Road to Confederation

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by marieltalabis
Last updated 4 years ago

Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
World History
Grade:
11

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Road to Confederation

1867

Road to Confederation

Time Line

1841

Political Deadlock

1841, Britain declared the Act of Union that Canada East and Canada West would have equal representation in the elected assembly of the Province of Canada. Britain made this decision since Canada’s East population outnumbered Canada’s West. Although, this lead to political deadlock, in which government could not make any decisions because each side blocked the other from advancing any agenda. Due to the large influx of immigrants into Canada West during the 1850’s, the census showed Canada West had 300 000 more people than Canada East. From this, George Brown began to advocate that representation in the legislature should be according to population (Rep by pop).

1960's

The Imperial Nudge

1864

The Charlottetown Conference

1865

1866

Pros and Cons Of Joining Confederation

The London Conference

1867

The True Concept of Confederation

1850's

The "Great Coalition"

Movement for Maritime Union

1864

The Quebec Conference

1864

The Pressure Builds

1866

Canadian Federalism

1867

After the mid-1840’s, British Colonies were no longer considered precious economic benefit to the empire. By the 1860’s, British authorities indicated a growing desire to have colonies, such as those in North America, assume a greater financial responsibility for their own defence in order to reduce the burden on British taxpayers. Many British officials welcomed any ideas, such as confederation, that would allow the colonies to become more independent. This would limit the need for financial and military support. Britain promised low-interest loans for railway development as an enticement for the colonies to support confederation. Colonial governors who did not like or support the idea of confederation were replaced by governors who were more sympathetic to the thought.

From September 1st to 9th, 1864. The leaders from the Atlantic colonies wanted to hear what the Canadians had to say before discussing the possibility of a Maritime union. The Canadian delegation impressed the Atlantic colonies with their arguments and promises about the benefits that the colonies would gain from a union. Also Macdonald reminded them of the threat the American Civil War brought to the colonies and discussed how they would better be able to defend themselves if they were united. The Canadians promised that a centralized government would assume the debts of the colonies that joined. For many colonies that were in debt due to the railway building, the last promise seemed like a solution to their growing problem. By the end of the conference, the Maritime union agreed to join confederation.

The Job of governing the Province of Canada became increasingly unmanageable in the two decades following the Act of Union in 1841. By the 1850’s, Canada West’s elected members of the assembly were divided into two rival parties: the Clear Grits led by George Brown, and the Liberal-Conservatives led by John A. Macdonald. The members if Canada’s East were divided into the Parti Blue, led by Georfe-Étienne Cartier, and the Parti Rouge, under Antoine-Aimé Dorion. MacDonald and Cartier served as co-premiers of Canada, although that combination could not struggle free from the political deadlock. The two would need support from their biggest rival; George brown. The men were able to put their feelings aside to for the Great Coalition. Their single goal was the creation of the union of all the British North American colonies.

The Canadian legislature voted to approve confederation in March 1865. Ninety-one voted for confederation and thirty-three voting against the idea. Within the forty-eight politicians from Canada East, twenty-six voted and twenty-two voted against confederation. There were more anti-confederation arguments than there was support for the idea.

Began December 4th, 1866. The delegates from Canada East, Canada West, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick met in London, England to discuss the final details and to present their constitution (British North America Act) to the British government for approval in November 1866. The act passed through both British Houses of Parliament.

There was an important set of voices not represented at the Charlottetown, Quebec and London Conference; the First Nation, Métis and Inuit. They were ignored throughout most of the process. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 had introduced three important principles governing relations between First Nations peoples and the British Crown. First, treaties were required to be made between First Nations in order to obtain land for settlement. Next, the British were to assist in settling disputes between First Nations and European immigrants. Last, the proclamation stated that there was a special relationship between First Nations and the British Crown. The British North America Act transferred all of these principles to the new Canadian government.

For a union of British North American colonies to become reality, it would be important for Atlantic colonies to be included. Although, the Atlantic colonies were skeptical of the idea of confederation due to their small population. They were afraid they would not be a big influence in the united parliament due to it.

October 10th to 27th, 1864. Thirty-three delegates arrived in Quebec City to talk about the details of a confederation of colonies in October 1864. The ideas that had been made at the Charlottetown Conference had been used and the politicians began the task of creating a constitution for the new nation. All delegates agreed that ties with Britain would be kept. Also the British Constitution would be adhered very close when creating the confederations constitution. There was an agreement that the union would be a federation and the central government would be made of a house full of commons and senates. Although, there was a disagreement on how the power would be shared within the two levels of government. They came to the agreement that included seventy-two resolutions on how the new country would be run.

The debates on whether or not to join the union raged on in each of the colonies but the inner and outer influences intensified, drawing them towards Confederation. In Canada East, the hope that Confederation would protect French Canadian culture helped the pro-confederation side gain favour. Canada West had the most to gain from Confederation so they had the easiest decision. Although in PEI and Newfoundland, the anti-confederation sentiments remained strong.

Queen Victoria signed the British North America Act on March 29, 1867 and agreed that it would come into effect on July 1st. The Nation was given the name “Dominion of Canada” which consisted of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

John A. Macdonald favoured the British style of centralized government, in which there is a single, central government that oversees the governing of the whole country. The Fathers of Confederation also looked to the American, federal style of governing. In a federal system, there are separate and distinct powers for the central or federal government addresses national concerns, while provincial governments look after local concerns.

British North America Act

By: Mariel Talabis


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