Smith, Sir Albert James

Sir Albert James Smith, lawyer, politician, premier of NB (b at Shediac, NB 12 Mar 1822; d at Dorchester, NB 30 June 1883). Smith was the anti-Confederation leader of NB who almost wrecked the movement in 1865. Entering politics as a radical in 1852 and a member of the reform government that took office 1854, he was appointed attorney general in 1861 when S.L. TILLEY became premier. The 2 divided over government railway policies in 1862 and battled over CONFEDERATION, which Smith regarded as a devious scheme from the "oily brains of Canadian politicians." The "antis" trounced the Confederation forces in the 1865 election. Smith failed to suppress the unionists as premier 1865-66 and was eventually driven from office by an arbitrary lieutenant-governor. After Confederation, Smith went to Ottawa, becoming minister of fisheries under PM Alexander MACKENZIE. In 1877 he was the "ruling spirit throughout" the Halifax Fisheries Commission which awarded Canada $5.5 million, the first diplomatic victory over the US. For his efforts Smith became the first native-born New Brunswicker to be knighted, an ironic twist not lost on those who supported Confederation.