Canada's Constitutional History

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The time period between 1763 and 1774 was one of rampant change in regards to Canada’s constitutional history. Two major changes occurred: the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Quebec Act of 1774. The Royal Proclamation was preceded by the Seven Years war from 1756 to 1763 which, in North America, was namely the struggle between France and Britain for control over the colonial lands. The Seven Years War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris and decided the territory of New France was to be turned over to the British. The successes and failures of the Royal Proclamation initiated the conditions of the Quebec Act. It was passed as an effort to curb French discontent towards the British in the midst of the hostilities between the Britain …show more content…
The act was passed in hopes to relieve some of the French discontent towards the British and ensure citizen loyalty. It can be considered the first parliamentary statute to acknowledge the complexities of relations between the two dominate groups within Canada. The British used the Quebec Act to broaden their territorial borders of Quebec set out in the Royal Proclamation to the boundary of the Ohio river. In addition to this territory laid out in the Royal Proclamation, Quebec also had claim to the land previously annexed by Newfoundland. This however created discontent among the Thirteen Colonies as they began to feel encroached upon due to Quebec’s increasing territory. The Act reverted substantially back to the practices of the French regime; what was once a Crown colony was transformed into a governor and appointed council rather than a representative assembly. In conjunction with the new governmental system which was once exclusively protestants, the appointment of Catholics to the executive council was now made available. Additionally, the strict practices of English civil and criminal law the Act entailed were exchanged once again in favour of French civil and criminal law. The civil authority, however, was created into military authority and the test oath was implemented limiting and banning French Canadian form serving in government or holding any position of authority. …show more content…
On a whole, the Quebec Act only benefited the upper class French-Canadians with the changes in the penal code and government position having virtually no impact on the lower classes. Similarly merchants were infuriated by the Quebec Act as the lack of representative government was seen as a the mother country directly violating the basic right of all Englishmen. The merchant dissatisfaction was amplified with the territorial changes of the upper Ohio and Mississippi rivers as this meant they were no longer able to exploit the fur trade in this area without American competition. Sharing in the discontent, the Americans deemed the Act “One of the Intolerable Acts” aimed at weakening Massachusetts and all the Atlantic colonies They claimed the act was a motive of Britain to confine their settlements to the eastern coastal plain. Priests, cures, and seigneurs however regraded the act’s provisions as the British consideration and liberal-mindset to which they would rule the country and therefore thought of it positively. Despite the attitude of the Americans and lower-class French Canadians, most regarded the Quebec Act as a vast improvement from the Royal

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