Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine


Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

History of Saskatchewan and The Old North West
Chapter XXXII - Royal's Administration: Political History, 1888-1893


Crucial Nature of Royal's Regime—First Legislative Assembly, 1888— Royal's Confidential Advisers—Consolidation of Ordinances Undertaken—Legislative Disabilities in North West Assembly—Halfbreed Claims, 1894—Dual Language System Abolished—Liquor Question—Desired Territorial Control of Territorial Expenditures—First Finance Bill—Constitutional Struggle—Resignation of Haultain and His Colleagues, 1889— Brett Called to the Premiership—His Resignation—Assembly's Memorials—Brett's Reappointment During Recess—Assembly's Protest, 1890—Debate on Reply to Speech from the Throne— Royal's Statement of His Constitutional Position—Assembly's Reply—Reiteration of Representations to Ottawa—Attitude of Western Members of Parliament—Did the Assembly Represent Public Opinion?—"Advisory Council" Replaced by "Executive Committee"—Increased Financial Control by the Assembly—Haultain's Administration Defeated, 1892—Deadlock Caused by Resignation of Speaker Ross—Haultain's Manifesto —Newspaper Comments—Extraordinary Financial Position Produced by Deadlock—Disallowance of Ordinance Respecting Executive Committee—Victory for Responsible Government—Struggle for Better Financial Terms—Personal Relations Between Royal and tiie Assembly—Royal's Farewell Speech.

The five years during which the Honorable Joseph Royal, formerly of Manitoba—journalist, lawyer, legislator and historian—occupied the Lieutenant-Governor's chair in the North West Territories constitutes a period of exceptional political interest. The era immediately preceding it had seen the Legislative Council gradually changing in character from an appointive to an elective body. With Royal's regime we meet the first Legislative 391

Assembly proper.1 Nevertheless, manv traces of the former quasi-Crown Colony system still survived, as complete responsible Government was not established for some time. It may be that a certain transitional period from Crown Colony to responsible Government is practically unavoidable; but the universal experience of other parts of the Empire was duplicated in the North West in that this period was marked by bitter controversy and unfortunate deadlocks, until the Legislative Assembly established its control over the executive.

The first elections under the new North West Territories Act were held on June 27, 18SS. Air. Royal took the oath of office on July 4th, and iu the autumn issued the following proclamation, summoning the First Legislative Assembly of the North West Territories, which sat till December 11th:

PROCLAMATION
CANADA. NORTH WEST TERRITORIES

Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Joseph Royal,
Lieutenant-Governor.

Greeting:

Know ye that we, being desirous and resolved to meet our people of our North West Territories, do hereby summon and call together-the Legislative Assembly of the North West Territories, to meet in Legislative Session at our town of Regina, in our said Territories, on Wednesday, the thirty-first day of October, instant.

In testimony whereof wc have caused the Seal of the North West Territories to be hereunto affixed. Witness His Honor Joseph Royal, Lieutenant-Governor of the North West Territories, this tenth day of October, in the year of Our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, in the fifty-second year of Her Majesty's reign.

By Command.

R. B. Gordon,
Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.

The first meeting of thc Legislature was marked by the numerous quaint forms and ceremonies associated with such bodies under the British Constitution from time out of mind. The members having been sworn, and having taken their places, the clerk, in the Governor's name, called upon them to elect a Speaker. Whereupon Herbert Charles Wilson was duly chosen and elected to the chair. The Lieutenant-Governor then entered the House and took his place upon the throne, and after approving of the election of Mr. Wilson as Speaker he delivered his inaugural address.

In his speech from the throne the Lieutenant-Governor announced his appointment of Mr. Justice Richardson and Mr. A. E. Forget, late clerk of the North West Council, as a Committee to prepare for the consolidation of the ordinances. This most important matter engrossed much of the attention of the first Legislature. Consequently the fact that, in addition to thc supply bill, only seven ordinances were passed this session is not to be taken as evidence of indolence or indifference on the part of the newly created Legislative Assembly. Ordinance No. i is a voluminous document. consolidating numerous enactments of the North West Council.

The Assembly found itself continually hampered by the limitations placed upon its lawmaking powers by Dominion legislation. This resulted in the continual disallowance of important measures by the Governor-General in Council. In various instances, however, subsequent action on the part of the Dominion authorities rendered practicable the reforms aimed at even in the bills that were declared ultra vires.

Numerous memorials were from time to time forwarded by the Assembly to Ottawa. These had to do not only with the great problem of responsible Government but with recommended changes in the land regulations, with the providing of a special bonus for the destruction of gophers and with the old question of Halfbreed claims and rebellion losses. The Assembly declared in this connection, by resolution, that numerous persons well known to be directly implicated in the rebellion bad had their claims allowed by the Dominion, while those of certain loyal Halfbreeds living along thceSaskatchewan River were unjustly disallowed.

In April, 1892, a notice was accordingly published calling upon all Halfbreeds or original white settlers entitled to scrip to file their claims, together with the necessary proof, on or before May i, 1894. With the investigation of these claims it was intended that this long outstanding question should reach its final settlement.

The local House also secured, by petition, the repeal of Section no of the North West Territories Act, which provided for the printing of Territorial public documents in the French language. The resolution recommending the discontinuance of the dual system in the North West, as opposed to sound public policy and the sentiment of the people, was passed on October 28, 1889, by a vole of seventeen to two.

One of the first important topics considered by the House during Royal's administration was the better control of the liquor traffic. This subject was debated at great length through several sessions, and ultimately, upon receiving the necessary authority from the Federal Government, the second Legislature passed a license ordinance, under which intoxicants might be sold by hotels or liquor shops if the majority of the residents in the district concerned did not oppose the issue of the given license and certain other conditions were complied with.

