Richard Squires

Richard Squires

Infobox Prime Minister
name = Sir Richard Squires

order = Prime Minister of Newfoundland
term_start = 1919
term_end = 1923
predecessor = Sir Michael Patrick Cashin
successor = William Warren
term_start2 = 1928
term_end2 = 1932
predecessor2 = Sir Frederick C. Alderdice
successor2 = Sir Frederick C. Alderdice
birth_date = birth date|1880|1|18|df=y
birth_place = Harbour Grace, Newfoundland
death_date =Death date and age|1940|3|26|1880|1|18|df=yes
death_place = St. John's, Newfoundland
party =Liberal Party
spouse =Helena Squires

Sir Richard Anderson Squires (January 18, 1880-March 26, 1940) was the Prime Minister of Newfoundland from 1919-1923 and from 1928-1932.

Squires was born in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland in 1880. He started out practicing law in St. John's. He served as a member in the government of Edward Patrick Morris from 1913 to 1918. In 1919, Squires started a campaign for the vacant leadership of the Liberal Party. He won the leadership over William Warren.

Squires won the election of 1919 over Sir Michael Cashin of the Newfoundland People's Party (later called the "Liberal-Labour-Progressive Party"). He did this by forming an alliance with the Fisherman's Protective Union of William Coaker under the name of the "Liberal Reform Party".

During his first administration, Squires started the development of the Humber River. He also attempted many reforms suggested by Coaker. These reforms would have regulated the fishery. These reforms failed because of a collapse in fish prices which was blamed on Coaker's reforms.

Squires government was accused of using bribes to win the 1923 General Election. A cabinet minister Dr. Alex A. Campbell was in the center of the scandal. Several other cabinet members demanded Campbell be forced to resign. When Squires refused they said they would walk across the floor. The Attorney General William Warren issued an arrest warrant for Squires. Squires was arrested and later released on bond. He then resigned as Prime Minister.

Squires remained in the House of Assembly, as an independent member. In the next year, Newfoundland saw four governments fall. It was not until Walter Monroe won the 1924 election that stability was restored. Squires remained in the background working on a possible return to power. In 1928 Walter Monroe resigned as Prime Minister and was replaced by his cousin Frederick C. Alderdice. In the election of 1928, Squires returned as Liberal leader and wiped out the conservatives.

His next administration started out well, seeing the election of his wife Helena Squires as the first woman to sit in the House of Assembly. However, Newfoundland was struck hard by the Great Depression; fish prices fell and an already severe public debt worsened. In 1932 Canada refused his request to join the Canadian Confederation.

Widespread unemployment caused by the Great Depression and allegations of corruption against Squires and his government along with the government's inability to deal with the economic crisis created widespread discontent and political instability.

In 1932, Squires' finance minister, Peter John Cashin, resigned from the executive council accusing his fellow cabinet ministers of widespread corruption and Squires himself of having falsified council minutes to hide the fact that he had been receiving secret payments out of public funds. Cashin's charge inflamed a public which had already been seized by discontent due to the deteriorating economic situation in the province.

On April 5, 1932, a large parade was organized by the opposition. They marched to the Colonial Building which was the seat of the House of Assembly. There was over 10,000 people at the protest and things got out of control.

The crowd got angry when no one came out to address them. After a short while, several people managed to break into the building. Squires and government members had to escape around the back. Squires was nearly caught trying to get into a cab. He got away only by running through someone's house.

Squires had little choice but to dissolve his government and call an election, the result of which was the defeat of the Liberal government and the loss of Squires' own seat. The Liberals only won two seats out of 28. Alderdice, who was still leader of the opposition, came to power and went about putting into place a Commission of Government.

Squires retired but always remained active in his opposition to the Commission of Government. He died at the age of 60, in 1940.

External links

* [ Newfoundland in the 1920s]

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