Obrázky stránek

doubted rights, dismissed his Government. This he did on three separate grounds: firstly, because he doubted whether his advisers possessed the confidence of the electors; secondly, because his ministers had introduced measures without laying them before him, and obtaining his sanction; and, thirdly, because his ministers, knowing of his determined hostility to the Railway and Stamp measures, had passed them through, nominally with his consent, although he had never sanctioned them, instead of either abandoning them or resigning their offices.

Mr. de Boucherville refused to nominate his successor, and His Honour then sent for Mr. H. G. Joly, now Sir H. G. Joly de Lotbiniere, and Commissioner of Inland Revenue for Canada, who was instructed to form a Government and assume full responsibility for Mr. Letellier's act. It may be said here, that a large part of the English population was dissatisfied with the de Boucherville administration on several points, and this important element, wealthy and enterprising, had to be reckoned with. Mr. Joly had no difficulty in getting followers, and on the 8th of March, 1878, his Government was ready for business, Agriculture and Public Works becoming his department. The Opposition promptly stopped the supplies, dissolution ensued, and the country was appealed to, resulting in the defeat of the Bleus. Three of the ex-Ministers were beaten at the polls; several important Conservative constituencies were lost. The House assembled shortly after the election, and Mr. Arthur Turcotte was elected Speaker by a majority of one, the vote standing 33 to 32. In the de

bate on the address, the Opposition succeeded in carrying a vote of condemnation against the Ministry, owing to the absence of a supporter of the Government. This was the only case, however, in which the Opposition gained a point, all other motions implying want of confidence being negatived by the casting vote of the Speak


Affairs dragged along, the new Premier doing his utmost to give the province a pure and honest administration, and practising economy, and checking reckless waste in all directions. In October, 1879, Mr. Jolya statesman of the Bayard mouldfound himself the captain of a partially attainted crew. There were six desertions from the ship, and he fell an easy victim to the wiles of his enemies. A little later the fortune of politics restored Sir John Macdonald to power at Ottawa, and Mr. Letellier's head fell into the basket. That was the price he paid for trying to govern the province by constitutional laws. His "usetulness is gone" was the edict issued





against him, and a new king was enthroned in his stead. Mr. Joly, during his short tenure of office, proved his capacity as a departmental and executive officer. He was conciliatory, obliging, courteous and manly. For the cause of Forestry he has done more than one man's work. Queen's University and Bishops of Lennoxville made him a Doctor of Laws. After long retirement from public life, the County of Portneuf elected him last June, a member of the House of Commons, and Mr. Laurier invited him to take a seat in his Cabinet. For his many services to Canada-for he was in public life as early as 1861-he received the honour of knighthood at the hands of the Queen, on the recommendation of his unvarying friend, the Earl of Aberdeen.

Mr. Joly's successor was, of course, Mr. Chapleau, at present LieutenantGovernor of Quebec, a Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George, and ex-Secretary of State for Canada. He is one of the Dominion's most bril

liant orators, sharing with Mr. Laurier the praises of enraptured audiences. He was born at Ste. Therese de Blainville, Terrebonne, on the 9th of November, 1840, studied law, and was enrolled a barrister in 1861. His Q.C. came to him twelve years later. He has filled many positions of trust. Criminal law and international law, were, respectively, his chairs in Laval University. A born leader, and popular, he never had any difficulty in attracting influential friends to his side. In 1873 he was Solicitor-General; three years afterwards he was Provincial Secretary. In 1878 he was chief of the Opposition, and in 1879 he became Premier and Commissioner of Agriculture and Public Works, and a year after he took the portfolio of Railways, then a very important department of the public service. Mr. Chapleau's statesmanship was characterized by daring, enterprise and broad-mindedness. His career in the comparatively small arena of Quebec attracted the attention of Sir John Macdonald, always on the alert for lieutenants of ability, and, in answer to repeated requests from that veteran chieftain, Mr. Chapleau in 1882 entered the Dominion Government as Secretary of State. He remained in the Cabinet until appointed to his present post, the Lieut.Governorship of Quebec. In November, 1874, he espoused the hand of Miss Marie Louise King, daughter of Col. King of Sherbrooke. On the hustings, as well as in debate in Parliament, Mr. Chapleau has few equals as a speaker. His style is clear, argumentative and convincing, his manner is striking, and his gestures, though few, are electrifying. As an organizer in a great election campaign his superior has yet to be found. Neglectful of no resource,

untiring in his every effort, he has carried to success many candidates who, left to themselves, would scarcely have saved their deposit money. In repartee he is as quick as a flash. Interruption adds so much to the brilliancy of his speech, that his enemies have been wont to say that the interrupters were set up by himself to ask questions that he might discomfit them, to the amusement of the crowd and their own chagrin. This, however, may be only a scandal. A strong party man in provincial and Dominion politics, Sir Adolph Chapleau has acted as Chief Magistrate of Quebec in a most impartial and constitutional manner, earning in that capacity golden opinions from Government and Opposition members.

