Friday, July 12, 2013

Turner's Term

While in office, John Turner was criticized for using his political position and public profile for personal gain. That was common with politicians of that era, it was difficult to distinguish between his political activities and his business ventures. Turner had become involved with many new ventures after entering politics.

One example is in the late 1880s, Turner and his brother acquired a mining property south of Kamloops. The Nicola Mining Company was formed in 1887. This was a London based company for which the Turner brothers acted as representatives. The business attracted favourable publicity but it ceased operations in 1890.

As minister of finance, Turner had official dealings with the province's London representative. Until 1895, that representative's name was Beeton - the same Beeton who was Turner's partner in Turner, Beeton and Company.

But his most controversial move came in the fall of 1897. Turner and a member of his cabinet, Charles Edward Pooley, agreed to serve on the advisory boards of two British-based companies, which were highly speculative enterprises.
 The two's participation provoked a polite disapproval in the British financial press while British Columbia's opposition newspapers bitterly denounced Turner and Pooley. The Victoria Province on December 11, 1897 denounced Pooley and Turner as "mere political strumpets", which prompted the premier to sue the paper for libel. There was a subsequent trial in January and February of 1898 and that garnered a lot of publicity. But Turner lost and this was a major blow to both his and his government's credibility.

Turner and his colleagues couldn't shake the impression that they were at the beck and call of powerful organizations and were the willing tool of the Dunsmuir family. They steadily lost support in the months leading up to the July 1898 election.

Turner's administration was also criticized for their refusal to ensure equitable representation for the entire province and in particular Vancouver. The ornate Parliament buildings that had opened in early 1898 were seen as a monument to the government's extravagance and to its support of the interests of Vancouver Island.

The election in July was a highly controversial one and the results seem to suggest a draw between government and opposition representatives. Numerous protests were held by defeated candidates and the two-member riding of Cassiar did not go to the polls until a month after the rest of the province.

Lieutenant Governor Thomas Robert McInnes demanded that Turner resign but Turner refused and angrily challenged the constitutionality of the move. However, he did eventually accept defeat, resigning on August 8, 1898. He was replaced by Charles Agustus Semlin.

That wasn't the end of John Turner's political career though. I have a few more things to tell you on Monday. Once again, I want to thank the Dictionary of Canadian Biography website for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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