Monday, February 25, 2008

Today in Parliament

In January 1848, the general election for the legislature of the United Canadas concluded with a solid (56 of 84) majority for the reform coalition led by Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine.

The new legislature met on February 25 -- 160 years ago today. The old conservative ministry had decided to remain in office, face the legislature, present a throne speech, and see if the reformers could somehow be split apart. But the opposition reply constituted non-confidence in the ministry. Given the unity of the reform coalition, it looked certain to pass.

Question was: how would the Governor, Lord Elgin, respond if reform unity and the reformers non-confidence motion prevailed? Could a governor take independent measures? Could he choose advisors the people's elected representatives did not support? Governors often had before. Was a governor bound to defer to the will of the legislature, as Baldwin and LaFontaine had been insisting for years?

Watch this space. It will all work out by March 11.
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