duty designed to force the use of Nova Scotia coal in Ontario and the duty designed to force the use of Ontario wheat and flour in Nova Scotia; Paterson of Brant attacked the sugar monopoly; Anglin criticized the duties