A Responsible Government|
Once the British Empire adopted a policy of free trade, there was less reason to control the internal politics of its most developed colonies.
The Great Famine that was devastating Ireland forced England to adopt this measure. In order to come to the aid of its victims, England had to be in the position to buy food products, above all wheat, at the least cost. This measure was hailed by the merchants and the English industrialists. They could now procure raw materials where they were the cheapest.
For more than 50 years, the people of Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had the right to elect representatives to the their House of Assembly Newfoundland was not granted this privilege until 1832. But the elected representatives had very little power. The Governor, appointed by the British government, selected his advisers and none of them came from the House of Assembly.
In November 1847, Lord Grey, Secretary of State for the Colonies, declared to John Harvey, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia:
"It is neither possible nor desirable, to govern any of the British provinces of North America in opposition to the opinion of its inhabitants."
In 1848, the British government finally granted British North America's reformers what they had been after for years: the power to govern themselves.
Henceforth, even though they were appointed by London, the Colonial governors were obliged to choose members of the Executive Council from those elected to the House of Assembly.
Nova Scotia became the first colony of the British Empire to obtain responsible government.