Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Republicanism and Responsible Government: The Shaping of Democracy in Australia and Canada

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Republicanism and Responsible Government: The Shaping of Democracy in Australia and Canada

Article excerpt

Benjamin T. Jones, Republicanism and Responsible Government: The Shaping of Democracy in Australia and Canada (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014), 312pp. Cased. $110. ISBN 978-0-7735-4361-4. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-7735-4362-1.

This book compares republicanism and responsible government in the former British settler societies of Australia and Canada. It primarily focuses on the second half of the nineteenth century, and looks at three colonies each in what later became Australia (New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria) and Canada (Nova Scotia, Upper and Lower Canada). Jones makes a distinction between liberal republicanism and civic republicanism - the former advocating separatism, while the latter did not. He argues that the majority of scholarship has tended to focus on liberal rather than civic republicanism. Jones's book fills an important gap in the existing historiography.

Jones quite rightly classifies the rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada and the Eureka rebellion in Australia as exceptional incidents in what was a generally peaceful transition to responsible government in the two British settler societies. However, he does focus on them as significant turning points in the constitutional evolution of both societies. The famous Durham Report, which followed the rebellions in Canada, not only recommended responsible government for the Canadas but was also held up as an example of what should take place in the Australian colonies.

In Canada, Nova Scotia was the first British colony in the whole empire to be given responsible government, in 1848. But Jones makes the important point that calls for responsible government in that colony were part of a broader cacophony in other colonies in British North America, particularly the Canadas. …

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