GARDINER, JIMMY (1883-1962)
James Garfield (Jimmy) Gardiner was born on November 30, 1883, in Hibbert Township, Ontario. On August 14, 1901, he moved west to his uncle's home at Clearwater, Manitoba, where he worked as a hired man and finished high school. Three years later he moved west again, to that part of the Northwest Territories that would become Saskatchewan in 1905.
Following twelve years as representative and minister in the Saskatchewan legislature, Gardiner became premier in 1926. His first premiership, lasting until 1929, occurred during a period of prosperity in the wheat-based provincial economy, while his second, from 1934– 35, featured a devastated Saskatchewan agricultural economy. His move from provincial to federal politics in 1935 launched a recordsetting twenty-two-year career as Minister of Agriculture. Gardiner first focused on creatively using the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act–with which his name became synonymous– to provide financial, water resource, and land-use planning assistance to Prairie farmers. Later, he pushed the Agriculture Ministry to the front of the national policy process, developed close advisory relationships with Canada's major farmers' organizations, and became the leading voice for agriculture in national politics.
Gardiner is also remembered for his use of patronage in the Liberal Party machine provincially and federally, his political abilities within the federal cabinet, and his oratory in parliament. As a cautious reformer within Canada's dominant political party, he strenuously opposed the social democratic Cooperative Commonwealth Federation's attempts to become the major voice of the common people in rural Saskatchewan. Personal ambition and a desire to win westerners and "the people" back to the Liberal banner following the ccf victory in Saskatchewan in 1944 led him to stand, unsuccessfully, for the federal Liberal leadership in 1948. Following electoral defeat in 1958, Jimmy Gardiner returned to his Saskatchewan farm at Lemberg until his death on January 2, 1962.
See also POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT: Cooperative Commonwealth Federation.
David Laycock Simon Fraser University
Smith, David, and Norman Ward. Jimmy Gardiner: Relentless Liberal. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990.