Can someone explain to me what led to the adoption of the British North America Act and explain to me the consequences of it, please?
Thank you ! :)
Explanation from Alloprof
This Explanation was submitted by a member of the Alloprof team.
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The political causes of the British North America Act:
Since Responsible government was obtained in 1848, the several disagreements among politicians created political instability. In 1850, Upper Canada wanted a House of Assembly that was representative of the demographic weight of the population (Rep by pop). Between 1854 and 1864, governments succeeded each other quickly, weakening the political system of the Province of Canada. Different leaders of political parties then united to form the Grand Coalition in order to find a solution to this period of political instability.They particularly wanted to create a new union between Upper Canada and Lower Canada by adding New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. In addition to this political instability, the North's victory in the Civil War in the United States posed a threat to Britain which feared the Americans would attempt to conquer the sparsely populated territory west of the Upper-Canada. For Great Britain, the idea of a federation would therefore allow it to increase the military power of its North American colonies in order to be able to organize a better defense of this territory in the event of an attack.
The economic causes of the British North America Act:
Several economic factors played a role in the creation of the Canadian federation. First, during the 1850s, the metropolis considered the colonies of North America to be an economic burden. It therefore ended its protectionist policy and adopted free trade, thus turning to other countries for trade. The United Canada therefore had to look to the United States for trade and continued economic development. In 1854, the United Canada therefore signed a Reciprocity Treaty with the United States, thus offering it a large market in which to export its goods. However, the United States ended the Treaty in 1866, forcing United Canada to find new markets in which to export its products. To do this, the metropole wanted to develop a market between the east and the west of the continent, but the colonies needed a strong government to set the project in motion, which reinforced the idea of union with the other colonies from North America. Moreover, to promote this project, they wanted to build an intercolonial railway that would allow each colony to develop its economy. This project was very expensive and the union of the provinces therefore allowed a union of revenues to finance this rail network project. Another element was an obstacle to the project of commercial expansion towards the west : Rupert's Land still belonged to the Hudson's Bay Company and the annexation of this territory to the Provinces would have allowed commercial development from east to west in order to join the many new immigrants to western Canada. Once again, the union of the Provinces would have provided the necessary funds for the purchase of Rupert's Land, which the situation at the time did not allow.
Political and Territorial Consequences of the British North America Act (1867):
The various British colonies in North America finally decided to unite on July 1, 1867 in order to strengthen their political and economic power. This date represents the date of creation of Canada. That is why today we celebrate Canada Day on July 1 of each year! At the beginning of the federation, the territory of Canada did not include all the provinces and territories of today. In fact, there were only Nova Scotia, United Canada (Province of Quebec and Province of Ontario) and New Brunswick. This union was called the Dominion of Canada. The other provinces and territories will join the Dominion later, as shown in the map below.
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The Dominion of Canada was administered by a Governor General (representing the English Crown) and a Federal Governor. Each of the provinces of the Dominion also had a provincial Premier. It was then that the fields of jurisdiction between the federal government and the provincial governments were divided.
The British North America Act also marks the beginning of Canadian identity among English speakers. It was also at this time that the terms French Canadians and English Canadians began to be used to distinguish Francophones from Anglophones within the Dominion.
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