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Studies on the Canadian Constitution and Canadian Federalism


Last revised:
26 February 2001

The Great Coalition Government


Claude Bélanger,
Department of History,
Marianopolis College

Government of the United Province of Canada formed in June of 1864 after the fall of the Taché-Macdonald government and the political deadlock which followed. George Brown's Clear Grits, Macdonald's Conservatives and George-Etienne Cartier's Bleus joined together in a coalition on two conditions: 1) that the Clear Grits receive 2 of the cabinet posts for Upper Canada (Brown, Mowat and McDougall joined the government); 2) that the new government be committed to resolving the constitutional difficulties of the province by supporting a federal union of all the British North American colonies or, failing that, of at least the two Canadas.

It was this government that championed the cause of constitutional reform and piloted the project of Confederation through three constitutional conferences. Although George Brown left the cabinet in December of 1865, he continued to support the government and confederation. The nominal head of the government was Etienne-Pascal Taché and, upon his death, Narcisse Belleau.

© 2001 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College