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Sir Charles Tupper

 Photo Sir Charles Tupper, 1st Baronet, GCMG, CB, PC (2 Jul 1821 - 30 Oct 1915) was a Canadian father of Confederation. As the Premier of Nova Scotia from 1864 to 1867, he led Nova Scotia into Confederation.

In May 1879 Prime Minister Macdonald decided that completion of the railway was such a priority that he created a new ministry to focus on railways and canals, and Tupper became Canada's first Minister of Railways and Canals.

Tupper's motto as Minister of Railways and Canals was "Develop our resources". He stated "I have always supposed that the great object, in every country, and especially in a new country, was to draw as many capitalists into it as possible."

Tupper traveled to London in summer 1879 to attempt to persuade the British government (then headed by the Earl of Beaconsfield in his second term as prime minister) to guarantee a bond sale to be used to construct the railway. He was not successful, though he did manage to purchase 50,000 tons of steel rails at a bargain price. Tupper's old friend Sandford Fleming oversaw the railway construction, but his inability to keep costs down led to political controversy, and Tupper was forced to remove Fleming as Chief Engineer in May 1880.

In 1880, George Stephen approached Tupper on behalf of a syndicate and asked to be allowed to take over construction of the railway. Convinced that Stephen's syndicate was up to the task, Tupper convinced the cabinet to back the plan at a meeting in June 1880 and, together with Macdonald, negotiated a contract with the syndicate in October. The syndicate successfully incorporated the Canadian Pacific Railway in February 1881 and assumed construction of the railway shortly thereafter.

In the following years Tupper was a vocal supporter of the CPR during its competition with the Grand Trunk Railway. In December 1883 he worked out a rescue plan for the CPR after it faced financial difficulties and persuaded his party and Parliament to accept the plan.

In addition to his support for completion of the CPR, Tupper also actively managed the existing railways in the colonies. Shortly after becoming minister in 1879, he forced the Intercolonial Railway to lower its freight rates, which had been a major grievance of Maritime business interests. He then forced the Grand Trunk Railway to sell its Riviere-du-Loup line to the Intercolonial Railway to complete a link between Halifax and the St. Lawrence Seaway. He also refused to give the CPR running rights over the Intercolonial Railway, though he did convince the CPR to build the Short Line from Halifax to Saint John.

A rift developed between Tupper and Macdonald in 1879 over Sandford Fleming, whom Tupper supported but whom Macdonald wanted removed as Chief Engineer of the CPR. This rift was partially healed and Tupper and Macdonald managed to work together during the negotiations with George Stephen's syndicate in 1880, but the men were no longer close, and Tupper no longer seemed to be Macdonald's heir apparent. By early 1881 Tupper had determined that he should leave the cabinet. In March 1881 he asked Macdonald to appoint him as Canada's High Commissioner in London. Macdonald initially refused, and Alexander Tilloch Galt retained the High Commissioner's post.

Tupper was sworn in as Prime Minister on May 1 1896. Tupper's 68 days is the shortest term of all prime ministers to date - Wikipedia.

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