Smith, Ralph

Ralph Smith, labour politician (b at Newcastle-on-Tyne, Eng 8 Aug 1858; d at Victoria 12 Feb 1917). Starting as a secretary of a miners' union in Nanaimo, Smith later served as president of the Dominion Trades and Labor Congress from 1900 to 1902. He also was elected to the BC legislature in 1898 and from 1900 to 1911 sat in the House of Commons. A devoted Laurier Liberal, Smith tried to nationalize the Canadian labour movement by removing American unions and organizers. At the famous TLC convention in 1902 in Berlin [Kitchener], Ont, his policies were defeated by the forces of American labour boss Samuel Gompers. In 1916 he returned to BC provincial politics and became minister of finance. On his death the following year, his wife Mary Ellen SMITH was elected to his Vancouver riding.