Lecture 17 – Responsible Government and Partisan Politics
Responsible Government and the Reorientation of Politics
In July of 1840, Upper and Lower Canada were unified. The only other recommendation from
Lord Durham was to implement responsible government.
The governor of Canada, Lord Elgin, inaugurated responsible government in the Province of
In 1847, Nova Scotia became the first colony to achieve responsible government after an election
centered on that single issue.
Prince Edward Island achieved responsible government in 1851 and New Brunswick in 1854.
In Newfoundland it was a little more complicated. Britain wanted to split elected parties by
appointed members and voted members. Nonetheless in 1855 Newfoundland achieves
The lower provinces were able to live with a two-party system but Canada created four parties.
George Brown, leader of the Grits, adopted “representation by population” as a campaign slogan
when he stood as an independent Reformer in the general election of that year.
French Canada gradually tried to withdrawal into its own agenda centered on the development of
nationalistic aspirations and the p