2nd Alberta Legislature

The 2nd Alberta Legislative Assembly was in session from March 23, 1909, to April 17, 1913, with the membership of the assembly determined by the results of the 1909 Alberta general election which was held on March 22, 1909. The Legislature officially resumed on March 23, 1909, and continued until the fourth session was prorogued and dissolved on March 25, 1913, prior to the 1913 Alberta general election.[1]

2nd Alberta Legislature
Majority parliament
March 23, 1909 – March 25, 1913
Coat of arms of Alberta.svg
Parliament leaders
Alexander Cameron Rutherford
(Rutherford cabinet)
September 2, 1905 – May 26, 1910
Arthur Sifton
(Sifton cabinet)
May 26, 1910 – October 30, 1917
Leader of the
Richard Bennett
February 10, 1910 – May 26, 1910
Edward Michener
November 10, 1910 – April 5, 1917
Party caucuses
GovernmentLiberal Party
OppositionConservative Party
RecognizedSocialist Party
Legislative Assembly
Speaker of the
Charles W. Fisher
March 15, 1906 – May 15, 1919
Members41 MLA seats
MonarchEdward VII
January 22, 1901 – May 6, 1910
George V
May 6, 1910 – January 20, 1936
Hon. George Hedley Vicars Bulyea
September 1, 1905 – October 20, 1915
1st Session
February 10, 1910 – May 26, 1910
2nd Session
November 10, 1910 – December 11, 1910
3rd Session
November 30, 1911 – February 16, 1912
4th Session
February 11, 1913 – March 25, 1913
<1st 3rd>

Alberta's second government was controlled by the majority Liberal Party led by Premier Alexander Rutherford until he resigned on May 26, 1910 due to the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway scandal, Rutherford was subsequently replaced by Arthur Sifton. The Official Opposition was the Conservative Party led by Richard Bennett for the first session, followed by Edward Michener for the remaining sessions. The Speaker was Charles W. Fisher who continued in the role from the 1st assembly, and would served in the role until his death from the 1918 flu pandemic in 1919.

The total number of seats in the assembly was increased from 25 contested in the 1905 election to 41.


The Act respecting the Legislative Assembly of AlbertaEdit

Prior to the 1913 election, the Liberal government introduced An Act to amend the Act respecting the Legislative Assembly of Alberta which increased the number of seats in the Alberta Legislature from 41 to 56 and redistributed the boundaries of several constituencies.[2]

The Direct Legislation ActEdit

Following pressure from the growing United Farmers of Alberta, the Alberta Legislature passed The Direct Legislation Act, which was assented to on March 25, 1913.[3] The Act enabled a referendum to be held if an initiative petition received a sufficient number of signatures, which was electors equally ten per cent of the votes polled in the previous general election, and an initiative petition could succeed if endorsed by 20 per cent of the votes polled in the previous election.[4] The Act afforded a number of protections for the Legislature, noting that any initiative which would create a grant or charge on public revenue, or outside of provincial jurisdiction was invalid.[4] While the Conservative Party's 1912 convention included an endorsement of Direct Legislation provisions, the party leader Edward Michener called it a "vote-catching device" and George Hoadley wondered if the Act would be successful compared to similar legislation in Saskatchewan. Socialist member Charles M. O'Brien described the bill as "ridiculous" and "neither consistent, systematic or scientific".[4]


The Alberta and Great Waterways Railway Scandal was a political scandal in 1910, which forced the resignation of the Liberal provincial government of Alexander Cameron Rutherford. Rutherford and his government were accused of giving loan guarantees to private interests for the construction of the Alberta and Great Waterways (A&GW) Railway that substantially exceeded the actual cost of construction, and which paid interest considerably above the market rate. They were also accused of exercising insufficient oversight over the railway's operations.

The scandal split the Liberal Party: Rutherford's Minister of Public Works, William Henry Cushing, resigned from his government and publicly attacked its railway policy, and a large portion of the Liberal caucus voted to defeat the government in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Although the government survived all of these votes, and Rutherford largely placated the legislature by appointing a royal commission to investigate the affair, pressure from Lieutenant-Governor George Bulyea forced Rutherford's resignation and his replacement by Arthur Sifton.

The royal commission reported months after Rutherford had already resigned. The majority did not find Rutherford or his cabinet guilty of any wrongdoing, but criticized them for poor judgment, both in relation to the loan guarantees and in relation to the exemptions the A&GW received from provincial legislation; a minority report was more sympathetic, and declared the allegations against them "disproved". James Cornwall, a Liberal backbencher who supported Rutherford, fared somewhat worse: his personal financial involvement in the railway gave rise to "suspicious circumstances", but he too was not proven guilty of any wrongdoing.

