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,