Reform Party

Political movement in Canada in the 1830s and '40s.

Reformers in Upper Canada (later Ontario) led by Robert Baldwin urged that provincial governments be made accountable to elected legislative assemblies ("responsible government"). An extremist group led by William L. Mackenzie opposed the government in the rebellion of 1837. Reformers in Lower Canada (later Quebec) joined Louis Papineau and his Patriote Party. Reform Party candidates were elected premier (1842–43, 1848–54) in the province of Canada (union of Upper and Lower Canada). In the 1850s the party split between a moderate group, which allied with John Macdonald's Progressive Conservative Party, and a radical faction, the Clear Grits, from which the Liberal Party emerged.

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also called  Reform Movement,  

      political movement in Canada West (later called Upper Canada from 1841 to 1867; now Ontario) and the Maritime Provinces that came into prominence shortly before 1837. Radical Reformers in Canada East (Lower Canada, 1841–67; now Quebec) were known as Patriotes.

      The Reformers urged that the provincial legislative councils—and by implication even the governors and other officials—be made elective; they also proposed that the officials and advisers (i.e., the executive council) of the governors be made responsible or accountable to such elective legislative assemblies.

      Some Reformers were active in the rebellions of 1837 against the existing systems of government. William Lyon Mackenzie, after suffering defeat in a provincial election in 1836, became the chief organizer of the rebellion in Canada West. In Canada East, Louis-Joseph Papineau led his Patriote Party on a course that resulted in armed conflict with the government, although he himself took little part in the rebellion. On the other hand, some Reformers did not support the rebellion at all.

      In 1842–43 and 1848–54 Reform premiers were in power in what was then the Province of Canada (the union of Upper and Lower Canada into Canada West and Canada East). In the late 1840s, however, the party was split by a rising tide of radicalism, and by the 1850s the Reformers had divided into a moderate group and a more radical group, the latter known as the Clear Grits. Eventually, John Macdonald won many moderate Reformers over to his Liberal-Conservative Party (the name by which the Conservative Party in Canada was known until the 1940s), while the Clear Grits provided the nucleus of what came to be the Liberal Party.

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Universalium. 2010.

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