Great Coalition

 The politics of the PROVINCE OF CANADA in the early 1860s were marked by instability and deadlock. The external dangers posed by the American Civil War combined with a legislative impasse to make drastic action necessary. The union of the Canadas had clearly failed, and its political leaders were ready to forget old political feuds to create a new political order. REFORM MOVEMENT leader George BROWN proposed that a parliamentary committee with members from all groups investigate how the impasse might be broken. This committee quickly concluded that the best solution was confederation of BRITISH NORTH AMERICA or the federal union of the Canadas. Brown quickly responded to the report by joining a coalition with the Conservatives with the intention of creating a new union. (It was announced to Parliament on 22 June 1864.) Thus the Great Coalition was formed under the leadership of Brown, George-Étienne CARTIER and, above all, John A. MACDONALD. The broadly based coalition was remarkably successful in meeting its major aims: the ending of political deadlock and the creation of a new political entity. It remained largely intact as the government of the Province of Canada until CONFEDERATION.