Edward Blake

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Edward Blake

Dominick Edward Blake, PC (October 13 1833March 1 1912), (known as Edward Blake ) was Premier of Ontario, Canada, from 1871 to 1872 and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada from 1880 to 1887. He is the only non-interim federal Liberal leader never to become Prime Minister of Canada.

Blake became leader of the Ontario Liberal Party in 1868 and became Premier in 1871, but left provincial politics the next year to run in the 1872 federal election. The "dual mandate" rule that allowed a politician to sit simultaneously in a provincial and federal house had been abolished ,and Blake chose to abandon his career in provincial politics. He was re-elected to the Canadian House of Commons, but, in 1873, turned down the position of Liberal Party leader due to ill health. He played a major role in exposing the government of Sir John A. Macdonald's complicity in the Pacific Scandal forcing the government's resignation. Blake was offered the Prime Ministership, but turned it down due to ill health.

The Liberals won the subsequent 1874 federal election, Blake joined the federal cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie serving as Minister of Justice and President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.

The Liberals were defeated in the 1878 election, and Blake succeeded Mackenzie as party leader in 1880. He failed to defeat Sir John A. Macdonald's Conservatives in the 1882 or 1887 elections. Blake resigned as Liberal leader in 1887, recruiting Wilfrid Laurier as his successor, and left the Canadian House of Commons in 1891 in order to move to Britain.

The difference between the Liberal parties of Alexander MacKenzie and Wilfred Laurier were astounding. From the reformist party of George Brown that joined with MacDonald just long enough to create Canada, the Liberals evolved to a multi-ethinic party that adopted MacDonald's vision of a country bound together by steel. Blake never lost his clear grit style and ability to bore an audience for hours on end with pedantics. Nonetheless, the Liberal Party evolved thoroughly under his leadership.

In 1892, Blake entered the British House of Commons as an Irish Nationalist Member of Parliament.


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Preceded by:
John Sandfield Macdonald
1867-1871

Premier of Ontario
1871-1872

Succeeded by:
Oliver Mowat
1872-1896


Preceded by:
Archibald McKellar

Ontario Liberal leaders

Succeeded by:
Oliver Mowat

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