The act of 1791 established assemblies, in both Upper and Lower Canada, that were representative in that most adult males could vote in elections for these bodies. Britain conceded that its colonists were entitled to representative institutions, but it did not want a repeat of the American Revolution. It was widely believed among the British that the revolution had resulted from allowing too much independence in the 13 colonies. Britain therefore wanted to bind the British North Americans more securely to the British Empire—the group of dominions, colonies, and other territories around the world that owed allegiance to the British crown—by establishing a colonial elite similar to the powerful British landed aristocracy. To that end, Britain balanced the power of elected assemblies with the authority of the governor-general and lieutenant governors from Britain, who were assisted by an appointed legislative council for each colony. The council members were drawn from the elite (English speakers in Upper Canada, and both English and French speakers in Lower Canada). Ties to Britain were fostered by feelings of rivalry toward the United States. Edward Winslow, a Loyalist founder of New Brunswick, believed that his province would be “the envy of the United States.”
.” John Graves Simcoe, first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, welcomed American settlers because he believed that Upper Canada would show them that the British system of government was superior to American republicanism. Even in French-speaking Lower Canada, the church and the aristocracy accepted British rule. The rural population in Lower Canada also had no wish to be assimilated by the alien Americans, since its way of life seemed protected under British rule.
A colonial aristocracy never developed in British North America. Most colonists were small farmers, fishers, or artisans. In an increasingly commercial society, commerce was a more important source of wealth and influence than land, and egalitarian values were much more strongly entrenched in Canada than in Europe.
The appointed councils, as intended, dominated government in all the colonies; however, most Canadians, who criticized them as self-seeking cliques of officeholders, did not accept them as leaders. Council members tried to fend off their critics by pointing to the prosperity and growth achieved under British rule and equating change with disloyalty and Americanism. Two groups—radicals and reformers—opposed the autocratic rule of the appointed councils. The radicals looked to American and French political models and called for republican institutions, elections for all public offices, and the overthrow of all forms of privilege and inequality. By the mid-1820s, the fiery Scots-born Upper Canadian journalist and politician William Lyon Mackenzie was the most vigorous advocate of the radical platform. The more moderate reformers defended British institutions and ties to the British monarchy and empire. They campaigned for responsible government, meaning a parliamentary system where the monarchy’s advisers in each colony would be picked from, and responsible to, an elected legislature. Prominent reformers included Anglo-Irish lawyer W. W. Baldwin in Upper Canada, French Canadian journalist Étienne Parent in Lower Canada, and journalist Joseph Howe in Nova Scotia. "Canada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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