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John A. Macdonald
Transcript of John A. Macdonald
Individuals recognized by the government under this act were referred to as "Status Indians", who were entitled to live in specified reserves. British North American Act 1867 John A. Macdonald was the leader of the discussions concerning the creation of the British North American Act in 1867. This act comprises a major portion of the Canadian Constitution, as it laid out our country's federal structure (House of Commons, Senate and Justice system). The act also included the system of representation by population in the House of Commons, and regional equality in the Senate, which are both principles still found in Canada today. Representation by population and separation of powers for checks and balances are both examples of democratic ideals, as citizens are given an equal voice in a system that responds to the needs of the majority.
This act included the province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, which were the initial provinces that formed the country of Canada. July 1, 1867 John A. Macdonald was elected as Canada's first Prime Minister, forming a coalition government between the Conservatives and Reformers (who supported Confederation). Each party had equal weight in the new cabinet. Voting Eligibility Voting eligibility varied provincially, and was dependent on income, property and profession.
All provinces but New Brunswick held oral elections until 1872. This system was highly susceptible to blackmail and intimidation. Pacific Scandal In attempt to expand Canada and create a larger, unified nation, John A. Macdonald gained the whole of the northwest east of the Rockies from British Parliament.
John A. Macdonald also was able to gain the province of British Colombia by promising to build the Canadian Pacific Railway within ten years.
Between 1872-1873, John A. Macdonald was faced with charges for awarding the contract for the CPR to Sir Hugh Allan, who was a key financial contributor to the Conservative Campaign in the 1872 election. His liberal opposition opponent, Alexander Mackenzie, accused Macdonald of awarding this contract in return for monetary support, resulting in John A. Macdonald being forced to resign as Prime Minister in November of 1873.
In the general election that followed, John A. Macdonald kept his seat in the House of Commons but was no longer Prime Minister for a period of time. Regaining of Power After a worldwide depression broke out in 1873, the Liberal government slowed production of the CPR and allowed free trade with the United States.
In 1878, John A. Macdonald's Conservative Party regained power through the "National Policy", which instilled high tariffs (to promote Canadian products), rapid construction on the CPR, large agricultural development of the West and policies to increase immigration. Democratic Leader of Canada Sir John A. Macdonald "Let us be English or let us be French... but above all let us be Canadians." "We have a constitution now under which all British subjects are in a position of absolute equality, having equal rights of every kind- of language, of religion, of property and of person... and those who are not English are none the less British subjects on that account." Terms of Office:
1878-1891 "The great aim of our legislation has been to do away with the tribal system and assimilate the Indian people in all respects with the other inhabitants of the Dominion as speedily as they are fit to change.” In 1885, the Electoral Franchise Act was passed, which set federal regulations for voting eligibility. Under this act, males over the age of 21 who were British subjects and owned property were entitled to vote.
First Nations were not allowed to vote, as under federal law, virtually none of them held property as individuals.
Mongolian and Chinese were also deprived the right to vote, as Macdonald believed they did not hold the same background or values. He also held a life-long opposition to the extension of the vote beyond those who owned property. Although the voter turnout in the 1867 election was about 10% higher than Canada's recent 2011 election, only roughly 8.5% of the population was even allowed to vote in the first election. Believed political decisions should be influenced by the views of those with some education and some stake in the system, rather than by "the unreasoning masses." A political cartoon that appeared in the "Grip" magazine after the Pacific Scandal This political cartoon depicts John A. Macdonald crushing his Liberal opposition with the "National Policy", allowing him to regain the role as Prime Minister. Construction of the railway was completed in November of 1885. Although the process had been slowed down by scandal and difficulty, it was considered an impressive display of engineering and political will for a country with such a small population, rough terrain and limited funds. It was by far the longest railway constructed at its time. The CPR is considered to be one of John A. Macdonald's greatest accomplishments. Legacy John A. Macdonald remained Prime Minister until his death in 1891. He is still remembered today as one of our Founding Fathers of Canada. Memorial statue in Queen's Park, Toronto "If I had influence over the minds of the people of Canada, any power over their intellect, I would leave them this legacy: ‘Whatever you do, adhere to the Union. We are a great country, and shall become one of the greatest in the universe if we preserve it." This quote demonstrates Macdonald's support of democratic beliefs, as he expressed the importance of individual rights and freedoms for all citizens. The Indian Act and the above quote stated by John A. Macdonald are examples of how he failed to uphold democratic values. Although he had previously stressed the importance of equality and rights, this act clearly infringed upon the First Nations and deemed them as lower citizens. This is another example of how Macdonald's government failed to uphold true democratic values, as he limited the right to vote to a select group. Democracy is defined as "for the people, by the people" and thus, a government cannot be truly democratic if only the wealthy are allowed to vote. The Pacific Scandal revealed a side of Macdonald that fits into a more dictatorial sense than democratic, as dictators are known to practice secrecy and inequality in government, as there is no system of checks and balances. In this case, the Liberal opposition acted out when the government was not acting in the best interest of the people. Women's Rights Although Canada's democratic government coincided with the common view that women were lower citizens and should not be granted the right to vote, many would be surprised to find out that Macdonald did not agree with this. He is known as the first democratic leader to state that women should be granted the right to vote in 1885. However, his liberal idea was not accepted by the rest of government, and thus it was not able to happen until 1918, 33 years after he proposed the idea. Macdonald stated that Canada “should have the honour of first placing woman in the position that she is certain, after centuries of oppression, to obtain.” He believed in“completely establishing her equality as a human being and as a member of society with man.” This is an example of how Macdonald upheld his beliefs of true democracy and equality, as he voiced that both genders should be treated equally, which was an extremely liberal way of thinking at that time. Although women were not actually granted the right to vote under his reign, he planted the seed of gender equality into society, clearly demonstrating qualities of an effective democratic leader. Video of Macdonald's surprising view on women's right to vote, along with other interesting facts. The signing of the British North American Act John A. Macdonald John A. Macdonald John A. Macdonald John A. Macdonald John A. Macdonald Canada after Macdonald's time in leadership Canada at the time of Confederation