The first mayor of Red Deer, leader of the Conservatives in
Alberta from 1917-26, senator (1918-47), and grandfather of future
Canadian Governor-General Roland Michener.
In 1916, in his capacity as Conservative leader, Michener used
unsavory information on AGT gleaned from an Saskatchewan
investigation of the telephone system to query the Liberal
government of Arthur Sifton, who was both Alberta premier and
minister of telephones. Michener wanted an arm’s-length probe of AGT
that would reveal, in his words, "mismanagement and waste in
construction, much over-capitalized, and as a result of such
over-capitalization [AGT] has been run at a loss to the province of
approximately $2 million …"
At the time, there were twice as many Liberals than Conservatives
in the legislature, and so Sifton was able to stave off the
criticism. Michener and his Conservatives kept digging, and enough
ammunition presented itself in the form of the first and only strike
in the history of AGT, when 52 Calgary workers and 58 Edmonton
workers walked off the job for 21 days beginning 30 May 1917. At
issue were wages, and the use of "journeymen" and "apprentice" as
descriptors for the then-non-unionized workers.
The result of what Tony Cashman describes in Singing Wires as
"telephony as political drama" was the resignation of Sifton at the
end of 1917, likely the only time in Canadian history that the
telephone brought down a premier.
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