Anne Leavitt writes from Halifax to remind me that Nova Scotia was the first colony in British North America to achieve responsible government. Yes! And from Wikipedia I learn that Nova Scotia was the first British colonial possession to achieve it. A plaque in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly reads: “The first Executive Council chosen exclusively from the party having a majority in the representative branch of a colonial legislature was formed in Nova Scotia on 2 February, 1848.”
Responsible government ensures a colony’s emancipation. On 2 February, 1848 Nova Scotia became an independent country. It was no longer a British “possession.” No doubt Nova Scotians had reason to continue cooperating with the world power that was Britain. But that cooperation and the degree of cooperation became a matter for local debate.
Anne notes: “There are none of those mythical “red-tories” in this story at all. The Tories, if we can call them that, are bigoted, intolerant elitists wanting to hold on to power, representing a minority of the population.”
No doubt true. Parties are like that. Responsible government gives us a way of coping with partisan ambition. What is surprising is that George Grant, Gad Horowitz, and others who promulgated the red-tory thesis for so long persuaded Canadians that there was something inherently benign and kindly about oligarchy and absolutism when administered by Tories of United Empire Loyalist descent.