THE CONSERVATIVES went down to defeat in the June 23, 1896 federal election.

Governor General Aberdeen (pictured, left) was in Quebec City on election day. He arrived in the nation's capital on July 2. Tupper met with him immediately, ostensibly to discuss the transition of power.

But in the PM's pocket was a list of some 92 appointments. Tupper also handed Aberdeen a long legal opinion arguing his right to make the appointments.

On July 6th, Tupper received his reply.

Aberdeen approved of 66 but he would not sign for 26 others, including judgeships or Senate seats.

Tupper was furious.

Two of the negated nominations were former Conservative senators Auguste-Real Angers and Alphonse Desjardins. Both had resigned their Senate seats to try and gain election to the Commons in Quebec. Both had been defeated by Liberal candidates.

AberdeenAn intense but secret battle raged between the two highest public officers of Canada.

Finally, on July 8, Tupper abdicated and the Governor General immediately sent for the member for Quebec East, Wilfrid Laurier. Aberdeen presided over the swearing in of Canada's 7th prime minister on July 11.

Two days later, Laurier paraded one of the most impressive cabinet in Canadian history before Aberdeen, including three provincial premiers.

A new Speaker was barely in his seat, on the day of the opening of Parliament, Thursday, August 20, 1896, before the old Tory warlord was up on his feet.

Tupper demanded that Laurier table the "correspondence which took place in connection with the resignation of the government."

Laurier offered to do so the next day.

But the next day, Laurier announced that the correspondence would not be tabled until the speech from the throne had been read by Aberdeen. Tupper grumbled about the "grave constitutional question" the correspondence would reveal.

Finally, on September 3, Laurier tabled the correspondence comprised of the memorandums exchanged between Tupper and Aberdeen.

The stage was set. In the evening of September 21, Tupper rose and lambasted Her Majesty's representative accusing his of every political crime in the book; including that a staunch liberal hid in the halls of Rideau Hall.

SIR CHARLES TUPPER - Leader of the Opposition (Cape Breton - pictured right): I rise, Sir, to endeavour to discharge the most painful duty that has ever fallen to my lot during a somewhat lengthened parliamentary career. Shortly after the opening of the last session of Parliament, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, then prime minister of Canada, did me the honour of inviting me to accept the position of Secretary of State and leader of the House of Commons under his government. The House was dissolved. My hon. colleague, Sir Mackenzie Bowell accepted a very important mission to England and tendered his resignation as leader of the government. His Excellency did me the great honour of calling upon me to form an administration, which duty I undertook. A general election was held.

Sir Charles TupperWell, the fates of war were against us. After a sharp and short struggle, the result was that the government were not in a position to claim a majority of supporters in this Parliament. The government in the discharge of what they conceived to be their duty to the country and to the constitutional practice that had prevailed here and in England down to this period, felt it necessary to close all business and make a number of recommendations to His Excellency, a statement of appointments, some 92 in all.

And yet, with all this long line and array of parliamentary authorities which I placed in His Excellency's hands, he turned a deaf ear to it all. He addresses this memorandum, pointing out the reasons why he should withdraw his confidence from me and prevent me from enjoying that confidence that every authority, English and Canadian alike, said I should enjoy. Looking at this with eyes that I have no hesitation in saying the strongest partisan on the ministerial benches here could not surpass!

MR. SPEAKER - James Edgar (West Ontario): I am exceedingly reluctant to interfere but I am inclined to think that the last observation of the hon. gentleman, practically accusing His Excellency of partisanship, transgresses the rule of this House which prevents any hon member from speaking disrespectfully of His Excellency the Governor General.

MR. TUPPER: Mr. Speaker, I am speaking of his representatives who are here. The prime minister has frankly and openly, as he was bound to do, assumed the entire responsibility for every line, every word and every sentiment contained in this document.

RIGHT HON. WILFRID LAURIER - Prime Minister (Quebec East): Speak of the First Minister then.

MR. TUPPER: Well, I am afraid that the First Minister's shoulders are hardly broad enough to bear the weight of all this!

Now, Sir, I say that if His Excellency was not prepared to give me the fullest and most unqualified confidence until I ceased to be his minister, he had no right to call upon me.

No greater misfortune could happen to Canada than that the time should come when anybody would feel that the Governor General of this great Dominion represented not his sovereign but a party in the state.

MR. LAURIER: There was an election on the 23rd of June and that election did not result as the hon. leader of the opposition had expected. He had told his admiring crowds of office-seekers that he was sure of sweeping the country. He was sure to sweep the maritime provinces. He was sure to sweep the western section of Ontario. He was sure to sweep all Canada with the cry of religious passion which his followers were raising. It was expected that the Liberals would be snowed under forever.

But, Sir, events did not turn out that way and, as soon as he found out that the government had been defeated, my hon. friend and his colleagues were equal to the occasion. They set their hearts and hands at once to the task of filling the public service, from the Senate chamber to the messenger's room, filling every hole, every nook and corner and crevice with their appointments, so that the new administration would have been forced to live in an atmosphere saturated with Toryism.

The complaint of my hon. friend is the last wail of the disappointed office-grabber. All this quibbling and equivocating and pettifogging and hairsplitting is absolutely meaningless, unless there were behind it some moral wrong. But moral wrong there is none. His Excellency committed no harm to anybody and conferred a great benefit on this nation because he showed that, in this nineteenth century, under and by the aid of the British Crown, the people shall have government of the people by the people and for the people. True Canadians will revere the name of Aberdeen for ever and for ever.

And that was that. Tupper had not dared to table any motion of censure of the Governor General's actions. He faced a certain defeat on the motion but worse, he knew the vote could seriously split his Conservative party. His own caucus was very much split on his public rebuke of Aberdeen. Behind Tupper was his influential son, Charles Hibbert.

But Governor General Aberdeen was a great personal friend of Tupper's colleague, George Foster. The Bowell revolt, the electoral defeat, and now this family quarrel all contributed to divide Conservative forces for years to come. Laurier remained prime minister for 15 uninterrupted years.