The Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly

By MacKinnon, Wayne | Canadian Parliamentary Review, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

The Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly


MacKinnon, Wayne, Canadian Parliamentary Review


Province House is perhaps best known to Canadians as the Birthplace of Canada, where the Fathers of Confederation met in 1864. A sandstone structure with Greek and Roman architectural lines, it was completed in 1847. It is now a national historic site, tourist mecca and still continues as a legislative chamber. Over the years, it has been witness to Royal visits, state funerals, countless demonstrations, protests, sit-ins, celebrations, rallies, vigils, debates, deliberations and occasional random acts of graffiti artists. This paper will examine the evolution of the legislature, the electoral system, the Island's political culture and how it is reflected and legislative procedures and processes.

**********

The Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly, established in 1773, is the second-oldest parliament in Canada, the first having been established in Nova Scotia in 1758. The establishment of the colonial government, and its subsequent evolution, was the result of one of the most unusual arrangements in British colonial history. Land in the colony, then part of Nova Scotia, was awarded by lottery to proprietors in 1767 who undertook, as part of the conditions of their grants, to settle the colony with Protestants, pay quitrents (a form of taxation) to the Crown and to fulfill various other conditions. The new proprietors, many of whom were to not fulfill the conditions of their grants, petitioned the Crown for the establishment of a separate government free from the influences of Nova Scotia. In return, the proprietors agreed to defray the expenses of the new colonial government. Prince Edward Island thus became a separate colony in 1769. The subsequent conflicts between absentee proprietors and tenants, known as the "Land Question," dominated Island politics for more than a century.

At first, administration of the new colony was limited to the Governor, an appointed Legislative Council and a Supreme Court. Although provision was made for a twelve member Legislative Council, the first Governor, Walter Patterson, limited the number to seven because he could not find enough suitable candidates in the small and struggling colony. Despite his best efforts, Patterson was unable to enforce collection of quitrents. The establishment of an assembly to reflect the popular will of the inhabitants was seen as a means of validating the administration's actions, and so, on July 7 of 1773, the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly convened for the first time. Its first acts confirmed the previous proceedings enacted by the Governor and Legislative Council.

Because of the small size and limited range of skills of the colony's residents, the number of members of the new assembly was limited to eighteen. They were elected at-large by male, Protestant residents over the age of 21. Folklore has it that the first assembly met in a Charlottetown tavern. Surveying the elected members, the sergeant-at-arms is reported as observing, "This is a damned queer parliament." He was fined for the outburst. (1)

In the small confines of Island politics, personal rivalries emerged; disputes occurred among the various factions of the population; there were ongoing disagreements and disputes with the Colonial Office; enforcing the conditions imposed upon the proprietors was proving difficult, if not impossible; corruption was widespread; and the progress of the colony was constrained. Less than 15 years after Prince Edward Island was made a separate colony, it was once again placed under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Nova Scotia. The rank of the Prince Edward Island Governor was reduced to that of Lieutenant-Governor. In a letter from the Colonial Office to Patterson, it was noted that, "The Civil Establishment still continues a Burthen upon this country." (2)

Then as now, the governmental structures in Prince Edward Island demonstrate the operation of elaborate constitutional provisions in a small province. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.