William Stevens Fielding

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Right Honourable
William Stevens Fielding
PC
William Stevens Fielding, premier of Nova Scotia.jpg
7th Premier of Nova Scotia
In office
July 28, 1884 – July 18, 1896[1]
Monarch Victoria
Lieutenant Governor Matthew Henry Richey
Archibald McLelan
Malachy Bowes Daly
Preceded by William Thomas Pipes
Succeeded by George Henry Murray
Personal details
Born (1848-11-24)November 24, 1848
Halifax
Died June 23, 1929(1929-06-23) (aged 80)
Ottawa
Nationality Canadian
Political party Nova Scotia Liberal Party
Other political
affiliations
Liberal
Spouse(s) Hester Rankine (m. 1876)
Children 4 daughters and 1 son
Alma mater Dalhousie University
Occupation Journalist
Profession Politician
Cabinet Minister of Finance (1896-1911)(1921-1925)
Minister of Railways and Canals (Canada) (acting) (1903-1904) (1907)
Religion Baptist

William Stevens Fielding, PC (November 24, 1848 – June 23, 1929) was a Canadian Liberal politician, the seventh Premier of Nova Scotia (1884–96), and the Minister of Finance 1896–1911 and 1921–25.

Early life[edit]

Fielding as Halifax Morning Chronicle reporter, around the time he reported on the SS Atlantic disaster, 1873

He was born in Halifax. Fielding became leader of the Anti-Confederation Party (Nova Scotia Liberal Party). In 1884, he became Premier and won the 1886 election on a pledge to remove Nova Scotia from confederation. When he failed to do this, he turned to economic matters including developing the coal industry.

The Liberal Party of Nova Scotia fared poorly in national elections during the 1880s and early 1890s. The national party advocated policies that would discontinue the national coal subsidy and, for all practical purposes, eliminate Catholic schools in Manitoba, policies disliked by provincial coal miners and Catholics respectively. Fielding forged a more moderate coal policy and defused the school issue, winning back Catholics. Thus in 1896 the provincial Liberals improved their showing in the national election.[2]

Federal politics[edit]

In 1896, he left provincial politics to become Minister of Finance in the Liberal government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. In 1910, he negotiated a reciprocity or free trade agreement with the United States which led to the government's defeat in the 1911 general election. Fielding lost his seat, and became editor of the Daily Telegraph of Montreal.

First World War[edit]

Fielding supported the Unionist government of Sir Robert Borden during the Conscription Crisis of 1917 and returned to the House of Commons as a Liberal-Unionist member.

Liberal leadership convention, 1919; service in Mackenzie King's first Administration[edit]

Fielding had widely been seen as Laurier's successor but his split with the party over the conscription issue cost him the 1919 Liberal leadership convention where he lost to William Lyon Mackenzie King by 38 votes.

He served again as minister of finance in King's first government formed after the 1921 election.

Later life[edit]

Fielding caricatured by WHO for Vanity Fair, 1909

He retired from politics in 1925.

In 1923, Fielding was sworn into the Privy Council of the United Kingdom allowing him to be styled as Right Honourable, a rare privilege among Canadians who have not served as Prime Minister, Governor-General, or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

He died in Ottawa.

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Nova Scotia". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  2. ^ K. M. McLaughlin, "W. S. Fielding and the Liberal Party in Nova Scotia, 1891–1896," Acadiensis, Spring 1974, Vol. 3#2 pp 65–79