RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT IN CANADA
THE contest for responsible government reached its climax in Canada. For many reasons its fate there was epochal for the whole Empire. Durham, in despair of a larger federal union, had recommended the fusion of the two Canadas, so that in sheer size and population the united province dwarfed all the others. At the close of Elgin's administration there were well over two millions of people in an area which Chief Justice Draper, a few years later, sought to extend to the Pacific. The issues, too, in Canada were beyond all comparison imperative. Whatever the Papineau and Mackenzie risings may have done or failed to do, they forced the problem of colonial government in its real proportions upon the best attention of the British Cabinet. A correspondent under Elgin once wrote that ' Canada ought to be experimentum crucis of all Governors. After governing Canada they can govern any country'.1 The Colonial Office, tenanted, as Buller satirically pointed out, by nearly a dozen Secretaries in as many years, now demanded first- rate ability. Three Colonial Secretaries within ten years eventually reached the premiership, and some of the men sent to Canada were without exception the ablest who ever left Britain on such a mission.
On both sides of the Atlantic the effect of Durham's Report was dynamic--second only to the cogency of the events themselves. The interpretations put upon it varied with the political exigencies of the interpreters. To the colonial Tory it was, of course, anathema, and the attack upon it by the Select Committee of the Upper Canadian Legislative Council is classic.2 Sir George Arthur, who reflected their views, regarded it as 'the worst evil that has yet befallen Upper Canada'.3 Reformers, on the other hand, in Canada as in Nova Scotia, made it their gospel. Hincks, whose steadfast legend for the Examiner had been 'Responsible Government', always maintained that their programme was implicit in the____________________
In the Grey-Elgin Correspondence, Elgin to Grey, July 2, 1849. Pub. Arch. Can.