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From rule to ruin: the Conservative Party of British Columbia, 1928-1954 Alper, Donald K 1976

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FROM RULE TO RUIN: THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, 1928-1954 by Donald Keith Alper B.A., California State University, Long Beach, 1967 M.A., California State University, Long Beech, 1969 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES POLITICAL SCIENCE We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA November, 1975 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I ag ree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f P o l i t i c a l Science The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumbia 2075 Wesbrook P l a c e Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date ^JW*-, /£, {Ctlb ABSTRACT In 1928 the Conservative Party of British Columbia won an impressive electoral victory, taking 35 of the 48 seats in the legislature. The v i c -tory was a comeback for Conservatives since after forming consecutive governments during the years 1903-1916, they remained in opposition from 1916-1928. The comeback, however, was not to be permanent. Five years later, in the 1933 election, the Conservative Party met disaster. Not a single candidate running with the Conservative label was elected. Although their fortunes improved in the 1937 and 1941 elections, Conservatives would not again form a government on their own in British Columbia. Throughout the 1940s they shared power in a coalition government, but in so doing the forces were set in motion which culminated in the party's collapse in the early 1950s. The party suffered a massive defeat in the 1953 elec-tion, an event which marked the end of the Conservative Party as a serious contender in the province's electoral p o l i t i c s since Conservatives have been unable to make a showing in provincial elections in the 21 years since. What happened to the provincial Conservatives is the question ad-dressed i n this study. How did a party which has enjoyed a history of success in both the province's federal and provincial arenas lose, almost entirely, i t s support base in the early 1950s? The general approach of this study is historical-interpretative. An account and interpretation of the Conservatives' fate i s given through a detailed analysis of the party's internal p o l i t i c s . The focus i s on i i politicians (party leaders) and their efforts to build and maintain a party clientele, their definition of goals and the strategies devised to attain them. The major theme which emerges is that the party's ultimate failure to survive as a contender in provincial p o l i t i c s i s inextricably bound up with the internal fractionalization that continued to plague i t . This study begins by examining the period when the Conservative Party was one of two major parties in British Columbia. The background of this early period i s important in understanding the principal actors and p o l i t i c a l conflicts which set the context for later events. The main body of the study examines the personalities and conflicts in the party during the years 1933-1954. The years of coalition government (1941-1952) are singled out for special treatment because the chain of events pre-cipitated by the coalition ultimately led to the party's disintegration and collapse. Chairman: i i i CONTENTS Page INTRODUCTION • * ' 1 I. BACKGROUND . 10 TOLMIE AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY, 37 37 47 58 76 82 109 109 111 121 The Party Returns: The 1937 Election . . 128 The Selection of Maitland and the Party in Opposition. . 134 164 COALITION GOVERNMENT: THE MAITLAND YEARS 194 194 210 215 223 234 The "Campaign to Preserve Free Enterprise" 240 iv Page V. PRELUDE TO DEFEAT: THE ANSCOMB PARTY IN COALITION 270 The Faltering Partnership, 1946-1949 270 Continuing the Coalition: The Po l i t i c s of Expediency. . . 290 P o l i t i c a l Implications of the 1949 Elections 295 The Suicide Convention 306 The End of Coalition 320 Collapse: The 1952 Election 334 VI. THE THROES OF DEFEAT: 1952-1954 367 The High Price of Failure 367 Leadership Again 369 The Struggle to Survive: The 1953 Election 374 Rock Bottom 385 CONCLUSION. . 403 BIBLIOGRAPHY 413 APPENDIX: BRITISH COLUMBIA PROVINCIAL ELECTION RESULTS, 1903-1953 426 v INTRODUCTION Among Canadian provinces British Columbia is unique because the two dominant parties on the provincial scene are minor parties on the national scene. This fact dominates most studies of B.C. party politics written during the last twenty years. In one way or another most party research has attempted to explain the uniqueness of this contemporary party alignment. The studies are typically of two kinds: 1) Voting behavior studies which focus on the support bases of each party;"'' and 2) " P o l i t i c a l culture" studies which attempt to explain the party system using such themes as B.C.'s re-gional outlook, the province's isolation from the p o l i t i c a l center of Canada, B. C.'s p o l i t i c a l economy, and the existence of a culture experience charac-2 terized by such attributes as "anti-traditionalism" and "anti-partisanism." These studies, although extremely valuable, usually pay too l i t t l e attention to the fact that u n t i l quite recently, the two traditional parties and the C. C.F. dominated B.C. p o l i t i c s ; and that only in the postwar period did a new party system come to supplant the old...one. In studying the contemporary party system i n British Columbia the particular p o l i t i c a l events and circumstances which gave rise to this party system should not be ignored. Prior to 1952, the Liberals and Conservatives were the only parties that had ever formed governments in British Columbia. Since 1952, both have been nearly eclipsed by Social Credit and the C.C.F/N.D.P. Although the Liberals, by averaging approximately 21.5 percent of the vote in post-1952 elections, have fared considerably better than the Tories, they s t i l l have been relegated to minor party status. The post-1952 history of 1 2 the provincial Conservative Party is well known. Only twice since 1952 did they attract more than 10 percent of the vote (11.27 percent in 1963 and 12.6 percent in 1972), and on only two occasions did they win seats in the legislature (1 seat in 1953 and 3 seats in 1972). Given this sudden and radical alteration in the provincial party system after 1952, provincial party politics in the preceding years takes on added importance for those who wish to understand the present. In the literature on Canadian p o l i t i c a l parties there is a tendency to concentrate excessively on new or "third" parties. Sometimes in the eagerness to explain the new, students are not adequately concerned with what happened to the old. We should not lose sight of the fact that the rise of new parties and accompanying changes in party systems are usually directly related to the decline or disappearance of existing parties. In British Columbia this is especially true of the rise of Social Credit and the changed post-1952 party alignment. Even the most cursory glance at British Columbia history suggests an intriguing and important question: What happened to the provincial Con-servatives, a party which was a major p o l i t i c a l force throughout the prov-ince's history? This question merits investigation for at least three reasons. F i r s t , an understanding of what happened to the Conservative Party during the period in which i t went from being a major party in the province to a tiny remnant party is a necessary complement to the very limited p o l i t -i c a l knowledge so far gained about British Columbia. Second, the emergence of Social Credit and the accompanying transformation in the B.C. party system after 1952 was closely related to the fortunes of the Conservative Party. To explain the rise of Social Credit without an understanding of the 3 disintegration of the Tory Party in the early 1950's i s d i f f i c u l t , i f not impossible. Third, the collapse of a party which played a major role in the province's history and continues to be a major force in the federal arena is worthy of investigation in i t s own right. What happened to the provincial Conservatives i s the subject matter of this study. Historically British Columbia has never lacked a strong Conservative Party. From the introduction of party lines in 1903 to the collapse of the Tolmie-led Conservative government in 1933, the Tory Party ruled the province for 18 of 30 years and averaged approximately 40 percent of the vote i n the eight elections. During that same period federal Conservatives in B.C. fared even better. In the seven general elections between 1904 and 1930, federal 4 Conservative candidates averaged 49.3 percent of the vote. Except i n 1904 when they failed to win a seat, in the six elections since 1903 the federal Tories never won less than 50 percent of the seats in B.C. In 1911 they captured every seat and three other times (1908, 1925, 1926) they won over 70 percent of the province's federal seats. In the 1933 election the provincial Conservatives met disaster. The depression-ridden, internally s p l i t government of Simon Fraser Tolmie col-lapsed so completely that not a single candidate running with the Conserva-tive label was elected. Fragmented and without representation in the legis-lature, the party was a minor force in provincial politics during the next four years. By 1937 the Conservatives had reorganized and under the direc-tion of an energetic new leader made a comeback by regaining the role of the o f f i c i a l Opposition. From 1941 to 1952 they shared power i n a Liberal dominated coalition government. The Tory comeback, however, was not to be permanent. Eleven years of being the "junior partner" in coalition 4 government led to severe internal strains. In 1950, party leader Herb Anscomb was challenged for the leadership by rebel Tory W. A. C. Bennett. In 1951 two Conservative MLAsi openly disassociated themselves from the caucus and shortly thereafter joined the upstart Social Credit Party. In 1952 coalition ended and the strife-torn Conservatives were faced with a four-party contest. Disunited and discredited (both Liberals and Conserva-tives l e f t coalition tainted by bungled policies and p o l i t i c a l infighting), the Tories emerged from the election with only three seats, their worst show-ing since 1933. In the election the following year, the party met further disaster when just one Tory was elected and Conservative candidates received less than six percent of the vote. From 1953 to the present, the party has failed to win more than two seats in a single election (they were blanked five times) and did not receive more than 13 percent of the vote in any election. This study examines the fortunes of the Conservative Party by focusing on i t s politicians, their activities and manoeuvrings in the struggle of personalities and power.Accordingly, an account and interpretation of the party's fate i s given through a detailed analysis of i t s internal p o l i -t i c s , the doings of party leaders and their colleagues—viewed as enemies or supporters—pursuing their goals and the goals of the party. This ap-proach is adopted because the party's ultimate failure to survive as a major party is inextricably bound up with the recurring internal chaos a f f l i c t i n g i t . Factionalism, prevalent in the Conservative Party from the beginning, produced in the end the internal disorder which above a l l else led to the party's loss of support and ultimate collapse. 5 The activities of politicians take place in a p o l i t i c a l environment which includes the party (as an organizational structure) and the larger p o l i t i c a l system (in which parties operate). Both the party and the p o l i t i -cal system are related in that what happens in each affects the other. The external party environment impinges most directly on the parties by shaping demands for what they do and how they do i t . What the parties do (more specifically what the politicians who comprise them do) depends on how goals are perceived, what strategies are used to attain them, and how the demands of their various clienteles are met. The effects of the environment, then, are mediated through politicians, individuals who must recruit a clientele, contest elections, take positions, make policies, and educate on issues. For this study the actions of parties are conceptualized in terms of the behavior of the politicians who comprise them. This adoption of a "politicans focus" is not meant to attribute the whole process of the party's downfall to some particular group of individ-uals. The study would be seriously lacking i f i t failed to include a discussion of what was going on in the opposing parties, the impact of unusual events such as depression and war, the changes in public opinion over a twenty-five year period and the p o l i t i c a l consequences of social changes such as urbanization, population growth, transportation and com-munication. The p o l i t i c a l story takes place in a welter of circumstances which in themselves make one or another course of events possible. In addition there is the role of ideology. Is i t possible that the decline of the Conservative Party was due to the inapplicability of con-servative remedies to the issues of the day? Perhaps this i s true, at least in part. It is assumed, however, that a conservative constituency has 6 always existed in B.C. and s t i l l exists as manifested by federal voting patterns and the persistent strength of Social Credit. The key.to under-standing why the party's clientele (both organizational cadre and voters) abandoned i t is found not so much in i t s ideological stance as in i t s i n -ternal p o l i t i c s . What failed ultimately was not conservatism but Conserva-tives. This study examines a p o l i t i c a l party during the most c r i t i c a l period in i t s history. The central problem is to account for i t s downfall after a long history of being a major actor i n B.C. p o l i t i c s . The claim of the study to make a contribution l i e s f i r s t in i t s detailed treatment of the l i f e of a p o l i t i c a l party during an extremely important historical period, and second to show for the f i r s t time how and why the Conservative Party declined, an event which made i t possible for a wholly new p o l i t i c a l force, Social Credit, to emerge on the B.C. p o l i t i c a l scene. This study i s organized into two main parts. Chapters I and II trace in f a i r l y general terms the party's history during the period when i t was a major party alternating with the Liberals as the government of British Co-lumbia. In addition to providing an overview of the party's early history, this part examines the roots of conflict in terms of organizational struc-ture, federal-provincial strains, and the performance of i t s leaders. This section makes no presumption of inevitability, which i s to assert that be-cause there was early evidence of the kinds of strains which later caused the party unending d i f f i c u l t y , the Conservative Party was necessarily "doomed" from the beginning. The party's early history is discussed because of what i t reveals about the party's nature and because i t was then that many of the forces were set 'in motion which led to the party's disruption 7 later. Part two, Chapters III through VI, Is the main body of the study. This part covers the period when Conservative politicians were struggling f i r s t , to bring the party back as a major force in provincial p o l i t i c s after the electoral disaster of 1933 and second, to survive as a major party in the face of s t i f f competition from the dominant Liberal Party and the power-fu l and persistent Socialist opposition (1937-1952). The years of coalition government are singled out for special treatment because the chain of events precipitated by the coalition ultimately led to the party's disintegration and collapse. 8 FOOTNOTES Introduction "'-Mark Sproule-Jones, "Social Credit and the British Columbia Elector-ate," B.C. Studies, No. 12 (Winter, 1971-72), pp. 34-45. See also Rejoind-ers by Edwin R. Black and Martin Robin, and Reply, Ibid., pp. 46-48, 49-50, 51-52. Donald Blake, "Another Look at Social Credit and the British Co-lumbia Electorate," B.C. Studies, No. 12 (Winter, 1971-72), pp. 53-62. Daniel J. Koenig, et a l . , "The Year that British Columbia Went N.D.P.: N.D.P. Voter Support Pre- and Post-1972," B.C. Studies, No. 24 (Winter 1974-75), pp. 65-86. Jean Laponce, People vs. Politics (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969). Walter D. Young, The N.D.P.: British Columbia's Labor Party," in John Meisel, ed., Papers on the 1962 Election (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1964), pp. 181-200. 9 Edwin R. Black, "British Columbia: The Politics of Exploitation, 1 1 in R. Shearer, ed. , Exploiting Our Economic Potential, Toronto: (Jiolt, Rinehart and Winston),1968, pp. 23-41. Martin Robin, "British Columbia: The Politics of Class Conflict," in M. Robin, ed., Canadian Provincial P o l i t i c s : The  Party Systems of the Ten Provinces (Scarborough: Prentice Hall, 1972), pp. 27-68. Thomas Sanford, "The Politics of Protest: The CCF and the Social Credit League in British Columbia" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Uni-versity of California, 1961), esp. p. 91. Conclusion of Koenig, et a l . , "N.D.P.," p. 83. 3 Federally, the party waned between 1935 and 1957, but i t always placed at least three persons in parliament. Today, 1975, the Conservatives are the strongest party federally in B.C. ^The 1917 "Unionist" election i s excluded since the result was re-ported in terms of votes cast for Government and Opposition candidates rather than the usual Liberal and Conservative breakdown. "*Party p o l i t i c a l histories which use this focus include: J. L. Granatstein, The Politics of Survival: The Conservative Party of Canada, 1939-45 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967). Roy Douglas, The  History of the Liberal Party, 1895-1970 (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1971). Trevor Wilson, The Downfall of the Liberal Party, 1914-35 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1966). L. G. Thomas, The Liberal Party  in Alberta: A History of Politics in the Province of Alberta, 1905-21 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1951). Peter Oliver, "Sir William Hearst and the Collapse of the Ontario Conservative Party," Canadian His- torical Review, Vol. LIII, No. 1 (March, 1972), 21-50. 9 °Obviously Social Credit doctrine (as preached by British Columbians such as Bennett) and B.C. Conservatism are not the same. There are none-theless many areas of similarity, in particular their strong defenses of free enterprise and antipathy to excessive statism. It appears that Social Credit's appeals became increasingly similar to traditional Conservative appeals as Conservatives gradually became a larger part of the new party's constituency after 1952. This is seen especially i n i t s anti-socialism, appeal to the farming community and emphasis on balanced budgets and pro-motion of a favorable investment climate for private capital by maintaining restrictive labour legislation, keeping the taxes on resource industries to a minimum and solicitation of foreign investment. CHAPTER I BACKGROUND The results of the 1916 election marked the beginning of a rough and frustrating path for the Conservative Party of British Columbia. In the thirteen years since party lines were drawn in provincial p o l i t i c s the Conservative Party under the leadership of Sir Richard McBride had dominated British Columbia p o l i t i c s . In December, 1915, with his government internal-ly divided, confronted with economic d i f f i c u l t i e s , and t a i n t e d by "scandalous" railroad dealings, Sir Richard resigned the leadership and retired to London to become the Agent-General for British Columbia. The leadership of the party and the premiership were assumed by McBride's chief lieutenant, William J. Bowser, then Attorney-General, and for the past year the acting-Premier of British Columbia. Within eight months after McBride's departure, his party entered a general election. In that election the Conservatives, who had never known provincial defeat, and who had just four years earlier won 40 of 42 seats, were trounced by the Liberals, thirty-seven seats to ten."*" In 1920 the Tories were again defeated by the Liberals. Moreover, they failed to significantly increase their popular vote despite a marked decline 2 in the Liberal government's popularity. Again, in 1924 with the Tory party divided and the addition of a third party composed of many disaffected Con-servatives, the Tories suffered a third consecutive defeat. Bowser lost his seat in the election. O f f i c i a l l y leaderless, the party drifted under the interim leadership of W. H. Pooley (Esquimalt) un t i l 1926 when Conservatives, in a desperate attempt to restore unity and get back into power, chose as leader the popular M.P., Simon Fraser Tolmie. 10 11 A lengthy examination of the early history of the Conservative Party and i t s defeat in 1916 is provided elsewhere and w i l l not be dealt with 3 here. This chapter examines the party during i t s f i r s t twelve years in opposition (1916-1928), an important transition period in which can be found the roots of the conflict and problems that would plague the Tory Party for the next quarter of a century. The accession of William John Bowser to the leadership of the Tory Party in 1915 led to an intense factionalism which was both personal and organizational in nature. Bowser, dubbed by his enemies the " L i t t l e Kaiser" and the "czar" of the Conservative Party organization, manipulated the party apparatus in British Columbia for the f i r s t quarter of this century. An old friend of McBride's since their days together at Dalhousie University, he was f i r s t elected to the legislature from Vancouver in 1903. In the 1907 election he headed the poll and that same year he became Attorney-General. During his apprentice years as M.L.A. from Vancouver he had already begun constructing a powerful p o l i t i c a l machine in the province's fastest growing city, using his position as Grand Master of the Free Masons as a convenient lever. Upon assuming the portfolio of Attorney-General, which regulated the police and liquor trade, he quickly built the most powerful p o l i t i c a l ma-chine in the province's history. One contemporary observed: "The Con-servative machine in British Columbia is as near perfect as anything can be, short of perpetual motion."