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Lecture: Why Does Canada Exist and What Does It Mean?

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HIST 203
Jarrett Rudy

Lecture: Why Does Canada Exist and What Does It Mean? (Lecture January 10, 2013) Why Canada • Act of Providence • A logic of nature? • A peaceable kingdom? ◦ inevitable, a good force in the North of the US ◦ based around the notion of being almost oppressive conservative foundational country • Canada as inevitable and good. Why did a political entity called Canada come into being in the northern part of North America in the Mid-Nineteenth Century? • diverse groups of people • diverse political structures ◦ from colonial governments in upper and lower Canada, that had different levels of populace representation, to the native people with little relationship to British N.Am. Population of British North America 1861 • census takers had little experience in such matters • native people profoundly underrepresented in census • (see breakdown on slides on MyCourses) • 1/4 of the population, spread across the country, is Irish • 1 million Francophones • census takes sucked, basically What about Confederation? • Union of Canada 1841 ◦ did not yet have responsible government (1849) • responsible government ◦ the executive (cabinet) is responsible to the legislative branch (Parliament) of government which is elected ◦ does not mean democracy (not everyone had the right to vote, must have a certain amount of property and generally limited to men) • liberalism and the liberal subject doesn't at first include First Nations or women • democracy is more than anything an ideal that people are looking to fulfill, amidst the struggles surrounding it • regional tensions between the Canadas ◦ East (French Canadians) vs. West in terms of population ◦ project to assimilate French Canadians ◦ larget population given same number of government seats as a smaller population, which is dumb and causes disputes ◦ the East was underrepresented ◦ population of the West suddenly grows to become larger than the East's • representation by population eventually develops Political Cast of Late 1850s and 1860s • Reformers ◦ Canada West ◦ led by George Brown ◦ like small government and Free Trade ◦ Clear Grits are the most radical of these groups ▪ anti-monarchy, anti-Catholic ◦ their anti-Catholicism makes coalitions with Quebec difficult • Les Bleus ◦ Canada East ◦ led by George-Étienne Cartier ◦ mostly Catholics • Les Rouges ◦ Canada East liberals ◦ frequently anti-clerical ◦ led by A.-A. Dorion ◦ disliked Les Bleus and the reformers • liberal-conservative party ◦ John A. Macdonald ◦ coalition of Ontario, pro-tariff business interests (protectionism) • Reformers and Rouges form coalition that fails in less than a day Outside Influences • Briti
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