A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #3: TOC
The Road To Being Canada
Chapter 44, Party Government

Up to 1843 there was something called a non-party government. The legislature was somewhat like a large coalition, no matter the beliefs and ideas of the individuals of which it was composed. "At the election in that year [1843] Johnson and Howe emerged as leaders of two opposing parties."1 Johnson was slightly ahead after the election, so he was called on to form the government. "I [Howe] had invariably told my friends that neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives were in a condition to form a strong government of themselves." E. M. Saunders then proceeded to observe, "Mr. Howe and the other Liberals in the Cabinet finally went into opposition in 1843."2

It was thought that there should be a "definite head or leader in the Assembly, who should speak for the government, introduce and defend its measures; that the officials of the government other than those holding permanent posts should form one body -- a ministry -- which should automatically relinquish office and power when it could no longer command a majority in the legislature ... The natural corollary that the opposition also should be organized under a definite leader." The Opposition, as a faction out of power, is ever ready to seize on the weak aspects of a question in order to embarrass the government. In such a setup there needs be "a check on reckless criticism [which is] sadly needed."3

NEXT: [Chapter 45, Charlottetown And Quebec Conferences]


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Peter Landry