Besides provoking Rutherford's resignation, the scandal opened rifts in the Liberal Party that took years to heal. Sifton eventually smoothed over most of these divisions, but was frustrated in his railway policy by legal defeats. He ultimately adopted a similar policy to Rutherford's, and the A&GW was eventually built by private interests using the money raised from provincial loan guarantees. The Liberals went on to be re-elected in 1913 and 1917.

Party compositionEdit

Affiliation 1st Assembly dissolution Elected in 1909 Standings at dissolution
Liberal 22 36 33
  Conservative 2 2 6
  Socialist 1 1
     Independent 1 1
     Independent Liberal 1
     Labour 1
25 41 41
 Government Majority
20 31 25

Members elected during the 1909 Alberta Provincial ElectionEdit

For complete electoral history, see individual districts

2nd Alberta Legislative Assembly
  District Member Party
  Alexandra Alwyn Bramley-Moore Liberal
  Calgary William Cushing Liberal
     Richard Bennett Conservative
  Camrose George P. Smith Liberal
  Cardston John William Woolf Liberal
  Claresholm Malcolm McKenzie Liberal
  Cochrane Charles W. Fisher Liberal
  Didsbury Joseph Stauffer Liberal
  Edmonton #1 Charles Wilson Cross Liberal
  Edmonton #2 John McDougall Liberal
  Gleichen Ezra Riley Liberal
  High River Louis Roberts Liberal
  Innisfail John A. Simpson Liberal
  Lac Ste. Anne Peter Gunn Liberal
  Lacombe William Puffer Liberal
  Leduc Robert Telford Liberal
  Lethbridge City William Ashbury Buchanan Liberal
     Lethbridge District Archibald J. McLean Independent Liberal
  Macleod Colin Genge Liberal
  Medicine Hat William Finlay Liberal
  Nanton John M. Glendenning Liberal
     Okotoks George Hoadley Conservative
  Olds Duncan Marshall Liberal
  Pakan Prosper-Edmond Lessard Liberal
  Peace River James Cornwall Liberal
  Pembina Henry William McKenney Liberal
  Pincher Creek David Warnock Liberal
  Ponoka William A. Campbell Liberal
     Red Deer Edward Michener Independent
  Rocky Mountain Charles M. O'Brien Socialist
  Sedgewick Charles Stewart Liberal
  St. Albert Lucien Boudreau Liberal
  Stettler Robert L. Shaw Liberal
  Stony Plain John McPherson Liberal
  Strathcona Alexander Rutherford Liberal
  Sturgeon John R. Boyle Liberal
  Vegreville James Bismark Holden Liberal
  Vermilion Archibald Campbell Liberal
  Victoria Francis A. Walker Liberal
  Wetaskiwin Charles H. Olin Liberal

July 15, 1909Edit

  District Member Party
  Athabasca Jean Côté Liberal

Standings changes after electionEdit


By-elections are only shown if new members were elected

  District Member Party Reason for By-Election
  Medicine Hat Charles R. Mitchell Liberal June 29, 1910—Resignation of William Finlay
  Vermilion Arthur Sifton Liberal June 29, 1910—Resignation of Archie Campbell to provide seat for Premier Arthur Sifton
  Gleichen Archibald J. McArthur Liberal October 3, 1910—Resignation of Ezra Riley in protest against Liberal Party Leadership
  Macleod Robert Patterson Farmers October 3, 1910—Death of Colin Genge
     Calgary #2 Thomas Tweedie Conservative October 31, 1911—Resignation of Richard Bennett to run for House of Commons
     Gleichen Harold Riley Conservative October 31, 1911—Death of Archibald John McArthur
     Lethbridge City John Smith Stewart Conservative October 31, 1911—Resignation of Mr. William Buchanan to run for House for Commons
     Pincher Creek John Kemmis Conservative October 31, 1911—Resignation of David Warnock to run for House of Commons
  Cardston Martin Woolf Liberal May 27, 1912—Resignation of Mr. John Woolf

Floor crossingsEdit

  • June 22, 1910—Archibald McLean crossed the floor to the Liberal Party to accept a cabinet portfolio, he was acclaimed in a by-election
  • Date Unknown—James Cornwall leaves the Liberal Party and becomes an Independent



  1. ^ Perry, Sandra E.; Footz, Valerie L. (2006). Massolin, Philip A. (ed.). A Higher Duty: Speakers of the Legislative Assemblies. Edmonton, AB: Legislative Assembly of Alberta. p. 494. ISBN 0-9689217-3-6. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  2. ^ An Act to amend the Act respecting the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, S.A. 1913, c. 2
  3. ^ The Direct Legislation Act, S.A. 1913, c. 3
  4. ^ a b c Thomas 1959, p. 136.


Further readingEdit

External linksEdit