The most interesting political events of Royal's administration were those associated with the attempt of the Assembly to establish control over the Territorial expenditures, either directly or through a Council or Committee. The North West Territories Act did not clearly provide for such a system. The following were the provisions of the Federal Statute in this regard:

"The Lieutenant-Governor shall select from among the elected members of the Legislative Assembly, four persons to act as an Advisory Council 011 matter of finance, who shall severally hold office during pleasure; and the Lieutenant-Governor shall preside at all sittings of such Advisory Council and have a right to vote as a member thereof, and shall also have a casting vote in case of a tie."

The first Advisory Council appointed under the act consisted of Messrs. Haultain, Jelly, Sutherland and Mitchell. The Governor was manifestly bound to submit to the Legislature a report of the use made of funds supplied him by the local Assembly; but a very large part of the public expenses were defrayed by Dominion subsidies, over which the Assembly was long denied any right or control. In the first session, however, Mr. Royal, perhaps inadvertently, established a precedent of which Mr. Haultain and his supporters took the utmost advantage. The supply bill for that year was allowed to include funds not only of Territorial but Dominion origin, and in assenting to the bill Air. Royal did so in the special formula used only wherever responsible Government is in vogue. After the Royal assent to the other bills of the session had been announced in the following words,

"In Her Majesty's name, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor doth assent to these bills," Mr. Speaker then addressed him as follows:

"May it please Your Honour:

"We Her Majesty's most faithful and dutiful subjects, the Legislative Assembly of the North West Territories in session assembled, approach Your Honour at the close of our labours with sentiments of unfeigned devotion and loyalty to Her Majesty's person and government, and humbly beg to present for Your Honour's acceptance a bill entitled 'An ordinance for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money to defray the expenses of the public service of the Territories for the financial year ending June 30, 1889, and for other purposes relating thereto,' thus placing at the disposal of the Crown the means by which the Government can be made efficient for the service and welfare of the Territories."

Thereupon the Royal assent was announced in the following words:

"His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor doth thank Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, accepts their benevolence and assents to this bill in Her Majesty's name."

It is difficult to suppose that at least some members of the Legislature-did not recognize the fact that hidden in this time-honoured mass of verbiage was the formal acknowledgment of the Assembly's financial autonomy and right of control over all public expenditures.

The second session of the first Legislature was held in the autumn of 1889. Early in the session signs of disagreement between .the Advisory Council and Ilis Honour were evidenced by Mr. Haultain's replies to various questions with regard to estimates that were to be laid before the House, and on the 29th of October Mr. Haultain announced on behalf of the Advisory Council that they had tendered their resignations, which had been accepted by the Lieutenant-Governor. Thus was precipitated a constitutional struggle marked by much bitterness and extending over several years. This whole episode is so important that the reader will be interested in perusing the letter of resignation:

"Legislative Assembly, Regina, N. W. T., October 29. 1889. "To His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor of the North West Territories.

"Sir:—We have the honour to tender our resignations as members of your Advisory Council. We have come to this decision reluctantly and only after serious consideration.

"While recognizing that Your Honour has, on the whole, carried out the position which was accepted last year, there have been some departures from that position which we cannot accept responsibility for. These matters do not involve serious departures from the general principles adopted by us. but they do, in our opinion, involve the Council and lay 11s open to censure for at least grave faults of administration.

"We fully appreciate the practical difficulties in the way of carrying out an anomalous system like the present, and have always been ready to make

the best of an imperfect machinery. The attitude of the Assembly has not helped to lighten the burden imposed upon us. Ever ready to criticize and always prone to judge us by the standard of the ideal system, which they wished for, they have not given us that support that in the nature of things we might reasonably have hoped for. Knowing this feeling of the Assembly, and being with the rest of our fellow members jealous of the rights which were granted to us, we are naturally more sensitive to criticism than under a more completely responsible system there would be any necessity for.

"The constant discussion at Council meetings on the general theory of our Constitution showed us plainly that Your Honour only conceded what we claimed as a right. While differing from Your Honour in this matter, we are ready to acknowledge the generous spirit in which Your Honour yielded control in matters which you believed within your own personal province. But in so important a matter as the construction of the Act under which we have our existence as a Council, such a grave difference of opinion can only lead to friction, which must inevitably destroy our usefulness.

"We, therefore, tender our resignation because we cannot continue to work under a system in which our most important powers are only granted to us in the form of concessions, and because we are unwilling to accept responsibility without a corresponding right of control. We believe that our withdrawal from the Council will tend to bring about a more definite understanding with regard to the various powers and authorities of the Territories, and we can assure Your Honour that our successors, if true to the policy outlined by yourself last year, will always receive from us a loyal and generous support.

"In conclusion, let us assure Your Honour of our most grateful appreciation of Your Honour's personal kindness to all of us, and of the continuance of loyalty and attachment on our part.

"We are,

"Your Honour's obedient Servants.

In reply to this communication Lieutenant-Governor Royal wrote a brief and rather caustic letter to Mr. Haultain. in which be confessed his failure to remember exactly what the "grave faults of administration" were of which his Council had complained, and requested Air. Haultain to assist in refreshing his memory. As far as the Assembly's journals show this communication does not seem to have called forth any reply.

On November 5th the Speaker announced the formation of a new Advisory Council, including Mr. Jelly, of the last Council, together with Messrs. R. G. Brett, J. F. Betts and B. P. Richardson. Dr. Brett, from the new Advisory Council, then made a statement, in part as follows:

"The Council of His Honour's Advisers, formed under the law, will exercise the functions of an executive in matters affecting the Territorial

finances only, as well as in the discharge of the duties assigned bv ordinances to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council."

