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Road to Responsible Government: The Oligarchies and Reformers.

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Presentation on theme: "Road to Responsible Government: The Oligarchies and Reformers."— Presentation transcript:

1 Road to Responsible Government: The Oligarchies and Reformers

2 British North America During the first decades of the nineteenth century, there emerged forces and events that challenged the existing political status quo in British North America. Between 1815 and 1855, one million people immigrated to British North America. Their arrival was a catalyst for both political and economic challenges to the colonial status quo.

3 Decision Making Those who held power and those who sought political power held vastly different views about how society should be structured, and how the decision-making process should operate. There was competition over who would direct the colonial decision-making processes.

4 Defining the State and Society: Competing Visions

5 The Two Groups

6 Oligarchies Elites should run Canada The masses were not educated and lacked the ability to control society A strong executive, with appointed Councils, was necessary to act as a counterweight to the elected assemblies. Reformers They viewed the Revolutions as expressions of the people's will to wrest the decision-making processes from the non- representative and non- responsible elites.

7 Oligarchies Government –A strong executive, with appointed Councils, was necessary to act as a counterweight to the elected assemblies. Such an arrangement was necessary to maintain the political status quo. Governor- General Lieutenant- Governor Executive Council Legislative Council Legislative Assembly Lieutenant- Governor Executive Council Legislative Council Legislative Assembly

8 Reformers Reform leaders, such as William Lyon Mackenzie, believed that the existing political structure was controlled by an elite and therefore, not accountable to the will of the people.

9 Reformers An elected assembly, should be the principal forum for decision making. That assembly should control both the revenues and the general conduct of government. Governor- General Lieutenant- Governor Executive Council Legislative Council Legislative Assembly Lieutenant- Governor Executive Council Legislative Council Legislative Assembly

10 Money, Money, Money The issue of controlling government revenues and expenditures was central to the political debate. When reformers formed a majority in the elected assemblies, they often refused to authorize money necessary for the operation of government unless the Assembly was given total control over all government revenues and expenditures. The governors and Councils argued that the executive administration of the colonies had to be independent of popular control. To be independent meant not having salaries and expenditures contingent on the approval of the elected Assembly.

11 1791 - 1848 Representative government Legislative Council Executive Council Lieutenant Government Governor General Legislative Assembly

12 Governance: The Exercise of Privilege

13 Democracy ? Women and First Nations peoples were not permitted to vote in the elections Even among the colonial male population, property qualifications restricted the number of males who could vote. Members of elected assemblies were not paid, which made it difficult for the non- wealthy to run for office.

14 Limiting Public Participation –Polling was centralized in the chief market towns, which limited the number of voters –Voting was frequently manipulated by election officials in favour of one candidate. –Balloting was open to public scrutiny rather than conducted in secret. –Voters were often being bribed or intimidated during the public balloting.

15 Compare and Contrast The politics of the 1800’s to the politics of today Venn Diagram

16 Road to Rebellion: Issues of Conflict

17 The flow of immigrants into Upper Canada focused attention on the issue of land. They needed land. The oligarchy restricted the existence large tracts of Clergy or Crown land reserves for expansion. The reformers represented the agrarian majority in the colony Upper Canada

18 The Councils were controlled by the colony's English minority Assembly was dominated by the colony's French- Canadian majority Wanted to secure political power in order to protect French Canada's culture and identity. Lower Canada

19 1837: Years of Frustration and Rebellion

20 Frustration Boils Over Years of frustration and the failure to implement responsible government, radicalised elements of the reform movements in both Canadas.

21 Lower Canada In Lower Canada, the political deadlock led to violence. During an election riot in 1832, government troops killed three French- Canadians. Papineau used this event to attract support for his reform movement. In 1834, he introduced the Ninety-Two Resolutions which criticized the ruling oligarchy and listed numerous grievances.

22 Lower Canada Cont… In November of 1837, extremists supporting the governing elite clashed with extremists within the reform movement. In response, the government ordered the arrest of Papineau and other reform leaders. The attempt to arrest the leaders led to violence on December 23. Papineau fled to the United States and the rebellion was leaderless.

23 Upper Canada: William Lyon Mackenzie William Lyon Mackenzie assumed leadership of a radical element of the reform movement in Upper Canada. His increasingly radical pronouncements split the reform movement in the 1830s. The moderate reformers, led by Robert Baldwin, differed with the radicals on the goals of the reform movement and on how to achieve political reform. The moderate reformers favoured implementation of the British cabinet system, in which the government is responsible to the majority in an elected assembly.

24 Upper Canada Mackenzie increasingly advocated an American-style democracy, in which the Councils and the Assembly would both be elected by the people. Upon hearing of the armed resistance in Lower Canada, Mackenzie and his followers took up arms. As in Lower Canada, the rebellion lacked leadership and was poorly organized. The first clash between the rebels and the government forces occurred on December 7, 1837, and resulted in the rebel forces scattering. Mackenzie fled to the United States.

25 Results of the Rebellions Although the Rebellions failed, their occurrence forced Britain to take measures that brought about responsible government in British North America.

26 Lord Durham and the Union Act of 1840

27 Responsible Government The rebellions prompted Britain to take measures to bring about responsible government in the Canadas. The British government charged Lord Durham to investigate the causes that precipitated the rebellions and to propose solutions.

28 The Durham Report He recommended uniting the legislatures of the two Canada's into one legislature “Rep by Pop”

29 Canada's population was growing faster than Lower Canada's, the francophone population of Lower Canada would eventually be assimilated by the growing English-speaking majority. Having thousands of anglophone immigrants overwhelm the francophone population, was Lord Durham’s vision.

30 Not Quite What I Had in Mind The Union Act that reunited the two provinces But did not completely follow Durham's advice. –The principle of representation by population was not enacted. –Despite population differences, the two former colonies were each given 42 members in the new legislature.

31 Canada East 42 Seats Canada West 42 Seats

32 Act of Union of 1840-41 The government of the united colony of Canada, reflected the distinct and separate nature of the two ethnic populations. –The cabinets, in successive governments, included representatives from both linguistic groups. –There was no single prime minister but rather two party leaders, one from each of the two linguistic groups. –The former Lower Canada retained French Civil Law.

33 1849 Responsible Government Elected Assembly Executive Council

34 Responsible Government The principle of responsible government was actualized in 1849 When the governor, Lord Elgin, agreed to sign into law the Rebellion Losses Bill that had been passed by a majority in the Canadian Assembly.


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