Clear Grits

Clear Grits, Upper Canadian Reformers who became discontented with the conservatism of the BALDWIN-LAFONTAINE ministry after 1849. The group was composed of Old Radicals, such as Peter Perry, who attempted to revive the agrarian republicanism of the prerebellion period, and young entrepreneurs such as William McDougall from the Toronto area, who advocated elective institutions, universal manhood suffrage, free trade with the US, secularization of the CLERGY RESERVES, and representation by population to overcome perceived French Canadian domination. As well, they attracted support in rural areas west of Toronto.

After the Old Radicals were accommodated in the Hincks-Morin ministry (1851-54), the young Grits fell in behind George BROWN, who replaced their republicanism with British liberalism. The Brownite Liberals, advocating REP BY POP and annexation of the North-West, became the dominant party in Canada West by the mid-1850s and formed the basis of the LIBERAL PARTY after Confederation.