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

Sharon Patricia Meen
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
more » ... 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 [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0094766 fatcat:geie42eamzbphe54nztwqomxbe