^ Bowser was in firm command of the party apparatus, but had none of the qualities of the popular pol i t i c i a n . As one who preferred power to fame, he seemed content to remain "behind the throne" as long as McBride was Premier. Britton Cook's description is revealing: 12 He is a curious machinist. The grim l i t t l e boss seems to take no material reward for his bossing. He is the taciturn guardian of several thousand votes, yet never uses them for securing to him-self more than he already holds. Just operating his machine is said to be that one joy of his l i f e . For praise, glory and pub-l i c i t y he has no stomach. While McBride swims in i t , Bowser jerks on his overalls and o i l s the machine. Only when criticism assails the government he emerges and stands doggedly in front of McBride taking i t a l l and snarling back.5 While the government probably would have been defeated in 1916 even i f McBride had not stepped aside, the accession of Bowser to the leadership made i t a near certainty.^ His image of a machine pol i t i c i a n and unpopular appeal drove many out of the Conservative camp and led to a s p l i t in the Tory Party. To many, he seemed to epitomize everything that was deemed wrong with the Conservative P a r t y — i t s traditional dominance by old financial and industrial magnates and machine politicians, and i t s failure to take up the cause of reform. To reformers, who by the War's end were demanding temperance, prison reform, and the franchise for women, the end of patronage, and direct legis-lation, Bowser and the Conservative Party were out of step. He became the public scapegoat for Conservative patronage, provincial debt, party arro-gance and extravagant railroads.^ "Even as Opposition leader," noted one who knew him, "Mr. Bowser only succeeded in further antagonizing powerful sec-g tions of the public." If Bowser's style and reputation were distasteful to a growing number of Conservatives, i t was the "reformist" element in the party which, by 1920, began to organize against him. The reform movement which had capti-vated a segment of the electorate during the war was spreading rapidly throughout the Tory ranks. Many Conservatives, especially the younger, more ide a l i s t i c members, expressed concern that the machine politics which Bowser symbolized and the old guard in the party which he represented, needed to 13 be overthrown. When the Conservatives again failed to regain power in 1920, demands were made that the machine be broken up, the reform element be paid more attention, and Bowser resign the leadership. In 1922, Vancouver Young Conservatives made known they would attempt 9 to wrest the leadership from Bowser at the upcoming party convention. Some constituency associations followed suit by preparing resolutions demand-ing Bowser's resignation."^ The press was f i l l e d with reports of the pro-and anti-Bowser forces struggling for convention delegates in the months preceding the f a l l meeting. However, despite the swelling opposition, the veteran Tory won re-election, but only by the slim majority of 51.8 percent. One of the reasons for Bowser's victory in 1922 was the failure of the dis-sidents to recruit a strong challenger. They were faced with a dilemma. On the one hand they needed a candidate who would be responsive to change. But.most of the reformists were young and this raised the problem of alien-ating the party regulars. Simon Fraser Tolmie was approached but refused to run. The rebels fi n a l l y turned to the Vancouver M.P., H. H. Stevens, long a Bowser antagonist who, despite serious reservations that his candidacy would further disunite the party, accepted the job.''"''" In the end Bowser won by a vote of 252 to 201 for Stevens. A third candidate, S. L. Howe, 12 president of the Conservative association, gained 27 votes. Bowser continued to lead the divided party for two more years. In the 1924 election the Tories were defeated for the third consecutive time. The entrance of the newly formed Provincial Party not only siphoned off large 13 numbers of traditional Conservative voters—and even some candidates — but by splitting the anti-Liberal vote, insured that the Tories would remain in opposition. Bowser lost his seat and thus had l i t t l e choice but to 14 resign the leadership. That a figure as controversial as Bowser could survive as the head of the party for as long as he did attests to the overwhelming power that he wielded. Bowser's power emanated from two sources. The f i r s t was his position of dominance in the regular party organization—particularly in the city of Vancouver—which, for the most part, he retained until his death i n 1933. Said one person who knew Bowser personally: "Bowser kept the party machine in motion, well oiled, and profitably productive . . . while Dick (McBride) was out through the country making votes, Bowser was in his office counting them."^ During the years the Tory party was in power, his control was described this way: William John Bowser can almost control the names on the wage role of a l l the important employers in the interior. . . . The big timber companies indulge Bowser's p o l i t i c a l whims to the extent of allowing their camps to come under the role of petty bosses. . . . He (Bowser) controls the machinery that causes the British Columbian voter to make governments.15 Bowser saw to i t that almost no potential p o l i t i c a l resource was immune from the leverage of provincial administration—railroads, mining, timber, liquor, the municipalities, and even the police. "Bowser systematically built up 16 an organization that not even Tammany Hall could r i v a l . " Bowser had the responsibility for raising the big money for the party's election coffers. His long years in politics and his reputation as a "king-pin" brought to him numerous "big money" people in the business world, especially in timber. The second source of Bowser's power was largely a derivative of the f i r s t . Bowser built up a coterie of solidly loyal followers who never veered in their support. This group tended to include most of the "old-18 guard" Tory politicians. It was this group, the old guard, and their proteges who could never find common ground with the party's so-called re-formers. If any generalization can be made about the Bowser group i t is that they resisted a l l suggestions that the Conservative Party should oper-ate differently than i t had during the "glorious" years of McBride. Reform according to them was not the business of p o l i t i c a l parties and they deeply resented the so-called rebels' efforts to rock the boat. The schisms which developed in the party during i t s years under Bowser's leadership laid the groundwork for the factional divisions which would plague the Tories for many years hence. Essentially they grew out of the traditional structure of control in the party—a small autocratic ruling group primarily interested in retaining an iron f i s t control over the party organization while remaining insensitive to party reform, and the person-a l i t y of Bowser himself—a p o l i t i c a l tactician apparently more concerned with maintenance of "boss rule" than with building party consensus. There was also evidence of federal-provincial d i f f i c u l t i e s in the party during this period. Much of i t was based on personalities, for ex-19 ample, the antagonism between Stevens and Bowser. But i t also manifested i t s e l f in a s p l i t between Conservatives primarily interested in bolstering the British Columbia Tory organization for the election of M.P.'s—the 20 "Tupperites" —and the provincial oriented team of McBride and Bowser. In 1916 Tupper swung his support solidly to the Liberal side and worked active-21 ly against Bowser in the election campaign. In 1923 a splinter group of Conservative businessmen, Young Conserva-tives, and farmers joined with a farmer p o l i t i c a l action group (United Farmers of British Columbia) and organized a new p o l i t i c a l party—the Pro-vincial Party. While a broad coalition of the disaffected—farmers, businessmen, progressives, soldiers groups, and reformist organizations— the common thread uniting the group was the feeling that the present system 22 of party politics was self-serving and insensitive to the public interest. They were of the feeling that government in the province had been made to serve the interests of party politicians, reflected i n the dispensation of spoils, the petty "deals" with the railway interests, and the general lack of concern with the people's problems. Significantly, i t was a group of dissatisfied Conservatives who, after the selection of Bowser as party leader in 1922, approached members of the U.F.B.C. in an attempt to join 23 forces and start a new party. A key individual in the movement's found-ing-; was John Nelson, editor of the United Farmer, the o f f i c i a l journal of the U.F.B.C, and a former member of the Conservative Party's provincial executive. Nelson, lik e many others, abandoned the Tories after Bowser's reelection as leader i n 1922. When sounded out on the idea of a new party, Nelson got the b a l l r o l l i n g by s o l i c i t i n g financial support from a group of 40 sympathetic Vancouver businessmen (mostly old Tories), among them General 24 A. D. McRae and maverick Conservative, Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper. Ad-25 ditional support came from the Vancouver Young Conservative Association. Plans were made to join forces with the United Farmers in the hope of using the reformist-businessmen-farmers alliance as the core of the new Provin-c i a l Party. At the U.F.B.C. Convention held in Vernon in January 1923, a pro-posal was introduced to merge the two groups. However, the P o l i t i c a l Com-mittee of the U.F.B.C. did not accept the manifesto of the proposed Provin-c i a l Party as drawn up by McRae's Vancouver group. The farmers were suspicious that McRae, who had supplied most of the new party's funds, was 26 mainly interested in buying his way to power. Thus no firm alliance between the groups came out' of the Vernon Convention. But as the McRae group rapidly gained strength, i t later absorbed many farmers and most of 27 the U.F.B.C. organization into i t s ranks. The Provincial Party's "reform" platform was hammered out at a conven-28 tion in December, 1923. It called for an end to "government for party" and demanded a non-partisan "union government" which would concentrate i t s efforts on governing efficiently. It attacked what i t called the "politics of waste" and urged a drastic reduction in the provincial debt. Specific planks in the platform included: the reduction and more equitable d i s t r i -bution of taxes, abolition of patronage, replacement of the " p o l i t i c a l " Liquor Board with a non-partisan independent commission, abolition of the personal property tax, and rational development of the province's natural 29 resources. The platform's theme could be summed up as follows: "Traditional p o l i t i c a l parties were corrupt, self-interested, and impediments to govern-ment in the public interest." With i t s slogan, "Put Oliver out and don't let Bowser i n , " the voters were urged to defeat a system of po l i t i c s driven by the cynical bargaining for votes by p o l i t i c a l parties to control the spoils of power. Free from the obligations and preferments which party government spawns, a new "provincial government," i t was argued, would attract the best men and govern in the interests of a l l . Clearly the move-ment was not non-partisan but anti-partisan. And i t bore a remarkable resemblance in appeal and philosophy to another antir-party movement which 30 would emerge in the early 1950 s. The new party quickly grew. Under the able chairmanship of McRae, an effective grass roots organization was bui l t , supported by active local 18 • committees. To the chagrin of Liberal and Tory politicians i t was becoming evident that the party was not merely a spur-of-the-moment p o l i t i c a l revolt but a well financed and carefully organized p o l i t i c a l force, with backing from a wide range of groups. As the campaign heated up the Provincial Party began to regularly grab headlines in the press and even began to get some attention outside of British Columbia. Especially important was the appearance of The Searchlight, the party's broadsheet which highlighted every thing from government boondoggles in the Pacific Great Eastern Railway proj-ect to the intricacies of patronage appointees "kicking back" to the old 31 party machines. There was no doubt that Liberals and Conservatives were becoming a bit uneasy, as illustrated by the fact that they began to concen-32 trate their attacks more on the Provincial Party than each other. 33 The 1924 election resulted in considerable success -for the new party. 34 In addition to contributing to the defeat of both Oliver and Bowser, the Provincial Party won an impressive 24.2 percent of the vote, elected three 35 members, and was credited with being the decisive factor in 70 percent of -u -A- 36 the ridings. For Conservatives, the new party's strength and main support base sig-nified the serious disarray within their own ranks. It was no secret that the core of the party's financial and organizational strength was composed 37 of ex-Tories. As the Vancouver Province commented just prior to the elec-tion, "Make no mistake about i t — t h e Provincial Party is just as Tory as the party led by Bowser. Who are the leaders of this Provincial Party? McRae, a Tory; Tupper, a Tory; McPhillips, a Tory; McNeil, Ernie Burns, 38 Rounsefell, John Nelson, Whiteside—all Tories!" If the Provincial party had garnered support from a f a i r l y broad cross c 19 ? section of the electorate, the fact was inescapable that Conservatives made 39 up i t s central core. The Provincial Party's days as a p o l i t i c a l force were numbered, how-ever, despite i t s respectable showing in the election. With Bowser's defeat the Tory Party now seemed ripe for internal change. The conservative nature of the Provincial Party's program appealed largely to the farmer, property owner and businessman, and for their vote, the new party was competing with 40 both the Conservatives and Liberals. Moreover, the election of three Labour and Independent M.L.A.'s rele-gated the three Provincial members to merely part of the large diverse op-position. Failing to hold the balance of power, the party's p o l i t i c a l clout was severely lessened. About a month after the election, McRae circulated a questionnaire to the local Provincial associations suggesting the possibility of coalescing 41 with another party while retaining the party's popular support. As i t was generally known that a merger with the Tories was planned, McRae's action infuriated many Provincial Party supporters. To many i t confirmed the earlier misgivings of the U.F.B.C. members who refused to join the new party in the f i r s t place on the grounds that i t was a vehicle to satisfy the interests of the ambitious McRae. Some f e l t that i t was an outright act of "treason" and that McRae in actuality always had been a Conservative who used the Provincial party for a power play to advance his own ambitions within the Conservative Party. Ironically, the party was placed i n further jeopardy because Bowser was defeated. Shortly after the election, Bowser, under pressure from the Conservative Caucus, tendered his resignation as Conservative leader. The effect of this action was to pave the way for a reconciliation in the 20 Conservative Party, since many who had joined the Provincial Party were Conservatives who had done so out of protest against the continued leader-ship of Bowser. The f i n a l blow which assured the party's collapse was dealt in Decem-ber, 1924, when the Provincial association in a general meeting at Victoria introduced a resolution censuring the three sitti n g M.L.A.s for continually 42 siding with the Oliver government. The chairman called the resolution out of order and refused to allow a vote on i t . A large number of the convention 43 delegates walked out of the meeting in protest. Tensions were further heightened when i t became known that McRae intentionally boycotted the Vic-toria meeting, even though he was in the city at the time. Many members viewed this as a sign that McRae was through with the party and by implica-44 tion that the party was experiencing i t s last gasps. This proved to be the case. Despite the party's continued formal ex-istence u n t i l 1928, the seeds of destruction had been thoroughly planted. Such influential members as Beaumont Boggs and Captain H. S. Thain made i t 45 known they were returning to the Conservative Party. Both Thain and Boggs appeared on the Conservative platform in November, 1924, during Arthur Meighen's v i s i t to Victoria. McRae joined Tory House Leader, R. H. Pooley, to campaign for W. H. Houston, who was supported by Conservatives, in the 46 Nelson by-election shortly after the general election. In addition many prominent Provincials actively campaigned for the Tories in the 1926 federal election. Within a year the Provincial Party's organization throughout the province had severely dwindled. The Vancouver headquarters, deeply s p l i t after the 1924 election, remained divided and incapable of functioning 47 effectively. The party's three M.L.A.s showed l i t t l e unity in their 21 voting in the legislature, and McRae formally withdrew from the party in 1926 when he was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for North Van-couver. Finally, in 1928, the executive committee announced i t would not nominate any candidates under the Provincial label and formally released 49 i t s three elected representatives from any further obligations. The Provincial Party was the f i r s t but not the last minor party which primarily owed i t s existence to division within the Tory ranks. While di f -f i c u l t to say what extent dissatisfied Conservatives made up the Provincial Party, i t is clear that i t s financial and organization base was mainly com-posed of ex-Tories. Had i t formed the o f f i c i a l Opposition or even repre-sented the balance of power in the legislature, i t might have been able to survive. As i t was, with only three elected members who could not take a unified position, there existed no focal point from which the party could build in preparation for the next election. As a p o l i t i c a l force, i t had not defeated the traditional parties, i t had only stunned them. In helping to defeat Bowser, i t undercut i t s own future prospects by paving the way for many of i t s own supporters to return to the Conservative fold. Probably more than anything else, i t vividly presented the case for renovating the Conservative Party. It raised the storm warnings which were headed two years later at Kamloops when provincial Conservatives temporarily laid aside their swords and chose the popular M.P., Simon Fraser Tolmie to lead them back to power. The Kamloops Convention, which convened on November 26, 1926, faced the d i f f i c u l t task of choosing a leader who could unify and offer a new elan to a party which had been deeply s p l i t for ten years. The legislative caucus had offered the top position to Simon Fraser Tolmie, federal M.P. since 1917, and Minister of Agriculture in the Meighen government. But Tolmie turned the offer down, explaining he had no desire to leave Ottawa, he had obliga-tions to f u l f i l l as federal organizer, and personal reasons would not allow him to accept."'"'" With no other person emerging as a party favorite, the leadership of the caucus f e l l in 1924 to Robert Henry Pooley, the son of an Esquimalt Tory who had been a member of the legislative assembly of British Columbia for twenty years. Pooley was only an interim chief until a permanent leader could be selected. While Pooley was not ineffective, and enjoyed a f a i r amount of popularity throughout the party, he did not use his position as a stepping 52 stone to the leadership, expressing no real interest in i t . By autumn of 1926, the press was f i l l e d with speculation about who would emerge as party leader. Among the rumored candidates were H. H. Stevens, M.P. (Vancouver-Center), A. D. McRae (by th'en McRae had formally rejoined the Conservative Party), and Arthur Meighen, former prime minister 53 and leader of .the federal Conservative Party. However, the contest was shaping up as a battle between ex-leader Bowser and Leon J. Ladner. It became quickly evident that Bowser, who was the candidate of the regular party organization, and was the favorite of the businessmen in Vancouver 54 and Victoria, s t i l l had a substantial following in the party. To many Conservatives he was considered the most experienced legislator, the man with the longest service to the party, and because of his control of the Vancouver machine, the only candidate in a position to generate substantial resources for the Conservative campaign. In addition, Bowser had the sup-port of numerous "old l i n e " party loyalists, many of whom had obligations to him personally, and many who considered the opposing front runner, 23 Ladner, an intruder from the federal wing."'"' Leon J. Ladner was one of the principal movers of the then so far un-successful attempt to persuade Tolmie to run. A member of the House of Commons from South Vancouver since 1921, he was returned with increased majorities in both 1925 and 1926. The son of a pioneer family—his father was one of the original settlers of the lower mainland—Ladner was a well known lawyer and had strong ties with the federal wing of the party. As one of the party's younger members, his selection would add a youthful d i -mension to a party long identified with professional politicians. Further-more, he had not been directly involved i n the party schism which produced 56 the Provincial movement. Thus he had not antagonized either the party regulars or the reformers. Ladner's support was centered in the legis-lative caucus, but he was also the candidate favored by the Young Conserva-tives,"^ and large numbers of regular members who did not think Bowser could 58 unite the party or win the election. As the convention approached neither Bowser nor Ladner had the sup-port of a majority of the delegates. The danger of a wide open s p l i t in 59 the party, reminiscent of 1922, was widely rumored in the press. By convention eve no compromise candidates emerged and a deadlock seemed i n -evitable. On the second day of the convention the fireworks began. It quickly became obvious that neither Bowser nor Ladner would have the required ma-jor i t y needed for election. The Bowser forces were dealt the f i r s t blow when the convention voted down a resolution to seat a contested pro-Bowser delegation from Saanich.^ The Saanich voted indicated that the Bowser forces did not have the votes needed to take command. A deadlock now seemed 24 imminent. Shortly after the Saanich vote was taken, Bowser sent a shock wave through the convention h a l l by announcing he was withdrawing from the lead-ership contest. He expounded on his devotion and service to the party but confessed to the delegates that the f r i c t i o n that existed over his candidacy might s p l i t the convention i f his name was allowed to be placed in nomina-tion. After explaining that he did not wish to be held responsible for disrupting the party, he concluded: I must therefore retire from the position of one seeking to be your leader. It is in the best interests of the party that I should do so; i t is better for the unity of the party. This, then, is my po-l i t i c a l valedictory.61 It is d i f f i c u l t to know what led Bowser to his startling and unex-62 pected decision. Certainly the preceding Saanich vote dimmed whatever hopes he may have had for majority support. But his address was more struc-tured than spontaneous, suggesting that he must have known beforehand the lik e l y outcome of the Saanich vote. The immediate effect of Bowser's withdrawal was to leave the Ladner candidacy in doubt. Since much of Ladner's support was from party members who personally disliked Bowser, and f e l t an i n i t i a l concerted effort was needed to block his chances, there existed a real possibility of a new can-didate emerging and splitting the Ladner vote. A deadlock would probably result and the convention would then be forced to find a compromise candi-date. One student of the Tolmie years has suggested that part of Bowser's strategy was to insure a deadlock with the hope that the convention, in 63 desperation, would be forced back to him as the compromise candidate. This seems quite unrealistic since Bowser was the candidate who polarized 25 the convention i n i t i a l l y and deadlock usually results in the emergence of non-controversial "dark horse" candidates which a l l sides can support with-out severe compromise of their positions. In any event, Bowser was out of the race. His followers shifted their support to Senator J. D. Taylor, publisher of the New Westminster Columbian. Prior to the beginning of the nominations, when the convention recon-vened for the evening session, the Bowser forces engineered a plan to change 64 the percentage of votes a candidate would need to be elected. Ultimately i t would insure that Ladner would not win. It was moved that a 60 percent 65 majority be required for election. Curiously, i t carried unanimously. While on the face of i t the change from simple majority to 60 percent seems sensible on the grounds of party unity, i t was clear to a l l the delegates, especially after the Saanich vote, that i t might be a long while before any candidate could reach that figure. By agreeing to such a requirement, the delegates seemed to be expressing the belief that the convention at a l l costs must avoid the danger of electing a candidate who did not have wide and thorough support throughout.the party. In other words, they must avoid a repeat of the situation arising from the 1922 convention. After four candidates were nominatedr—J.: D.. Taylor, L. J. Ladner, 66 C. F. Davie, and Nelson Spencer — t h e delegates began the tedious process of voting. At the end of the f i r s t ballot, Ladner was 43 votes short of the required 60 percent needed for election. The balloting droned on. After seven successive ballots (the sixth ballot was declared void as more ballots were cast than there were delegates) no candidate could get over the top. Ladner led on every ballot and was persistently within a few votes of winning. On the third ballot he moved to within six votes of the needed 26 60 percent. But after that highpoint his support began to slowly dwindle. By the end of the seventh ballot, Ladner was short by 26 votes. By evening i t was apparent to a l l that a stalemate had been reached. With the stalemate apparently firm, Ladner took the i n i t i a t i v e . He moved to offer the leadership to Simon Fraser Tolmie, who had refused i t 67 twice before. The motion was quickly seconded by Taylor. In view of the circumstances i t seemed to be the only way out. According to Ladner, Because of the deadlock, when the dinner adjournment came, I got together my committee composed in part of Major General McRae, Mr. Loutit, Mayor of North Vancouver, Mr. W. C. Shelly, later Min-ister of Finance, and some others. In the interests of unity of the party, knowing that the Hon. S. F. Tolmie was popular although he would not enter the contest, I asked my committee to allow me to ask the convention to unanimously offer the leadership to Dr. Tolmie, who was sittin g nearby. He knew absolutely nothing about what I was going to do. I made the proposal and there was a tremendous out-burst of enthusiasm with one exception, the Honorable W. J. Bowser.68 Simon Fraser Tolmie was the perfect compromise candidate. A veterinarian, he was f i r s t elected to Parliament in 1917 when he ran as a Unionist and won the Victoria seat. He was subsequently reelected in 1921, 1925, and 1926, winning over 60 percent of the vote in the latter two contests. He served as Minister of Agriculture under Meighen and as Dominion Organizer during the 1926 federal campaign. Disassociated from provincial politics and, more important, removed from schisms that had plagued the provincial Conservatives, Tolmie had stood clear of conflict and made no real enemies in the party. In 1924 the Conservatives f i r s t approached Tolmie to offer him the leadership but he refused. But the party was persistent: Again and again were approaches made to him in those f i r s t few months after the 1924 election. Half a dozen sitting members tendered him their seats i f he would only consent to become "the white hope" of Toryism in provincial affairs. Embassies were sent to Ottawa when he fled there to escape the importunities of his 27 friends. Never did gallant swain pay greater court to a lady of his affections than did the Conservatives of B.C. to the portly person of this native son of the province, and never did f a i r lady more consistently refuse the pleadings of her admirer than did Dr. Tolmie reject the advances of ambassadors of the Opposition.69 With the delegates deadlocked and another day of voting in prospect, i t is quite understandable that they would turn once again to the popular Tolmie. But he had not changed his position and again refused. Speaking to the convention he said: Again and Again I've refused, and I do so again. Why, do you know, I've been pestered to death upon this subject ever since I l e f t the Coast and one chap came to my room at four o'clock this morning almost climbed into bed with me in his endeavors to make me consent to allow my name to go before this convention.70 With the impasse seemingly unresolveable, Tolmie suggested that a committee be formed, composed of top o f f i c i a l s in the party, and be charged with re-solving the deadlock. It was agreed that the committee would include the party's M^P.s, M.L.A.s, Senators, President of the Association, and the federal and provincial executives.^ They agreed to leave the floor, caucus alone, and return within the hour with some kind of resolution to the dead-lock. What exactly occurred i n the conference and how Tolmie was persuaded to accept the nomination is not altogether clear. The committee apparently 72 had no intention of discussing any candidate other than Tolmie. According to Ladner, the group appealed to Tolmie's sense of loyalty, arguing that no one else could avert a s p l i t in the party. They appealed to his patrio-tism, his obligation to "save the party so that the province which had given 73 him and his family so much, would be saved." Tolmie reacted to the pressure i n i t i a l l y by continuing to refuse. Ex-pressing his concern for the health of his wife, who was a semi-invalid, Tolmie told the committee that he had made her a "sacred promise" that he 74 would not accept the nomination. He further expressed his desire to stay in Ottawa. He enjoyed the l i f e of an M.P., he said, and had no real i n -terest nor did he feel qualified for the "bothersome and burdensome" job of being premier.^ What persuaded Tolmie to change his mind? Ladner suggests that the imperative need to revive the party placed so much pressure on him that he 76 fe l t he could not in good conscience refuse. In a d d i t i o n he was given as-surances that he would get the necessary financial help (from the federal party) to insure a "full-blown campaign." Also, one rumor had i t that the group offered "every bit of assistance possible" to Tolmie so that his "non-familiarity with the B.C. administrative problems would create no problems." Whatever the reason, Tolmie f i n a l l y agreed. The select committee returned to the convention floor and submitted Tolmie's name to the tired delegates. The response from the floor was an immediate outburst of ap-proval. No balloting was necessary. The selection was spontaneous and 77 unanimous. The new leader's acceptance speech was perfectly tuned to the situa-tion. Its tone was conciliation and unity. Tolmie acknowledged the "sportsmanlike" s p i r i t of the men who had withdrawn their names in order that his election:-.- could be made unanimous. After paying tribute to the factionalized wings of the party, including an overture to Bowser, Tolmie called for an all-out organizational effort in the ridings so that the party would be prepared for an election at the earliest possible moment. And, in his f i n a l remarks, he expressed the "statesmanlike" qualities which had won him so much popular favor: 29 I always endeavor to remember that I am the servant of the people of the country and I try to give them equal service, whether they be Conservatives, Liberals, Socialists, Holy Rollers, or any other p o l i t i c a l or religious faith. I try and serve equally well a l l the citizens—and such I w i l l continue to do.78 The drafting of Tolmie as party leader met the needs of the Conserva-tive Party at the time. As the member of the House of Commons since 1917, Tolmie had already made a reputation as a popular and successful pol i t i c i a n . He had not been involved in provincial party politics and therefore had no connection with the internal party feuding of recent years. He was held in high esteem by his colleagues, the public, and the press. "Personally the doctor is one of the most popular figures in the public l i f e of Canada," said the Colonist. "During the course of his public career he has not made 79 a single enemy p o l i t i c a l or personal." Tolmie's accession to the leadership seemed a blessing for a party which for ten years had been torn by internal s t r i f e . Internal problems, i t seemed, had been worked out, and the future looked brighter than i t had looked in a long while. The selection of Tolmie had settled, at least for the time being, the problem of leadership. With the defeat of Bowser and the disintegration of the Provincial Party, the way seemed clear for a re-turn of the traditional Conservative alliance of farmers and businessmen. The younger "reform" elements, who had deserted the Tory Party because i t refused to change the old guard and the old way of doing things, f e l t com-fortable with a leader who had remained apart from the old party e l i t e . Perhaps most important the selection of the popular Tolmie had ended the immediate danger of a permanent party s p l i t . But beneath the surface of unity, a superficial unity put together for the purpose of breaking the leadership logjam, lay a multitude of 30 unresolved problems that would shortly re-emerge. The problems that had plagued the party since McBride had not been solved, they had just been swept aside. Foremost was the problem of a well-known and popular p o l i t i c a l figure leading a party which had always been based on personal loyalties, but which lacked personal loyalty to him. Moreover, the Bowser wing of the party had not given up i t s swords, i t had just laid them down temporarily. The questions relating to control of the party organization, the rivalry between the old guard and the party reformers, and party sectionalism, a l l portended a d i f f i c u l t future for B.C. Conservatives. Perhaps had the bottom not fallen out of the economy in 1929, the Tolmie-led party might have over-come i t s own internal problems. But with depression, vacillating leadership, and the resurfacing of severe party factionalism, the party within six years sunk to i t s lowest point ever and, as a result, was nearly erased as a po-l i t i c a l force. 31 FOOTNOTES Chapter I "'"Before the 1916 election the number of seats had been raised to forty-seven. 2 Ian D. Parker, "The Provincial Party," B.C. Studies 8 (Winter 1970-'1971), p. 18. 3 Brian R. D. Smith, "Sir Richard McBride: A Study in the Conservative Party of British Columbia, 1903-1916" (unpublished M.A. thesis, Queen's University, 1959); Peter R. Hunt, "The P o l i t i c a l Career of Sir Richard McBride" (unpublished M.A. thesis, University of British Columbia, 1957); Paul B. Paine, "The Development of the Organization o'f the Conservative Party in B.C." (unpublished B.A. thesis, University of British Columbia, 1938). ^Britton Cook, "Mr. Bowser of British Columbia," Victoria Times, March 25, 1913, p. 9. 5Ibid. 6Smith, "Sir Richard McBride," p. 319. ^Ibid., p. 344. g An observation by B. A. McKelvie, cited in Edwin R. Black, "The Progressive Conservative Party of British Columbia" (unpublished M.A. thesis, University of British Columbia, 1960), p. 19. 9Smith, "Sir Richard McBride," p. 340. ^Martin Robin, The Rush for Spoils (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1972), p. 193; Parker, "The Provincial Party," p. 18. "^Letter, H. H. Stevens to A. Meighen, July 17, 1924, Stevens Papers, Public Archives of Canada (hereafter P.A.C.), Vol. 2, F i l e 15. 12 Robin, The Rush for Spoils, p. 194. 13 Vancouver Province, May 13, 1924. 32 14 Russell R. Walker, Politicians of a Pioneering Province (Vancouver: Mitchell Press, 1969), p. 14. •''^Britton Cook, "Mr. Bowser of British Columbia," Victoria Times, March 25, 1913, p. 9. 16T... •^This opinion was given me by R. R. Walker, who at the time knew Bowser personally. Private interview held in Vancouver July 17, 1973. Ibxd. 19 Letter, H. H. Stevens to A. Meighen, July 17, 1924, Stevens Papers, P.A.C., Vol. 2, F i l e 15. 20 Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper was the son of a Conservative prime min-ister, served i n his cabinet, and won considerable national status through service on an international commission. After retiring from public office, he continued his interest in bolstering Conservative Party fortunes in B.C. In this capacity he came into conflict with the McBride-Bowser organ-ization. See, Black, "The Progressive Conservative Party," pp. 6-7, 21. 21 Ibid., p. 18. 22 Parker, "The Provincial Party," pp. 21-22. 23 Margaret A. Ormsby, "The United Farmers of British Columbia," British  Columbia Historical Quarterly, XVII (January-April, 1953), 68. 24 McRae was a Vancouver millionaire who had made his fortune in colon-ization projects on the prairies and in lumbering and fishing i n B.C. While his loyalties had long been with the Tories, he had not previously been active in p o l i t i c s . 25 Robin, The Rush for Spoils, p. 196. 26 Ormsby, "The United Farmers," pp. 69-70. One U.F.B.C. member re-signed from the executive because, "now knowing the inside workings of the executive I am convinced that the new party is a direct abuse of the con-fidence i t sought from farmers and is a gigantic attempt to exploit not only the farmers but the whole Province as well. . . . I am compelled to believe that sinister financial interests are behind the whole movement, which has as i t s real objective the complete exploitation of our timber, mines, and fisheries. . . . This is no people's movement." Ibid., p. 70. 28 A convention delegate sheet l i s t s 49 farmer delegates, apparently the largest single group, and seven businessmen delegates from Vancouver and Victoria. A. D. McRae Scrapbook, n.d., Special Collections, U.B.C. 29 "The Provincial Party of B.C. - Manifesto and Platform," December, 1923, A. D. McRae Scrapbook, Special Collections, U.B.C. 30 The parallel to Social Credit w i l l be drawn in Chapter VI. ^"Slany editions of The Searchlight are contained in the A. D. McRae Scrapbook. An overview of the issues reveals the muckraking nature of the journal. 32 Parker, "The Provincial Party," p. 26. 33 The results were: Provincial Party 24.2 percent, 3 seats; Conserva time Party 29.7 percent, 17 seats; Liberal Party 32.3 percent, 24 seats; Labour and Socialists 12.7 percent, 3 seats. 34 Oliver, after accepting the resignation of K. Campbell, the Liberal member-elect for Nelson, was returned in an August 23, by-election by a majority of 338. McRae withdrew from the party and in 1926 was elected Conservative member of Parliament for North Vancouver. Bowser continued to be a force in the Tory Party until his death in 1933. 35 D. A. Stoddart, Cariboo; George Walkem, Point Grey; A. C. Creery, Vancouver who just narrowly defeated A. D. McRae after the absentee ballot were counted. Parker, "The Provincial Party," p. 26. 37 Letter, H. H. Stevens to A. Meighen, July 17, 1924, Stevens Papers, P.A.C., Vol. 2, F i l e 15. 38 Vancouver Province, May 23, 1924. 39 One striking indication of Conservative support for the Provincial Party is found i n a telegram received by H. H. Stevens from 39 "good Con-servative" signatories, among them such prominent Tories as J. N. Harvey, Reggie Tupper, A. E. Jukes, A. E. Bull, and J. A. MacDonald. It read in part, "Thousands of good Conservatives are supporting the Provincial Party in order to clean up the provincial p o l i t i c a l situation." Telegram to H. H. Stevens from 39 Conservatives, May 28, 1924, Stevens Papers, P.A.C., Vol. 2, F i l e 15. 34 4 0Parker, "The Provincial Party," p. 27. ^ I b i d . , p. 26. 42 Vancouver Sun, December 4, 1924. 43T,., Ibxd. 44 Victoria Colonist, December 4, 1924. 45 Robin, The Rush for Spoils, p. 219. 46 James Morton, Honest John Oliver (Toronto: Dent and Sons, Ltd., 1933), p. 187. 47 Vancouver Sun, December 4, 1924. 48 Walker consistently voted Conservative while Creery, despite Con-servative leanings, voted both ways. Stoddart voted with the Government most of the time. Parker, "The Provincial' Party," p. 27. 49 Stoddart and Creery retired after finishing out the session. George Walkem, who had abandoned the Tories in 1924, rejoined the Conservative Party. "*^Ian D. Parker, "Simon Fraser Tolmie: The Last Conservative Premier of B.C." B.C. Studies, No. 11 (Fall, 1971), p. 22. "^Walker interview, July 17, 1972; letter, S. F. Tolmie to A. Meighen, December 13, 1926, Meighen Papers, P . A i C , Vol. 244, 164165. 5 2Walker interview, July 17, 1973. 53 Vancouver Sun, September 9, 1926; Vancouver Sun, September 26, 1926; Victoria Times, September 29, 1926. 54 Letter, S. F. Tolmie to A. Meighen, April 23, 1927, Meighen Papers, P.A.C., Vol. 244, 164158. "'"'ian D. Parker, "Simon Fraser Tolmie and the Conservative Party of British Columbia: 1916-1933" (unpublished M.A. thesis, University of British Columbia, 1972), p. 45 (cited hereafter as Parker, "Thesis"). 35 5 6Parker, "The Last Premier," p. 23. **7Vancouver Sun, November 9, 1926. 5 8Parker, "Thesis," p. 45. 59 Vancouver Sun, October 5, 1926; Vancouver Star, October 30, 1926. 60 The Proceedings of the B.C. Conservative Convention at Kamloops, 1926, the Conservative Party, 1927, Special Collections, U.B.C. Saanich Conservatives had elected two slates of delegates—a Ladner slate which carried the regular credentials of the Association, and a Bowser slate. The contending slates exemplified the severe factionalism s t i l l pervading the party. See, Victoria Colonist, November 23, 1926. 61 Convention Proceedings, p. 22. 6 2Walker interview, July 17, 1972. 6 3Parker, "Thesis," p. 57. 64 According to Ladner, this was an attempt by the Bowser people to re-organize their forces and head off any chance of a Ladner victory. Leon J. Ladner, private interview i n Vancouver, August 6, 1973. 65 Convention Proceedings, p. 34. 66 Davie, M.L.A. for Cowichan-Newcastle, was the son of former Premier A. E. B. Davie. Colonel Nelson Spencer, a former Alberta M.L.A.,.operated numerous mining and lumber interests. 67 Convention Proceedings, p. 41. 68 As quoted in Parker, "Thesis," p. 50. ^Bruce A. McKelvie, "B.C.'s New Premier," MacLean's Magazine, XLI (October 1, 1928), 9. 7 0 I b i d . ^Convention Proceedings, p. 41. 72 Ladner interview, August 6, 1973. 36 Ibid . 7^Walker interview, July 17, 1973. 7 5 P a r k e r , "Thesis," pp. 57-58. 7 6 Ladner interview, August 6, 1973. Tolmie's own statement i s revealing: "I had made c e r t a i n plans which involved my family, and which I desired very much to carry out but I had to set that aside as a matter of duty." L e t t e r , S. F. Tolmie to A. Meighen, December 31, 1926, Meighen Papers, P.A.C., V o l . 244, 164156. 7 7McKelvie, "B.C.'s New Premier," p. 30. Ladner t o l d me that the enthusiasm of the delegates over Tolmie's candidacy was unrivaled by any convention he had ever attended. Ladner interview, August 6, 1973. 78 Convention Proceedings, p. 43. 