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MY PREMIERSHIP, AND AFTER
THE downfall of the Conservative party in 1895-6 was occasioned by the determination of the Government not to deal with the Manitoba school question in the session of 1895. The delay resulted in that question being thrown into the final session of Parliament which ended on a certain day, and enabled Sir Wilfrid Laurier, leader of the Opposition, to join with a large section of the Orangemen in preventing the Government from passing the remedial legislation giving effect to the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council. Sir Wilfrid had himself previously demanded the strongest form of coercion of Manitoba by demanding the disallowance of the Act of the Manitoba Legislature abolishing separate schools. The attitude taken at that time by Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir John Thompson was that the question being before the Courts, the final decision of the Privy Council must govern it.
When a majority of the members of the Bowell Cabinet had resigned and the party had been broken into pieces, I was reluctantly induced to come to the rescue on the meeting of Parliament in 1895. Asked by the recalcitrant members of the Cabinet to assume the leadership, I refused, declaring that I would not do so except at the request of the
Premier, Sir Mackenzie Bowell. It was not until all efforts on his part at reconstruction had failed that he requested me to become leader of the party, I told him I would do so if he was prepared to receive back all of his colleagues, to which he assented.
The Government was then reconstructed by my appointment as Secretary of State and leader of the party in the House of Commons until after the session was over, when, by arrangement, I was to succeed Sir Mackenzie Bowell as Prime Minister. Sir Mackenzie proposed that my son, Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper, should succeed me in the office of Canadian High Commissioner in England. I told him that in view of the vitally important question of the establishment of a fast Atlantic steamship service, for which I had previously made arrangements with Mr. Chamberlain, and the impending Pacific Cable Conference, I thought it desirable that the position should be tendered to Sir Donald Smith, in view of his prominent financial standing. One of my first official acts on assuming the Premiership was to make this appointment. Sir Mackenzie was also appointed jointly with him as one of the delegates to represent Canada at the Cable Conference.
In consequence of Bowell's refusal, in 1885, to deal with the Manitoba school question at the previous election by seeking to carry out the decision of the Imperial Privy Council, the Hon. A. R. Angers, one of the French-Canadian members of the Cabinet, had resigned, and efforts to fill the vacancy had proved fruitless.
When I moved the second reading of the remedial
Bill granting relief to the Roman Catholic minority in Manitoba, Sir Wilfrid Laurier joined Mr. Dalton McCarthy and a number of members of Parliament, members of the Orange Order, in opposing the measure. The Opposition leader moved the sixmonths' hoist. Notwithstanding that I still had a Conservative majority to support the Bill, nothing could be done, as the combination resorted to obstruction. I kept the House in continuous session from Monday to Saturday. This proved unavailing, as in the absence of the closure I was helpless, and the Opposition took advantage of the fact that on a certain date the House would die by the effluxion of time.
Sir J. A. Chapleau, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Quebec, and a former colleague, who led me to believe that he would come to my aid in the general election, was induced by Mr. Israel Tarte, M.P., to recede from that position. The school question was a big issue in the campaign. Sir Wilfrid, who had succeeded in defeating the measure in the House, carried the Province of Quebec by a declaration that his objection to the Bill was that it did not go far enough, and by pledging himself to restore the rights of the Manitoba Catholics in all their entirety if necessary. The result was that Chapleau's defection and the hostility of a large portion of the Orange element in Ontario secured my defeat.
I was induced to remain as leader of the party, and after four years' service had the satisfaction of seeing it heartily reunited. In Ontario, where Sir Wilfrid at the opening of the poll in 1900 had a majority of twelve, I reversed that, and at the
close of the poll had a majority of eighteen seats, but not enough to counteract the Liberal landslide in the Province of Quebec. In that election I sustained my first personal defeat, as I devoted practically nearly all my time to the campaign in Ontario. It is only right to say that I refused an offer to be returned with a Liberal candidate in Cape Breton county without a contest, and that provision was to be made for my Conservative colleague, Mr. McDougall.
Although we lost office we did not lose power, as we had the pleasure of seeing the protective policy, which had been bitterly opposed by the Liberals, adopted by them as the only means of remaining on the Treasury benches. When the South African War broke out, Sir Wilfrid Laurier declared his inability to do anything to aid the British Government. I pressed him in the strongest manner, and pledged him the support of my party to the policy of sending a Canadian contingent, and was fortunately able to induce him to change his attitude in regard to that important question.
My son, Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper, one of the ablest men in the House of Commons, after twentytwo years' service, including eight years in the Ministry, was obliged, on personal grounds, practically to abandon public life, but he had the satisfaction of proposing the Hon. R. L. Borden as leader of the Opposition. Mr. Borden gave me able and effective support in the House for four years. I need not say that his subsequent action as leader of the Conservative party in Opposition, and his triumphant course as Prime Minister, has been a source of intense satisfaction to myself. Under
Mr. Borden's administration Canada has attained a higher position in Great Britain than it has ever before reached.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, I need not say, is a gentleman of great personal attraction and brilliant eloquence, and I cannot but regret that he was ever induced to abandon his protectionist principles, a matter which caused him to meet with defeat in the constituency he first represented when awarded a portfolio in 1876.
I have always attached great importance to the inclusion of Newfoundland within the Dominion of Canada, and many years ago Sir John Macdonald, who entirely agreed with me on that subject, asked me to call at Newfoundland on my way from England. This I did. On that occasion I had a meeting with all the leading men of the Opposition, and a discussion with the Government of the Colony. I submitted the terms on which I was willing to recommend union. Objections were raised in Newfoundland, and the matter was left in abeyance.
On the last occasion that I saw the Hon. Mr. Bond, a former Premier, when attending the Imperial Conference in London, he said to me: your son had been at Halifax when the conference with the representatives of Sir Mackenzie Bowell took place, our island would now form part of the Confederation. We told the Canadian delegates that if they would give us the terms proposed by you we would join the union, but to this they would not agree.
I have no hesitation in saying that Canada to-day would be justified in immensely increasing those terms to provide for the consolidation of all the
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