Archive for January, 2010

1907 — The deputy minister of labour, William Lyon Mackenzie King, tries to resolve a strike by nearly 400 telephone operators.

The Bell operators claim their workload is unrealistic while the company insists they increase their shifts from five to eight hours. Unable to shake Bell’s determination, King encourages Sir Wilfrid Laurier‘s government to establish a Royal Commission to examine the case more closely.


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1856 — Dr. Charles Tupper attends his first session of the legislative assembly in the colony of Nova Scotia. He was elected in Cumberland County, along with fellow Conservative Alexander Macfarlane, defeating Joseph Howe and Stephen Fulton.

The new assembly member soon gets involved in the challenge of having an intercolonial railway built from the Atlantic colonies to the Canadas.

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2001Joe Clark once again takes a seat in the House of Commons as an MP for Western Canada. Having accepted the Conservative leadership in 1998, for a second time, he waited two years before contesting a by-election to win the Nova Scotia seat of Kings-Hants. In last November’s election he ran again in Alberta, winning Calgary Centre.

The Tory who gave up the King-Hants seat for his leader was Scott Brison, who regained the seat last November. In 2003, Brison crosses the floor to become a Liberal rather than join the new Conservative party formed by a merger with the Canadian Alliance party.

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1822Alexander Mackenzie is born in Logierait, Perth, Scotland, the third of ten sons of Alexander Sr. and Mary Fleming. Most of the family follow Mackenzie’s lead and emigrate to Canada, ending up in Sarnia (Ontario).

Politics becomes a family pastime with three of Mackenzie’s brothers serving as mayor or reeve of Sarnia. They also dominate the town’s business — a stonemason, a druggist, a tinsmith, a hardware merchant and three cabinetmakers.

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1915William Lyon Mackenzie King, a labour adviser , accompanies his boss, John D. Rockefeller Jr. to a meeting in New York with Colorado mining union leaders. They table a King proposal to form a ‘company’ union, but the idea is rejected by the union representatives.

King’s plan is an attempt to stop the violence in Rockefeller’s Colorado mines, but the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations later condemns it as a ‘substitute for trade unions that will deceive, mollify and sooth public opinion while bulwarking the employer’s arbitrary control.”

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1847John Abbott, a young apprenticing lawyer in Montreal, joins St. Paul’s Lodge as a freemason. Over the next few years he resigns from the masonic order, but rejoins again.

Other Prime Ministers who were freemasons include Sir John A. Maconald, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Sir Robert Borden, R.B. Bennett and John Diefenbaker. Ironically, Alexander Mackenzie, who was a stonemason, never became a freemason.

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1869 — The battle to keep Nova Scotia in Confederation may be winding down, for now. Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald announces ‘Better Terms’ for the dissatisfied province, including taking on Nova Scotia’s debt.

The province’s anti-Conferationist premier, William Annand wants Nova Scotia to secede from Canada. Barring that, he has been prepared to annex the province to the United States. That has been enough to nudge his primary supporter, Joseph Howe, into negotiations with Ottawa. The new terms include a post for Howe in Macdonald’s cabinet.

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