79 V i c t o r i a Colonist, November 26, 1926. CHAPTER II TOLMIE AND THE COLLAPSE OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY, 1928-1933 The story of the Conservative Party during the Tolmie years i s one of developing internal chaos culminating i n party collapse in 1933. From it s most impressive electoral showing since the years of McBride, in five years the p o l i t i c a l situation deteriorated to a point where not a single Conservative candidate was elected with a straight Conservative label in the election of 1933. The party's incredible collapse resulted from the interplay of three factors: 1) Tolmie's lack of p o l i t i c a l s k i l l s , 2) the re-emergence of intense factionalism, and 3) the debilitating effects of the most severe economic c r i s i s in the country's history. The 1928 Election Tolmie, the pol i t i c i a n , was unique. Necessary to understanding his years as leader of the Conservative Party, and premier of British Columbia, and his successes and failures at both endeavors, i s understanding what kind of politican he was. Without getting into cumbersome psychological questions of p o l i t i -cians' motives and needs, i t is useful to distinguish between two types of p o l i t i c a l actors; the professional (party) p o l i t i c i a n , and the non-professional (amateur, statesman) po l i t i c i a n . ^ By professional p o l i t i c i a n is meant someone whose primary commitment is to the p o l i t i c a l process i t -self, rather than to some particular issue, set of policies, or sense of statesmanship. In contrast, the non-professional gets into p o l i t i c s 37 38 (perhaps by accident) for the purpose of achieving a particular end, an end not necessarily involving issues or policy goals. For example, in a society where habits of deference persist, a person of upper class back-ground may see i t as duty or obligation to enter public affairs. A person with outstanding charismatic qualities might be persuaded by other pro-fessionals to get involved in pol i t i c s because of his electability or popu-la r i t y . Or the non-professional may be committed to a particular issue or policy goal. The important point is that professionals w i l l likely see their roles differently and behave differently than non-professionals do. What makes a person a p o l i t i c a l professional i s not lack of principle but a commitment to the activity of pol i t i c s i t s e l f as an ongoing succession of struggles over many issues and policies. Tolmie could scarcely qualify as a professional po l i t i c i a n . He was a veterinarian who entered government not so much because he was interested 2 in politics as such , but because he was interested in livestock. Even his entry into electoral politics was more the doing of others than of him-self. "Never once did he seek office," notes McKelvie, "the office always 3 sought him." On his recruitment into p o l i t i c s , McKelvie continues: . . . he was on his way East in 1917 when a delegation from Victoria followed him to Vancouver to tender him nomination as a candidate for the Capital City's supporters of the Union Government. He ac-cepted as a matter of duty. Several years later his a b i l i t y was recognized when Hon. Arthur Meighen formed his ministry and offered him the portfolio of Agriculture.^ Tolmie's accession to the leadership at Kamloops was under circum-stances not much different from his former p o l i t i c a l experiences. The party sought him out, not the other way around. While a Conservative by temperament and tradition, he did not regard himself as a professional party politician. While he liked the externalities of politics—meeting people, campaigning, being involved in public affairs, he did not care for, nor did he have the s k i l l s or temperament necessary for, the tough job of conciliating and consolidating the varied demands that are inevitably placed upon any party leader. Tolmie accepted the leadership out of duty, not because he wanted i t , but because others wanted him to have i t . If Tolmie had a major weakness that severely hampered his leading the party, let alone the whole government in time of c r i s i s , i t was his lack of p o l i t i c a l s k i l l s . As a non-professional he thought of himself as not in " p o l i t i c s " but in "public service." His inclination was to appeal to others, his own a l l i e s included, in terms of high patriotism and pure reason. He was unable to forge support for himself out of the needs and interests of other men. Tolmie was not a strong leader, but neither was he weak. He firmly pressed his views, but was not willing, and probably not able, to employ a strategy of manipulative leadership in his party or the government. This was contrary to his values, and uncongenial to his personality. He was popular and agreeable but not a manager of men. "He was one of the most pleasant men you could meet," said W. A. C. Bennett later, "but he never should have been premier. He was j o l l y , but not tough enough, and a premier must be able to say no to friend and foe. At times when everybody else says yes, at times the premier must say no.""* Tolmie's "non-political disposition would cause him endless problems in the years to come. Shortly after his election as party leader, Tolmie returned to Ottawa to continue his duties as the member for Victoria. Except for returning to aid Conservative candidates i n two by-elections, he remained in Ottawa unti l the beginning of the election campaign almost two years later. Pooley continued to lead the Conservative opposition during the 1927 and 1928 sessions. As "absentee Leader," Tolmie remained for the most part detached from the affairs of provincial p o l i t i c s . 7 During the 1927 legislative session, Liberal Premier John Oliver was under pressure from his party's younger members to put the party on a more progressive track. The premier responded by seeing through the legislature g the f i r s t substantial Old-Age Pensions Act in Canada. In addition, im-portant revisions in the tax laws were enacted along with a reduction in 9 the rates of annuities and succession duties. The problems of farmers, who had largely spurned both parties in 1924, were given careful considera-tion. Led by E. D. Barrow, Minister of Agriculture, and supported by Oliver, the government enacted a Produce Marketing Act which provided for government regulation of the distribution and marketing of f r u i t . Despite charges by some party members that the act was "communistic," the legislation put the government squarely in the favor of the majority of Interior farmers."^ The party was put further on a progressive course when a Liberal provincial convention accepted a platform which favored the establishment of a health insurance program, a system of maternity benefits, and increased aid to ed-ucation. But a l l was not well in the legislature. Opposition leader Pooley challenged the government mercilessly on questions involving the Custom's Inquiry, which had helped to defeat the King government and caused a con-stitutional c r i s i s in 1926. Testimony before the Vancouver sessions of the federal inquiry indicated that provincial politicians might be deeply i n -volved in the scandal. There were also charges of improper campaign con-12 tributions involving liquor interests. The liquor scandal was by far the most potent. The government was charged with having entered into a 41 conspiracy with the brewers before the 1924 election, and having accepted contributions to i t s campaign funds i n return for increasing the price of beer. Throughout the session, the opposition used the scandal to flog the government. In addition, the scandal was thoroughly exploited in the Con-13 servative press. Like the P.G.E. controversy prior to the 1924 election, a Royal Commission was f i n a l l y established to investigate the alleged mis-dealings, and like the earlier scandal, the charges were not substantiated. But although the government was exonerated, the airing of the matter sig-nificantly clouded the accomplishments of the session and dimmed the pres-tige of the Liberal Party. "What are the two words written in letters of black indelibly across the record of this session," wrote the Province: . . . they are "liquor" and "allegation of corruption" . . . whatever the investigations disclose, or whatever the investiga-tions f a i l to disclose, the people of British Columbia have made up their minds as to the existence of a certain state of a f f a i r s . ^ Although the Tories could look with favor on the muckracking investi-gations which continued throughout the 1927 session, they were not without their own d i f f i c u l t i e s . As the election approached, the general gloss of unity painted over the party at Kamloops began to show flaws. The absence of Tolmie had le f t the party in a vulnerable position. Many Conservatives f e l t that by not returning to lead the opposition, Tolmie had le f t the party to d r i f t . T h e "Liberal press" in particular chided Tolmie's absentee 16 leadership as "irresponsible" in view of the upcoming election. Tolmie was well known throughout the Province and probably did not need to engage in an elaborate publicity campaign, but his absence made i t impossible for him to establish himself as real leader, to strengthen his position i n the party, and to organize a strong coalition of support which would be needed 42 to neutralize the factional strains l e f t over from Kamloops. By August 1927, rumors began circulating i n the press about Tolmie quitting the leadership."''7 Tolmie reacted by issuing a f l a t denial. He stated he did not have any intention of resigning and that the rumors had 18 been started by a small element in the party intent on destroying him. A more serious problem arose when A. D. McRae was selected provincial organ-izer for the party. Some members openly withdrew their confidence in Tolmie's leadership over the matter, stating that McRae had deserted the party in 1923 to lead the Provincials, and thus was not a loyal Conserva-19 tive. Charges were made that this was the beginning of an organized at-20 tempt by McRae and his followers to take control of the party. Again, Tolmie reacted sharply to the criticism and defended McRae. Both situations pointed up the basic problem of absentee leadership. Removed by 3,000 miles from provincial happenings, Tolmie was constantly forced into reacting to the situation in B.C. He was unable to take the i n i t i a t i v e . Instead he could only lead the party from a defensive posture. Inevitably the control that can be exercised under these circumstances i s diminished. Moreover, Tolmie's absence l e f t the party organizational machinery to d r i f t . The McRae appointment and Tolmie's decision to remain in Ottawa led to a struggle for power which eroded organization cohesion. In fact, as late as six months prior to the election, organization work was a l l but non-existent in many of the provincial r i d i n g s . ^ The death of Oliver in August, 1927, caused new problems for the Lib-erals. Oliver's successor, John D. MacLean, had been a competent adminis-trator and one of the more progressive ministers in the Brewster and Oliver 22 cabinets. But MacLean was no Oliver. To the dismay of those who had 43 recently been invigorated by Oliver's conversion to progressive legislation, MacLean offered l i t t l e in the way of new policies. "Our policy for the fu-ture w i l l not be an entirely new one," the new premier told a Liberal Party meeting: It w i l l be based on the policy of the past. It w i l l be to continue the present policies but to avoid mistakes that have been made in the past; to s t i l l further reduce taxation, to continue our program of road building as fast as funds w i l l permit, thus opening up the country and to improve the financial relations between Ottawa and B.C.23 The 1928 session, MacLean's only term as premier, confirmed his intent. The session produced l i t t l e in the way of imaginative measures, although many measures were introduced for the purpose of catching votes. For example, more funds were appropriated for public works, mostly for roads. Farmers were wooed with new marketing legislation and reduced interest rates. A host of taxation changes were enacted which largely favored the business com-munity and a resolution was passed demanding the restriction of Oriental „. 24 immigration. The Liberal government had managed to dole out a l i t t l e something for almost everyone in the 1928 session, but problems remained which could easily lead to i t s undoing. The government continued to be plagued by charges of corruption and misuse of campaign funds. The efforts to dispose of the 25 P.G.E. had not been successful. The party was beset by internal s t r i f e . Perhaps most important, MacLean in contrast to Oliver, was colorless, lacked the s k i l l s for generating enthusiasm in the party, and was unable to recover the progressive s p i r i t seemingly lost by the death of Oliver. An election was called for July 18, 1928. Tolmie immediately resigned his federal seat, hurried home from Ottawa, and prepared his election mani-festo. 44 On the whole, the Conservative manifesto was not innovative. In fact, Pattullo referred to i t as "more of a compliment to the Liberal Party than 26 anything else." Its main points were the following: tax reductions, i n -cluding the abolition of succession duties, further aid to agriculture, expanded road construction, Oriental exclusion, the completion of the P.G.E., encouragement of capital investment in B.C., increased cooperation with the federal and British governments, and a promise to streamline the finances of 27 the province. The platform did reflect the businesslike emphasis of past Tory governments. Conservative campaign pamphlets, press advertisements, and speakers repeated a single message: "A Conservative administration prom-ises to give good, honest, clean government, making every attempt to get a 28 dollar value for a dollar expended." In essence the Tory program was a promise for the application of strong business principles by businessmen to the everyday problems of government. "The business of government," stated a widely distributed campaign pamphlet, " i s just like any other business. 1 If the Tory platform lacked innovation, so did the Liberals'. Promis-ing the same fare as earlier campaigns, the one notable exception being a proposal to move toward a provincial health insurance scheme, the Liberal platform was practically a carbon copy of the Torys'—extension of the P.G.E., tax reduction, encouragement of capital investment, public works, 30 and aid to agriculture. As the Province noted: "The lines of general policy are not very clearly drawn between the two major parties in British 31 Columbia. There i s not very much to choose between them." "There was nothing in the campaign," the Manitoba Free Press observed, "to suggest a conflict between one set of principles identifiable as Liberal, and another set, obviously Conservative. It was a battle between ins and outs, with 45 issues relating almost entirely to administrative government.Indeed i t was. With the exception of railway questions which sparked some contro-versy, the campaign was reduced to platitudes about the credentials and qualifications of candidates. "A prime glory of the Conservatives," notes Robin/'was the team of prosperous businessmen who adorned their slate i n 33 Vancouver." To quote Robin, A Conservative ad in the Vancouver Sun ran, "Public Opinion throughout British Columbia demanded successful businessmen— here they are!" An ad in the Province reminded voters that the Conservatives were "not putting up failures as candidates, but successful men. . . . " Vancouver's prominent businessmen were "aggressive, enterprising . . . men concerning whose business qualifications there is no doubt." The voter was reminded that he was "a shareholder in the Province of British Columbia . . . good judgement t e l l s you that you should select successful business-men as directors."34 As William Dick, Conservative candidate from Vancouver said, "If the people on the Conservative ticket have made a success of their own business that is a l l the more reason why they can make a success of your business in Vic-«. . .,35 torxa. Considering the unprecedented prosperity the province enjoyed in 1928, i t is not surprising that the campaign would turn out to be lackluster. Except for the economic downturn in 1920-1921, the period 1920-1928 was characterized by a high rate of economic growth. The province's major i n -dustries, mineral and forestry products, had nearly doubled their production in the eight years beginning in 1920. Per capita income in British Columbia was higher than any other province. The industrial payroll reached an a l l 36 time high and wages were at a record level. Given the condition of the province, the tone of the campaign was predictable. The Tories attacked patronage, the government's railway problems, inefficiency in government administration, and boasted of a solid "business slate" the Liberals ran 46 on their record, and both parties committed themselves to maintaining pros-perity through basically identical policies. The election resulted in a crushing defeat for the Liberal Party. The Conservatives won 25 seats and received 53.3 percent of the vote. The 37 f u l l Conservative slate from Vancouver was returned, and the major popu-lation centers of the Lower Mainland a l l went Conservative as did Victoria in i t s entirety. The major farm constituencies, Chi'lliiwack, Delta, Dewdney, Esquimalt, North Okanagan, South Okanagan, Saanich, and Similkameen, a l l * traditional Conservative strongholds, held firm. Only two lower mainland seats remained with the Liberals—New Westminster and North Vancouver. The Liberals retained control of the North, capturing Skeena, Prince Rupert, Omineca and Columbia. The Conservative victory resulted from at least three factors. F i r s t , the collapse of the Provincial party meant the anti-Liberal vote would not be divided and many ex-Conservatives such as Okanagan farmers and Vancouver businessmen would return to the party. Second, the Liberals had been in power for twelve years. Their image was tainted by scandal, patronage, and the generally colorless leader, MacLean. In contrast the Conservatives emerged from the Kamloops convention outwardly revitalized. They had a new leader and, out of office for more than a decade, they provided a fresh contrast to an old and sagging administration. Third, Simon Fraser Tolmie was perhaps the most significant factor in drawing large numbers of voters 38 to the Conservative side. Tolmie had a tremendous popular appeal, a charming and witty style, and a good record as M.P. Moreover, he conveyed the image of a man "above p o l i t i c s , " a statesman who provided a refreshing contrast to the partisan and machine politicians of the past. MacLean by 47 comparison was a rather drab personality who did not enjoy even the support of his own party. Plagued with the patronage-corruption issue, and repre-senting a party which had become stale in office, the Liberal leader was a poor challenge to the popular Tolmie. Development of Conflict The f i r s t year in office the Tolmie government enacted a total of 79 legislative measures, most of which passed easily with the Conservative 39 majority generally voting together. The two most significant were a b i l l which provided for control over the marketing of dairy products, and a b i l l which in effect established the Water Board as a public u t i l i t i e s commission. Some social and labour legislation was passed. The most im-portant of these was legislation establishing an eight hour day and a Minimum Wage Act which replaced previous legislation invalidated by the 40 courts. The government also concluded an agreement with the federal government which returned to the province approximately 815 million acres of Peace River land which had been held by the Canadian National Railway. The Liberal opposition wasted l i t t l e time in taking the offensive. The government was quickly under attack for not carrying out i t s campaign 41 pledge to reduce taxes. More serious were charges that Finance Minister Shelly had f a l s i f i e d the public accounts books in presenting the estimates 42 for the year 1920-1930. In addition, the opposition made p o l i t i c a l points by launching an attack on the government's " p o l i t i c a l use" of public audi-tors, claiming that public accounts were misrepresented to cast aspersion 43 on the preceding Liberal governments. Attorney-General Pooley was charged with extravagant patronage involving the Liquor Control Board, a l l of which l e f t the impression that he, and by implication the government, was in the 48 44 pay of the liquor interests. The government denied the charges. The conservative Victoria Colonist editorialized that Liberals and some dis-45 sident Conservatives were out to sabotage the new government. Despite the denials, the charges served to weaken the popularity of an administra-tion which had campaigned on a "clean and business lik e government" plat-form. More important, however, were the d i f f i c u l t i e s Tolmie faced within his party. The election of Tolmie in 1928 did not end the struggle for control of the party organization. Prior to the annual gathering of Con-servatives in November, 1929, the press reported on the struggle between the party's old guard—mostly Bowserites—and the younger members to amend the party rules to favor one group or the other in the Vancouver association 46 , meetings. It was becoming quickly evident that Tolmie s election as party leader and the Tory election landslide had not in themselves muted party factionalism. Faced with a d i f f i c u l t situation, Tolmie did l i t t l e to make things easier for himself. In fact, some of his f i r s t actions, undoubtedly had the effect of exacerbating an already explosive situation. One provoca-tive action was the effort to purge the Conservative association leadership of personnel known to be loyal to Bowser. The f i r s t action of the new Provincial Executive, appointed by Tolmie, was to replace J. E. Merryfield, 47 the provincial organizer appointed by Bowser in 1924, with J. A. Blair. Merryfield's removal especially incensed the Bowserites. They