Timeline
 Two photos

Fighting for Responsible Government
Louis-Hyppolyte La Fontaine (right) and Robert Baldwin, from Lower and Upper Canada respectively (Quebec and Ontario), were partners in the struggle to make governments responsible to the elected assembly, rather than to representatives of the British Crown. The British government acceded to the request in 1848.

Past A History of the Vote in CanadaPresent Federal Elections TodayFuture The Future is in Your Hands
British North America (1758-1866)From a Privilege to a Right (1867-1919)The Modern Franchise (1920-1997)
Responsible GovernmentThe Right to Vote is JeopardizedVoters and Confederation

Governing on Behalf of the British Crown, or on Behalf of the People
The first legislative assembly was elected in Nova Scotia in 1758. Prince Edward Island followed suit in 1773, New Brunswick in 1785, then Lower Canada (Quebec) and Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1792. Still, the power of government remained in the hands of executive council members nominated by colonial governors, who were themselves nominated by the British Crown. Council members could block any law adopted by an assembly and were in no way accountable to the electorate.

Nova Scotia again innovated in 1848, when it inaugurated the first elected responsible government in a British colony. Six years later, all colonies had responsible government. From then on, governments would have to answer to the electors.


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