Confederation of Canada: Part 1 – Canada | theFAQs
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Confederation of Canada: Part 1 – Canada | theFAQs

The original country of Canada was nothing
more than colonised pieces of North America done by the British and the French. Let’s
not start there, but rather in the beginning days leading up to the building of confederation
and the Canadian parliamentary democratic system. In the early days of Canada, there was no
more than three maritime colonies and a very large piece of land called New France. The maritime colonies were British and New
France as you can imagine was controlled by the French. So the parliamentary institution began in
Nova Scotia, 1758 where it was given an elected assembly making it the first colony to have
a representative political institution. Unfortunately no terms limits were given,
that is until 1785, where it was deemed seven years was okay, but in 1792 it was changed
to the four years we’re all familiar with. Next up was Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick
which received their own in 1773 and 1784 respectively. Its also worth noting that they were all still
administered by a British governor and an appointed executive council and the Upper
Chambers or Legislative Council or Senate as we know them today weren’t introduced in
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick until 1832 and 1833 respectively. Lets head over to New France now. New France had no legislature with almost
no popular participation in politics, in fact it was only for a short while that the residents
of the settlements known now as Quebec City, Montreal and Trois-Rivières even elected
representatives or syndics to sit on their colonial council. The problem was the council was only responsible
to King Louis the XIV or the governor of New France. Though in 1674, Jean-Baptiste Colbert then
secretary of state for colonial affairs disbanded it in entirety. In 1760, the Seven Years War between Britain
and France came to an end with New France being ceded to England under the terms of
the Treaty of Paris. Three years later, King George the III of
England proclaimed governments be established in their newly acquired territories, including
the territory known as Quebec. They commissioned a governor and authorised
the appointment of a local executive council to start an elected assembly, modelled after
Nova Scotia’s. The governor and elected assembly were empowered
to make laws for the peace, welfare and government of the colony but there was a catch. The elected representatives were required
to swear allegiance to the British crown and make declaration against transubstantiation. Very few of the inhabitants accepted this
which resulted in no assembly ever meeting.. and since the Royal Proclamation imposed British
civil and criminal law, this was upsetting because they believed their traditional, civil
and property rights were secure under the Treaty of Paris. This created an environment where the Governor
General ruled with the executive council. Fourteen years later the British Parliament
passed the Quebec Act which enlarged the province and stated Roman Catholics need not declare
against transubstantiation. Unfortunately, no provisions were made for
an elected assembly and government was entrusted to a Governor and legislative council; crown
appointed. Two years later when the United States declared
their independence British loyalists emigrated north over a period of twenty years, this
increased demand for political representation. Finally in 1791, the Quebec Act was replaced
with the Constitutional Act and representative institutions were finally given. The act divided the province of Quebec in
two, Lower Canada and Upper Canada. Each part was given an upper house and legislative
assembly. Members of the upper house were appointed
by the Sovereign for life while the assembly was elected. To be a member of either you must have been
at minimum twenty-one years old and subjects of the British Crown. Provision was made for the Governor to appoint
a Speaker for the upper house, but none was made for the assembly. The questions coming before legislatures were
decided by majority vote, with the Speaker having the tie-breaking vote. The Governor was authorised to fix the time
and place of meetings of the legislature and to dissolve it when deemed expedient, as long
as they met at least once per year and each legislative assembly continued no longer than
four years. Legislation was enacted by way of bills, considered
and passed by both houses, then assented to Governor on behalf of the Crown. Well that’s it for part one folks! Like, dislike that really does help me out
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