History 3813 - Ziedenberg - Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine
Sir Louis Hippolyte La Fontaine
About 1880, 19th century
Ink on paper
12.7 x 9.8 cm
Gift of Mr. Charles deVolpi
© McCord Museum
Keywords: male (26812) , portrait (53878) , Print (10661)
Despite this initial adverse reaction to the responsible government, Lafontaine and his administration persevered. Lafontaine went to great pains to prove the many benefits of this structure to the lives of the Canadiens. The most direct manifestation of this effort was in the use of patronage. A common practice in Canada West and the United States as well, the patronage system was a means of providing privileged employment to a hundreds of individuals. The Canadien majority was finally able to administer itself, providing social, political, and economic empowerment. It was criticized as being too partisan and merely a means of bolstering party support in their administration. As well, the appointments were occasionally denounced as ineffectual and incompetent.
Peter J. Smith, "The Ideological Origins of Canadian Confederation," Canadian Journal of Political Science 20, no. 1 (March 1987): 15.
"Provincial Parliament, House of Assembly," The Globe, February 18, 1845, sec. A, Toronto edition.
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Keys to History
Faced with the reality of a united Canada and the exile of patriote leaders like Louis-Joseph Papineau, moderate French Canadian nationalists like Lafontaine opted to live with the reality of the Union Act and to seek new ethnic and bicultural alliances with leaders from Upper Canada like Robert Baldwin and, later, John A. Macdonald These alliances formed part of an emerging party system in Canada and fuelled a movement over the next decades toward a federal structure as the best solution for the Canadian dilemma.
Source : The Aftermath of the Rebellions [Web tour], by Brian J. Young, McGill University (see Links)
The Rebellion Losses Bill, introduced by Lafontaine, showed the triumph of the principle of responsible government in Canada. However, Lafontaine soon became disenchanted with politics and resigned, only to become Chief Justice at a later date.
In the important election of 1841, La Fontaine ran for a seat in Terrebonne, a county near Montreal. After his defeat, English Canadian reformers found a seat for him in York. In 1842, he established a reform administration in alliance with Robert Baldwin.
The 1840s were a critical period in Canadian history. It was La Fontaine who introduced into the Legislative Assembly the famous Rebellion Losses Bill of 1848.
Lafontaine had supported the patriote cause but opposed their call to arms. He became the leader of the French Canadian reformers in 1841 and worked with reform leaders in English Canada.