Illustration and Quote

Changing Paradigm
John A. Macdonald realized that he was wrong in failing to consult voters on Confederation. Citizens demanded to be heard, and politicians had to adjust.

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

Realizing the People’s Opinion May Matter After All
The Fathers of Confederation established the Constitution of 1867 that created Canada without submitting the question directly to electors. This cost federalist politicians so many votes at following elections that Prime Minister John A. Macdonald vowed not to impose Confederation on another colony without first consulting the people through the polls. When Newfoundland, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island later entered Confederation, each first held a referendum.

Since then, the relative influence of voters in Canadian parliamentary institutions has grown appreciably – to the point that politicians today are unlikely to enact any kind of fundamental changes without consulting the electorate.

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