Sifton Ministry

The Sifton Ministry was the combined Cabinet (called Executive Council of Alberta), chaired by Premier Arthur Sifton, and Ministers that governed Alberta party way through the 2nd Alberta Legislature beginning on May 26, 1910, through the 3rd Alberta Legislature to October 30, 1917.

Sifton Ministry
Flag of Alberta.svg
2nd ministry of Alberta
Arthur Lewis Watkins Sifton.jpg
Arthur Sifton
Date formedMay 26, 1910 (1910-05-26)
Date dissolvedOctober 30, 1917 (1917-10-30)
People and organisations
Lieutenant Governor
PremierArthur Sifton
Member partyAlberta Liberal Party
Status in legislatureMajority
Legislature term(s)
PredecessorRutherford Ministry
SuccessorStewart Ministry

The Executive Council (commonly known as the cabinet) was made up of members of the Alberta Liberal Party which held a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. The cabinet was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta on the advice of the Premier.


Rutherford ministry and resignationEdit

In 1910, the Liberal government of Alexander Cameron Rutherford was embroiled in the Alberta and Great Waterways (A&GW) Railway scandal.[1] Accusations of favouritism by the government towards the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway had split the Liberal Party, and Rutherford's ability to remain at its head was in doubt.[2] Lieutenant-Governor George Bulyea, a Liberal who had reluctantly asked Rutherford to form a government in 1905, saw his doubts about the Premier's leadership skills validated and quietly began looking for candidates to replace him and save the Liberal Party.[3] Several possibilities—including William Henry Cushing, Peter Talbot, and Frank Oliver—were considered and either rejected or found to be uninterested in the job.[4] As early as March 14, Bulyea had concluded that Sifton might be "the only permanent solution", though it was not until May that the Lieutenant-Governor was able to secure Rutherford's agreement to resign and the agreement of both major factions in the Liberal caucus to accept Sifton as Premier.[5] Even up until the last minute, Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) loyal to Charles Wilson Cross—the province's Attorney-General and a staunch Rutherford ally—threatened to scuttle the arrangement unless Cross was kept on as attorney-general, to which Sifton refused to agree.[6] On May 26, Rutherford resigned and Arthur Sifton became the second Premier of Alberta.[7]

Cabinet selectionEdit

Sifton addressing a political meeting in Wetaskiwin, August 1910

One of his first challenges was to craft a cabinet satisfactory to all factions; this he did by excluding the leaders of all sides.[8] He himself took the portfolios of Public Works and Provincial Treasurer.[6] Charles R. Mitchell, who like Sifton had been a judge during the scandal and had accordingly played no part in it, became Minister of Education and Attorney-General.[9] Archibald J. McLean was named Provincial Secretary.[6] His support for the insurgents (though not as one of their leaders) was offset by the continuation of Rutherford's Agriculture Minister Duncan Marshall, who had played no particular role during the scandal but had remained loyal to Rutherford.[9] To the consternation of the opposition Conservatives, Bulyea prorogued the legislation before this new government's strength could be tested by a vote of confidence.[8] Still, its acceptance by the Liberal caucus can be measured by the fact that only one member, Ezra Riley, resigned in protest.[10] Riley objected to the exclusion from cabinet of insurgency leader W. H. Cushing;[10] after his resignation he ran as an independent Liberal in the ensuing by-election, but was defeated by Sifton supporter Archibald J. McArthur.[11]

As time began to heal old wounds, Sifton expanded his cabinet to include several of the old adversaries: in February 1912 Cross was re-instated as Attorney-General and rebel leader John R. Boyle was made Minister of Education (Mitchell, who had previously held both of these posts, was transferred to the Public Works portfolio).[12] The other new additions to cabinet—Malcolm McKenzie as Provincial Treasurer and Charles Stewart in the new position of Minister of Municipal Affairs[12]—had voted with the Rutherford government during the scandal.[13][14]

Another early challenge for the new Premier was to win a seat in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.[10] Although he lived and worked in Calgary,[7] his first cabinet was composed mostly of southern members (McLean represented Lethbridge District,[6] Marshall represented Olds,[6] and Mitchell was soon elected in Medicine Hat),[11] so Sifton had Archibald Campbell resign his Vermilion seat and sought election there.[10] Despite accusations by the Conservatives that the Liberals bought "the foreign vote" with beer, whiskey, and tobacco, he won a comfortable majority.[7]

List of ministersEdit

Name Date Appointed Date Departed
Arthur Sifton President of the Executive Council (Premier) May 26, 1910 October 12, 1917
Arthur Sifton Provincial Treasurer June 1, 1910 May 3, 1912
Malcolm McKenzie May 4, 1912 March 15, 1913
Arthur Sifton March 27, 1913 November 27, 1913
Charles Richmond Mitchell November 28, 1913 August 12, 1921
Archibald J. McLean Provincial Secretary June 1, 1910 October 15, 1917
Charles Richmond Mitchell Attorney General June 1, 1910 May 4, 1912
Charles Wilson Cross May 4, 1912 August 23, 1918
Duncan Marshall Minister of Agriculture November 1, 1909 August 12, 1921
Charles Richmond Mitchell Minister of Education June 1, 1910 May 4, 1912
John Robert Boyle May 4, 1912 August 25, 1918
Archibald J. McLean Minister of Municipal Affairs December 20, 1911 May 3, 1912
Charles Stewart May 4, 1912 November 27, 1913
Wilfrid Gariépy November 28, 1913 August 25, 1918
Arthur Sifton Minister of Public Works June 1, 1910 May 3, 1912
Charles Richmond Mitchell May 4, 1912 December 1, 1913
Charles Stewart December 2, 1913 October 15, 1917
Arthur Sifton Minister of Railways and Telephones December 20, 1911 October 15, 1917

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hall 2004, p. 24.
  2. ^ Hall, David J. (2015) [2003]. "Sifton, Arthur Lewis Watkins". In Cook, Ramsay; Bélanger, Réal (eds.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. XV (1921–1930) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  3. ^ Thomas 1959, p. 87.
  4. ^ Thomas 1959, p. 88.
  5. ^ Thomas 1959, p. 89.
  6. ^ a b c d e Thomas 1959, p. 90.
  7. ^ a b c Hall 2004, p. 25.
  8. ^ a b Thomas 1959, p. 91.
  9. ^ a b Thomas 1959, pp. 90–91.
  10. ^ a b c d Thomas 1959, p. 93.
  11. ^ a b Thomas 1959, p. 94.
  12. ^ a b Thomas 1959, p. 125.
  13. ^ Thomas 1959, p. 113.
  14. ^ Thomas 1959, p. 84.

Works citedEdit

Further readingEdit