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Confederation and The First National Policy

A discussion of the way Confederation and the National Policy were designed to meet the challenges facing Canadian society and the Canadian economy in the latter decades of the 19th century. The discussion show how power of the federal government was used to establish a transcontinental Canadian federation with an economy whose regions played interdependent roles.

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Canada in the 19th Century was the most important British possession in North America; however, its population was largely divided into two main factions - French in Canada East or Lower Canada and Britain in Canada West or Upper Canada. The two factions had fundamental differences in ideologies which had brought incomprehensible differences in legislature, education and church-state relations. Discussions in early 1684 of a union of all British North American colonies prompted the emergence of the Confederation. The proposal campaigned for a unification of the three Maritime colonies of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia with Canada. In same year, George Brown the leader of the Reform Party in Upper Canada persuaded George - Etienne Cartier the leader of Lower Canada why it was imperative that the two regions merge.

The ambitious plan for a transcontinental nation inspired enthusiasm and fired the imagination of delegates who at a conference of October 1864 in Quebec drafted a constitution from the seventy two resolutions passed at the conference. The conference proposed a centralized federation with majority powers granted to a central government responsible to parliament and minority powers granted to provisional governments with specified power over education, language, religion and matters of local concerns.

The main impetus for the unification according to George Brown were mainly economic which Cartier who was also the lawyer for the railway company and representative of Montreal in the legislative assembly obliged to because the city was already the centre of Canada's railway system. The plan was to unite Upper and Lower Canada as well as the four Atlantic colonies - Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island which would make it easier to build infrastructure and develop economic relations between them. The United States also imposed significant pressure for the unification. The unification was important to curtail the increase in shipping cost that would result in the cancellation of the Reciprocity Treaty. The Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 was signed in Washington DC by representatives of the United States and the British colonies as a trade agreement between the two regions and had lasted from 1854. In 1865, the US government announced that it was planning to cancel the Reciprocity Treaty that provided for limited trade with British. The treaty opened up the large U.S. market to Canadian exporters and helped to alleviate tensions over fishing rights.

When the United States ended the agreement in March 1866, the British colonies looked to one another to expand trade and the consequential relations encouraged them to unify in the Confederation of Canada in 1867. To the benefit of Canada, the confederation did not offer full independence because Canada still favored a link to Britain as a guarantee against the domination of America. On July 1st 1867, despite the two bones of contention - representation in parliament in proportion of population and division of power between federal and provincial governments - the Confederation or Federal union of former British colonies in North America was enacted through the North American Act. From the beginning the federal government used its powers to establish a transcontinental Canadian federation with an economy whose regions played interdependent roles.

An expansion westward was the early priority for the new confederation. In 1869, the Hudson's Bay Company was pushed to sell its northern territories of Rupert and Northwestern - collectively called the Northwest Territories to Canada. The traditionally independent Métis of Red River who had never been consulted initially resisted annexation for fear of losing their land. This was short-lived, after negotiations, it eventually entered the confederation as the province of Manitoba. The Confederation deployed troops to Red River which had resisted entry and formed organized rebellion to protect their land and way of life. In 1873, the federation government went on to create the North-West Mounted Police to help administer the territories and keep them in order. The federation government negotiated treaties to its advantage with the natives with the primarily intention of opening up the plain to agriculture and the once nomadic people of the plain were packed into crowded reserves.

Many Scholars have explored in detail the regional antagonism that was a product of the confederation. They argue that although the Prime Minister MacDonald was committed to a burly central federal government he was unable to prevent the provincial governments from challenging ...

Solution Summary

The Confederation of 1867 and the First National policy of 1878 were economic policies that were set to propel Canada to economic prosperity in the I9th century. Both British Colombia and the Maritimes accepted the Confederation in the prospect that the railway would be build uniting their regions to Pre-Confederation Canada. The two were ephemeral, firstly because of the disappointed coastal economies and of the Prairie economy in the Confederation. The two policies were expected to reflect the need and circumstances of the entire region but in contrary ended up been reflective of the Montreal - Economy and the aspirations of the Imperial authorities in British North America. In the years preceding this, the was a general dissatisfaction in the policies and Ontario and Quebec joined in the pursuit of demanding changes in the Confederation dispensing.

Canada, a former colony of the British Empire and by member of the Commonwealth of nations is governed by the constitution of 1982. It is a federation made up of ten provinces and three territories governed under a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarch. Government powers are divided between central or federal governments and the provincial and territorial governments. Under the British North America Act of 1867 the central government had considerable power over the provinces but amendments to the act have increased the scope of authority of the provincial governments

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