Today in Canada’s Political History: Charles Tupper named Minister of Finance by Sir John A.

The political situation looked bleak for Sir John A. Macdonald and his Tories as January 1887 dawned. The party had been in power for almost a decade, was old and tired, and had seen reverses in provincial elections held in Manitoba and Ontario in December. Famed Macdonald biographer Donald Creighton described the scene. “It was extremely discouraging,” he wrote. “It was nearly as bad as it could be. Of the four provincial general elections of 1886, the Conservatives had lost two, drawn one, and emerged, dubious and bloody victors, from the fourth.”

Despite it all, Macdonald had Parliament dissolved on January 15, 1887, with the election set for February 22. Macdonald called Sir Charles Tupper, Canada’s High Commissioner to the UK, home for the campaign. He named Tupper Minister of Finance and the stage was set for their party’s re-election. “Tupper, looking as hearty and pugnacious as ever, arrived in Ottawa ready and willing for service,” Creighton wrote.

Like Macdonald, Tupper delivered addresses throughout the campaign, rallying the Tories at each stop. The Warhorse of Cumberland was tireless as always on the hustings. When the votes were counted on February 22, victory once again  belonged to Sir John A. with, of course, Tupper by his side.Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist.  He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy.  A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.

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