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Douglas Sizer

Manitoba Governor Douglas Sizer.

Douglas Sizer was the Governor of Manitoba in the 1890s, and a leading Liberal Party critic of Governor-General Ezra Gallivan.

Sizer was a protégé of former Governor-General John McDowell, and he shared McDowell's desire for closer ties between the Confederation of North America and Great Britain. Sizer also favored government efforts to develop the Athabasca region of Manitoba in hopes of discovering gold there, as Kramer Associates had already done in the Yukon region of Russian Alaska two years earlier. Gallivan was opposed to both policies, as he wished to avoid any foreign policy entanglements with either the Russian Empire or the United States of Mexico.

The Liberals nominated Sizer for governor-general at their 1898 national convention. In his acceptance speech, Sizer pledged himself to "the fulfilment of national destiny" by the C.N.A. During the campaign, Sizer instructed the Liberals in Southern Vandalia to ignore all other issues and concentrate on Gallivan's failure to name any Negroes to his Cabinet, unlike his Liberal predecessor McDowell, which was considered to be evidence of either racism or insensitivity on Gallivan's part.

However, Gallivan was the most popular man in the C.N.A., and the People's Coalition machine he had built up in the 1880s remained unbeatable. Nevertheless, the Liberals increased their caucus in the Grand Council from 48 seats to 56 in the 1898 Grand Council elections, with half of the gain coming from Southern Vandalia.

Gallivan's popularity plummeted in the summer of 1898, when the U.S.M. was able to invade and conquer Alaska with breathtaking ease. The specter of Mexican militarism spread fear throughout the C.N.A., and many North Americans felt unprotected and exposed to the threat posed by Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión. For the first time in its history, the Manitoba legislature passed a resolution asking for increased military spending. Elsewhere in the C.N.A., new organizations sprang up in opposition to Gallivan's isolationism, including the Students Defense League and the For North America Movement. In Manitoba, Sizer gave an address on 10 January 1899 in which he called for Gallivan's resignation. "He should leave government," said Sizer. "Mr. Gallivan has stayed too long."

A wave of anti-Gallivan political violence struck the C.N.A. in the summer of 1899, following the Mexican invasion of Siberia and a speech by Councilman Fritz Stark accusing Gallivan of being under the control of K.A. The violence, known as Starkism, receded in 1901 after Gallivan resigned and Hermión was overthrown. Over the next year, a backlash against the violence developed, and the Starkites were purged from their positions on newspapers and in universities, and were voted out of office in the 1902 elections. Although Sobel does not say whether Sizer suffered from the pro-Gallivan backlash, it is possible that he was one of those voted out of office.

Sizer does not have an entry in Sobel's index.

Sobel's source for the political career of Douglas Sizer is Allan Watterson's The Great Fear: Starkism in the C.N.A. (London, 1956).

Governors of Manitoba
Francis LeggeDouglas SizerFoster McCabeJason Winters