Today in Canada's Political History - April 18, 1883: Future PM Mackenzie Bowell vents his frustration with Manitoba

  • National Newswatch

Sir Mackenzie Bowell and the province of Manitoba never seemed to understand the other. “He (Bowell) held a view of Manitoba as a cantankerous, ungrateful jurisdiction always looking for an advantage or more favours from Ottawa,” Bowell’s biographer, Barry K. Wilson, writes.

This came to a head in 1883 when Bowell, by now Sir John A. Macdonald’s cabinet minister charged with implementing the National Policy, heard that many Manitobans were increasingly losing their enthusiasm for the policy’s high tariffs. Instead, many residents of the province were starting to call for free trade between Manitoba and the U.S.A. Bowell was having none of it.

“The people of Manitoba appear to me very much like spoilt children,” Bowell wrote privately to a friend in the province. “They have been pampered and petted, drawing from the resources of the parents to the extent they have become spendthrifts. Hence, when asked to bear any small portion of the burden or when they cannot have everything they demand, they turn up their noses and begin to threaten.”

Take that Manitoba!

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.





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.