The idea of responsible government was taken up in the 1830s in BNA largely by loyal admirers of the British model, who sought it both to remedy discontent with unyielding local oligarchies and to keep the provinces securely, though freely, within the Empire. Radicals such as William Lyon MACKENZIE and Louis-Joseph PAPINEAU preferred American elective patterns, but Joseph HOWE in Nova Scotia and Robert BALDWIN in Upper Canada showed far better comprehension - better even than Lord DURHAM, an influential advocate of responsible government - since they realized that an organized party system was vital.
Howe in Nova Scotia, and Baldwin and Louis LAFONTAINE in the PROVINCE OF CANADA, built up strong, moderate Reform parties to gain responsible government, and by 1848 saw it fully operating, accepted by a Liberal, imperial Britain. It then was granted to other eastern colonies: PEI in 1851, NB in 1854 and Nfld last, in 1855, and as western provinces emerged in CONFEDERATION they too obtained it.
Author J.M.S. CARELESS
Links to Other Sites
Watch the Heritage Minute about the concept of "responsible government" from the Historica-Dominion Institute. See also related online learning resources.
A biography of Robert Baldwin with photographs and other archival resources. This “Canadian Confederation” website is from Library and Archives Canada.
William Warren Baldwin
A detailed biography of William Warren Baldwin, doctor, militia officer, lawyer, judge, businessman, and politician. From the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.