The Reform Alliance
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The Union of Upper and Lower Canada
The Reform Alliance
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The Reform Alliance

In 1840, the British government decided to unite Upper and Lower Canada.
In 1840, Robert Baldwin proposed that the Lower Canadian Patriotes join Upper Canadian reformers to form a reform majority in the Legislative Assembly of United Canada. (As portrayed by Ted Atherton in Canada: A People's History)
In 1840, Robert Baldwin proposed that the Lower Canadian Patriotes join Upper Canadian reformers to form a reform majority in the Legislative Assembly of United Canada. (As portrayed by Ted Atherton in Canada: A People's History)
However, it refused to reform the colonial parliamentary system, as recommended by Lord Durham, the former Governor General of the colonies of British North America.

Robert Baldwin, a lawyer from one of Toronto's richest families, now tried to pick up the pieces of the reform project.

He sent a letter to Louis-Hyppolite La Fontaine who, since the exile of most of the Patriote leaders, had become one of the most influential politicians in Lower Canada. La Fontaine had risen from modest origins in Boucherville to become a respected lawyer and politician.

Baldwin proposed an alliance between the Upper Canadian reformers and the Lower Canadian Patriotes. Together, they would command a reform majority in the new House of Assembly when the two Canadas were united.

"There is, and must be no question of races.
French Canadian Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine gave a boost to the reform movement when he was elected to the  Assembly for a Toronto riding. (As portrayed by Robert Daviau in Canada: A People's History)
French Canadian Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine gave a boost to the reform movement when he was elected to the Assembly for a Toronto riding. (As portrayed by Robert Daviau in Canada: A People's History)
It were madness on one side, and guilt, deep guilt on both to make such a question. The Reformers of Upper Canada are ready to make every allowance for the unfortunate state of things and are resolved, as I believe them to be, to unite with their Lower Canadian Brethren cordially as friends, and to afford every assistance in obtaining justice."

La Fontaine saw the Union of the Canadas as a despotic and unjust act, as far as Lower Canada was concerned. But Baldwin's letter gave him hope.

"It is in the interest of the reformers of both provinces to come together in the legislature, in a spirit of peace, union, friendship and fraternity.
United action is needed now more than ever."

In an open letter to voters at Terrebonne on August 28 1840, La Fontaine declared:

"I have no doubt that the advocates of reform in Upper Canada feel the need, as we do, [to join forces] and that, in the first sitting of the legislature, they will show us some unequivocal evidence of this, which I hope will be the sign of a lasting and mutual bond of trust."

In February 1841, United Canada's new constitution came into effect. Kingston was chosen as capital. In the new House of Assembly, the two former provinces had the same number of representatives; a system designed to reduce the political clout of French Canadians.

The reform alliance underwent a baptism of fire in the first election after the defeat of the Rebellions.

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1841 - The First Election after the Act of Union
1839 - Lord Durham's Report
1839 - Lord Durham's Report
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1841 - The First Election after the Act of Union
1841 - The First Election after the Act of Union
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A Responsible Government
A Responsible Government
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The Reformers' Victory
The Reformers' Victory
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The Rebellion Losses Bill: the First Test
The Rebellion Losses Bill: the First Test
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1849 - The Burning of Parliament
1849 - The Burning of Parliament
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The End of an Era
The End of an Era
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