Ordeal by Fire: Canada, 1910-1945

By Ralph Allen | Go to book overview

XIII
Exit Sam Hughes--"Tell 'em to go like blazes!"

THE demise of the Ross rifle coincided almost exactly with the exposure of Sam Hughes's proudly acknowledged "guide and counselor," J. Wesley Allison. A man of more flexible temper might have been crushed by two such blows. But Sir Sam, though he was hurt and indignant, was not even mildly deflated, much less apprehensive of his future. He had as yet seen no reason to revise his old estimate of Borden, carefully pondered and written out in the days just after the party came into office: "A most lovely fellow . . . gentle-hearted as a girl." Acting on that estimate and fully aware that many of his colleagues in the Cabinet were imploring Borden to get rid of him at once, he coolly wrote Borden: "The general opinion is that Sir Thomas [White] bores you until, out of patience, you finally accede to his plans. I can assure you the effect on the country or the party is not beneficial." And in another message, sent from England, Sir Sam comforted the Prime Minister on the burdens imposed on him by the men in his Cabinet: "Your road is more or less a hard one. It is generally understood that White and Foster seek to impose their influence, adverse to me, upon you. But I know you are capable of seeing through them."

But after five tempestuous years, Borden had begun to develop some resistance to Hughes's blandishments and bullying. He had written in his diary, in the aftermath of the Ross-rifle and Allison revelations: "It is quite evident that Hughes cannot remain in the government." Nevertheless, it required another four months and another first-class public row before the two men made their parting.

-108-

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