#86 – Crime Ministers, Part Four: Mackenzie Bowell

This stank ranky-dank Crime Minister hails from Belleville, Ontario.

…What, that doesn’t speak for itself? Ah, fine.

What’s wrong with Mackenzie “the Bowels”, Crime Minister at Large from 1894 to 1896? Well, for starters, he’s another Senator Prime-Minister. Because that worked brilliantly the first time we tried it! Oh, but this time it’s even better because Canada was engaged in a self-destructive meltdown over the Manitoba Schools Question. Who better to navigate these difficult times than a guy who can’t participate in the debate in the House of Commons, right?

To understand how useless Macbowels was, we need to delve into the wonderful world of the Manitoba Schools Question. The Manitoba Schools Question starts with the creation of Manitoba itself. The province is born of negotiations between Canada and the governing body of the territory at the time, which was led by a familiar chap named Louis Riel. One of the things that Riel made a particular point of demanding was funding for both Catholic and Protestant schools in the province. So it was that such a thing was written into the law that founded Manitoba, the uncreatively-named Manitoba Act.

Now, here’s the thing about Catholics in Canada at the time – they tended to be Francophones. And that means that English Canada (at the time Protestant; at current a mash of stuff) will reliably knee them in the ballsack as soon as it sees a chance. Recasting Catholics as Francophones, what happens next is the stuff Rene Levesque had nightmares about. A sea of English-speaking migrants from Ontario moved along the railway to Manitoba; with the French no longer migrating to Manitoba, a serious linguistic balance was aching to happen.

So, because English Canadians can be relied upon to maturely and sensibly approach potentially dangerous legal quandries, Manitoba decides in 1890 to both remove French as an official language for the province and to defund the denominational school system. Rationally enough, someone decided that this could well be against the Constitution of Manitoba, because another thing English Canadians are known for is foresight. Here begins the legal meltdown.

Manitoba’s Supreme Court says that the new school system is all gravy. Canada’s Supreme Court quashed that decision, thus allowing for an out. Here’s the vantage for a good Prime Minister to step in, recognize the disaster looming, Or…Britain can veto Canada. There’s just one more exit here – if Bowels can shit out some decent legislation and convince his caucus that maybe just maybe there was some merit in buying a bit of time to create a compromise.

Or he could just shit the bed and be forced to resign after his own Party revolted and squished Bowell out of government. That works too .The French were royally fucked until they practically vanished from Manitoba, which in English means that everything is hunky-dorry and for the French means a long, deep suspicion of Anglo-Canadian motives.

…Yeah. This guy was shit. Fuck Mackenzie Bowell.

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