Canada under British Rule 1760-1900 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 395 pages of information about Canada under British Rule 1760-1900.
and irresponsible government could be successfully combined....To suppose that such a system would work well there, implied a belief that the French Canadians have enjoyed representative institutions for half a century, without acquiring any of the characteristics of a free people; that Englishmen renounce every political opinion and feeling when they enter a colony, or that the spirit of Anglo-Saxon freedom is utterly changed and weakened among those who are transplanted across the Atlantic[3].”

[3:  For the full text of Lord Durham’s report, which was laid before Parliament, 11 February, 1839, see English Parliamentary Papers for 1839.]

In June, 1839, Lord John Russell introduced a bill to reunite the two provinces, but it was allowed, after its second reading, to lie over for that session of parliament, in order that the matter might be fully considered in Canada.  Mr. Poulett Thomson was appointed governor-general with the avowed object of carrying out the policy of the imperial government.  Immediately after his arrival in Canada, in the autumn of 1839, the special council of Lower Canada and the legislature of Upper Canada passed addresses in favour of a union of the two provinces.  These necessary preliminaries having been made, Lord John Russell, in the session of 1840, again brought forward “An act to reunite the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, and for the government of Canada,” which was assented to on the 23rd of July, but did not come into effect until the 10th of February in the following year.

The act provided for a legislative council of not less than twenty members, and for a legislative assembly in which each section of the united provinces would be represented by an equal number of members—­that is to say, forty-two for each or eighty-four in all.  The number of representatives allotted to each province could not be changed except with the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of each house.  The members of the legislative council were appointed by the crown for life, and the members of the assembly were chosen by electors possessing a small property qualification.  Members of both bodies were required to hold property to a certain amount.  The assembly had a duration of four years, subject of course to be sooner dissolved by the governor-general.

Provision was made for a consolidated revenue fund, on which the first charges were expenses of collection, management and receipt of revenues, interest of public debt, payment of the clergy, and civil list.  The English language alone was to be used in the legislative records.  All votes, resolutions or bills involving the expenditure of public money were to be first recommended by the governor-general.

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