Patrons of Industry in Manitoba
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The Patrons of Industry was initially a fraternal organization based in the United States and Canada. During the 1890s, the Canadian Patrons became politically active, running provincial and federal candidates in Ontario and Manitoba. The party's provincial leader was Charles Braithwaite, who was chosen at a convention held in November 1891.
The Manitoba Patrons were initially focused on coordinating an agrarian cooperative movement in the province, but turned to political action in 1894. Following a tour of the province by Braithwaite (who was a spellbinder orator), the Patrons succeeded in nominating candidates in all but two of the province's ridings, in anticipation of the next provincial election.
The Patrons were the first "third party" to emerge in Manitoba after partisan government was formally introduced to the province in 1888. They opposed both Conservatives and Liberals, and were for a time affiliated with Dalton McCarthy, a dissident federal Conservative.
On August 23, 1894, the Patrons were recognized as a significant force in Manitoba politics when their candidate John Forsyth defeated Conservative leader John Andrew Davidson in a Beautiful Plains by-election. But there was no Liberal candidate in the race.
The party was unable to follow up on its early successes. Forsyth was expelled from the Patrons in 1895 for using a railway pass (given free to legislators) in violation of party policy. Subsequently, the party became internally divided over the Manitoba Schools Question. Many Catholic Patrons were alienated by the party's support of Premier Thomas Greenway's efforts to eliminate denominational schools, and left the party as such. The Patrons ran only seven candidates in the provincial election of 1896, and only two of them were elected: Watson Crosby in Dennis and William Sirett in Beautiful Plains.
The Patrons also ran candidates in two provincial by-elections in 1896, but were not successful in either. Three Manitoba Patrons (including Braithwaite) ran for the Canadian House of Commons in the 1896 federal election, but all finished third in their ridings.
Braithwaite stepped down as party leader in January 1897, and the party effectively ceased to exist after this time. Crosby died in 1897, and Sirett did not run for re-election in 1899.
In addition to supporting agrarian interests, the Patrons also supported prohibition, universal suffrage (for men and women) and electoral reform. These policies would later re-emerge in the platform of the Progressive Party of Canada.
- McCutcheon, Brian R (1965-66). "Patrons of Industry in Manitoba, 1890-1898". MHS Transactions. Manitoba Historical Society. Retrieved 2012-11-09.