How the West was lost : Frederick Haultain and the foundation of Saskatchewan
In September 1905, Frederick W.G. Haultain, Premier of the North-West Territories, was not asked to form the first government of either Saskatchewan or Alberta. Many considered his treatment scandalous, especially since Haultain had distinguished himself during the Territorial period. As the Territorial government’s first leader, Haultain worked tirelessly to provide the region with the services the residences of the other provinces took for granted. Despite these achievements, Haultain was not a good strategic thinker. After 1905, Haultain formed the Provincial Rights Party and served as the first leader of the opposition in Saskatchewan. Haultain retired from politics in 1912 after failing to secure a majority in three successive elections. Haultain’s reputation as an elder statesman developed after his death in 1941. Many scholars have blamed Liberal politicians for Haultain’s marginalization. In reality, by 1905 Haultain had undermined his own base of support by making poor political choices that alienated his supporters. In seeking provincehood for the North-West Territories, Haultain unwisely alienated his Cabinet colleagues whose support was essential to maintaining the Assembly’s confidence in the government. He also failed to build the Provincial Rights Party into a serious alternative to the Liberals because he lacked some important political skills. Haultain failed to enlist any talented individuals to serve along side him in the Assembly. Most importantly, Haultain failed to realize that it was practically impossible to form a government without the support of rural Saskatchewan, and took many positions that alienated farmers. His failure to support reciprocity in 1911 ultimately destroyed his already damaged reputation.
saskatchewan history, western alienation, protest party, saskatchewan politics and government, autonomy, saskatchewan act
Master of Arts (M.A.)