The phrase of Dr. Brett, whereby he announced his intention to deal, in financial matters, only with the Territorial finances, involved a surrender with which the House was very far from satisfied. Consequently, on November 9th, the Assembly passed a vote of non-confidence. Thereupon Air. Brett, on behalf of himself and his colleagues, tendered his resignation to the Lieutenant-Governor, but in an interesting letter of considerable length His Honour refused to accept it. He considered that the question at issue was distinctly one of law, and that, having selected his Council in accordance with the conditions embodied in the North West Territories Act, lie could not accept its resignation in the absence of any act showing that its members had proved themselves unworthy of the trust reposed in them.

Oil the 15th of November, however, when the House went into Committee of Supply, it was determined at the end of a long debate that the House would not consider a further supply until the funds of the preceding year had been fully accounted for, and an address was ordered to be presented to His Honour, praying him to accept the resignation of the present Advisory Council and to select successors possessing the confidence of the Assembly. This action called forth the following letter from Dr. Brett:

"Legislative Assembly, Regina, N. W. T., November 11, 1889. "To His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor of the North West Territories.

"Sir:—In consequence of the House having adopted at its last silting the following resolution, vis.: That the position assumed by the Advisory Council, as set out in the statement of their leader, when announcing same, was assumed contrary to the wishes of the House, and the Advisory Council do not possess the confidence of the Assembly, I beg leave to tender Your Honour my resignation and that of my colleagues.

"While believing that the position we have taken on this matter was in strict accordance with the law and interest of the Territories, at the same time we feel you are entitled to this action 011 our part.

"I have the honour to he,

"Your obedient servant,

"R. G. Bhutt."

His Honour now deemed it his duty to accept the resignation of the Council, as it had failed to secure the support of the Assembly in defending the action of the executive and in its efforts to secure supplies. His Honour Mr. Royal then entered into negotiations with Messrs. Tweed. Clinkskill, Cayley and Neff with a view to forming an Advisory Council in accordance with a majority of the Assembly. Air. Tweed, however, speaking for his proposed colleagues, refused to accept office unless the Government could acccde to the demands of the Assembly, and on the 20th of November, in accordance with a motion of Mr. Haultain and Mr. Cayley, the Governor transmitted to Ottawa the following telegram:

"i. That whereas on Saturday, November 9th, a vote of want of confidence in the Advisory Council was passed by this House on a division of thirteen to eight;

"2. And whereas in consequence of such vote the Advisory Council tendered their resignation to the Lieutenant-Governor.

"3. And whereas, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor refused to accept the resignation of his Council and the Council persisted in retaining office;

"4. And whereas a full account of the money voted to Her Majesty by this Assembly at its last session for the public uses of the ^Territories has not yet been rendered to this Assembly by the Advisory Council, selected by His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor to assist him in matters of finance;

"5. And whereas at the last session of this Assembly $105,484.90 was voted (see Ordinance No. 8 of 18S8) and the statement of Public Accounts brought before the Assembly only accounts for $18,078.74;

"6. And whereas on Thursday, November 16th, on motion made by the leader of the Advisory Council to consider of the supply of the current year, an amendment was moved to the effect that this House do not consider any further supply, until an account has been rendered of the sums voted last session;

"7. And whereas this amendment was opposed by the members of thc Advisory Council and was carried by a vote of twelve to seven:

"8. And whereas the result of the vote proved that the advice tendered by the Advisory Council to His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor was not in accordance with the wish of this Assembly;

"9. And whereas the estimates laid on the table of this House do not meet with the approval of the House, inasmuch as they do not include the amounts voted by the Parliament of Canada at its last session for expense of Government, etc., in the North West Territories;

"10. And whereas on Friday, November 15th, an humble address was adopted by the Assembly requesting that His Honour thc Lieutenant-Governor be pleased to accept the resignation of the present Advisory Council and select another Council;

"11. And whereas the continuance in office of a Council not possessing the confidence of the Assembly was a gross violation of the rights and privileges of the Assembly;

"12. And whereas the Advisory Council have since then resigned and His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor has been pleased to accept their resignation;

"13. And whereas no new Advisory Council can be formed which will have the confidence of the Assembly, until His Honour has signified his intention to accede to the just demand of the Assembly;

"14. And whereas in consequence of the position taken up by His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, 110 estimates can he laid before the Assembly, and the business of the Territories is seriously impeded;

"15. Therefore, be it resolved that an humble address be presented to His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor praying that he will cause this resolution to he transmitted today by telegram to the Right Honourable the President of the Privy Council of Canada."

The Assembly subsequently memorialized the Dominion Government for a declaration that the Dominion grant should be expended on vote of the Assembly. It was also recommended that the Lieutenant-Governor should himself not be a member of the Council, and that the sitting of the legal experts with the Assembly should be dispensed with. Furthermore, it was pointed out in this memorandum that the existing Territorial Constitution did not provide for any permanent responsible body to prepare legislation for the Assembly's consideration, and that in consequence its legislative functions were much hampered. The Assembly has indeed felt compelled to withdraw from the Advisory Council, as at present constituted, even those powers previously granted to it by ordinance and after a trial reaching well into the second year had been forced to the conviction that the present system of Government in the Territories was radically defective and should be amended by the Dominion Government at the earliest possible moment.

In his speech relieving the members from further attendance upon the session the Lieutenant-Governor, on the 2nd of November, spoke as follows :

"The various incidents which followed the resignation of my first Advisory Council, the attitude assumed by the majority of the members, and the earnest desire of all that the business of the country should not suffer in consequence, are circumstances which will tend to mark this session as an historical one. I earnestly hope that the proceedings of the Assembly may result favourably for the peace, order and prosperity of the North West Territories."

