Hon. George Brown: The Significant Figure in the Creation of the Great Coalition

Essay by gnayshkr3020High School, 10th gradeA+, April 2006

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The Great Coalition, which led to the creation of Confederation, is one of the most politically significant events in Canadian history. It is the result of combining the work of one independent member and three party members: Alexander Galt, the independent; George-Étienne Cartier, the Bleus' leader; Sir John A. Macdonald, the Conservative leader; and George Brown, the leader of the Clear Grits. Had the Great Coalition not taken place, the Deadlock in Parliament would have remained unresolved; Confederation may never have existed. However, the feisty and intransigent Scotsman, George Brown played a significant role in the creation of the Great Coalition: after being aware of how serious the deadlock was, he provided a solution by proposing and forming the all-party legislative committee that would eventually come to a compromise allowing the Confederation to occur.

The Great Coalition was caused by the political deadlock in Parliament. One of the major causes of the Deadlock was a double majority system; that is, the government was formed by two parties, one from each Canada - Canada West and Canada East - so no party was able to form a majority government.

Moreover, parties could not attract both Canadas for its support "became strong in one section only to grow weaker in the other." These circumstances resulted in complete chaos: after Macdonald-Cartier government fell in 1858, there were seven other governments, from 1858 to 1864, that were subsequently defeated by non-confidence motion. This hopeless situation had to change.

The catalyst came in the form of the Clear Grits' party leader, George Brown. He was a feisty, hot-headed and outspoken Scotsman who explicitly showed his hatred towards his enemies, and he used his newspaper, the Globe, to criticise them. For instance, Brown denounced Cartier, the lead of the Bleus, by calling him...