viewed Tolmie's act as an attempt by the premier and his followers intentionally to 48 excise from the party the influence of Bowser. This served to alienate Bowser supporters. Furthermore, the selection of Blair was a p o l i t i c a l l y 49 insensitive move in that i t did nothing to enhance good relations with the federal wing of the party. Blair was disliked and distrusted by many in the federal wing, among them the powerful B.C. Conservative M.P., H. H. 49 Stevens. Cabinet selections, however, caused Tolmie his major problems. Considering traditional c r i t e r i a such as balancing city interests with rural interests, recognition of areas of electoral support, and including persons strong in the party organization, the cabinet might be viewed a success. The selection of Howe, Maitland, and Lougheed, a l l important persons in the provincial Conservative association, insured a strong link with the party organization. Howe, who was appointed Provincial Secretary, would act as financial controller of party f u n d s . T h e selection of Pooley was probably in recognition of his services to the party as Conservative House Leader and 52 his support of Ladner at the Convention. The Vancouver members presented a special problem. The Conservative Party campaigned on a platform which promised more representation to the large population centers, in particular Vancouver. Moreover, Tolmie had received strong support in that city. Thus he appointed two members to the cabinet from Vancouver, W. C. Shelly, Min-ister of Finance, and R. L. Maitland, Minister Without Portfolio. He also viewed the selection of Howe (Richmond) as a concession to Vancouver. He later remarked: "Mr. Howe is a man who had identified himself with the de-velopment of the city of Vancouver for many years . . . and when he was taken into the Cabinet he was considered in every way a Vancouverite in the full e s t 53 meaning of the term." Although serious conflict would develop later over the question of ad-equate Vancouver representation, Tolmie believed he had made a significant 50 concession to the Province's largest c i t y . The remaining positions were f i l l e d l a r g e l y on the basis of t r a d i t i o n -a l c r i t e r i a : Burden, Atkinson and McKenzie to achieve geographical balance; Bruhn because of h i s popularity i n the I n t e r i o r ; and H i n c h c l i f f e because of 54 the need f o r representation from the c a p i t a l c i t y . Tolmie's cabinet from the standpoint of party f a c t i o n s was a p o l i t i c a l f a i l u r e . No prominent Bowser supporters were included. I n f l u e n t i a l members such as William Dick, Bowser's campaign manager at Kamloops i n 1926, and J . W. Berry, a prominent Delta dairy farmer who would have been a l o g i c a l choice for the A g r i c u l t u r e portfolio,''"' were passed over. Given considera-tions of party unity i t was a serious e r r o r . A p o s i t i v e move to r e c o n c i l e the party's d i v i s i o n s might have helped to avert the a l i e n a t i o n of the Bowser people and the p o l i t i c a l i n f i g h t i n g which ultimately s p l i t the party. While Tolmie's cabinet appointments did l i t t l e to placate the d i v i s i o n s i n the party, another serious c o n f l i c t arose over the question of patronage. The dispute centered on two issues. The f i r s t involved demands that a purge of L i b e r a l appointees l e f t over from the previous administration be c a r r i e d out by the g o v e r n m e n t . T o l m i e was caught i n an untenable p o s i t i o n . Hav-ing campaigned against "rampant patronage" i n the former L i b e r a l government, he could hardly j u s t i f y a f u l l scale house cleaning, followed by appointment of Conservative replacements. But he was under intense pressure from h i s party to do j u s t that. He therefore risked the wrath of h i s party i f he took no action. He decided to r e j e c t the party's demands for the purge, angering many Conservatives, but generally gaining favor with the p r e s s . ^ 58 The favor, however, was short l i v e d . Two w e l l p u b l i c i z e d dismissals, obviously b l a t a n t l y p o l i t i c a l , gave the impression that Tolmie's s i n c e r i t y 51 in eliminating p o l i t i c a l favoritism was questionable. The second patronage issue was the more explosive: Who in the party had the right to hand out patronage for the whole of the province. In short, this issue raised the question of party control since whoever con-trols patronage is i n a position to exercise substantial power in the party organization. The usual arrangement placed central coordination of patron-age in the cabinet, under the authority of the party leader or whomever he might appoint for that purpose. There existed, however, a kind of unwritten rule that M.L.A.would have the main say in decisions involving patronage 59 in their ridings. This ordinarily resulted in patronage matters being worked out between the M.L.A. and o f f i c i a l s in the riding associations. In Vancouver a system of long standing had been established whereby a local "advisory committee" composed of party workers from the various divisions 60 in the city would be consulted about patronage appointments. Before Tolmie had completed his f i r s t year in office, a serious r i f t had developed between the Tolmie government and the Vancouver Conservative associations over the question of control and dispensation of patronage.^ The problem involved the issue of patronage being dispensed directly from the cabinet without consultation with o f f i c i a l s of the respective riding associations. The Vancouver associations, not satisfied with Tolmie i n any event, regarded patronage as the prerogative of the organization and de-62 manded they be consulted as was traditional practice. Tolmie responded by ignoring the demands, discounting them as attempts by Bowser sympathizers to s t i r up trouble. The patronage problem, however, was far more serious than Tolmie be-lieved, or was prepared to admit. And, although the discontent i n Vancouver 52 generated the most publicity, the party organization everywhere was alien-ated. In some constituencies relations between riding associations and^the Tolmie government became so strained over patronage matters that associa-tion members openly questioned whether or not to continue working for the «. 64 party. Equally serious was the situation on Vancouver Islandi There the problem was not just patronage, but complaints that Tolmie was ignoring Vancouver Island while catering to the city of Vancouver. For example, a group of prominent Victoria Tories formed an insurgent Vancouver Island Conservative association. Its purpose was to function in a l l organizational matters on Vancouver Island in the same manner as the B.C. Conservative 65 association did for the entire province. This was clearly an attempt to consolidate the party associations on the Island in order to strengthen their bargaining position. Moreover, the insurgent group was known to be 66 directed by Conservatives loyal to Bowser. The problems Tolmie was experiencing in the party in 1930 were remi-niscent of an earlier day. Unity in the Conservative Party had always been highly dependent on the patronage, preferments and power the winning of office provided. Tolmie's problems were more serious because he did not play the game like his more " p o l i t i c a l " predecessors. Unity was further hampered because of Tolmie's inability to generate a widespread support base in the party independent of his attractiveness as a winning candidate. Conservatives united long enough to win power in 1928, but winning did not placate the factionalism plaguing the party. With the party in power, con-f l i c t s suppressed in the interest of election victory in 1928 now broke through the surface. This was immediately evident as warfare quickly broke 53 out between the followers of Tolmie and the Bowserites to capture control of the party organization i n Vancouver and Vic t o r i a . ^ 7 With the emergence of such anti-Tolmie groups as the Vancouver Island Conservative Association, the so-called chain clubs in Esquimalt, the Capital City Constitutional Club i n Victoria, and a rash of other quickly put together insurgent groups, the 68 Bowserites had clearly come to l i f e . "They (the Bowser supported insur-gent organizations) objected to the Tolmie government not so much because i t had been unbusinesslike and extravagant," a Victoria Times editorial correctly explained, "as because they themselves were not among the benefi-ciaries of i t s zeal. . . . It is not the size of the patronage pot they object to but the circumstance that no place was found for them within the confine of that pot."*'9 Deep seated conflicts were manifested in other ways as well. Patron-age, as important as i t was, was only one factor contributing to the growing problems that Tolmie faced. As in 1916 and 1924, personality jealousies, ambition, and petty vindictiveness set the stage for serious party feuding. Many Bowserites wanted Bowser i n the Tolmie Ministry. Others resented the way he was "unfairly" treated by the party after his defeat in 1924 when no attempt was made by the party to find a seat for him. They contrasted that "callousness" with the actions of the Liberals who, after the defeat of Oliver in the same election, found a seat for him in Nelson. The Bowserites might have been conciliated had the new party leadership after the Kamloops convention seriously tried to reach some accommodation with the Bowser people. There were also growing problems with the federal wing of the party. By 1930, with the approaching federal election and the need for accelerated 54 work in the ridings, the increased feuding in the party was an impediment to federal party work. The grievances of riding association members were viewed by some members of the federal wing as a serious threat to their election prospects in British Columbia.7^ The problem escalated when fed-eral Conservative leader, R. B. Bennett, while touring the province in preparation for the upcoming federal election, expressed the feeling that, "federal party concerns were not being looked after adequately by the pro-vi n c i a l government."7^ On one occasion, in response to complaints from Vancouver association members that Victoria ministers were ignoring them, Bennett said: "What! If that is so you should go to Dr. Tolmie and demand 72 that man's dismissal from office." Bennett was understandably concerned about the growing discontent among provincial Conservatives. With a view toward the approaching election, the demoralization of large numbers in the party organization would do nothing to enhance organizational activity. For obvious reasons Bennett was upset that internal party d i f f i c u l t i e s were not being ironed out and made a direct appeal to the premier to take steps to placate the factions for the "good of the whole party." Upon completing his provincial tour in 1929, he wrote Tolmie: I cannot overestimate the seriousness of the present situation. I l e f t the province of British Columbia more depressed than I can well express. I w i l l not trouble you by going into the de-t a i l s as to the conditions of our party in the various parts of the province. . . . Because I am your friend, I am pointing these things out to you, for of a l l the men that know you, none would ' regret more than I that your place in the p o l i t i c a l history of Canada should be that of a Conservative Prime Minister who destroyed his party in the most Conservative province in Canada.73 Tolmie was deeply angered over Bennett's meddling in affairs he f e l t were not the federal leader's concern. In particular Tolmie resented Bennett's implying that the party was in danger of being destroyed in the 55 province. He referred Bennett to the results of the last provincial elec-tion and reminded him of the large number of Conservative M.P.s consist-74 ently returned from British Columbia. Tolmie, admitting there was indeed factional s t r i f e within the British Columbia party, charged Bennett with greatly exaggerating i t s extent. The premier told Bennett that many of the Conservative dissidents Bennett came into contact with were dissatisfied, not because of Tolmie's policies or his relations with the B.C. Conservative Association, but because "they were part of the Bowser faction, who have raised h e l l ever since Kamloops.". Tolmie made clear he did not regard the Bowser elements as loyal Conservatives, asserting they would continue their efforts to undermine the party as long as he was premier.7"* The strains which developed between the federal wing and the Tolmie 76 government during Tolmie's f i r s t few years i l l u s t r a t e a basic problem that parties must contend with in federal systems. 7 7 The federal wing of the party faced with an upcoming election was primarily interested in retaining i t s strong Conservative representation in B.C. The Tolmie government's primary interest was in governing, organizing support and making a credible p o l i t i c a l record. Tolmie was faced with reconciling the demands of party dissidents without risking a general r i f t in his government. His problems with Bennett stemmed from the federal leader's view that the actions or i n -actions of Tolmie were dividing the party and therefore weakening i t s or-ganization. The government's handling of party problems had not satisfied Bennett, but Tolmie, in addition to being party leader, had a government to run, and therefore dealt with the dissidents and used patronage in ways he deemed appropriate. Instead of smoothing over the situation, Bennett's interference further undermined the authority of Tolmie. 56 On balance the f i r s t two years of the Tolmie administration were be-set by many d i f f i c u l t i e s . Party feuding continued and although Tolmie managed to retain the confidence and support of the majority of Conserva-tives, the growing dissent posed a challenge to his leadership. The oppo-sition took advantage as Duff Pattullo, the new Liberal leader, effectively exploited the patronage issue to discredit the government. At one point he presented in the form of questions to various ministers over two hundred accusations that the administration was rewarding i t s p o l i t i c a l supporters 78 with government appointments. Although the allegations remained unproved, the subsequent publicity strengthened the view that the Conservatives, despite their promises of reform, were caught up in "seamy p o l i t i c a l deal-ings" not unlike previous administrations. The opposition c r i t i c i z e d the lack of innovation in the Conservative's program and the "bungled inefficiency" of government administration. The government's lack of progress in the social f i e l d was condemned and the administration was berated for "raising false hopes" for campaign purposes and then doing nothing. More potent was the issue of inefficient admin-istration in government departments, especially in the Department of Lands, which had, by the government's own admission, sustained a loss to the 79 province of 2.2 million dollars in uncollectable land taxes. Pattullo attributed much of the problem to the inexperience of the Cabinet. Only three of i t s members—Pooley, McKenzie, and Hinchliffe, had previously been in the legislature, and none of them had administrative experience. Further-more, i t had become "obvious" that Tolmie had abandoned his election promise that he would not distinguish between "Conservatives, Liberals, and Holy 80 Rollers" in making appointments. "The government had become," said 57 Pattullo: the most pernicious party and administration that the country has ever experienced . . . i t was too weak-willed, weak-minded, and weak-backed to resist the importunities of the hungry horde of heelers . . . and i t had prostituted the public service for per-sonal and party purposes in the most pernicious and pusillanimous fashion. 8 1 By the end of 1930, the government's problems had rapidly escalated. The onset of the depression had precipitated a severe unemployment c r i s i s , especially in Vancouver, during the previous winter. Faced with public restlessness over the financial crises in the province and under severe attack from the opposition in the legislature, Tolmie made his f i r s t major changes in the ministry. Finance Minister Shelly was replaced by J. W. Jones, House Speaker from North Okanagan. R. W. Bruhn was moved to the important Public Works portfolio. The incumbent Minister of Public Works, W. S. Lougheed, was transferred to the Department of Lands following the 82 resignation of F. P. Burden. The most important shift of course was the moving of Shelly, whose original appointment was believed to be largely a 83 result of his heavy contributions, to the relatively unimportant post of President of the Council. There was no hiding the fact that Shelly's per-formance as Minister of Finance was less than satisfactory, and he was under 84 constant f i r e both in the press and from the opposition for his actions. Tolmie was also under pressure from within his party to dispose of the F i -nance Minister. The shakeup l e f t the city of Vancouver without an important portfolio. In light of the conflict Tolmie was having with that city, leav-ing Vancouver without a high ranking cabinet minister could only bring on larger problems later. 58 Crisis In mid-1929, British Columbia was at the height of post war prosper-i t y , experiencing a boom unequalled in i t s history. A year later a l l was changed. The financial crash of October, 1929, set in motion a depression which devastated the economy of British Columbia. It is not the purpose here to deal with the economics and the severity of the c r i s i s in B.C. 85 This has been more than adequately treated elsewhere. Let i t suffice to say that as in most parts of North America,\^British Columbia experienced a drastic curtailment of production, spiralling unemployment, and extreme hardship in virtually every sector of the economy. However, one important point needs to be made. Because of the peculiar nature of the economy in the province, the effects of the depression in B.C. were especially dislo-cating for the business and laboring classes. The economy of B.C. was p r i -marily dependent on extractive type industries (lumbering, mining, fishing), which produced unfinished goods mostly for export. Thus the economy was extremely vulnerable to changing world market conditions. As conditions worsened throughout the 30's in most parts of the world, the effect on British Columbia's corporate economy was automatic. For example, i t was estimated that export prices for British Columbia products f e l l from an index value of 90 in 1929 (base year 1926) to 52 in 1933. The value of commodity out-put in the province declined by well over one-half. The construction industry lost almost 85 percent of i t s production, production in the forest industry declined by almost 70 percent, and by June, 1931, when the census 87 was taken, unemployment had reached 27.5 percent. This was higher in 88 every employment category than a l l other provinces. If the concern expressed in the legislature is any indication, the I 59 onset of depression in British Columbia evoked surprisingly l i t t l e reaction from public o f f i c i a l s . Even a marked increase in r e l i e f expenditures in Vancouver, and agitation by the unemployed in January, 1930, were for the 89 most part ignored by the province's elected o f f i c i a l s . Throughout the entire legislative session of 1930, the members made only a few passing references to the downturn taken by the economy, concerning themselves i n -stead almost entirely with the necessity of increasing revenues so as to 90 meet rising governmental expenditures and balance the budget. Thus, Tolmie, in assuring R. B. Bennett during the federal election that unemploy-ment in British Columbia was "not c r i t i c a l , " seemed to be reflecting the 91 measure of o f f i c i a l awareness. In retrospect some reasons suggest themselves as to why the provincial government seemed unappreciative of the deepening c r i s i s . F i r s t , the premier and his colleagues were both ideologically and p o l i t i c a l l y unprepared and unwilling to take the drastic steps needed to deal with the unemployment problem that had become acute, especially in Vancouver, as early as December, 1929. In the month of January 1930, when the number of unemployed persons increased by 33 percent, the city was l e f t to deal with the problems almost 92 entirely by i t s e l f . The Tory Party had campaigned on a platform of busin-ess government, balanced budgets, and efficient administration. They were unwilling to make concessions which smacked of socialism or paternalistic government. According to the Conservatives, the business of government during periods of "abnormal conditions and adverse markets"—as Finance 93 Minister Shelly called it—was to curta l expendit res and raise tax s.Mo eover, p liticians in 1930 had no way of knowing they were at the b -ginning of a long depression. 60 About the only positive action taken was the establishment of r e l i e f camps (in conjunction with the federal government), where destitute un-employed men could be housed while laboring on highways and other public 94 works projects. To be sure, this had p o l i t i c a l overtones. Such a scheme, i t was thought, would u t i l i z e the labor of the unemployed and, since most of the camps were in the Interior, ease the r e l i e f r o l l s of the metropolitan area while at the same time removing protesters. A second reason for the lack of substantial governmental action re-lated to the approaching federal election scheduled for mid-1930. The Conservatives had swept the province in 1926 gaining 12 of 14 seats and winning over 54 percent of the vote. The comparative strength of Conserva-tives made British Columbia after 1926 the most Conservative province in the country. Federal leader R. B. Bennett was determined to keep i t that way and strongly indicated his desire to Tolmie during his July v i s i t . Tolmie had been placed on the defensive. Any losses in Conservative strength would be blamed directly on him, especially in light of the severe factionalism that had manifested i t s e l f in the party in 1929 and 1930. Tolmie was determined to do a l l he could to help out in the campaign. He announced his strong support of the federal Conservative Party and committed 95 the resources of the provincial organization to i t s cause. He stumped for federal candidates and oversaw the collection by the British Columbia organization of some $82,000 for the federal campaign.