Charles Stewart (Canadian Politician)

Charles Stewart (Canadian Politician)

Charles Stewart, PC (August 26, 1868 – December 6, 1946) was a Canadian politician who served as the third Premier of Alberta from 1917 until 1921. Born in Strabane, Ontario, in Wentworth County, Stewart was a farmer who moved west to Alberta after his farm was destroyed by a storm. There he became active in politics and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in the 1909 election. He served as Minister of Public Works and Minister of Municipal Affairs—the first person to hold the latter position in Alberta—in the government of Arthur Sifton. When Sifton left provincial politics in 1917 to join the federal cabinet, Stewart was named his replacement.

As premier, Stewart tried to hold together his Liberal Party, which was divided by the Conscription Crisis of 1917. He endeavoured to enforce prohibition of alcoholic beverages, which had been enshrined in law by a referendum during Sifton's premiership, but found that the law was not widely enough supported to be effectively policed. His government took over several of the province's financially troubled railroads, and guaranteed bonds sold to fund irrigation projects. Several of these policies were the result of lobbying by the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA), with which Stewart enjoyed good relations; even so, the UFA was politicized during Stewart's premiership and ran candidates in the 1921 election. Unable to match the UFA's appeal to rural voters, Stewart's government was defeated at the polls and he was succeeded as premier by Herbert Greenfield.

After leaving provincial politics, Stewart was invited to join the federal cabinet of William Lyon Mackenzie King, in which he served as Minister of the Interior and Mines. In this capacity he signed, on behalf of the federal government, an agreement that transferred control of Alberta's natural resources from Ottawa to the provincial government—a concession he had been criticized for being unable to negotiate as Premier. He served in King's cabinet until 1930, when the King government was defeated, but remained a member of Parliament until he lost his seat in 1935. He died in December 1946 in Ottawa.

Read more about Charles Stewart (Canadian Politician):  Early Life, Premier, Federal Politics, Post-political Life

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