THE MAKING OF THE GOVERNMENT
There was verification of Tarte’s estimate in the job of cabinet-making turned out by Laurier in July. In building the government the lines of least resistance were not followed. A dozen men who deemed themselves sure of cabinet rank found themselves overlooked; five of fifteen portfolios went to men imported from provincial arenas without Dominion parliamentary experience. Laurier knew the kind of government he wanted and he provided himself with such a government by the direct method of getting the colleagues he desired wherever he could find them. No doubt he found plenty of employment for his sunny ways in placating his disappointed colleagues. In time there were consolation prizes for all, for this one a judgeship, for that one a lieutenant-governorship, for the next a life seat in the senate; the phalanx of fighting second-raters who had done valuable work in opposition, reinforcing and buttressing the work of the front benches disappeared gradually from parliament. And with those he chose he too had his way, as witness the side-tracking of Sir Richard Cartwright to the dignified but at the time relatively unimportant department of trade and commerce. Between Sir Richard and the Canadian manufacturers there was a blood feud. It was not Sir Wilfrid’s intention to make the feud his own or even to agree to it being carried on by Sir Richard. He took for minister of finance, W. S. Fielding, who justified his choice by successfully steering the budget bark between Scylla and Charybdis for fourteen years in succession before the whirlpool finally sucked him down. Where Laurier went outside his following for colleagues he had equally definite ends to serve.