^ Under these c i r -cumstances i t is d i f f i c u l t to see how the provincial government could have taken any drastic measures to ease the effects of depression without risking an uproar from the majority of relatively well off, middle class Conserva-tive voters, largely not yet seriously affected by the depression. Already the province was saddled with an "intolerably inflated" provincial debt. Thus to take any s t i f f action, which would inevitably involve belt tighten-ing and economic sacrifice, would be a serious p o l i t i c a l risk. The Tolmie 97 government was forced into a waiting game. To be sure, some minimal actions were taken. The Minister of Finance announced in the Budget Speech increases in gasoline and fuel o i l taxes in 98 the hope of increasing revenues. Additional tax changes were made in 1931 and 1932 which included new education taxes, increased liquor taxes, a surtax added to the income tax and succession duties, and the placing of a greater burden upon the municipalities, principally by discontinuing pro-vi n c i a l grants for such things as mother's pensions and municipal hospit-99 als. The government's approach, consistent with i t s business-minded outlook, was summed up by Shelly: "If the people of British Columbia demand additional services, i f they insist on any large new commitments in any direction, they must be prepared to assume a larger burden of taxation. The approach was piecemeal and moderate; increase taxation wherever pos-sible and at the same time limit expenditures in a l l ways possible. The government's approach had minimal effect on the deepening econ-omic c r i s i s . Changes in taxation policy did not make up for the loss of government revenue during these years. Equally unsuccessful were the gov-ernment's attempts to limit expenditures. The principal features of the economy drive, the reduction of wages and numbers of c i v i l servants, de-creases in "non-essential" public expenditures such as cutting back funding of higher education, and the elimination of new borrowing for road construc-tion, were nearly insignificant in so far as the savings produced. 102 Meanwhile, dissent within the Conservative Party was increasing. Many complained the government was not doing enough, that i t was simply drifting and not taking strong i n i t i a t i v e s . Others f e l t the premier was taking actions which smacked of "socialism," actions which were detrimental to the province's dominant business and financial interests. In particular, there was considerable party reaction to the government's new Special Revenue Tax Act which imposed a tax of 1 percent on wages earned after April 1, 1931. This "supertax," as i t was called, was vehemently protested by boards of trade, city and municipal councils, labor unions, and by the 103 Conservative associations in Burnaby, South Vancouver, and Esquimalt. The surtax resulted in an outpouring of resolutions condemning the government, Parker notes, "and in one case in Vancouver a resolution was 104 passed demanding that Tolmie resign in favor of Bowser." At least one member of the caucus, George Walkem, the ex-Provincial Party member, privately informed Tolmie he no longer supported his leadership.^"* Far more serious, however, was an ultimatum presented to Tolmie in September by four Vancouver backbenchers. In effect, they threatened to resign unless the city was given more financial aid and at least one major 106 administrative portfolio. This threat caused Tolmie much concern. The thought of a complete break between Vancouver and the government would be intolerable in light of the crucial p o l i t i c a l importance of the province's largest city. One only had to recall the election of 1924 to realize the impact of alienating Vancouverites from the government and party. On the other hand, how could he give in to blackmail? After getting assurance from friends in the federal wing of the party that the federal Conserva-tives were not involved,^ 7 Tolmie decided to c a l l their bluff. In a lengthy letter explaining his reasons for selecting the original cabinet 63 members, and his firm belief that, financially, Vancouver had received more from the Tolmie government than from any government in 20 years, he 108 firmly refused their demands. The Vancouver members retained their seats and an open break in the party was averted, at least temporarily. But the Vancouver situation re-mained unresolved as Tolmie made no significant overtures to heal the breach. In his correspondence he referred to the dissidents as the "other group" 109 and "faction" which was bent on destroying him and the party. He took the view that the troublemakers were not really loyal Conservatives at a l l but constituted a cabal attempting to gain control of the party. Outraged at the disloyalty displayed by certain party members, he challenged them, "to come out in the open and declare themselves." "Let them say what i t is they want or else let them s l i p out of the party, i f indeed they have ever been Conservatives at a l l . At the annual meeting of the British Columbia Conservative Associaion held at Nanaimo on November 27, 1931, Tolmie acknowledged that dissatis-faction in the party was widespread and certain persons were agitating against his leadership. He urged the members to remember what internecine warfare had done to the party in previous election: "Lack of loyalty has ruined more public careers in Canada than perhaps any other cause," he said. "Whispering campaigns within the party and spread-the-poison efforts are unbecoming a Conservative and only lead to the ruin of the party. But despite Tolmie's appeal, a proposal sponsored by supporters of Bowser was entered calling for a leadership convention. The resolution was sound-ly rejected 79-23, but i t was additional evidence that the party was deeply A- -A A 1 1 2 divided. 64 As the 1932 legislative session opened, the government could only report further bad news to a province beleagured by the worsening depres-sion. In his Budget Address, the despondent Finance Minister, J. W. Jones, told of a provincial debt that was reaching astronomical levels, r e l i e f costs which were skyrocketing, taxation revenues which were continuing to 113 decline, and in general an economy which had reached record lows. S t i l l wedded to the Tory philosophy of balanced budgets through increased taxes and decreased expenditures, Jones announced further changes in the government's taxation policy. The most important was a graduated income tax of 1 percent on each $1,000 of income up to $19,000 after which the tax 114 would be a straight 10 percent. In addition, expenditures for salaries of c i v i l servants, education, and road building were decreased, and the bulk of the cost of social services was transferred to the municipalities.'''"^ But none of this had much effect as revenues continued to shrink and gov-ernment expenditures continued to be demanded. To make matters worse, government o f f i c i a l s were charged with corruption in the administration of r e l i e f funds and deliberate distortion of government expenditures in some 116 departments in order to satisfy party obligations. The general dissatisfaction with the government's inability to cope with the mounting economic problems prompted the appointment by the gov-ernment in April, 1932, of a committee composed of prominent businessmen to make a thorough investigation into provincial finances. The idea for such an investigation was f i r s t presented to Tolmie in November, 1931 by a delegation of Vancouver businessmen, but the premier's reluctance to "opening the government books to the outsiders" delayed the investigation until April when the party pressure and public opinion pressured him into acquiescing. The object of the investigation was to find some method of arresting expenditure so that the government would be able to li v e with-. . 118 in . i t s income. The Kidd Commission, as i t was subsequently known, was conceived by a group of businessmen headed by H. R. MacMillan. It included representa-tives of the Vancouver Board of Trade, the Canadian Manufacturer's Asso-ciation, the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, and the Retail Merchants' As-119 sociation. As a cross section of the province's business community, the group had strong contacts with the Tory Party but also had been among the most vocal c r i t i c s of the government's management of provincial af f a i r s . The Commission was given complete access to government records and documents and government employees were lent to i t for assistance. Tolmie agreed that i t s report would be published within a short time of i t s issuance, but he gave no guarantee that i t s recommendations would be implemented. "It must be clearly understood," Tolmie wrote to H. R. MacMillan, "that the Cabinet in considering the suggestions your commission may offer, reserves the right 120 to decide whether or not i t be advisable to adopt such suggestions." The report was finished on June 12 and presented to the government. Its main recommendations were as follows: the assumption by the Lieutenant-Governor of supervision of government expenditure; reduction in the size of the legislative assembly from 48 to 28; the abandonment of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway (P.G.E.) unless sold within nine months; the dis-continuance of the grant to the University of British Columbia and the possible closing of that institution; the reduction of teacher's salaries by one-fourth; limitation of the age for free education to the end of the 14th year; the cessation of a l l public works (with the exception of 66 essential road maintenance); and curtailment to the extent of $6,000,000 121 of the total annual expenditures of the province. The government reacted with incredulity. Most of the report's proposals were viewed as extreme and ridiculous. The government claimed a $6,000,000 reduction in expenditures was impossible and closing the university would not be considered unless 122 such action were absolutely essential. The proposal to reduce the size of the cabinet and legislature was not unpopular, but almost everyone deemed the idea of the Lieutenant Governor supervising government finances ab-123 surd. About the only part of the report with which the government con-curred were the recommendations concerning the sale of the P.G.E. and the reduction of the railway's operating costs u n t i l such a time as i t could U 1 2 4 be sold. On September 23, the government issued the o f f i c i a l edition of the report to the press, expressing the view that i t had no intention of im- , 125 plementing any of i t s major recommendations. The opposition wasted no time in making the report and the government's response to i t a major po-l i t i c a l issue. Calling the report a "logical outcome of a government i n -sensitive to the needs of the province and p o l i t i c a l l y unable to maintain peace even within i t s own party," Pattullo called upon the government to step down: "Instead of indulging i n a l l the present blithering kite-flying and cheap intrigue in a p i t i f u l effort to hang on to their jobs, Dr. S. F. Tolmie and his cabinet, as men of honor should hurry off to the 126 Lieutenant Governor and resign." By i t s tone and recommendations, the report was an indictment of not just the Tolmie government, but the whole system of party government in the province. Like the Provincial movement in 1924, in i t s c a l l for non-partisan 67 administration, i t implied that the province's problems were largely the result of the competitive struggle between p o l i t i c a l parties, each having but one aim, the control of the spoils of government for selfish interest. The report asserted that the party struggle was meaningless and discounted the necessity of partisan opposition on the premise that a change of govern-ment had no greater significance than "the patronage l i s t of the party in 127 power is replaced by that of their opponents." Yet the report offered no alternative to party government other than a proposal for non-partisan business-like administration or, as the report called i t , "an efficient and unhampered administrative machine." They equated the province with a business enterprise, not too surprising in light of the commission's member-128 ship and support. The publication of the Kidd Report provided the Liberal opposition with new p o l i t i c a l ammunition. They exploited i t s findings as positive evidence that the government was no longer capable of managing the prov-ince's affairs. Both in and out of the legislature, Liberals asked how a government could carry on which had to resort to non-governmental business-men to solve their problems. The report also was a point of controversy in the Conservative Party. Many Tories called i t the "Vancouver Report," an obvious reference to the make-up of the committee. Others, generally dis-satisfied with Tolmie anyway, saw the report as a positive sign of weak-129 ness, a clear indication that Tolmie and his followers were not capable of dealing with the province's problems and, as a government, were on the verge of collapse. S t i l l others viewed the report's recommendations as a sensible response to the economic c r i s i s and demanded that a new leader be selected (Bowser was the choice of many) who would implement the com-130 mission's recommendations. At least two British Columbia Conservative 68 131 M.P.s were included in the latter group. Within this atmosphere serious agitation began for the formation of a non-partisan "union" government to deal with the problems of the depression. The coalition idea, although not publicly embraced by Tolmie un t i l the autumn of 1932, had been bandied around in.the press as early as spring, 1931. The Vancouver Province was the principal mover behind the coalition idea. As i t became increasingly obvious that the Conservative government was not able to solve the problems the depression had brought to B.C., the Province sug-gested a coalition government, modeled on the recently formed National Government in the U.K., be established in an attempt to deal more effectively 132 with depression problems. In November, 1931, the paper sounded out the Tolmie government on the matter, but the government expressed no interest. It was not u n t i l 1932 with the publication of the Kidd Report that Tolmie began seriously to consider the coalition idea. Apprised of the discontent within his government and the havoc in his party, Tolmie, who had had previous experience i n the 1917 federal union government, began sounding out party members' opinions about coalition. The idea was met favorably by the government. A l l of the cabinet members supported coalition 133 as did a majority of the back benchers. With the support of the Province, influential members of the business community, and the majority of the caucus, Tolmie announced: Realizing the trend of thought throughout the world today is that government should include those men, who regardless of other con-siderations, appear to be able to render the best service to the state, I have, after careful consideration and discussion with many responsible citizens of the province decided to accept this prin-ciple. 134 A few days later Tolmie sent letters to Bowser and Pattullo inviting them to join a coalition under his leadership. Both immediately rejected the offer. Bowser replied that he was not interested in being part of a cabinet under Tolmie's leadership and Pattullo rejected the idea out of i , 135 hand. The reasons for both their rejections are not hard to find.. Already in the autumn of 1932 there were clear signs that Bowser was planning to 136 lead a third party in the forthcoming election. Joining with the Tolmie government would, in the view of Bowser supporters, identify their leader with a government that was sinking rapidly. By starting a new party, Bowser probably believed he could capitalize on disaffected Conservative "inde-pendents" of the type which formed the backbone of the Provincial Party i n 1924, and ex-Liberals who were disenchanted with the " s o c i a l i s t i c " Pattullo. By calling the new movement "non-partisan," Bowser hoped he could capitalize on the anti-party mood emanating from the Kidd report without destroying traditional Conservatism in the process. It was an ingenious plan but as later events would show, the Bowser people greatly misjudged the emerging Liberals' strength as well as the relative weakness of Bowser's own support 137 base among disaffected Conservatives. Pattullo saw no reason to entertain Tolmie's invitation either. To join a coalition when Liberal prospects never looked better would make l i t t l e sense. Under the leadership of the p o l i t i c a l l y able Pattullo, who was of-f i c i a l l y chosen leader of the party in 1930 following the resignation of MacLean, the party organization had been rebuilt, revitalized and stream-lined. Aided by Major J. S. Moodie, the provincial organizer, Pattullo re-organized the party from the bottom up. Voters' l i s t s were updated, member-ship drives were launched, numerous speaking tours were begun, and the party electoral machinery was thoroughly revitalized. J"'u The province was organ-ized to an extent that the Liberal office had a single person responsible for the voters' l i s t in each riding who coordinated the work in each polling 139 area. Pattullo, in short, built the Liberal Party into perhaps the most effective province-wide organization since party lines were established in 1903. The Liberal Party was obviously in a p o l i t i c a l l y advantageous position but Pattullo had other reasons as well for rejecting coalition. One was the simple matter of Pattullo's own philosophy. Pattullo believed that the major ev i l in B.C. politics was not party government, but the Conservative govern-ment. Coming from a family with a long tradition of involvement in Liberal p o l i t i c s , Pattullo was a staunch party man who believed deeply that the Liber-al Party was the only party in Canada which represented a l l interests, poor and rich alike, and was capable of balancing the one against the other. "Where the Liberal Party was the center party, the Tory Party was the party of business. In Pattullo's mind there was a basic difference between Conservatism and Liberalism. The Conservatives, representing Eastern money and business interests, spoke only for the few and the wealthy. The Liber-als, however, were an omnibus party, portraying a wide spectrum of interests, 141 and representing persons from a l l classes, high and low. "The Liberal Party," Pattullo often said, "was the embodiment of the non-partisan prin-ciple." It [the Liberal Party) knows of no class distinctions, and i t s principles invite everyone of every walk of l i f e to their support. ' It i s the desire of the Liberal party . . . that a l l interests shall be represented in the up-building of the province, and the furtherance of i t s prosperity. . . . Liberalism . . . stands for the protection of the welfare of a l l from the misuse of power for any particular group or class and that the welfare of the community as a whole shall predominate. 