In July, 1882, Quebec looked to Ottawa for a Premier, and found him in the person of the Hon. J. A. Mousseau, Secretary of State at the Dominion capital. He had taken a very active part in the debate in the House of Commons, which led to the dismissal of Mr. Letellier from office. He had made a powerful speech in support of his views, and his friends thought that in Quebec he would find ampler scope for the display of his abilities. Nor were they disappointed. He had a good knowledge of men and events, and his long newspaper training had furnished him with a ready and trenchant pen. Though his experience as a parliamentarian had been short, his skill in grasping details soon made him familiar with the work of the House, and it was not long before he took a commanding position. among his colleagues. Good-natured in disposition, he easily made friends; of real enemies he never had one in the world. He made a very good Premier, though his

reign was brief and little of importance in the way of legislation occurred. It was during his term of office that the committee was appointed to look into the Civil Service question, and in the recommendation of that Commission many employes were sent adrift. It was shown that the State was paying far too many persons for the amount of work which efficient service demanded. The Government's action was criticised, and many of the dismissed officials were reinstated. The effect of the enquiry, however, on the whole, was not bad. In January, 1884, Mr. Mousseau, who was Attorney-General as well as Premier, resigned, and was appointed a judge. pointed a judge. He died a few years afterwards, much regretted. He was succeeded by the Hon. John Jones Ross, M.D., who took the portfolio of Agriculture and Public Works.

Dr. Ross was an old parliamentary hand, having been in politics since 1861. Before the Union he was an Assembly-man. After the Union he was a member of the House of Com





mons, the Legislative Council and the Senate. When called upon to form a Government by Lieutenant-Governor Robitaille, he was a member of the Provincial Upper House. His Administration included some of the best men in the country, several of whom had been members of former administrations. Though physically weak, through serious illness of many years' duration, the new Prime Minister brought to bear on his office lengthened experience in public affairs, extensive knowledge of the needs of the province, force of will, intellectual robustness, and the quality of caution, derived, no doubt, from his Scottish ancestry. He was masterful, and with his methods it would be dangerous to interfere, but his colleagues who knew him well, trusted him fully, and, recognizing his extraordinary mental strength, accepted his leadership implicitly. He carried on affairs successfully until the general elections of 1886 changed the political colour of parties in Quebec. He resigned with his colleagues. In Jan

uary, 1887, the Hon. L. O. Taillon formed a Government and met the House. The ministry lasted little more than one day, the Opposition, led by Mr. Honoré Mercier, defeating it on the first vote. Mr. Mercier, then sitting for St. Hyacinthe County, was sent for, and invited to form a Cabinet. This he managed to do in a couple of days. He became Attorney-General and President of Council. It was in Mr. Mercier's time that the gravest crisis in provincial politics, that had occurred since Confederation took place. For a second time, in its short history, Quebec was called upon to witness the dismissal of a ministry having the confidence of the And electors at its back. by the irony of fate, the Lieutenant-Governor, who performed the happy despatch on this occasion, was the same gentleman who in 1878 was Attorney-General of the Province and suffered a like indignity at the hands of Mr. Letellier, for years the political friend and chief of Mr. Mercier and his followers. The Mercier Administration was strong in ability and boldness. The leader was one of the most brilliant politicians, which his native province had ever turned out. He was a captivating speaker, and though he could not boast of the eloquence of Laurier or of Chapleau, he was equally effective in debate, and in presenting his arguments in a clear and convincing style.

He had a magnetic influence over men which was irresistible, and this power enabled him, at any time, to secure for whatever purpose he had in hand the very man upon whom he could depend with certainty. While his word was law in the Council-room, he was never domineering nor arrogant. He always trusted in his own powers

of persuasion, and after a few words of earnest pleading the recalcitrant invariably yielded the point, and gracefully, sometimes gladly, accepted the situation. The story of the downfall of the Mercier règime is, perhaps, too fresh in the minds of the readers of these pages to need enlargement here. The immediate causes of the crisis grew out of the Baie des Chaleurs Railway scandal, which was discovered by accident during the sitting of the Railway Committee of the Senate at Ottawa. It was found that one hundred thousand dollars of public money belonging to the Province of Quebec had been misapplied. An investigation was held, and certain members of the Quebec Government were summoned to the Federal capital and requested to testify. This they declined to do, on the ground that the Senate had no right to enquire into Provincial affairs. No effort was made to force them, but other witnesses gave evidence, and enough was found to place in the hands of the LieutenantGovernor a weapon which he did not shrink from using. He demanded from his advisers an explanation of their conduct, and suggested the immediate appointment of a Royal Commission, to be composed of three Superior Court judges, whom he named, to investigate the whole affair. To this Mr. Mercier demurred. He complained of the personnel of the proposed commission, two of the judges having, for years, been violently opposed to him in politics. He preferred to have a commission of one judge, and named the Chief Justice of Quebec, who had long retired from political life, and, though a Conservative, was not regarded as a partisan. The Premier's preference was, of course, for a Parliamentary enquiry, the


committee to be formed of members of both sides of the House. The Lieutenant-Governor was not satisfied, and insisted on having his own The Royal Commission was appointed, and performed its duty. Mr. Mercier, in his evidence, admitted the misapplication of the funds, but disclaimed all personal knowledge of the transaction, and threw the blame entirely on the shoulders of his quondam agent. The absence of certain letters by the ministers implicated rendered the investigation incomplete, but enough was elicited to absolve four members of the Cabinet, including the treasurer, from fault, while against the Attorney-General and the Provincial Secretary more suspicious circumstances were found. Two of the members of the commission furnished His Honour with an interim report, on the strength of which he dismissed his Government, and for a second time called upon Mr. de Boucherville to form a Cabinet. The general elections of March, 1892, resulted in the



« PředchozíPokračovat »