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The Last Straw
Letter from Prime Minister Robert Borden to Sam Hughes, the Minister of the Militia and Defence requesting Hughes's resignation, November 9, 1916 Copyright/Source
Ottawa, November 9th, 1916
Dear General Hughes,
During your absence, I have given very careful consideration to your letter of the 1st instant and I must express my deep regret that you saw fit to address to me, as head of the government, a communication of that nature. As you are to return tomorrow, it is my duty to at once to announce to you my conclusion.
Under conditions which were at times very trying and which gave me great concern, I have done my utmost to support you in the administration of your department. This has been very difficult by reason of your strong tendency to assume powers which you do not possess and which can only be exercised by the Governor in Council. My time and energies, although urgently needed for much more important duties, have been very frequently employed in removing difficulties thus necessarily created. You seemed actuated by a desire and even an intention to administer your department as if it were a distinct and separate government in itself. On many occasions but without much result, I have cautioned you against the course which have frequently led to well founded protest from your colleagues as well as detrimental to the public interest.
I do not intend to dwell upon the instances, some of which are still under consideration in which you have acted without authority or consultation in matters more or less important. Of these, latest is the establishment of a Militia Sub-Council in Great Britain including the appointment of its personnel. I conveyed to you on the 31st of July a clear intimation that upon so important proposal involving consideration of the gravest moment, the Cabinet must be consulted before action was taken. All the members of the government have full and direct responsibility in respect of the very important matters which the proposed council would advise upon and direct. The intimation which was given to you in my telegram of 31st July should not have been necessary. As soon as it was received, you proceeded to disregard its general character and tone. You must surely realize that I cannot retain in the government a colleague who has addressed to me such a communication. I regret that you have thus imposed upon me the disagreeable duty of requesting your resignation as Minister of Militia and Defence