Friday, June 14, 2013

Robson Favours No-One

John Robson had the support of a very important mine owner, Robert Dunsmuir, and was running for election to the Legislative Council in his new riding of Nanaimo. In November of 1870, he lost. However, in October of 1871, the coal-mining community did elect Robson to the first provincial assembly. (isn't that exciting? To be the first to participate in something so history making.)

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.

Robson criticized Premier John Foster McCreight for constructing "an extremely weak" cabinet whose members did not believe in responsible government or confederation. In spite of this attack - or maybe because of it - John Robson was offered a cabinet seat. He turned it down, saying that the cost of government was already too high. During the first legislative session, Robson was clearly on the side of the opposition though he did briefly soften his comments on the McCreight 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.

Robson was also interested in federal matters and he hoped for a patronage appointment in 1870 from Sir John A. MacDonald. Although MacDonald was appreciative of Robson's work on behalf of confederation, the prime minister didn't have a suitable position open.

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.

John Robson really sounds like quite the man. He had beliefs and fought strongly for them. And next week, I will tell you more about him. Thanks to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography website, I have lots of information!

 I hope you find the beauty around you.

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  1. I loved the pictures. The Dragon down the tre and the mural were great. We can't do anything like that here. Your politics sound oh so familiar. Blessed be.

    1. The ones of the kids are photos. It is so interesting what I find on my walks.

      Politics are basically the same everywhere I guess.

      Thanks, as usual, for reading and taking the time to comment.