For History class:
Chapter 1 – Just Before Confederation
In the mid-1800s, Canada was not an independent nation yet. Britain still owned Canada, but it did allow Canada to elect local politicians to serve them. There were two political parties that served Canada at this time: the Liberal Party, and the Conservative party. The Liberal Party was nicknamed the Grits because they constantly questioned the British way of doing things. They liked giving citizens the power to vote on everything, just like the United States system of government. The Conservative Party was nicknamed the Tories. They liked all things British and loved Queen Victoria of Britain. The two political parties disagreed with each other all the time.
As a result of this constant fighting in Parliament, the government in Canada could not accomplish anything. The job of any government is to make or amend laws. This could not be accomplished because the Liberal politicians and Conservative politicians were always at opposite ends of an argument. No bills could ever be passed into laws because both sides could not agree on anything. This caused something known as political deadlock.
Political deadlock is when nothing is getting done in government. No laws are being amended. No laws are being made. Government work comes to a standstill when it is in political deadlock.
The leader of the Conservative party at this time was John A. Macdonald. The leader of the Liberal party was George Brown. Even though they did not like each other, they decided they better come up with a solution to end political deadlock. George Brown came up with the plan of a coalition government.
Coalition government is when two different parties come together and join forces when voting on an important issue. This idea ended political deadlock because now new laws could be made and old laws could be amended.
Why did George Brown hate John A. MacDonald? Brown hated Macdonald because Macdonald was a party animal and always made fun of Brown. For instance, Macdonald showed up to Parliament many times either drunk or hungover. Brown was a religious man who despised alcohol. There was also an incident in Parliament where Brown and Macdonald were debating an issue. After Brown made his speech, Macdonald vomited, due to a heavy night of drinking. Macdonald said: “Sorry about that. I always get ill when I hear my colleague speak.” Of course, everyone laughed, but not Brown. Brown hated Macdonald so much that if he saw Macdonald walking on one part of a sidewalk, he would cross the street and walk on the opposite sidewalk. Still, Brown was able to put aside his personal hatred of Macdonald and come up with a plan to get government working again.
Where did Canada conduct its business before it became its own country? Who came up with the location of Canada’s capital? Why?
Before Canada became its own country in 1867, Canadian politicians would do its business in various cities: Toronto, Kingston, Quebec City, and Montreal. Moving from city to city was a real pain, so Queen Victoria came up with a solution. She chose Ottawa as Canada’s capital. Everyone thought Ottawa was a odd location to choose as Canada’s capital because it wasn’t even a town back then. It was just a lumber village. However, Queen Victoria said there were three reasons why Ottawa was the perfect location for Canada’s capital:
- It was far away from the Canada-U.S. border. Even in the mid-1800s, Canada was still afraid that one day, the U.S. would try to take over Canada. By having government buildings far away from the border, there would be more time to react to an American invasion.
- The Ottawa River would provide fast transportation of troops in the event of any war with the U.S.
- Ottawa was right on the border of Ontario and Quebec, with the Ottawa River as the dividing line. This would make English-speaking people from Ontario happy, and French-speaking people from Quebec happy.
Go online and do some research on John A. Macdonald and George Brown. Write a brief biography on these two Canadian politicians. Your biography on each politician should not be more than 200 words in length. Your biography can be in point form, if you choose. However, make sure you include enough information in your points to present your ideas. Be sure to use your own voice when writing your findings. In other words, do not cut and paste from the internet. Write your biography on the two politicians below. Note: You don’t just have to use Google to do your research. YouTube also has a lot of videos about these two Canadian politicians. Watch a couple of videos and write your biographies.