On the prorogation of the House the Lieutenant-Governor had not yet succeeded in securing an Advisory Council. However, during the recess, his efforts were more successful, and Messrs. Brett, Betts, Richardson and Secord agreed to cooperate with Air. Royal.

When the third session opened on the 29th of October, 1890, the constitutional battle was resumed upon the reply to the speech from the throne:

"The Assembly regrets that Your Honour has not seen fit to allude to the circumstances which have led to Your Honour's selection and retention in office of an Advisory Council not in accord with nor possessing the confidence of the majority of this Assembly. It appears to us to be necessary to the good government of the country, that the measure of control, if any, possessed by the Legislature over the acts of the Executive should be clearly defined. Having been left without guidance of Your Honour in this matter, the Assembly can do no less than assume its rights

to be such as the North West Territories Acts and constitutional usage having the force of law appear to give. They are therefore compelled to believe in the right of the majority not only to pass legislation, but to advise and control in the matter of its being given effect; that the North West Territories Acts interpreted in the light of constitutional usage, provide for control of the Executive by an Advisory Council having the confidence of a majority of the blouse; that .the assumption of such control by any Members of this House not possessing its confidence is a violation of the spirit and intent of the North West Territories Acts, and an infringement upon the rights of the House, against which it feels compelled to enter its most solemn protest and to take such measures to protect itself as best it may.

"The disregard for and violation of all constitutional rules, the infringement upon the rights and privileges of the House and usurpation of its prerogatives by its Members composing the Advisory Council, in our opinion, renders those Members unworthy of taking any part in the business of the Assembly. As the only means in our power of vindicating in our case the common rights of majorities in representative Assemblies, it is our duty to refuse all legislation and motions offered by these members.

"To further mark its disapproval of the course of the Advisory Council in ignoring its rights, the House has seen fit not to allow thc several members of the Council to serve on any of its Standing Committees as long as they maintain their present attitude of defiance."

As indicated in this rather startling ultimatum, Messrs. Brett, Betts, Richardson and Secord were ostentatiously excluded from all committees; their resolution of protest was negatived on a vote of thirteen to .seven. Messrs. Reaman, Plaxton, Hoey and Jelly voted with the Governor's party. Mr. Richardson seems to have been absent.

The entire reply to the speech from the throne was very critical in character. The House commented upon the "cold response" of the Dominion authorities to the yearly appeals made for assistance in the work of populating the many million acres of Dominion lands in the Territories, and upon the scant attention paid by the authorities at Ottawa to the memorials forwarded them by the Assembly, the disallowance of certain Territorial ordinances, and the Lieutenant-Governor's omission of all mention of the unhappy differences which had existed and which still existed between an overwhelming majority of the Assembly and His Honour's Advisory Council.

This address was voted at half-past three in the morning on Tuesday, November nth, after thirteen hours' debate.

Three days later the Honourable Air. Royal, through the Speaker, conveyed to the Assembly a written message explaining his understanding of the legal position in which he found himself in the matter under dispute.

He pointed out, furthermore, that a recent ruling of the Minister of Justice, in his opinion, sustained his position, and that he was the more bound to abide by bis original position in that the Minister was the legal adviser to the Governor-General in Council, under whose instructions the Lieutenant-Governor administered the Government to the Territories. He had accordingly been obliged to select a Council from among those members of the Assembly who were willing to comply with the law, and' it was evident that no such Advisory Council could be formed which would command the confidence of the House.

During the remainder of the session the Assembly maintained its attitude of hostility towards the administration and severely criticised the executive in many regards, especially as the means taken to promote immigration. Unavailing attempts were made by Dr. Brett and Mr. Betts to induce the House to go into Committee of Supply, and on the 27th of November, after a long and stormy debate, a lengthy and extraordinary reply was passed in answer to His Honour's message of explanation, to which we have already referred. In the course of this address the Assembly offered the following observations with regard to the opinions expressed by the Minister of Justice for the Dominion Government:

"Thc Assembly feels bound to point out to Your Honour that the words of the Honourable Minister of Justice quoted . . . did not relate to or purport to be an expression of opinion regarding the position which Your Honour takes—that control of the Territorial Revenues rests with Your Honour and such Advisors as Your Honour may choose, and not with this Assembly—and that therefore the ruling of the Minister of Justice, quoted by Your Honour, does not apply to the case.

"The Assembly feels also further bound to inform Your Honour of its belief that the North West Territories Act, calling it into existence and defining its constitution and powers, is for the information and guidance of its several members and for that of the House as a whole, as well as for that of Your Honour or of the Minister of Justice, and that the members of this Assembly are severally responsible to the people of the Territories for their own interpretation of the Act, and the course they take based upon that interpretation; which responsibility they are not relieved from by an expression of opinion on the part of anyone, or by anything short of a declaration from a superior authority. The Assembly regrets that Your Honour has not seen fit to point out the section of the Act which invests Your Honour and your Advisors with what appears to 11s to be the very extraordinary and exceptional measure of financial control which Your Honour assumes to possess."

