The British North
America Act passes the Imperial Parliament, March 28th—Provisions of the
New Constitution—Inauguration of the New Dominion, July 1st -1867. Sir
John Young, Governor-General vice Lord Monck—Anti-Confederation
Agitation in Nova Scotia— "Better Terms" granted -1868.
In the maritime
provinces the tide of popular feeling had now turned strongly in favour
of confederation. In New Brunswick the anti-confederation Government was
compelled to resign, and a new Parliament, elected with express
reference to this question, declared decidedly for it. In Nova Scotia,
Mr. Howe's eloquence in condemnation of the scheme lost its spell, and
his opposition in the lobbies of the Imperial Parliament proved equally
futile. The Canadian and maritime delegates met in London, and slightly
modified the provisions of the Quebec Resolutions, chiefly in the
direction of increasing the subsidies to the local governments.
On the 7th of February,
the Earl of Carnarvon, the Colonial Secretary, introduced the British
North America Act into the House of Lords. After slight modification in
the House of Commons, it successfully passed through its different
stages, and received the royal assent and became the law of the empir6.
The Canada Railway Loan Act empowered the Imperial Government to
guarantee a loan of three million pounds sterling for the construction
of the Intercolonial Railway, now become a political, as well as a
commercial and military necessity for the prosperity of the new
The Act of Union
provided that the Dominion of Canada, as the new nation was named,
should consist of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada (designated
respectively Ontario and Quebec), and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Provision was also made for the future admission of Prince Edward
Island, the Hudson's Bay Territory, British Columbia, and Newfoundland
with its dependency, Labrador.
The following are the
chief provisions of the new constitution:
The executive authority
is vested in the Queen, in whose name run all legislative Acts, civil
processes, and naval and military proclamations.
representative in Canada is the Governor-General, who is advised and
aided by a Privy Council of thirteen members, constituting the ministry,
who must be sustained by a parliamentary majority.
The Parliament consists
of two chambers, the Senate and the House of Commons.
The Senate was at first
to be composed of 72 members— 24 for each of the three divisions,
Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
The House of Commons,
as first constituted, consisted of 181 members; 82 for Ontario, 65 for
Quebec, 19 for Nova Scotia, and 16 for New Brunswick.
The. House of Commons
is elected for five years unless sooner dissolved. It elects its own
Speaker, who can vote only when the House is equally divided. All bills
affecting taxation or revenue must originate in the House of Commons,
and must be recommended by a message from the Governor-General.
The jurisdiction of the
Dominion Parliament extends over the public debt, expenditure and public
loans; treaties; customs and excise duties; trade and commerce;
navigation, shipping and fisheries; lighthouses and harbours; the
postal, naval and military services; public statistics; monetary
institutions, banks, banking, currency, coining, and insolvency;
criminal law, marriage and divorce; public works, railways and canals.
The appointment and
maintenance of the Judges of the Superior, District, and County Courts
of the several provinces, is the prerogative and duty of the Governor in
The chief executive
officer of the several provinces is the Lieutenant-Governor, who is
appointed by the Governor-General in Council, acting for the Crown, for
the term of five years. The local legislatures were granted
constitutions agreeable to the wishes of the respective provinces.
The legislature of
Ontario consists of only one chamber, the Legislative Assembly. It was
constituted at first with eighty-two members, which number was
afterwards increased to ninety, who are elected for four years.
The other local
legislatures consist of two chambers, a Legislative Council and
Legislative Assembly. The Acts of the local legislatures may be
disallowed by the Governor-General, for sufficient reason, within a year
after they have passed.
The local legislatures
have jurisdiction over direct taxation; provincial loans; the
appointment and maintenance of provincial officers; the management of
provincial lands, prisons, hospitals and asylums; municipal
institutions; local improvements; education; and matters affecting
property and civil rights.
On the 1st of July,
1867, the Act of Confederation came into force, and the Dominion of
Canada set forth on its high career. Lord Monck was sworn in as the
Governor-General of the confederated provinces. Sir N. F. Belleau became
Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, and Major-General Doyle,
Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. In July, 1868, the Hon. L. A. Wilmot
was appoin ted Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, and the Hon. W. P.
Hftwland, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.
The elections for the
Dominion Parliament and for the several local legislatures took place
during the summer. The Dominion Parliament met at Ottawa for the
transaction of business on the 7th of November.
In the following
November, Lord Monck, having witnessed the successful inauguration of
the new constitution of the confederated provinces, was succeeded in
office by Sir John Young.
dissatisfaction with the terms of'union soon began to be manifested in
the province of Nova Scotia. The annual subsidy from the Dominion
Government was found inadequate for the civil expenses of the
government. A strong anti-confederation agitation was therefore kept up,
and a petition was forwarded to the British Parliament requesting the
repeal of the British North America Act so far as it concerned Nova
Scotia. The Imperial Parliament refused to entertain the proposition of
a repeal of the union, but counselled a compromise with the recalcitrant
The Dominion Government
offered a liberal readjustment of terms with Nova Scotia, and an
additional annual subsidy was granted. Mr. Howe withdrew his opposition
and accepted office in the Dominion Government as President of the
During this year the
Abyssinian war, which had been conducted with, great skill and success
by General Napier, was brought to a close by the fall of Magdala and
death of King Theodore, on the 13th of April.
Hon. H. S. Langevin,
Secretary of'State; Hon. A. T. Gait, Minister of Finance; Hon. W.
Macdougall, Minister of Public Works; Hon. Alex. Campbell,
Postmaster-General; Hon. J. C. Chapais, Minister of Agriculture; Hon. E.
Kenny, Receiver-General ; Hon. Sir George E. Cartier, Minister of
Militia; Hon S. L. Tilley, Minister of Customs; Hon. W. P. How land,
Minister of Inland Revenue; Hon. P. Mitchell, Minister of Marine and
Fisheries; Hon. A. G. Archibald, Secretary of State for Provinces.