71 Pattullo f e l t joining a coalition as a minor partner would have the effect of destroying opposition to "government controlled by economic e l i t e s . " The Liberals who were the "embodiment of a l l societal interests" would be co-opted into an organization whose preponderant weight would reside in the upper classes. "A grave danger of non-party government," said Pattullo, " i s that the worst forces in both p o l i t i c a l parties would concentrate to hold control 1A 3 with the public the common prey." The e v i l of the party system was not strong opposition but the existence of a party dominated by the interests of single class, and i t was precisely this situation, "rule by the upper-class dominated Conservative Party," which required strong and vigilant opposi-144 tion. Pattullo had good p o l i t i c a l reasons for refusing too. He perceived the coalition idea to be a desperate attempt of a dying government to hold on to power. In a press statement he reminded people that "the government already 145 had a three to one majority, and can do anything that i t wishes to. . . .' The government, in his view, had embraced coalition because they f e l t i t was the only policy which could save i t from election defeat. On September 13, Pattullo publicly refused Tolmie's invitation to join a coalition government. He pointed out that during Tolmie's tenure in office, the viewpoints of the two men "in respect of both policy and administration have been at almost complete variance." He queried as to what policies Tolmie had in mind for the future that "could not already have been put into effect with the large majority in the legislature supporting Tolmie." He concluded by saying: It i s not reasonable to suppose that these differences could be suddenly reconciled. While I appreciate your confidence in me asking me i f I would join a union government under your leader-ship, I do not believe that the public interests would be best served by me agreeing to do so. 72 Pattullo followed his refusal with a public demand that the government re-sign, since "the premier had now publicly admitted his inability to carry n n ..147 on. The Conservative Party membership meanwhile was not united on the c o a l i -tion idea. Some were outraged at Tolmie's overtures to the Liberals without f i r s t gaining the party's approval through a regular convention. Resolutions protesting Tolmie's coalition actions and requesting him to resign were passed 148 by three Vancouver Conservative associations: Whereas, Dr. S. F. Tolmie has obstructed repeated attempts to have a convention held; and whereas, Dr. Tolmie has announced through the press that the administration headed by him is not able to handle the business of the province of B.C., also that Dr. Tolmie is now said to be engaged in forming another party . . . This Association hereby re-quests that Dr. Tolmie forthwith resign from the leadership of this party, and hereby protests his action and disputes his right to commit the party to a policy of his own making, without any consultation with, or authority from, the Conservative party. . . . Therefore be i t re-solved that this Association goes on record as having lost a l l confi-dence in Dr. Tolmie's leadership.149 Tolmie's union plans received a boost when the Executive of the British Columbia Conservative Association, meeting i n October, 1932, unanimously supported Tolmie and his proposal for union g o v e r n m e n t . B u t the boost was short-lived. The whole association, at i t s annual meeting on November 27, decided to refer the matter to the d i s t r i c t associations for considera-tion before any o f f i c i a l action was taken by the p a r t y . M o r e o v e r , the government-supported slate for the executive of the association was defeated and the convention decided to transfer the association from Victoria to 152 Vancouver. This was a serious blow to Tolmie's union plans. Not only was control of the association slipping into anti-Tolmie hands but the party's offices would henceforth be located in Vancouver, the hotbed of anti-153 union, pro-Bowser sentiment. Tolmie's hopes of carrying the organization 73 with him to form the nucleus of the union party were a l l but lost. The impasse over union government l e f t Tolmie in a d i f f i c u l t position. He had two choices: fight i t out with his opponents within the party, per-haps through a party convention, or write the dissidents off and attempt to recruit support from outside the party. That he chose the latter course is not surprising considering the kind of po l i t i c i a n he was and the general situation he faced. Tolmie, the non-professional politician, had never been one to bargain and negotiate with party factions. Tolmie's philosophy of leader as "public servant" and his own style of personal behaviour made the manipulation of others by p o l i t i c a l s k i l l distasteful to him. To be sure, the situation was so bad Tolmie must have believed a reconciliation with the Bowserites without f i r s t resigning the leadership was a l l but f u t i l e . None-theless, Tolmie was seriously of the opinion a coalition government was right 154 and proper considering the c r i s i s the province was undergoing. Sensible people would not let party ties or petty factional s t r i f e prevent them from doing what was right. By continuing to push for coalition, in spite of re-fusals from both Pattullo and Bowser, Tolmie probably believed i t was right because the crisis-ridden province required i t . Despite the refusals of Bowser and Pattullo, Tolmie continued his ef-forts to build a union government. He found a few promises of financial support and managed to recruit a few c a n d i d a t e s . B u t on the whole the recruitment drive was not successful. The simple fact was his leadership was already largely undermined and the chances of building a viable union government without his own party's support were nothing less than f u t i l e . In early 1933, with the union movement in limbo, Bowser and his sup-porters began organizing a new party. In January, Bowser formally announced 74 he was returning to public l i f e to lead a "non-partisan" movement in the forthcoming election, explaining to the press that the Conservative Party as presently constituted was no longer a factor i n the public l i f e of the 156 province. With Vancouver business backing, and promises of support from a number of local Conservative associations, principally in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island,"'""'7 the Bowser movement developed momentum and generated wide publicity in the press. Supporters of the new "non-party" party were a varied lot. Aside from Bowser loyalists such as William Dick and Nelson Spencer, the membership in -cluded: Dugald Donaghy, former Liberal Minister of Finance under MacLean and the current Vice-President of the Provincial Liberal Association; Harold Brown, former president of the Vancouver Board of Trade; Dr. G. A. B. Hall, former Liberal M.L.A. from Nelson; J. E. Merryfield, a prominent Vancouver Conservative organizer and associate of H. H. Stevens; Charles Woodward, Vancouver Liberal who had broken with the Oliver government; E. B. Andras, a former Vancouver alderman; and J. B. Thomson, Vancouver businessman and former chairman of the Liquor Control Board. Bowser's program was based on one premise—"cut and save." He proposed limiting provincial expenditures to $20 million (reduction of over $2 million from that estimated for 1933-1934), lowering taxes, balancing the budget " i f at a l l possible," an im-mediate round table conference to settle the disagreements between the government and the municipalities (instead of a Royal Commission of inves-tigation as proposed by the government), and a "dramatic" reduction in the 158 membership of the cabinet. Following the sentiments expressed in the Kidd Report, Bowser lashed out at the evils of party government maintaining that only a non-partisan administration with experienced public servants 159 could p u l l the province out of economic chaos. In effect, the Bowser movement was an attempt to exploit the non-partisan theme, while offering virtually nothing to cure British Columbia's financial woes. If Bowser's platform seemed reactionary, i t did manage to attract some cross-party support. The f l i r t a t i o n of Donaghy (who was immediately ejected from the Liberal Party by Pattullo) and a few other Liberals convinced Bovser that inroads could be made into the Liberal vote. With traditional Con-servatives loyal to Bowser, a handful of Liberals dissatisfied with the "radical" nature of Pattullo's "work and wages" proposals, and the in-vogue non-partisan theme, the way seemed clear, thought Bowser, to capture control of the government. However, as he had so often done in the past, Bowser misjudged the depth of his support and his appeal—the appeal of this 65 year old ex-leader who could not unite even his own party. As one Tory said: "I would rather support Pattullo. . . . In 1916 Bowser was content to scuttle Dick McBride. Now he is out to scuttle the whole Conservative Party. Tolmie and his union plan meanwhile continued to d r i f t . Even the Vancouver Province began to dismay and hinted at favoring alternative leader-ship.''"^ "'' Yet Tolmie, beset by the continuing provincial financial c r i s i s , ^ 2 seemed only to be biding his time in hope that something would happen which would rescue his tattered government. Bruce Hutchison, the legislative cor-respondent for the Province comments on the desolation of the frustrated premier: Premier Tolmie delivered to the Legislature yesterday an apologia and valedictory for the government hovering on the awful brink of reorganization. . . . The premier's speech was indeed unique for the unquestioning simplicity of i t , unique for i t s evident sincer-ity and rustic flavour, unique for what i t contained but utterly 76 for what i t l e f t out. . . . Not one word on the union government, not one word of reduction of the cabinet, not one glance at the glorious spectacle of current provincial p o l i t i c s , not a hint of policy, not a whisper of comfort to his followers or the hint of trouble for his enemies. He stood there i n the House, a massive figure seeming to be in better health than ever, bright and j o l l y under a heavy load of o f f i c i a l and private misfortune—a plain old-fashioned man who i s doing his best, according to the methods of a world that keeps tumbling down about his ears. . . . What would he do with his treasury empty, his government on the eve of an election, his majority milling l i k e Chilcotin steers, the machine politicians interested only i n hanging on to office to the last moment, his potential vote s p l i t by a new third party. . . For him, there is no economic magic, no new theory of government, no new world. There is a l i t t l e nostalgia for the good old days when things were so much better and simpler and the hope that they may soon return, for c i v i l i z a t i o n close to the good earth as Tolmie knew i t . The great-hearted man, a human being whose humanity can not be hidden under the pall of this House.163 Collapse In the spring of 1933, after muddling through a legislative session 164 which produced almost nothing i n the way of fresh policies, Tolmie ex-tended a second invitation to Pattullo to join in the formation of a union government. He reiterated his earlier reasons for coalition, adding that union was now even more imperative "since economic conditions i n the prov-ince have steadily become more acute.""'"^ Pattullo sent his refusal the next day, repeating his earlier response that the Conservatives, possessed of a numerical majority, could put into effect any new proposals, and the opposition would support any such measures 166 i f they were in the public interest. "The House is now in session," Pattullo replied, "and i f you have any such measures, the opportunity is 167 there to present them." And i n repeating his earlier request that Tolmie resign, Pattullo said: 77 During nearly five years of office you have had in your Government men of experience in public affairs, and men who have been looked upon as leading men and you have also had a three-to-one majority in the House. . . . Instead of dealing with the immediate present, you appear to be mostly concerned as to the possible outcome of the approaching election. I do not share your alarm. In any event, i t is the business of the people to express their wishes. . . . I respectfully suggest to you that the best service that you can render this province at the present time i s to immediately c a l l a general election, and have the issue settled.168 In the opinion of some, Tolmie should have followed Pattullo's advice 169 and immediately called an election. But he chose not to, apparently hoping that his Union government plan could s t i l l succeed even without the Leader of the Opposition's support. "*"7^ The second refusal by Pattullo l e f t Tolmie in a precarious p o l i t i c a l position. Having failed both times in his quest to convince the Liberals, what possible hope could there be for union government? Perhaps more im-portant, his failure to move the coalition plan off the drawing board led many Tories who were s t i l l loyal to Tolmie to question their own p o l i t i c a l future i f coalition was never to be. Few seriously believed that a govern-ment led by the discredited premier could be reelected.''"7''' In addition, many in the caucus f e l t that union had collapsed because of the bungling of Tolmie. Already some of Tolmie's staunchest loyalists indicated their desire to leave the government. After Pattullo's second refusal, the Province reported a poll taken in caucus on the union issue which indicated a majority of members would take Pattullo as leader i f that i s what i t would take to form 172 a union government. R. W. Bruhn publicly stated he would not remain in 173 any cabinet that was s t r i c t l y partisan and back-bencher E. C. Carson re-pudiated Tolmie's leadership and later joined the Bowser g r o u p . E v e n the Province } discouraged with Tolmie, suggested new leadership was needed i f the party was to survive.''"7"' 78 Tolmie stubbornly continued to fight for union government. He told the caucus i t could be organized without the Liberals and stressed that he 176 was making every effort to get "outsiders to come i n . " Among the "out-siders" who had been tapped were General Victor Odium, a prominent Liberal known to be dissatisfied with Pattullo, and W. M. Dennies, the president of the National Labor Council of Vancouver, who Tolmie thought would attract labor support. But Tolmie's efforts were an exercise in f u t i l i t y . The few takers were mostly unknown, without p o l i t i c a l experience, and generally lacking i n 178 p o l i t i c a l support. Reduced to wishful thinking as regards union govern-ment, facing the end of a session which accomplished almost nothing, and . plagued by the continual desertion of Conservative colleagues, the few sup-porters he had l e f t began scrambling for their p o l i t i c a l lives. To make matters worse the provincial organization a l l but abandoned the Tory leader. A March, 1933 meeting of the Executive of the British Co-lumbia Conservative Association decided to refer the question of union gov-ernment back to constituency associations and rejected a proposal for a 179 convention before the next provincial election. A month later the same body announced the B.C. association would take no o f f i c i a l part in the election and, after polling the local associations, further decided that those organizations should contest the coming election along whatever lines they wished, Union Conservative, Independent, Non-partisan, Independent 180 Conservative, or whatever. In effect, the B.C. association had aban-doned Tolmie and o f f i c i a l l y dismantled the party! At f i r s t glance the Executive seems to have acted out of a state of resignation. But considering the p o l i t i c a l situation, the action was 79 probably influenced by strategic considerations. There was the problem of alienating anti-Tolmie Conservatives. Despite the degree of division in the party, i t would only make matters worse for the B.C. association to take sides, especially to take the side of the Tolmie group which was a l l but de-feated. The following observation seems to be a sensible assessment: If they (candidates who had been Conservatives) lost, there would be no burden of defeat upon the party. If they won, the Conserva-tive chieftain (whoever i t may be) might gather them into a non-discript group which, after s t r i f e had ceased, could change i t s varied hues for the even color of Conservatism. Meantime the gen-eral staff at headquarters would suffer neither losses nor substi-tutions in personnel and unscathed by the provincial conflict could face the next Dominion contest with lines unbroken-181 It is not clear what role B.C. federal Conservatives played in the execu-tive's decision. Although H. H. Stevens, on behalf of the B.C. Conservative 182 M.P.'s, condemned the B.C. association's action, apparently no attempt was made to intervene on behalf of any of the factions. Writing to Arthur Meighen, Stevens explained: . . . The Conservative Association of B.C. has declared i t s e l f en-ti r e l y out of provincial affairs. Therefore i t appears to me that we would be very unwise to mix in the local situation at a l l . 1 8 ^ Perhaps from the federal standpoint, the B.C. association's decision was a blessing, because they remained neutral and thus uncompromised for future party effort. 184 Whatever the reason, Tolmie was understandably upset by the ex-ecutive's action. In a statement at the B.C. association meeting, he appeal-ed to the delegates to put "provincial patriotism f i r s t , " and stubbornly insisted that union government was the only salvation for the crisis-ridden province. As he had done so many times before, he was forced to react to a situation that possibly could have been forestalled had he taken decisive action earlier. 80 Shortly after the Vancouver meeting, in a last attempt to salvage sup-port, Tolmie wrote to each M.L.A., explaining his position on cabinet re-organization and union government: It is the intention of the government and the Conservative Unionist party to carry on a vigorous campaign with the best possible support in every riding. . . . The government is anxious that as many as possible of the old members should be re-nominated and I shall be glad to hear from you i f you plan to place your name before the convention when i t is called.185 Shortly thereafter, Speaker of the House, C. F. Davie submitted his 186 resignation. Three other cabinet ministers, Shelly, Lougheed, and Atkin-son, a l l of whom had announced their intentions to resign at the outset of 187 the April 22 executive meeting, formally resigned on June 1. This was shortly followed by the resignations of Mackenzie and Bruhn, both of whom 188 announced their intention to run as Independents. This was a shattering blow to Tolmie, as Bruhn was presumed to be a committed unionist. He also commanded a broad support base in the Interior and was in the past one of Tolmie's strongest supporters. With Bruhn's resignation the chances for union government now seemed n i l . As one disconsolate organizer explained: . . . the problem [there] is to produce a union that w i l l appear to the public to be a real union. A Union party to go down with the public, must either consist of outstanding men of the non-political type or of well known politicians of both old parties. The second type of Union government now seems to be impossible. If we went to an election today, I am convinced we would get a tremendous licking.189 Nevertheless, a frustrated Tolmie and H. D. Twigg, the provincial Conserva-tive Organizer, continued their attempts to obtain Unionist candidates and 190 supporters. A comment by Twigg after speaking to one possible candidate is revealing: I have just had a long talk with H. W. M. Rolston of Stewart. . . . He te l l s me i t would be useless to run as a Tolmie or Bowser Union candidate in A t l i n , but that the best chance would be to run as an 81 absolute Independent, with liberty to say what you please about both parties. I think he would like to run himself, and, i f elected, he would be a good friend of yours.191 Subsequent developments must have convinced Tolmie his continued efforts were in vain. The f i r s t was Jones' announcement that he would contest the election as an Independent and not as a Unionist, although he would remain 192 in the cabinet as Finance Minister u n t i l the election. Jones' defection, like Bruhn's earlier, was another major blow to Tolmie. Jones was consider-ed by many as the most competent member of the cabinet and one of the strong-est Tolmie loyalists. His action was viewed as a clear repudiation of 193 Tolmie and his attempts to form a union government. The second development was more c r i t i c a l yet. The Unionist group was 194 not able to generate even minimal promises of financial support. The regular Conservative donors were holding back for the quite sensible reason that few people contribute large sums of money to a government on the verge of collapse and a party with no real chance. The fi n a l blow was the desertion of the government by the federal party. Federal leader, R. B. Bennett, when approached on behalf of the Unionist group by C. H. Dickie, Conservative M.P. for Esquimalt, refused not only financial and moral support but even suggested that i t might be best i f B.C. Conservatives back the Liberals "to avoid a s p l i t in the free enterprise vote which could open the way for a C.C.F. victory." As Dickie reported to Tolmie: R. B. [Bennett] is very sore and in various talks with him and his ministers, I was forced to conclude that without sound backing from him, i t would be f u t i l e for me to approach the bankers or railways for assistance. . . . It is freely stated that, with our party as i t is and the C.C.F. message as serious as I have set forth, i t might be •the part of wisdom to vote the Liberal party in.!95 82 While no other evidence could be found to support Dickie's accusation, Stevens' correspondence indicates great concern by some Conservatives that 196 the C.C.F. had a good chance of winning the election. In view of this, i t would not be surprising i f some Conservatives f e l t less inclined than in the past elections to do battle with the Liberals. In any case, even the suggestion that Bennett would abandon the pro-vincial Tories infuriated Tolmie. Bitterly, he later placed much of the blame for the Unionist party's poor showing on Bennett's alleged action and claimed in effect that federal Conservatives had stabbed him i n the back: Everything looked f i r s t rate until towards the end of September when the wave was started from Ottawa, calling for the support of the Liberals to defeat the C.C.F. The British Columbia.Conservatives f e l l right into line with the result that what Pattullo refused to do when I asked him to cooperate with the Conservative party and prevent the chaos that was bound to come and did come, was really accomplished by the voters—with the Conservative voters combining with the Liberals to defeat the C.C.F. The idea was ours in Sep-tember, 1932; i t was rather hard to have i t used against us on November 2.197 The 1933 Election With the impending expiration of Tolmie's five year term, a dissolu-tion of the Legislature was requested in mid-July and the election was called for November 2. With the Conservative Party torn into three dis-cernible factions—the Bowser led Non-partisans, Tolmie Unionists, and Independents—the government was only a fragment of i t s former self five years earlier when Tolmie assumed office. The cabinet at dissolution con-sisted of only seven members (most had dual portfolios) and Tolmie was 198 accompanied by only four of the original group appointed in 1928. While outwardly expressing optimism and continuing his efforts to recruit sup-porters, with most of the government having deserted Tolmie, and insufficient 83 campaign funds, the premier could not have had much hope. He made no tour of the province as he did in 1928, and concentrated his campaign efforts 199 almost entirely on lower Vancouver Island. Furthermore, the Unionist platform offered l i t t l e in the way of i n -spiration to a depression weary province. Compared to the Liberal's catchy platform of "work and wages" which promised to abolish "nuisance" taxes and free the small wage earner from the one percent tax, institute a vigorous public works program, and support the concept of national unemployment in-surance, 2*^ the Unionist program, which promised further reduction in gov-ernment expenditures and a new Provincial-municipalities relief policy 201 (which few understood), seemed like more of the same. Tolmie, who public-ly appealed to "men and women of character and a b i l i t y who w