The Assembly furthermore declared that "Government by the minority against the expressed wish of the majority is a violation of the intent of the act. . . . Your Honour may govern under instructions from Ottawa (in cases when for any reason you cannot act with the House), or by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly, but we can find nothing to show that your Honour is empowered to govern with advisers responsible only to yourself." The House based its claims t<> control moneys voted from year to year by the Parliament of Canada for Territorial Government, on the fact that these appropriations were voted in general terms for the purposes of local Government, which local Government must be carried on by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly, and that, moreover, these grants were apportioned to purposes controlled by or depending upon the action of the local House. If the Territorial legislation were to be of full benefit to the people of the Territories, the Assembly must be made aware from year to year of the amount of funds which could be depended upon. Moreover, these funds they considered quite as much the property of the people of the North West Territories as that part of the local revenues derived directly from the issue of licenses. The Governor's attention was called to the fact that on December 11, 18SS, he had given, as we have noted above, his assent to a Supply Pill in which the Assembly had actually voted upon the sums derived from Dominion sources, and that thus an inviolable precedent bad been established. In view of His Honour's announcement that "His Excellency the Governor in Council for many years past had assumed without question the control of the expenditure of the moneys annually voted by the Parliament of Canada for school purposes in the Territories, the House would henceforth consider itself entirely relieved from any responsibility in regard to school expenses." Whether inadvertently or otherwise, it appears from the records of the House that no special person was designated to convey this indignant reply to the Lieutenant-Governor. Consequently, we read in a footnote of the Journal:

"This address was not presented to His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor."

On Noveiliber 28th the House adopted still another address to the Governor for transmission to the Ottawa authorities, stating that in the preceding session it had presented a memorial with regard to the present form of local Government in the Territories, the finances of the Territories and other matters: and that as no action with reference to many of these matters having been taken by His Excellency's Government the Assembly humbly reiterated the representations then made and prayed that action be taken thereon.

This stormy session terminated on the 29th of November, 1890.

In the following May, Messrs. Brett and Betts visited Ottawa with a view to securing for the Territories a fully responsible system of government, and thus relieve the extraordinarily complicated situation in which the Governor, his Advisorv Council and the Assembly found themselves

entangled. In the Dominion general elections of the preceding March Messrs. D. W. Davis, Honourable E. Dewdney, N. F. Davin and D. H. MacDowall, all of them supporters of the party in power, had been the members elected by the Territorial constituencies to represent the North West in the blouse of Commons. These gentlemen, together with the North West senators, Messrs. Loughead and Perley, were consulted by the cabinet in connection with Dr. Brett's proposition.' The majority of them, however, believed that the proposed change should be postponed until the Territories were divided into provinces. The agitation for a form of Government modelled after that of the existing provinces was, they believed, not the product of a general popular demand, but merely of the personal wishes and ambitions of members of the Territorial Assembly. Furthermore, it was urged that the premature establishment of any form of cabinet government, with its associated departmentalization, would involve the Territories in unnecessary expense.

To understand this clash of opinion between members of the Assembly and Territorial representatives in Parliament it is necessary to recall the social and political conditions of the times. Railways, telegraph lines and newspapers were few, postal facilities were inadequate, and the overwhelming majority of the people of the West were struggling with stern poverty, such as newcomers who have been in the country for only the last decade can scarcely realize. Moreover, the population was exceedingly small and scattered in isolated groups over a country of vast extent. When it is said that there was no very definitely organized force of the public favourable to or eagerly demanding responsible government the assertion is true, but it is true simply because under the circumstances there could be no veindefinitely organized force of public opinion 011 any subject. In so far as any public opinion on political subjects existed at all, it seems generally to have been favourable to the principle of Territorial control of local financial interests. An impartial examination of available evidence leads in to the opinion that the members of the Assembly more truly represented local sentiment than did the Federal members. Moreover, these were the days of open voting, and when the majority of the people were still dependent on the reports of government officials for the issue of the titles for their land it was not easy to get a free expression of opinion in Dominion elections. It required some courage and force of character to run the risk of alienating the good-will of the Federal Government; and the expressed opinions of Dominion members for the Territories were too frequently mere echoes of the opinions held by a cabinet at Ottawa astonishingly ill-informed regarding every Western interest and desire.

However, during the Dominion session of this year, 1891, the Honourable Mr. Dewdney introduced a new North West Territories Act which was duly passed. It gave the Lieutenant-Governor authority to dissolve his Assembly and cause a general election when such action seemed necessary in the public interest. The powers of the .Assembly were somewhat increased, perhaps, but a portion of the Dominion subsidy was still left under the immediate control of the Lieutenant-Governor. The new constitution eliminated from this assembly the appointed "legal experts" provided for in the Act of 1888. The Advisory Council was not formally and definitely abolished, but provision was made, though very obscurely, for a Committee of the Assembly, that came to be looked upon as rightfully inheriting the special functions of the Advisory Council and exercising others as well. Provision was made for the establishment of a ballot system by the local Government, and the number of members was raised to twenty-six.

The first Assembly elected under this act met in the following December, the election having taken place the preceding month. Air. James H. Ross, of Moose Jaw, was chosen as Speaker. The new constitution left the Assembly with considerable latitude as to the details of administration and for some time the members devoted themselves to the discussion of the best form of government for them to adopt. As a result of these deliberations they passed "An Ordinance Respecting the Executive Government of the Territories." This provided for an Executive Committee consisting of four members of the Assembly appointed by and holding office during the Lieutenant-Governor's pleasure.

Air. Haultain, as Premier, together with Messrs. Clinkskill. Neff and Tweed, were now appointed to the Territorial Executive Committee. However, Air. Clinkskill withdrew very shortly, owing to a difference in opinion with regard to school matters. He favoured having separate inspectors for Protestant and Catholic schools, and his views having met with disapproval, he resigned from the Executive Committee, being succeeded by Air. Cayley, of Calgary. The school controversies of this era and the important legislation associated therewith will be treated of at some length in a future chapter.

