Wednesday, June 19, 2013
In 1882, Robson created an election manifesto in which he complained that B.C. did not have representation by population since 15 electors in the Kootenay sent the same amount of representatives to Victoria as 800 voters in the Fraser Valley. Renewed mining activity in the Kootenay soon ended the anomaly but the completion of the railroad caused a sudden growth in Vancouver and redistribution became imperative.
In 1890, Robson sought a major redistribution but other cabinet members opposed it since they were afraid of upsetting the balance of power between Vancouver Island and the mainland. Robson tried to explain that he was "premier not only for his own district but for the whole Province". He reluctantly accepted a minor adjustment until the results of the 1891 census came in. This move though denied his own constituents in New Westminster full representation and suggested the Robson couldn't control his own cabinet.
He did share the common view that people of certain ethnic groups should not participate in the political process. In 1872, he moved for an amendment to the provincial franchise law that disfranchised Chinese and First Nations. Robson had been one of the first to call for a special tax on the Chinese since they were "essentially different in their habits and destination," did not contribute a fair share to the provincial treasury and competed with "civilized labour". While he may have endorsed the Smithe government's anti-Chinese legislation, he defended an employer's right to hire the Chinese.
He also believed that the First Nations were the "original 'Lords of the Soul'" and demanded that the treaties be negotiated and reserves established. Robson wanted the people to have land but not more than they could use.
In order to develop the province, Robson wanted more land made available to white settlers. He also wanted to improve transportation, have a sound land policy, a liberal trade policy and to promote more immigration.
I am getting my information from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography website.
As usual, I hope you find the beauty around you.
Karen Magill, John Robson, history, Premier, railroad British Columbia,
Monday, June 17, 2013
Robson was grateful to Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie for freeing him from "the slavery of politics and editorial duties". However, Premier Amor De Cosmos accused Robson of favouring his friends with contracts. (In return for the Prime Minister's patronage, Robson acted as an unofficial informant for Mackenzie.)
Conservatives considered Robson to be a"Grit" but he did work well with Conservatives such as William Smithe and John Andrew Mara. However, when Macdonald returned to power in 1878, Robson felt the change. Early the next year, the government abolished his position.
He renamed the paper the British Columbian in January of 1882 and later that year, Robson returned to the legislature as a member for the New Westminster District. In February a year later, John was appointed provincial secretary (a portfolio that included education), minister of finance and agriculture and minister of mines. When Premier William Smithe died in 1887, Alexander Edmund Batson Davie became leader of the province and he kept Robson in the cabinet though Simeon Duck took over finance and agriculture.
Robson acted as premier during Davie's long illness and when Davie passed away on August 1, 1889, the lieutenant governor asked Robson to form a new government, which the new premier did on August 3.
Premiers Smithe, Davie and Robson all shared the desire to work with the federal government. In the Herald, Robson had repeatedly attacked Premier George Anthony Walkem for fighting Ottawa. In May of 1883, he told the assembly that the province had "fought Canada for years and years" and had gotten "poorer and poorer"
As a cabinet minister and premier, Robson made many trips to Ottawa. He publicly referred to his trips as successful but by 1892, the delays in federal payments for the Esquimalt graving dock and other difficulties led him to question whether he might have to "adopt the Walkem 'fight Ottawa' policy".
Thanks goes again to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography website for the above information.
I hope you find the beauty around you.
Karen Magill, John Robson, history, Premier, Canadian Pacific Railway British Columbia,Dominion Pacific Herald
Friday, June 14, 2013
Robson continued to represent Nanaimo until the spring of 1875. His platform stressed important items such as tariffs, free schools, homestead grants, retrenchment and economical administration.
He was content that British Columbia did not have provincial political parties. Robson believed that the formation of hostile factions was an abuse of responsible government and that the "cry for 'party government' is simply a cry for office." Federally, he supported both the Conservatives and the Liberals at different times. In 1889, the Daily British Colonist made the observation that because Robson made "no appeal to party feeling, it would be hard to tell from his remarks that there are two parties in the province".
I have to tell you that I find the whole thing about the different political parties annoying sometimes. Have you ever watched when the politicians are in session? Instead of listening to what the other politician is saying, they are thinking about how loudly they can yell and put down the other's ideas. Why not work together? So what if you are in a different party - the other side probably has some good ideas.
Nevertheless, Robson and the Colonist paper continued to support MacDonald's government. However, Robson did note that the Colonist's policy was "strict neutrality, so that we may find ourselves in terms of friendship with the "Grits" (Liberals) should they be the winning party." Robson's words proved to be prophetic when in April of 1873, the Pacific Scandal broke. (I will write on that scandal at a later date, if I ever get finished with writing on John Robson! LOL)
Initially, Robson called the scandal the "crowning act of Grit malignity" but as the scandal unfolded Robson began to favour Alexander Mackenzie's liberal party. Mackenzie was asked in November to form a new government. John suggested that if Mackenzie "showed an honest and earnest disposition" to fulfill the terms of the union, British Columbia would forget his earlier unkind remarks regarding the railway. (Now I have to write on that scandal - sounds interesting.) Robson insisted that the obligation to complete the transcontinental line by 1881 was "cast iron" and he urged his readers to protest any delays in its construction.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography website, I have lots of information!
I hope you find the beauty around you.
Karen Magill, John Robson, history, Premier, Yale Convention British Columbia,Daily British Colonist