Richard McBride

 Richard McBride, lawyer, politician, premier of BC 1903-15 (b at New Westminster, BC 15 Dec 1870; d at London, Eng 6 Aug 1917). He was educated in New Westminster and at Dalhousie University (LLB, 1890) and was first elected MLA in 1898. The personable McBride briefly (1900-01) served in the Cabinet of James DUNSMUIR and, after the government of E.G. PRIOR resigned, he formed the first BC administration based on party lines 1 June 1903. In the subsequent election, McBride and the Conservatives won a narrow majority. To restore financial stability his government cut expenditures and introduced new taxes; to secure socialist support, it made many minor reforms, especially of labour laws.

By 1909 a booming provincial economy allowed McBride and his government to plan for a provincial university and to promise continued prosperity through such means as the construction of railways. In the 1909 and 1912 elections, the Conservatives almost completely eliminated the Opposition from the legislature.

McBride also won popular approval for his persistent agitation for "better terms" from the federal government. He campaigned for the Conservative Party in the federal elections of 1908 and 1911 and successfully delivered the BC vote. An ardent imperialist (KCMG, 1912) and friend of Winston Churchill, McBride enthusiastically supported the idea of a Canadian contribution to the imperial navy. When WWI began, BC was virtually undefended. On his own initiative, McBride had the province purchase 2 submarines, later sold to the federal government.

By 1914, however, the province was economically depressed and in danger of having to meet heavy railway debts. Moreover, McBride paid scant attention to such popular reform movements as WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE and PROHIBITION. On 15 December 1915, McBride resigned as premier and accepted the position of BC's agent-general in his beloved London, where he also hoped to get treatment for Bright's disease, which ultimately took his life.