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James G. Gardiner had an exceptionally long career in public life. In fact, he had two careers of almost equal length, from 1914 to 1935 in provincial politics, and from 1935 to 1958 in federal. In Saskatchewan he sat as a back-bencher, cabinet minister, premier, and leader of the oppostion. In Ottawa he served as minister of Agriculture, minister of National War Service, and a leading member of the opposition. Drawing heavily on Gardiner`s excellent papers, the authors of this volume have charted his public life.
As a key figure in the Liberal party at both levels of government, Gardiner`s influence permeated the country`s politics for nearly half a century. He was present at the founding of the province of Saskatchewan in 1905, and participated in the exuberant period of western settlement before the First World War. His public policies helped to ease the ravages of regional drought and depression some twenty year later.
He held public office during two world wars, both of which witnessed strong campaigns for conscription which he passionately opposed. The nativist revolt in Saskatchewan in the twenties led by the Ku Klux Klan, which he likewise condemned, contributed to his only election defeat.
Gardiner was a principled politician whose principles won him friends and enemies. First and foremost he was a party man, who believed that only through unremitting attention to the details of organization and administration could responsible government be assured.