Meantime, in pursuance of the new North West Territories Act, the Governor-General in Council had passed an order assigning to the Lieutenant-Governor, acting by and with the advice of the Assembly or a committee thereof, the control of certain specified portions of the Dominion subsidy, totalling over $143,000. This constituted a distinct advance toward 3The relevant passages in the Amending Act of 1S91 are as follows: "The Legislative Assembly shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, or of any . other Act of the Parliament of Canada, at any time in force in the Territories, have power to make ordinances for the Government of the Territories in relation . . . to the expenditure of Territorial funds and such portion of any moneys appropriated by Parliament for the Territories, as the Lieutenant-Governor is authorized to expend by and with the advice of the Legislate e Assembly or of any committee thereof."

I11 practice the Assembly elected an Executive Committee under this clause, and the Lieutenant-Governor accepted its members as his Advisory Council.

Territorial control of Territorial finances. Tlie following year the corresponding amount was one-third greater.

In August, 1892, during the second session of the Second Legislature, Mr. Cayley headed a revolt against Mr. Haultain, and by a vote of thirteen to twelve carried through the Assembly a resolution of non-confidence. The next day Mr. Haultain informed the House that the resignation of the Executive Committee had been tendered to and accepted by the Lieutenant-Governor. Mr. Cayley was selected by His Honour, and associated with himself Messrs. MacKay, Mowatt and Reaman; but the new administration was rendered helpless by the unexpected resignation of Mr. Speaker Ross, who had been an ardent supporter of Mr. Haultain in his efforts to establish responsible government.

Mr. Ross lias been severely criticised for his action in this regard on this occasion by his political opponents and by others who hold uncompromisingly to the principle that, by accepting his office, the Speaker of a British Legislature precludes himself entirely from, with propriety, participating in any partisan dispute. In judging Mr. Ross's action it should be viewed in its relation to the constitutional history of the preceding five years, and to the part he himself had played therein. Accordingly it is but fair to give his reasons in his own words, spoken from the floor of the House:

"In resigning the chair of this House, I desire to make the following statement: I was elected Speaker of a House, to which a large majority of those who for two years previously had been struggling for Responsible Government, had been returned, as one of the party which had been engaged in that struggle, and had been unsuccessful in the late general election. I reasonably expected that any Advisory Council or Committee which might be formed would be composed of those, and those only, that belonged to that party. In view of the defeat of the Executive advocating the principles which I had struggled for longer than any other member of the House, and the success of a party evidently, indeed necessarily, opposed to those principles, I feel that in duty to myself and my constituents I must place myself in such a position as to be able by voice and vote to advocate those principles and protect the interest of those who elected me to this House."'

Mr. Cayley insisted on nominating Mr. Sutherland, despite that gentleman's protests, but as the proposed Speaker voted against his own election a tie resulted, and the business of the House was thus brought to a standstill. The record in the Journal of the House accordingly ends with the following abrupt announcement:

"The question having been put by the Clerk, the members divided, and, the votes being equal, the Clerk declared that no election had been held; and the Clerk having left his seat at the table, the members then dispersed."

On the following day the comedy was reenacted. Mr. Cayley was still impotently determined to put Mr. Sutherland in the chair and he and Mr. Haultain's other supporters were equally determined not to submit. As the members again dispersed, Mr. Cayley announced that the House would be prorogued.

Mr. Haultain was accordingly deputised by his adherents to interview the Lieutenant-Governor that evening to -protest against this threatened prorogation. Mr. Haultain pointed out to His Honour the futility of attempting to compel any member to be Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, willy nilly. At the same time it was the manifest duty of the leader of the Executive Committee to secure the organization of the House so as to prevent paralysis of the business of the country. If Mr. Cayley could not end the deadlock, it did not follow that it was therefore irremediable. If the Government simply left matters alone the situation would soon be relieved in the natural course of events. As a matter of fact, though he could not tell the Lieutenant-Governor in so many words, Mr. Haultain had already been approached by some of his former supporters who had joined the Cayley faction, who felt that things had now gone far enough and were prepared to cooperate with their former leader in the choice of a Speaker. Mr. Royal, however, was very indignant over the turn affairs had taken and determined to maintain Mr. Cayley in power.

Next morning Messrs. Haultain, Tweed and Magrath waited upon the Lieutenant-Governor, and informed him that the opposition was willing that Mr. Magrath be elected Speaker in order that legislation before the House might be completed, but the Lieutenant-Governor had already signed a proclamation proroguing the Assembly. Mr. Haultain and his supporters then issued a manifesto protesting against the Governor's conduct, and specifically charging him "with having taken the position of a political partisan in thus unnecessarily and unjustifiably proroguing the House to the injury of public business and in defiance of constitutional law and usage." This indignant accusation was signed by half the members of the Assembly, and telegraphed to the Dominion Government.

In the Leader of August 25th Mr. Davin expressed editorially the following views upon the situation that had arisen, and his opinion may be taken as representative of that of many others:

"Shortly after three o'clock in the afternoon of the 24th, Air. Haultain, leader of the Executive, rose to move the House .into the Committee of Supply, and delivered his budget special. Messrs. Betts and Mowatt introduced a motion of non-confidence, which was followed by a debate of more than seven hours. Then Haultain's administration was defeated by a majority of one.

"The affairs of last night we cannot but regard as unfortunate. Its effect on the public business and 011 the eastern mind cannot be otherwise

than bad. With regard to who is to blame, the public will quickly judge. It needs no great discernment to see faults in both parties. Air. Haultain is an able man, young, cultured and intellectually strong, and the country gives him credit for having, to the best of his rights, attempted to carry on the Government. But he is young in statesmanship, and, like the rest of erring mortals, makes mistakes. He has committed errors of judgment ; he has sometimes been deficient in tact; he has perhaps gone on the idea that Haultain and the Executive were synonymous terms; this is the rock on which he has stranded. He is too wise a man not to profit by his present experience and not to see that perpetual watchfulness will alone save him from splitting on that rock. At the same time, it must be remembered that he was the choice of the country for position of Leader of the Executive, and that he was given the unanimous support of the Assembly. He and his colleagues had got well into harness and the business of the country was going on with complete satisfaction."

