The Popular Party
In the year 1814 a document was transmitted to the Colonial Office by the Governor-General, Sir George Prevost, which attempted to state the case for the French party in Lower Canada. It contains a passage of which the following represents a free translation:
The divisions in the House of Assembly have become national in character; on one side the English minority, with whom the official class is allied, on the other the Canadian majority backed by the mass of the people. The heat engendered by this party strife passes from the House of Assembly to its constituents. The whole country is by now divided into two parties, one the party of administration, the other that of the people. This appearance of opposition on the part of the French Catholic Canadians to their government excites the anger of the baser part of the English population, who treat their French follow subjects in a manner which is highly insulting to a people conscious of its loyalty. The more the Canadians wish to enjoy their constitution, the more they are accused of being unworthy of confidence by those English leaders whose whole political programme is based on the belief that the French Canadians are disloyal to their King.1
The thesis that it was the purpose of the French party to enjoy their constitution, the purpose of the English party to undermine it by showing that the Canadian people were unworthy of it, had in it, at the time the 'Mémoire' was composed, considerable truth. It was the English leaders, during the first three decades of the nineteenth century, who advocated changes in the Act of 1791, and at times appeared to be willing to sacrifice even their right to representative institutions unless the working of those institutions could be placed safely under the control of 'the ancient subjects of His Majesty'. It was they who repeatedly invoked the interference of the imperial Parliament and repudiated most of the principles of colonial self-government for which not only the thirteen colonies, but also Nova Scotia and the West Indies, had always contended.