Previous The History of the Dominion of Canada (1897) Next

 

HISTORY OF CANADA.   187

effect : "If the governor does wrong blame him to us, and if we agree with you we will recall him or instruct him to do better in future. If he retains in office men against whom you have just cause of complaint, lay your complaints before us, and if we agree with you we will see that the delinquent officials are dismissed." In the last resort, therefore, what policy should be pursued in the government of the provinces was determined by the British ministry. No doubt each succeeding ministry honestly desired that the colonies should he governed in harmony with the wishes of the colonists ; but, so long as the local officials were held responsible to Downing Street instead of to the colonial assemblies, just so long were the provinces without real self-government.

The Governor.—In each of the provinces the head of the official staff was the governor (or lieutenant-governor), the representative of the Crown. His powers were : (1) to summon, adjourn, prorogue and dissolve the provincial parliament ; (2) to appoint the members of his executive and legislative councils, judges, magistrates and all other officials ; (3) to pardon offenders ; (4) to grant Crown lands ; and (5) to perform all other necessary acts of executive government. These wide powers were to be exercised subject to instructions from the colonial secretary, so that the governor was in reality one of the staff of the colonial department.

The Executive Council.—Associated with the governor in the government of each province was an executive council. In each of the Maritime Provinces one council combined both executive and legislative functions :—as an executive council, advising the lieutenant-governor in the work of executive government ; as a legislative council, having an equal voice with the assembly in passing all laws. In the two Canadas the councils were distinct. In Upper Canada the executive council was a very small body, composed exclusively of the heads of the chief public departments. In Lower Canada it contained (in 1828) eleven members, including, in addition to departmental heads, the chief justice and one other judge, the Anglican bishop, and one leading partner in the North-\Vest Company. The powers of the executive council were very ill-defined: Some few acts of the governor were required to be done " by and with the advice " of this body, and in some of the provinces the governor and his council constituted a court of


Previous The History of the Dominion of Canada (1897) Next