« ForrigeFortsett »
against the building of a transcontinental railway to the Pacific coast. Nova Scotia alone returned a solid Conservative contingent. This was in marked contrast to the prior election in 1867, the first after Confederation, when I was the only Conservative elected in my native province.
History, slow in its final judgments, will some day characterise the so-called “Pacific Scandal," which proved the undoing of the Conservatives, as the “ Pacific slander,” an appellation I gave to the Liberal shibboleth just about forty years ago. It is probably true that both parties spent money freely in the campaign of 1872 in the Upper Provinces. However, when the new Parliament assembled, the Hon. L. S. Huntingdon, member for Sherbrooke, brought charges that Sir John and his colleague, Sir George E. Cartier, had obtained enormous sums of money for corrupting the electorate from Sir Hugh Allan, of Montreal, who was the principal figure in a company organised to build the proposed transcontinental railway.
Mr. Huntingdon in proof read what he claimed to be the originals of telegrams that had been exchanged between the Premier and Sir Hugh, at that time the senior partner and the founder of the Allan steamship line. One of the alleged telegrams from Sir John to Sir Hugh read : “ Please send me another ten thousand dollars." Sir David Macpherson also headed a rival company organised to take advantage of the Government's offer to build the railway. Sir Hugh had a number of American associates. Sir John notified him that the Government would have nothing to do with him if these “ aliens” were retained, and urged an amalgamation with
Sir David's company. No arrangement to that end having been effected, Sir John, on behalf of the administration, formed a new company, himself naming directors from the various provinces. Sir Hugh was included on the list. At the very first meeting of the new company Sir Hugh, the president, was overruled. He subsequently went to England to raise capital for the railway enterprise, but failed. He was accompanied by Sir John Abbott, who acted as legal adviser.
But to return to the Huntingdon charges. Sir John made no reply, and the House in turn voted confidence in him and his administration. Then a day or two later our leader formally asked the House to deal with the charges by referring them to a committee composed of the leading men of both parties. The House acquiesced, and appointed a committee of which Messrs. Mackenzie and Blake were named members, entrusting it with full authority to send for witnesses and take evidence under oath.
Sir John, who was anxious for the fullest investigation, expressed doubt as to whether the committee had authority to take evidence under oath, as it was not in conformity with British practice. He referred it to the Imperial Government, which sustained his contention. Headed by Mackenzie and Blake, the Liberals refused to serve because the oath was not administered.
Sir John then appointed a Royal Commission consisting of three eminent judges, with authority to hold an investigation, examine witnesses under oath, and report the evidence to Parliament. When everything was known, no act of corruption was brought home to the Premier or any member of his Government, which still had a majority in the House. What is more, not one single member of Parliament on the Conservative side was unseated in the subsequent election trials, while a number of Liberals were unseated, and some were disqualified. It seems unfortunate that in Canada there is no institution analogous to the Carlton Club entrusted with the distribution of funds for legitimate campaign purposes.
It was agreed that Parliament should be called pro forma to receive the report of the Royal Commission, and that no other business would be transacted. The Opposition assembled in full force, raised a row at prorogation, and appealed without avail to Lord Dufferin, the Governor-General.
At the fall of the session Mr. Mackenzie submitted a resolution of want of confidence in the Government. Party feeling ran high, and the utmost bitterness prevailed. During the progress of the debate Lord Dufferin sent for Sir John and asked him to resign.
When Sir John took me into his confidence, as he always did, I proceeded to Government House and sought an
interview with the GovernorGeneral.
“Lord Dufferin," I said, addressing Her Majesty's representative, “I think you have made a fatal mistake in demanding Sir John's resignation. You are to-day Governor-General of Canada and respected by all classes ; to-morrow you will be the head of the Liberal party, and will be denounced by the Conservatives for having violated every principle of Constitutional Government. If Her