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fI1S'fult}' uF CANADA.   249

governor of New Brunswick, hailed this despatch as conferring "a new and improved constitution " upon the provinces. If the maintenance of harmony between the legislature and the executive was to be the particular care of the governor, and such harmony should at any time be wanting, the desire to restore it would clearly be a "sufficient motive of public policy" to warrant him in calling upon his executive councillors to retire and give place to those in whom the assembly had confidence. This meant "responsible government." Though a few years were to elapse and some notable conflicts were to take place before the principle was thoroughly established, its final triumph was never in doubt after the publication of these despatches.

CHAPTER XXXIX.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND (1815.1840).

The Land Grievance. —The history of Prince Edward Island during this period stands somewhat apart from that of the other provinces. Her population was small, and there was, as yet, no demand for responsible government. Her troubles arose, not from the tyranny of executive government upon the island, but from the repeated disallowance by the authorities in England of Acts of the island legislature passed with a view to removing the evils of the land system.

The Question of Quit-rents. —Upon one phase of the question the islanders were now in accord with the proprietors, both resident and non-resident. Payment of the quit-rents due to the Crown had never been properly enforced. In earlier years a forfeiture of the original grants for non-payment of these rents would have been a popular measure. Now their collection could be enforced by levying a distress upon such goods and chattels as were upon the land—ill other words, at the expense of the tenants. While, therefore, the islanders were as anxious as ever that absentee proprietors should have their huge wilderness tracts taken from them and opened up for settlers, the claim was now put upon the ground of non-performance of the conditions of settlement. The collection of the quit-rents was vigorously resisted.


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