What should we do first in a newly created democracy? The nomination of the first prime minister without any election, of course!
Sounds crazy? It’s exactly what happened when Queen Victoria gave birth to a bouncing baby Canada. The first thing on the order of business was for Governor general Lord Monk to appoint a prime minister without consulting the population. John Alexander Macdonald was therefore put in charge of Canada’s first non-democratic government.
But don’t worry, one of the first things the new government did was to call for a federal election to be held between August 7 th and September 20th 1867. Why were those elections not held before Confederation? The British North America Act (that created Canada) only became official when Queen Vicky gave her assent on March 29th… barely 3 month before July 1st.
For that election, the Ontarians, the Québécois and the New Brunswickers had to decide between two national parties, Macdonald’s Liberal-Conservatives and the leaderless Liberals (although, it is presumed that if a liberal government would have been elected, George Brown would have been chosen as prime minister). As for the Nova Scotians, they were dragged into the Confederation deal without their consent and of the 19 members of parliament elected, all but one were members of the Anti-Confederation Party. Nova Scotians’ message was strong, but greed was stronger. Joseph Howe, the leader of the Anti-Confederation Party was offered a cabinet minister’s position and that was the end of Nova Scotia’s organised cessation attempt. You’ve got to love a man with principles.
When everything was said and done, the Liberal-Conservatives (they changed their name to Conservative in 1873) won the largest amount of seats and their leader, by now called Sir John A. Macdonald was confirmed as the prime minister.
For those of you who were wondering if the members of parliament worked hard… I do have my doubts. Between 1869 and 1872, the longest session was 86 days and they did not see fit to be in session between April 14th 1871 and April 11th 1872…which means for almost a year.