i l l set aside party politics to unite to solve the problems of the day," continued to believe financial retrenchment was the best approach to the problems of depression and expressed the belief that his government, with experience and a record of clean honest administration, was the best hope for the prov-202 ince. In a typical address to a group of supporters he said: Chasing rainbows w i l l not get us anywhere. Those who depend on a r t i f i c i a l prosperity by the borrowing of huge sums of money, thus increasing our obligations, w i l l eventually come down to earth to learn that stringent economy and vigorous retrenchment are essen-t i a l to a lasting recovery. . . . The government which has adminis-tered the affairs of British Columbia for the past five years, of which I have had the honour of being head, gave the people clean, honest administration. It is the only group in the f i e l d which has administrative experience during this time of financial stress. It has demonstrated i t s a b i l i t y to economize by effecting a saving of $5,420,518 in the cost of administration in the past two years. We have demonstrated too that we have the f u l l realization of the necessity of r i g i d economy on the return of normal conditions. In effect, the thrust of his approach was summed up in an almost humorous statement made during a campaign speech in Vancouver when he 2 OA asked: "Why change? We are the only group with depression experience." The other major Conservative group, the Bowser-led Non-partisans, offered no significantly new or different programs. Claiming they were not seeking election on a party basis and that each Non-partisan member would be free to vote in the legislature "untrammelled by allegiance to any leader, - 20'5 party, or caucus," the Non-partisan manifesto asserted that i f they formed a majority in the new legislature they would choose one of their group as premier but would only support him and his Non-partisan cabinet so long as 206 they f e l t the administration was giving good government. Their program proposed adoption of a nation-wide system of contributory unemployment in -surance, opposition to further heavy borrowings, establishment of a central bank to issue currency, regulation of price levels, the governing of credit and the reduction of interest rates, and the abolition of patronage. Bowser stated the theme of his program: "We propose the overhauling of the po-l i t i c a l and economic system to protect the great mass of people and to safe-207 guard the ownership of private property." It was clear that a l l the Bowser group was offering was traditional economic conservatism coupled with platitudes about non-partisan administration, hardly believable in light of Bowser's past. The Bowserites, while taking satisfaction i n their attraction of a few members of the government who had abandoned Tolmie (Bruhn and MacKenzie), 208 and supported by a considerable portion of the party organization, none-theless had l i t t l e cause for optimism. Despite his claim to being non-partisan, Bowser could not overcome the fact that he was s t i l l associated with old-line Conservatives. It was no secret that most of his financial support came from Vancouver businessmen, and that outside of the Province's 85 largest city he had almost no support. While there were obvious similarities between the Non-partisan and the older Provincial Party, there was a very significant difference. The Provincial Party brought forward many new candi-dates not previously a l l i e d with any party; the Non-partisan candidates were almost exclusively Conservatives who had deserted Tolmie. Thus, while in 1924 the Provincial Party, with mixed support, could legitimately present i t s e l f as a party of reform, the Non-partisans i n 1933 appeared to be merely an attempt to elect (re-elect in many cases) a group of disaffected (and discredited)politicians. It was, however, the appearance of a powerful socialist alternative in the 1933 campaign which made the election very different from those in the past. The C.C.F. (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation) originated at the Western Conference of Labor P o l i t i c a l Parties representing the numerous 20< labour, socialist, and farm groups then existing throughout Western Canada. In August, 1933, a provincial organization was established when a fusion meeting ^ joined: the B.C. Reconstruction Party (then a f f i l i a t e d with the: old' British Columbia Socialist Party) and the numerous C.C.F. clubs in B.C. 210 organized by Dr. Lyle Telford of Vancouver. Despite considerable i n -ternal s t r i f e and fragmentation, the new movement managed to put together a grand convention in Victoria one month later which drew up the party's platform for the approaching election. The platform, modeled closely on the Regina Manifesto of August, 1933, was a twelve-point provincial program drawn up with the intention of making an appeal to farmers, trade unionists (always a strong force in B.C.), old progressives, the unemployed, and socialists of every hue. In marked con-trast to the Liberals and Conservatives, the C.C.F. platform spoke neither 86 of good nor stable government. Robin comments: i t mentioned l i t t l e or nothing about economy, efficiency and pat-ronage. Instead, the C.C.F. demanded, in addition to specific reforms, many of which were included in the Liberal platform, a radical transformation of the society of the country-banking, currency, credit and insurance, the issuance of a purely provincial credit i f necessary, the socialization of the basic resource i n -dustries, the socialization of health services, free education from public school through university, the rapid expansion of social services, and the revision of taxes to "lay the burden where i t can be most easily born."2H Highly organized and f i l l e d with unending enthusiasm, C.C.F.ers spread their message from one end of the province to the other. They took as their slogan "Humanity F i r s t , " and emphasized the f u t i l i t y of the old 212 parties attempting to meet the depression by ca p i t a l i s t i c methods. The C.C.F. appealed to the public claiming that "poverty in the midst of plenty" was indefensible and "the cause of economic collapse was due, not to the graft or the lack of business abi l i t y of the Tolmie government, but to the impossibility of administering c i v i l affairs efficiently in a contracting 213 capitalism." They argued that the failure of the system to distribute the fruits of industry on a more equitable basis was due to "the purpose 2X4 for which i t is ordered and not to faults in i t s administration." They told meeting after meeting that so long as people insist on retaining capitalism, "they w i l l have to accept the consequences of the operation of that system, and that i t could not be administered any more equitably by a 215 C.C.F. government than by a Liberal or a Conservative government." "If economic change was to come i t would have to come through basic structural change, not administrative change." The campaign became a contest between socialism and capitalism. As Maclnnis stated a few months after the elec-tion: 87 If i n future elections, the C.C.F. adhere to this policy, the issue henceforth w i l l be, not a high t a r i f f versus a t a r i f f not so high or any of the other old issues that served the purpose of the two old parties of capitalism, but Socialism versus Capitalism.216 The main planks in the C.C.F. program included: Cooperation with other provinces to obtain complete socialization of the country's financial machinery—banking, currency, credit, and insurance, the development (in case of emergency) of purely provincial credit based on provincial resources, the institution of a socialized economic plan in order to regulate the pro-ductive activities of the province, comprehensive free education, and the 217 socialization of health services. As support for the new party increased so did condemnation from the traditional power groups. Both the Liberal and Conservative press violently denounced the new movement as destructive of sacred values and subversive of 218 the principles of representative and constitutional government. The mo-tives of the movement's leader were impugned; accusations that C.C.F.ers were ultra-radicals, communists, power-seekers, and disrupters not honestly concerned with the people's welfare persisted throughout the campaign. The Liberals cried " s o c i a l i s t i c dictatorship" when one candidate talked of teach-, ing socialism in the schools and training teachers for that purpose in night courses, with the implication of dismissal for nonconformity. When W. J. Pritchard, the C.C.F. campaign leader, made known his opposition to organ-ized religion, and Dr. Telford expressed his views on companionate marriage, Gerry McGeer, a Liberal candidate, asked his audience, "can you imagine me sending my son to a school which propagates Socialism and atheism or bring-219 ing up my daughter under the heinous system of companionate marriage?" Following a C.C.F. program meeting, the Colonist, echoing the general senti-ment of most of the press, editorialized that British Columbians who were 88 possessed of "sound common sense" would never accept the C.C.F. ideology. The C.C.F. program "might be imposed by the machine gun and bayonet in Papua or i n Swat," said the Province, "but not in Canada. Servility is not the ° 220 badge of the people of this land." As election day approached, i t became increasingly obvious the contest was really only between the Liberal Party and the C.C.F. The superb C.C.F. organization mobilized candidates and supporters from every part of the province and many speculated about how a C.C.F. victory seemed quite prob-able. However, the Liberals, possessed with a progressive "do something" program and supported by large numbers of Tories who f e l t they had nowhere else to turn, maintained the advantage. Pattullo's program for "work and wages" appealed to an electorate mired in depression but s t i l l uncomfortable 221 with radical changes proposed by the C.C.F. Attempting to bridge the reactionary "no change" program of Bowser and Tolmie and the socialism of C.C.F.ers, Pattullo used "work and wages" effectively. "Doles," he stated in his f i r s t major campaign address, "were breaking down the morale of the people . . . the government must intervene in time of peace in the economic 222 l i f e of the nation to get the people back to work." He proposed that the federal government issue non-interest bearing credits to the province and engage in a massive public works program to get the people back to 223 work. In addition, "the federal government must assist provincial govern-ments to maintain hospitals and schools and other necessary services through a redefinition of taxation rights and the refunding of provincial monies at 224 a lower rate of interest." Specific planks in the Liberal's platform included: the setting up of an economic council to cooperate between labour and capital, abolition of the meal tax and the one percent tax on 89 wages, equitable adjustment between the province and the municipalities, national unemployment insurance, state health insurance, and a far-reaching 225 program for education. Pattullo, in a philosophical vein, summed up his party's program: . . . that no person in British Columbia should be allowed to want for food, clothing and shelter through inability to obtain employ-ment . . . that the people demand and are entitled to a program of cooperation between the national, provincial, and municipal author-i t i e s , and the Canadian banking system to establish the necessary credit to carry out a broad program of constructive and useful wage distributing public enterprise, and to further the health, education and well being of our people.226 In essence, the Liberal strategy was to ignore the government, already a corpse in most people's minds, present the Liberal program as serious, humanitarian, progressive, and practical, condemn the C.C.F. as dangerous, radical, and alien to the values and traditions of Canadians, and emphasize that a s p l i t free enterprise vote made a C.C.F. government "with a l l i t s 227 chaotic and radical implications a greater possibility." Election day saw the largest f i e l d of candidates ever offered in a British Columbia election. A total of 209 candidates contested the forty-228 eight seats, an average of more than four candidates per seat. They were divided among no less than 10 groups: Unionist, 13; Liberal, 47; 229 Conservative-Independent, 4; Non-partisan (Bowser), 38; C.C.F., 46; Independent C.C.F., 8; Independent, 35; United Front, 19; Socialist-Labour 230 Candidates, 16. Apart from the factional candidates and nominal parties, a host of un-attached independents from both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party also ran. In only two ridings was the contest between two candidates, while Victoria, a four seat constituency, began with the i n -231 credible number of 29. Although no party escaped the debilitating effects of schism, the Liberals, three of whose candidates added the "Independent" 90 prefix after not getting the nomination in their ridings, were least af-fected by fragmentation. In the Conservative Party fragmentation took a t o l l . Not a single candidate contested the election with a straight Con-servative label! The result of the election was not an overwhelming popular victory for any party but i t was clearly a disaster for the British Columbia Conserva-232 233 tives. The distribution of the seats and popular vote was: Liberal 34 41.7% C.C.F. 7 31.5% Non-Partisan 2 10.1% Unionist 1 3.7% Independent 2 8.3% (approx.) Labour 1 1.0% (approx.)* Others - 2.6% * Tom Uphill (Fernie) was elected as an Independent Labour as he would be for the next 30 years. From the standpoint of House seats, the Liberals were the overwhelming victors. But their popular vote increased only one percent over 1928 suggesting that what the Liberals lost to the C.C.F. was about evenly com-pensated for by gains from Conservatives. In view of the smallness of the vote for "Conservative" candidates, the main cleavage in the voting was be-tween the Liberals and the C.C.F. The conclusion is inescapable that the voting center of gravity shifted dramatically to the l e f t . Observers of the campaign repeatedly queried whether the Conservatives, by running under different labels, would elect a sufficient number of candi-dates to permit a Conservative premier to retain office. Adding the popular vote of the Unionists, the Non-partisans, and Independents of Conservative sympathies, the combined total was just over 19 percent of the popular vote 234 resulting i n the election of only 12 members. But i t may be an 91 oversimplification to say that the Conservatives were doomed even had the 235 s p l i t not occurred. We have no way of knowing what effect the actual s p l i t had on the voters and i t may well be that voters' actions are very much influenced by what occurs in the party. There i s , for example, some evidence that in the 1953 and 1956 elections Conservative voters viewed the federal-provincial s p l i t i n the Conservative Party as at least one reason to 236 abandon i t . It seems reasonable that the same phenomena may have been working in 1933. If the times destroyed the government (what government in North America was able to withstand the depression?) the party destroyed i t s e l f . What the Conservative Party did through internecine warfare, which fragmented the 237 party and pushed the anti-socialist vote into the Liberals' arms, de-molished the party as a p o l i t i c a l force in British Columbia po l i t i c s for the next few years. The effect of this would be f e l t in years to come. The Liberals were now in a position to monopolize the anti-socialist senti-ment and the Tories would find themselves, after thirty years as a major p o l i t i c a l party, a weak third party fighting for survival. Indeed, much of the strategy and tactics of the Conservative leadership in years to come were dependent on this new fact of p o l i t i c a l l i f e . 92 FOOTNOTES Chapter II •''For a discussion of this, see Robert Paul Wolff, ed., Styles of  P o l i t i c a l Action (New York: Random House, 1972), pp. 3-12. 2McKelvie, "B.C.'s New Premier," p. 29. 3 Ibid., p. 30. 4 I b i d . 3Paddy Sherman, Bennett (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1966), 23. In the August 25 by-election in North Vancouver the Liberal candi-date, A. W. Gray, Mayor of North Vancouver, defeated the Conservative candidate, C. A. Walsh, by a majority of 925, a decided increase from the Liberal majority in the 1924 election. In the October 17 by-election in Nelson-Creston, occasioned by the death of Premier Oliver, the Liberal candidate, J. A. McDonald, Mayor of Nelson, defeated the Conservative candi-date Dr. L. E. Borden by a majority of only 28, a decided reduction from Premier Oliver's majority of 338 in 1924. In both contests, MacLean and Tolmie actively campaigned for the Candidates. J. C. Hopkins, Canadian  Annual Review of Public Affairs, 1927-1928 (Toronto: Annual Review Publish-ing Co., 1928), p. 544 (hereafter cited as Canadian Annual Review). ^Liberal strategists, starting immediately to fight the election, dubbed Tolmie "the absentee leader." He had insisted, upon acceptance of the leadership, that he would remain in Ottawa unt i l there was a general election. Ormsby, British Columbia, p. 429 9 Canadian Annual Review, 1926-1927, p. 483. •^Ormsby, British Columbia, p. 428. n i b i d . , p. 429. 12 This i s detailed in Robin, The Rush for Spoils, pp. 222-224. 93 13 See editorials in Vancouver Province, January 18-March 15, 1927. 14 Cited in Robin, The Rush for Spoils, pp. 224. 1 5Vancouver Sun, July 21, 1927. 1 6 V i c t o r i a Times, February 10, 1928 1 7 V i c t o r i a Times, August 5, 1927; Victoria Colonist, August 6, 1927. 18 Victoria Colonist, August 7, 1927. 19 Victoria Times, October 27, 1927. Ibid. 21 Letter, C. M. Woodsworth to S. F. Tolmie, January 5, 1928. Tolmie  Papers, Special Collection, U.B.C. 22MacLean f i r s t entered the legislature in 1916. Since then, he had held the following portfolios: Health, Provincial Secretary, Education, Railways, and Finance. He had been both Minister of Health and Minister of Finance in the Oliver government. 23 Robin, The Rush for Spoils, p. 225. 24 Canadian Annual Review, 1927-1928, p. 549. 25 MacLean was faced with a revolt over the question of cabinet rep-resentation for the city of Vancouver. The issue so infuriated the influen-t i a l Vancouver Liberal, Charles Woodward, he openly broke with the party and in 1928 campaigned for the defeat of the Liberal government. Canadian  Annual Review, 1927-1928, p. 547. 26 Ormsby, British Columbia, p. 433. 27 Canadian Annual Review, 1927-1928, p. 556. 28 Robin, The Rush for Spoils, p. 229. 29 "British Columbia's Next Premier," 1928, Tolmie Papers, Special Collections, U.B.C. 94 30 Canadian Annual Review, 1927-1928, p. 555. 31 Vancouver Province, July 21, 1928. 32 Ibid. 33 Robin, The Rush for Spoils, p. 229. 3 4 I b i d . , p. 230. 35,. Ibid. 36 Ormsby, British Columbia, p. 433. 37 It i s noteworthy that the Vancouver slate contained Conservatives from a l l wings of the party. Among those on the slate were G. A. Walkem, the ex-Provincial party M.L.A.; Nelson Spencer, a candidate for the leader-ship at Kamloops; and William Dick, an avid Bowser supporter. 38 See B. A. McKelvie, "B.C.'s New Premier," p. 30. 39 Canadian Annual Review, 1928-1929, p. 516. 4^Ibid., pp. 516-17. 4 1Parker, "The Last Premier," p. 26. 42 Canadian Annual Review, 1928-1929, p. 516. 4 3 I b i d . , p. 512. 44 Ibid., p. v516. 45 Victoria Colonist, August 9, 1929. 46 Vancouver Sun, October 5, 1929; Vancouver Province, October 7, 1929, 4 7Parker, "Thesis," pp. 97-98. 48 C. F. M. Planta, who was active in the party at the time, states that in 1929, Shelly, Pooley, and Howe, backed by Tolmie, successfully placed men loyal to Tolmie in control of the party machinery. Parker, "Thesis," p. 97. 95 4 9 L e t t e r , H. H. Stevens to A. D. McRae, Tolmie Papers, May 16, 1929, Special Collections, U.B.C. 50 The Tolmie Cabinet: Premier, Minister of Railways S. F. Tolmie Provincial Secretary S. L. Howe, Richmond Attorney General R. H. Pooley, Esquimalt Minister of Lands F. P. Burden, Fort George Minister of Agriculture W. Atkinson, Chilliwack Minister of Finance W. C. Shelly, Vancouver Minister of Mines W. A. McKenzie, Similkameen Minister of Public Works N. S. Lougheed, Dewedney Minister of Education J. Hinchcliffe, Victoria President of the Council R. W. Bruhn, Salmon Arm Minister Without Portfolio R. L. Maitland, Vancouver 51 Parker, "Thesis," p. 72. 52,. . , Ibid. Letter, S. F. Tolmie to N. Spencer, October 9, 1931, Tolmie Papers, Special Collections, U.B.C. 54 Parker, "Thesis," pp. 72-73. 55 Ibid., p. 73. 56 Parker, "The Last Premier," p. 26. 57 Ibid. 58 The specifics of the dismissals and the negative press reaction to them is detailed in Parker, "The Last Premier," p. 26. 59 This view was given me by R. C. MacDonald. If there was no member from the riding then the top party o f f i c i a l in the riding would be con-sulted. Private interview held in New Westminster, October 3, 1973. 6 0 Letter, J. E. Claney to H. H. Stevens, October 21, 1932, Stevens  Papers, P.A.C., Vol. 13, f i l e 6. 6 1 L e t t e r , J. E. Claney to H. H. Stevens, April 10, 1929, Tolmie  Papers. Special Collections;. U.B.C. 96 62 Letter, A. C. Bowness to W. K. Esling, April 19, 1929, Tolmie Papers, Special Collections, U.B.C. 63 Letter, S. F. Tolmie to A. D. McRae, June 4, 1929, Tolmie Papers, Special Collections, U.B.C. 64 Letter, C. M. 0'Brian to S. F. Tolmie, June 29, 1929, Tolmie Papers, Special Collections, U.B.C. fi S Letter, W. 0. Wallace to S. F. Tolmie, July 4, 1929, Tolmie Papers, Special Collections, U.B.C. 66 Victoria Times, March 14, 1931. 67 Conflict emerged, however, before the 1928 election. Letter, S. F. Tolmie to A. Meighen, April 23, 1927, Meighen Papers, P.A.C., Vol. 224, p. 164158. 68 Vancouver Sun, March 12, 1931; Victoria Times, March 14, 1931. 69 Victoria Times, March 14, 1931. 7 0 L e t t e r , W. 0. Wallace to S. F. Tolmie, July 4, 1929, Tolmie Papers, Special Collections, U.B.C. 7 1 L e t t e r ,