In September Mr. Royal went to Ottawa to consult with his Federal advisers regarding the deadlock. It is well known that they disapproved of his action in proroguing the Assembly. The situation of the Territories was certainly extraordinary, from a constitutional standpoint. Under the law of the land, unless the money at the disposal of the North West Government was appropriated by ordinance, by act of the Parliament of Canada, or by order of the Governor-General in Council, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council had authority to appropriate it for purposes of public services, reporting in detail such expenditure to the Assembly at its next session. This meant that Mr. Royal and Mr. Cayley, with their three colleagues, were left in absolute control of public money to the amount of three hundred thousand dollars. During the recess Mr. Cayley and the other members of the Executive Committee proceeded with the conducting of public affairs, but the death of Mr. Reaman, being followed by the election of Mr. F. R. Insinger, a supporter of Air. Haultain, the executive manifestly faced defeat when the third session of the Second Legislature met in December of the same year, from the 7th to the 31st. Accordingly, the day before the session commenced, Air. Cayley and the other members of the executive resigned, and with the approval of the House by a vote of fourteen to eleven they were succeeded by Messrs. Haultain, Neff, Tweed and Mitchell. Messrs. Ross and Sutherland were unanimously elected Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

Several important bills passed by the Assembly in recent sessions, notably that defining the composition and duties of the Executive, had been crriticised by Sir John Thompson, Minister of Justice. Indeed, this was the ostensible reason for Mr. Caylev's resignation. Accordingly, the objectionable clause in the ordinance relating to the executive was eliminated and terms were substituted corresponding literally to the provisions of the Dominion Act. This involved an apparent surrender of the demand that the Lieutenant-Governor should administer the Government as to all matters

according to the advice of his Executive Committee, but such it was not. The ordinances of Mr. Royal's administration embody the persistent efforts of Air. Haultain and his supporters to secure the maximum degree of territorial independence practicable under existing Federal laws. No loophole was surrendered by the western insurgents unless rendered untenable by further Federal enactment or the decision of the Governor-General in Council. When checked in one direction, moreover, Air. Haultain and his friends simply changed their weapons or their mode of attack. In the present instance, upon amending its ordinance regarding the Executive Committee to conform with the Federal law, the House passed the following resolution and telegraphed it to Ottawa:

"That the House claims the right of the House through its committee to advise the Lieutenant-Governor in relation to all executive acts and appointments made necessary by Territorial Ordinances."

In point of fact the Governor and his Ottawa advisers had all but receded from the uncompromising attitude they had hitherto assumed, and the battle for responsible government was nearly won. Air. Royal's present attitude was indicated in his speech of December 31, 1892, when he prorogued the House:

"I feel confident that my relations with the representatives appointed by you to advise me in matters of finance will be of the most cordial nature. 1 shall deem it my duty to give careful consideration to their advice in relation to the expenditure of public moneys in the manner determined by you for the carrying on of public service."

It is also interesting in read in the Journals of the 31st of December, 1892, that the Supply Bill was again presented and assented to in the constitutional terms that had been in disuse since 1888.

On August 17, 1903, the last session of the Legislative Assembly for Royal's administration was convened and sat for one month. This session was, upon the whole, relatively peaceable, but, when moving to go into supply, Air. Haultain made an explanation and registered a protest regarding what may be considered as practically the last manifestation of the autocratic attitude hitherto adopted by North West Territorial Governors, or imposed upon them by the law of the land. Lieutenant-Governor Royal had framed his estimates and forwarded them to Ottawa without the knowledge or consent of his Executive Committee. Indeed the estimates so submitted were in important regards disapproved of by Air. Haultain and his colleagues and were contrary to a memorial recently passed by the House praying that the Federal Government should grant a lump sum rather than detailed amounts for specific objects. Nowadays, if a Lieutenant-Governor were tints to ignore his responsible advisers, a very serious crisis would be precipitated; but Mr. Haultain evidently thought that on this occasion a memorial to the Dominion Government and an explanation to the Legislature were sufficient to clear him from responsibility for the Governor's act and to prevent the repetition of such arbitrary methods. He knew, and the House knew, that the probability was so small as to be negligible that a future Governor would attempt seriously to thwart the wishes of his Legislature.

In addition to controversies with the Dominion authorities regarding the legislative powers of the Territorial Assembly, the establishment of responsible institutions and the determination of the special forms under which a constitutional government should be administered in the Territories, and numerous memorials as regards multifarious other grievances and requests, a struggle for better financial terms in the matter of a Dominion subsidy engaged the Territories throughout Royal's regime. From the first the Territorial subsidy was found insufficient to supply the public service required in the growing West. Moreover, as the Crown lands were still retained by the Federal Government, and as the Territorial Legislature was precluded from borrowing money, it was justly argued that the Territories were entitled to special consideration in the matter of subsidies. A memorial on this subject was presented in TS99 and thereafter from session to session. Hitherto an indefinite sum had been voted from year to year by the Parliament of Canada for the expenses of the Government in the North West, but its limited amount and uncertainty seriously hampered the Territorial Assembly and Executive. Consequently a fixed payment in the nature of a provincial subsidy was asked for. Owing to the rapid increase in population, the amount of such subsidy, it was concluded, should be revised at least every five years, but even in 1889 the population of the Territories was estimated at one hundred thousand, and would, in all probability, so increase during the next five years as to justify basing the subsidy on an estimated average population of one hundred and fifty thousand. The regular allowance to the Provinces was eighty cents per head, and if the Territories received a similar grant on the estimated population aforesaid it would amount to one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. Manitoba was in receipt of fifty thousand dollars as a specific grant for governmental purposes, and the Territories petitioned for a like sum, as well as for one hundred thousand dollars on account of the Crown lands remaining vested with the Federal Government. Other claims were also advanced, including which the Territorial Legislature felt that they were entitled to an annual subsidy of slightly over four hundred thousand dollars, which was considerably more than twice what they were getting.

