Great Coalition

Canadian Confederation John A. Macdonald Charlottetown Conference
Great Coalition

Coalition grand
Leader(s)John A. Macdonald
George Brown
Deputy leaderGeorge-Étienne Cartier
Succeeded byLiberal Party of Canada
Conservative Party of Canada
IdeologyBig tent
Political positionCentre-left to centre-right

The Great Coalition was a grand coalition of political parties that brought the two Canadas together (Canada East and Canada West) in 1864.[1] The previous collapse after only three months of a coalition government formed by George-Étienne Cartier and Conservative John A. Macdonald and liberal George Brown, (the sixth government in six years) had demonstrated that continued governance of Canada East and Canada West under the 1840 Act of Union had become untenable.[2] In order to reform the political system, a coalition was formed between the Clear Grits under George Brown, the Parti bleu under George-Étienne Cartier, and the Liberal-Conservatives under John A. Macdonald. The formation of this coalition took place between June 14 and June 30, 1864 and was officially completed on June 22, 1864[3] under George-Étienne Cartier and John A. Macdonald, as the colonies of the Canadas, and was significant to Canadian Confederation in 1867. The coalition persisted by the government of the Province of Canada until the moment of Confederation.

The Great Coalition was created to eradicate the political deadlock between Canada West and Canada East. The government at that time was unable to pass any legislation because of the need for a double majority. In order for a bill to pass in the Legislative Assembly, there had to be a vote in both Canada East and Canada West sections of the assembly. As the French and the English could never agree on anything, this caused political deadlock. This coalition was intended to create resolution with long-term impacts in solving some of these problems and unify Canada.[3]

The deadlock led to three conferences that preceded confederation. The first was the Charlottetown Conference, which was convened for the purpose of negotiating a Maritime union. However, the politicians began to discuss the possibility of a larger union that would include all of British North America. This continued at the Quebec Conference where they further discussed the union of British North America and defined the details of the government's shape. They also settled on the division of provincial and federal responsibilities. The London Conference revised the Quebec Resolutions.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Cornell, Paul (1967). "The Great Coalition". Library and Archives Canada.
  3. ^ a b Cornell, Paul G. (1971). The Great Coalition. Ottawa: The Canadian Historical Association. p. 19. ISBN 0-88798-049-X.