Scott Ruggles was a Coalitionist member of the Grand Council from the Northern Confederation. He served as Minority Leader from 1883 to 1888, and as Majority Leader under Governor-General Ezra Gallivan.
Nominee for Governor-General
Scott was one of ten members of the People's Coalition elected to the Grand Council from the N.C. in the 1878 Grand Council elections. Scott earned a reputation as a moderate, and was known to have misgivings about some of the more radical members of the People's Coalition. Although he was a dull speaker and a plodding thinker, he was respectable, hard working, and responsible.
At the Coalition's 1883 national convention in Boston, Ruggles received the nomination for Governor-General, with the assistance of Michigan City Mayor Ezra Gallivan. In his acceptance speech, he pledged himself "to the quest for social justice in our land." Although incumbent Governor-General John McDowell led the Liberal Party to an 82 seat majority in the 1883 Grand Council elections, Ruggles and Gallivan gained 45 seats for the Coalition, making the younger party the official opposition, and Ruggles the Minority Leader.
During McDowell's second term, Ruggles characterized him as having "good intentions but poor advice." He criticized McDowell's expansion of the secondary school system as unsustainable, as well as his attempt to use the national government as an employer of last resort. Ruggles was particularly critical of McDowell's expansion of the National Financial Administration and Rural Credit Assocation as well as his creation of the North American Bank and the North American Export Council. All of these government agencies, Ruggles said, would be used to benefit large-scale enterprises at the expense of their smaller competitors. In a speech to the Grand Council on 15 November 1884 that was quoted in the Burgoyne Constitution, Ruggles claimed that they would "aid the large contributors to Mr. McDowell's campaign chest. Why not increase the total amount of money available and ease the requirements for loans, instead of enlarging upon the maximum amount for each loan? The former policy would aid marginal producers, the latter the secret friends of the Governor-General."
Ruggles' warnings proved correct, as McDowell's reforms did aid big business while ignoring small businesses, and the North American Bank suffered from mismanagement. Taxes were at an all-time high, and inflation continued to rise. On 2 April 1887, Ruggles gave another speech where he said, "Let Mr. McDowell ask us for what he will. He has a majority in the Grand Council, and can have anything he wants from it. Indeed, we would be willing to support his plans, for the People's Coalition wants peace and harmony as much as anyone else. The truth of the matter is, the Age of Renewal is, and always has been, a sham. The Liberals have had their chance, and have failed. Now it is time for true reform, and not just fancy maneuverings."
While Ruggles was leading the opposition to McDowell in the Grand Council, Gallivan had been building support among the Coalition's rank and file. At the Coalition's 1888 national convention, Gallivan had enough support among the delegates to win the nomination for Governor-General. Gallivan then went on to lead the Coalition to a 73 seat plurality in the 1888 Grand Council elections.
For the next five years, as Majority Leader of the Grand Council, Ruggles faced the daunting task of gaining the votes of a sufficient number of opposition Councilmen to pass Governor-General Gallivan's initiatives. He was able to win ratification of the Quebec Plebiscite on 9 February 1889, of public works projects, and of Gallivan's proposed restructuring of the N.F.A. in 1891.
Sobel makes no further mention of Ruggles, and it is likely that he retired from the Grand Council in 1893.
Sobel's source for the political career of Scott Ruggles is Jay Phister's Front Man for Reform: The Ruggles Opposition (New York, 1949).