Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Martin Marches On

Now Martin's worst fears have been realized and there is a Conservative administration. So Joseph Martin relinquished the Liberal leadership on June 3, 1903. Not only did he believe that the Vancouver Liberals were planning on disposing him but he had also just been released from hospital following a painful operation on his leg. When Martin lost his Vancouver seat in the general election on October 3, it was anti-climatic. The people were tiring of Martin's brand of politics and elected a solid slate of Conservatives.

The next day, Joseph Martin told reporters of the Vancouver Daily Province that he had quit "for all time". He was "disgusted with politics" and "so much abuse from my enemies and so little thanks from my friends". The second part of the statement was probably true though the first wasn't.

Martin then turned his attention to the federal political scene. In 1905, he dropped his Liberal affiliation though. He explained that Prime Minister Laurier's attempts to impose separate schools on the new provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan meant that the Liberals "no longer believe in provincial rights".

As with most British Columbia politicians at the time - and probably much of the province's population - Martin strongly opposed the presence of Asians.  He ran unsuccessfully as the candidate for the Asiatic Exclusion League in the federal constituency of Vancouver City in 1908. In his private life, he asserted covenants in the property he owned in the Hastings (Vancouver) townsite forbidding its sale or lease to Asians.

Martin had retained his legal practice and still had a variety of clients. In April 1905, he hired by the City of Vancouver and appointed counsel at the sum of $2,500 a year. It wasn't a full time position, Martin consulted only important cases.

In December, he resigned to take the position of general counsel in British Columbia for the Great Northern Railroad and its subsidiary, the Vancouver, Westminster and Yukon Railway. In early 1906, he presented the Vancouver Board of Trade's case against CPR freight rates to the Board of Railway Commissioners.

(Events seem to have full circle. If you remember, way back when Joseph Martin first started in politics he blasted the CPR for its monopoly in the West then he was hired by that railway and brought to B.C. Now he is attacking them again!) 

Martin earned a comfortable income from his legal practice and his investments in real estate but he wasn't happy with his situation in B.C. In early 1909, he announced he was leaving to spend the rest of his days in London, England since "there is nothing there a person can not have." His "undoubted ability for affairs" and "integrity of purpose" was praised by the Vancouver Daily Province. However, they also noted that "his defects of temper" "made him almost impossible as any member of government and a constant source of disquiet, if not of confusion, as a member of a party".

Joseph Martin didn't go to England to live out his days on a countryside estate doing nothing though. Within days of arriving in Britain, Martin had secured the Liberal nomination for a by-election in Warwickshire, Stratford-on-Avon Division. He called for abolition of the House of Lords, votes for women, a land tax, and free trade. He didn't win. But he did make enough of an impression that he got the Liberal nomination in St. Pancras, East Division. He won the general election of 1910. In the British House of Commons though he appears to have displayed the same characteristics and temperament that so marred his career in Canada. Nevertheless, he managed to hold onto his position as a member of the house until the dissolution of the war extended parliament in 1918.

He did return to Vancouver in 1914. He began attacking the provincial Liberal party who were in opposition at the time. He ran as an independent in the provincial election of 1920 but he lost, though not badly. By the early 1920s, Martin's health was failing and he died on March 2, 1923 of influenza complicated by diabetes. Ironically, Joseph Martin had just started to take the newly discovered treatment for diabetes: insulin.

The Victoria Daily Times noted that:"The fact that during the last few years of his life he played no very active part in politics was due to no fault of his own, but rather to his sinister record as a disruptive force, which made all parties fear his support as much as his opposition."

Fighting Joe was a character who stormed through B.C. politics and left his mark. Love him or hate him, he was a memorable politician.

As you know, the information I am getting on the premiers is from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography website. And they have so much there, I have to say thank you for being so thorough.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

, , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment