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Responsible Government | Lord Elgin | Responsible Government Maritimes | Union of the Canada's | Newfoundland | Barkerville | Stalemate

The transition to responsible government in the Maritimes transpired in a much different manner then in the Canada's. The Maritimes colonies had experience no rebellions by disaffected political groups, and both Tories and Reformers in the Maritimes were loyal supporters of the Crown and mother country. The Maritimes also were a largely homogeneous group with no discernable population of French Canadians such as existed in Lower Canada. The Acadians were present and parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick but were small in comparison to the general population.

The idea of republicanism, of independence, of severance from the mother country, never crosses my mind. I wish to live and die a British subject, but not a Briton only in the name. Give me - give to my country, the blessed privilege of her constitution and her laws; and as our earliest thoughts are trained to reverence the great principles of freedom and responsibility, which have made her the wonder of the world, let us be contended with nothing less. Englishmen at home will despise us, if we forget the lessons our common ancestors have bequeathed.

Joseph Howe to Nova Scotia Assembly, February 11, 1837

Due to the fact that the Maritimes had not rebelled and had displayed consistent loyalty to Britain, requests for consideration of responsible government were much more warmly received.

In 1839 Lord Russell instructed Governor Sydenham, to govern according to the wishes of the people. This lead to the acceptance of a few reformers in the Executive Council, which lead to by precedence to the establishment of the principle that members should come form the Legislative Assembly. This was system evolution through establishment or principle rather the legislative change from above. Governor Falkland who ruled from 1843 to 1846 was unable to bring reformers into the Executive Council and presided over a fragile period. In 1847 an election was called and the reformers scored a decisive electoral victory. Lord Grey followed the new spirit of reform and called upon the reformers to form a ministry. In 1848 J.B. Uniacke an ex-Tory formed an all reformer Executive Council and hence they achieved responsible government before any of the other British American Colonies.

Both New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island progressed under slightly different circumstances revolving mainly around land issues, timber rights in New Brunswick and absentee landowners in Prince Edward Island. Once the establishment of responsible government principles took hold in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island were hard pressed to follow and in 1848 it was extended to the people of New Brunswick and in 1851 to Prince Edward Island. Newfoundland established responsible government in 1855.