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The battle for the sabbath: the sabbatarian lobby in Canada, 1890-1912

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Title: The battle for the sabbath: the sabbatarian lobby in Canada, 1890-1912
Author: Meen, Sharon Patricia
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program History
Copyright Date: 1979
Subject Keywords Sunday legislation --Canada
Abstract: This study traces the growth of the Sabbatarian lobby in Canada. Limited to sporadic and ephemeral groups during the nineteenth century, Sabbatarianism became organized in response to the appearance of the Sunday street car in the early 1890s. This issue precipitated the formation of an aggressive lobby, the Ontario Lord's Day Alliance. Owing to a succession of judicial decisions handed down concerning the Sunday car, the Ontario Alliance found itself balked in its pursuit of provincial Sabbath observance legislation. As a consequence, it expanded in the early 1900s into a national lobby, the Lord's Day Alliance of Canada, in order to pressure the federal government. As the Alliance developed an increasing awareness of the requisites of successful lobbying, it improved and broadened its techniques: first, by presenting the Sabbatarian aim as a social rather than a moral reform; second, by forging a temporary alliance with organized labour; third, by developing new campaigning methods such as a membership and a press campaign; finally, by persuading the Laurier Liberal government that the Alliance had the support of the two major groups within Canadian society. Throughout its campaign, the Alliance maintained a cohesive organization and pressured the government on all fronts -- two key determinants to a lobby's success within the Canadian political system. Political success came to the Alliance when the French Catholic church, for its own reasons, decided to support the campaign for Sabbath observance legislation. Convinced that he was effecting a compromise acceptable to both English and French, Laurier agreed to introduce a Lord's Day bill in 19 06. The subsequent debates forced Laurier to modify his position in the face of unexpected French Canadian hostility. The Alliance's lobbying inside Parliament was markedly less effective than it had been outside. Although a truncated version of the bill became law, the Alliance failed to turn a political victory into a moral triumph. After five years' ardent pursuit of law enforcement, it became apparent that social legislation did not guarantee a reform of Canadian morals. Canadian Sabbatarianism was one of many responses to vast social and economic change in the period leading up to the First World War. The particular solution advocated by Sabbatarians was the reform of society's ills through the reform of the individual's morals. This ideal had little contact with the realities of an emerging urban and industrial society; it had little relevance to the working class need for recreation other than church-going on the week's one day of leisure. Studies of crusades for moral reform legislation demand discussion because restrictions on recreation affected larger; groups more directly than did legislation concerning factory hours or poor relief. The study of moral and social reform groups is attracting the attention of increasing numbers of Canadian his torians, while the study of pressure group activity is attracting that of political scientists. Based on a theoretical framework provided by David Truman and Neil Smelser, the core of my analysis consisted of a detailed examination of the papers of the Lord's Day Alliance of Canada, its allies, and the key politicians involved; the legislation passed at all levels of government; and the numerous judicial decisions concerning Sabbath observance. It is hoped that the study of the Sabbatarian lobby, its transformation from a single issue group to a more institutionalized group, its shift from traditional nine-' . teenth century techniques to more sophisticated methods of lobbying, its political success in 1906 and subsequent failures, will contribute an historical dimension to the debate concerning the relationship between pressure groups and the policy-making process in Canada.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/21831
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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