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Newfoundland : Political Conditions During the Year 1924-1925



[Canadian Annual Review , 1924-25; for the full citation, see the end of the text]


In Newfoundland , the investigation into charges of graft against Sir Richard Squires, former Premier, continued during January. After a body of most sensational evidence, T. Hollis Walker, K.C., of London, England, sitting as a Royal Commissioner, reported on Mar. 15 that he found Squires guilty of obtaining $20,000 improperly from the Liquor Control Department, and of accepting a present of $43,000 from the British Empire Steel Company. Squires made a public statement to the effect that the findings were "absolutely contrary to the weight of evidence", and that he would seek an early opportunity of demonstrating that fact by legal process. He made the claim that the money advanced by the Steel Company had been to assist the finances of the St. John Daily Star, the political organ of his party, but that he had not profited personally.


The Government of Hon. W. R. Warren announced on Apr. 8 that prosecutions would follow the findings of the Commissioner and that, meanwhile, a thorough house-cleaning of the Government Departments would be undertaken. Squires, Hon. Richard Campbell, former Minister of Agriculture, and John T. Meaney, ex-Controller of Liquor, were arrested on Apr. 22, and released on heavy bail. On the next day the House opened, and the former political associates of Squires carried a vote of want of confidence against the Administration - Squires himself voting for it! New combinations were effected by Warren , and the Government was able to carry on until May 7, when it resigned, and was succeeded by the A. E. Hickman Ministry. The make-up of the Cabinet was Premier, Albert Hickman; Minister of Justice, Sir William Lloyd; Colonial Secretary, Walter Halfyard; Minister of Finance, Walter Cave; Minister of Education, Arthur Barnes; Minister of Post Office, Matthew Hawco; Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Downey; Leader of the Upper House, Harris Mosdell; Ministers without portfolio, Geo. Forbes and Edward Emerson. At the general election of June 3, the new Government Party was beaten, Opposition Leader Walter Monroe commanding 25 of the 34 seats. He formed his Government on June 9, taking himself the Portfolio of Education; the other Ministers being, Hon. John R. Bennett, Hon. W. J. Higgins, Hon. Sir John Crosbie, Hon. W. J. Woodford, Hon. A. B. Morine, Hon. M. S. Sullivan, Hon. Richard Cramm, Hon. A. G. Brandley and Hon. J. J. Long. Mr. Cramm, who accepted office as Minister without Portfolio, was the man who moved the vote of non-confidence in the Warren Government after the arrest of Squires; yet the Monroe Government was not a "Squires Cabinet".


In October, a Grand jury at St. John's returned No Bill in the case against Sir Richard Squires, holding that the evidence was insufficient. The Crown protested the legal status of the jury before the Supreme Court, but lost the action. On Dec. 23, Hon. A. B. Morine resigned from the Cabinet over the new Liquor Control Bill, objecting to the clause that any individual might buy a bottle a day.


In the midst of this atmosphere of political charge and counter­charge, of accusation and denial, the Colony was fairly prosperous, though it faced one serious strike, which for a time threatened sabotage on the works of the Humbermouth Power and Paper Mill. The Finance Minister reported a deficit of $1,000,000, and on July 22 certain duties on flour, molasses, pork, beef, kerosene and gaso­line, abrogated by the Warren Government, were established.


Source: Sir John WILLISON, " Newfoundland : Political Conditions During the Year", in Canadian Annual Review of Public Affairs, 1924-25, Toronto, The Canadian Review Company, 1925, 766p., pp. 76-77.



© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College