Responsible government and the Metcalfe Crisis
Weir, George M.
The aim of the present thesis is to trace the political development of the Province of Canada during the period beginning with Lord Sydenham's tenure of office and terminated by the famous Metcalfe Crisis. The fifteen years, from 1839 to 1854, are of outstanding significance to the student of Canadian constitutional and political history in that they comprise what might be named the Responsible Government epoch. During this period the forces of political evolution in the Province, which were rapidly emerging into prominence, became manifest chiefly in the transformation of the great bulk of power previously exercised by the Governor, and in the gradual absorption of this power by the various members of a responsible Canadian administration. Two epoch-making events stand out conspicuously during this process: the Metcalfe Crisis, our chief subject of investigation, which marks the culmination of the resistance offered by the Governor; and those incidents connected with Lord Elgin's ratification of the Rebellion Losses Bill in 1849, which have been described as designating "the keystone in the arch of responsible government."