Further Manoeuvring in The Legislature
Following the passage of the Woolf motion, the government took the offensive. On March 9, Rutherford gave notice of a resolution to strike a provincial railway board, with a membership of Rutherford, Deputy Public Works Minister John Stocks, and provincial railway engineer R. W. Jones. The board would have the power to discharge any government responsibility under the Alberta Railway Act. Stocks, however, publicly repudiated the resolution, and announced that he would have nothing to do with it.
On March 11, government supporter Charles Stewart attempted to disclose a scandalous rumour about Boyle in the legislature, but was ruled out of order by Speaker Charles W. Fisher. The allegation was quickly printed in the Edmonton Bulletin instead: Boyle, who expected to be named Attorney-General in the event that Cushing formed a government, was accused of approaching Lucien Boudreau and Robert L. Shaw, two government supporters who were hoteliers in their extra-legislative careers, and offering them immunity from prosecution for liquor license violations in exchange for their support of the insurgency.
That same day, Riley and Boyle moved a motion of no confidence in the government. It was defeated by a margin of twenty to seventeen. Ominously for Rutherford, two hitherto loyal Liberals, Buchanan and Henry William McKenney, switched their support to the rebels. More favourably, the ill member for Macleod, Colin Genge, was rumoured to be recovering from his illness and soon on his way to Edmonton, where he was expected to support the government (in fact, Genge would die without ever taking his seat). The government was also encouraged by the motion of dissident George P. Smith to strike a non-political commission to supervise the construction of the A&GW, since it corresponded closely to its own plan to appoint a royal commission.
Rutherford gave notice of a resolution to strike this royal commission, to be composed of three judges of the provincial supreme court, March 14. After one final attempt by the rebels to obtain the legislative defeat of the government (defeated once more by three votes), it passed the legislature unanimously the next day. The Alberta and Great Waterways Railway scandal was, for the time being, out of the legislature's hands.
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“It seemed monstrous to our intolerant youth that poor white folksy men should have an equal right with gentlemen, born and bred, in deciding who should represent the county in the Legislature and the district in Congress.”
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