In 1890 these representations were repealed, as no action had been taken on the matter by the Federal Government. Many needed public utilities had to be starved or postponed fur lack of funds, and when the estimates for the year ending December 31, 1891, were brought down the Government nevertheless faced a deficit. Even if the mean population of the next four years were estimated only at one hundred and twenty-five thousand an ordinary provincial subsidy of eighty cents-per head would yield one hundred thousand dollars, and the other grants corresponding to those previously asked for would make a total of more than three hundred and sixty-eight thousand dollars.

As a result of these representations Mr. Haultain was requested by the Government of Canada to go to Ottawa, March, 1892, to confer with regard to the financial claims of the Territories. A sub-committee of the Privy Council, consisting of the Ministers of Finance and the Interior, were appointed to confer with him and reported favourably with regard to Ins requests. This report, however, was not accepted by the Council, and Mr. Haultain was requested to make alternative propositions. lie, however, insisted upon the terms as set forth in the Assembly's memorial, and the Premier and his Minister of Justice were added to the sub-committee to consider the matter. Again the Privy Council was obdurate, and Mr. Haultain then suggested that instead of an itemized vote, Parliament should vote a lump sum for the expenses of government in the North West Territories. Accordingly, by order in Council the bulk sum of $193,200 was placed, under the control of the Assembly—an advance of some fifty thousand dollars. A supplementary vote of twenty-six thousand seven hundred dollars was also allowed to cover a deficit in school moneys.

The circumstances under which this deficit had arisen require some explanation. The estimate for schools in 1891 to 1892 was over one hundred and eighteen dollars, but Parliament actually granted only one hundred dollars. Under the Governor-General's order in Council of July iS. 1890, the expenditure of this vote, according to the terms of the Territorial ordinance, was authorized, but on the 22nd of June, 1891, this order in Council was cancelled. Meantime trustees had engaged teachers and had incurred various expenses in their reasonable expectation that the grants mentioned in the ordinance would be available, and great public inconvenience resulted. Moreover, $5,752.55 of a supplementary vote from a preceding year had lapsed, because circumstances rendered it impossible to expend it within the time it was available. The result was that for more than a year the Legislative held out grants which could not be paid, and so was involuntarily obliged to break faith. The Assembly felt so keenly the invidious position in which it was thus placed that it set apart ten thousand dollars of the local revenue to reduce the deficit in the school grants. It had accordingly requested that moneys voted by Parliament for the Territories should hereafter be in a lump sum and not lapsable.

Mr. Haultain's efforts to secure better terms had met with at least a measure of success, but he was very far from being satisfied. Accordingly, in the last year of Royal's administration the Premier renewed his financial negotiations with the Dominion authorities. lie had several conferences at Ottawa and obtained the time-worn promises that the Territorial claims would receive due consideration. However, for the time being, he had to be content with nothing more tangible than a mere promise.

We have seen that the regime of the Honourable Mr. Royal was from first to last marked by keen political battles and that in many of these the Governor himself stood for political principles very objectionable to the elected representatives of his people. Nevertheless, he always enjoyed a high degree of personal good-will and he should not be blamed for having been called upon to administer government under an impossible constitution. At all events friction between him and his Legislative had ceased before the expiration of his term of office, and this review of the political history of his administration may conclude bv the quoting of the amicable address with which Mr. Royal bade farewell to his last Assembly:

"As this is the last public occasion upon which I may expect to meet you, allow me to say that, in resigning the Administration of the Government of the Territories into the hands of my successor, I shall do so with mingled feelings of regret and satisfaction.

"I shall regret to leave you because I have never failed, even under trying circumstances, to receive at your hands the loyal treatment due to the Representative of Her Majesty, notwithstanding the fact that at times our duty assumed to be in opposite directions.

"It was mine to carry into effect what I considered to be the law, as laid down by the Parliament of Canada, for regulating your share in the responsibility in the administration of public affairs, and. whilst you claimed to exercise a more complete control over the expenditure, that Law placed in a somewhat invidious position of appearing to oppose the popular interests. Notwithstanding this controversy, no unpleasantness ever arose between me and the Assembly.

"When on the 4th of -July, 1888, I was sworn in as Lieutenant-Governor of the North West Territories, the functions of that office were as totally different from those of the Lieutenant-Governors of the Provinces, as they will be from those to be performed by my successor. I was responsible to the Privy Council alone for all executive acts done in the Territories. The Assembly had hardly a voice in the Government of the country and the Lieutenant-Governor was practically a Political Commissioner under whose direct supervision and authority the affairs of the Territories were conducted and administered.

"Now all this had been materially changed, and hence my satisfaction.

"The Legislature today practically enjoys the rights and privileges of self-government. Let me congratulate you sincerely upon the wisdom and

discretion you have displayed in undertaking your new and important duties.

"My satisfaction is further derived from the fact that these Territories are at the present time enjoying a measure of peace and prosperity unsurpassed, if not unequalled, by any other portion of the Dominion of Canada. In this happy condition of affairs for which we have to thank the Divine Providence, 1 now take my leave of this Assembly."


Return to our History of Saskatchewan Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus