The Reformers and the Patriotes
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The Reformers and the Patriotes
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The Reformers and the Patriotes

During the 1830s, the maintenance of the colonial system and the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few families of Upper and Lower Canada's elite fuelled the people's discontent.
Louis-Joseph Papineau was leader of the Parti Patriote, a group of Lower Canadian politicians who controlled the elected but largely powerless Legislative Assembly. (As portrayed by Alain Fournier in Canada: A People's History)
Louis-Joseph Papineau was leader of the Parti Patriote, a group of Lower Canadian politicians who controlled the elected but largely powerless Legislative Assembly. (As portrayed by Alain Fournier in Canada: A People's History)
The Patriote Party was comprised of Lower Canada's reformers: mainly French Canadians and immigrants from Ireland, who shared a profound distrust of British power. Louis-Joseph Papineau, a seigneur and lawyer, was the leader of the Patriotes.

Their main opposition was the English Party, which was mainly supported by Lower Canadians of Scottish, English or American origin and defended the colonial government.

The reformist leaders, William Lyon Mackenzie of Upper Canada, and Joseph Howe of Nova Scotia, publicly criticized the ruling families. Joseph Howe went even further and accused the elite in Nova Scotia of stealing public money.

In Lower Canada, Louis-Joseph Papineau was an advocate of American-style democracy even though he had once been an admirer of the British Constitution.
Journalists Daniel Tracey and Ludger Duvernay were sentenced to 40 days in jail for defamatory libel after criticizing the colonial government. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
Journalists Daniel Tracey and Ludger Duvernay were sentenced to 40 days in jail for defamatory libel after criticizing the colonial government. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
He was particularly angered by the power of the unelected Legislative Council:

"It is certain that in a time not long from now, all of America must become republican. We need only to know that we live in America and to know in what condition we have lived there.

"The votes and measures adopted everyday by the Councillors may only be explained by their impassioned hatred of the "Canadiens", their insatiable lust for money and their odious selfishness."

Papineau rejected Great Britain's colonial system in its entirety:

"I do not believe it possible to be happy and to be treated fairly under the colonial system.
How can a governor act justly... even one who sincerely desires to do so... when he is surrounded by such a pack of scoundrels?"

Two journalists from Montreal also criticized the Legislative Council, which was appointed by the governor. Daniel Tracey, an Irishman, was editor of The Vindicator. Ludger Duvernay, a French Canadian, published the newspaper La Minerve.

"As the present Legislative Council is perhaps our greatest nuisance", Duvernay wrote, "we ought to seize the means to rid ourselves of it and demand its abolition."

La Minerve and The Vindicator spoke for the Patriote political movement that was gathering momentum.

For publishing their criticism, they were sentenced to 40 days in jail.

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