Canada: ‘a vote the same as any other person’<sup>1</sup>

Julie Evans, Patricia Grimshaw, David Philips and Shurlee Swain

in Equal Subjects, Unequal Rights

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780719060038
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700334 | DOI:
Canada: ‘a vote the same as any other person’1

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  • Colonialism and Imperialism


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This chapter focuses on the political outcomes of the intensified appropriation of Indigenous lands by British settler colonists in Canada from the 1870s to 1910. The Canadian colonies entered into confederation without a uniform national franchise, choosing instead to allow anyone who had the vote at the provincial level to participate in national elections. In post-confederation Canada, the need to bring together disparate colonies, the financing and construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the establishing of systems of governance in the old Hudson's Bay territories were the issues that preoccupied the government in Ottawa. Its exercise of responsibility for Indigenous people was closely related to those issues as well, negotiating a series of treaties which, under the immediate premise of giving access for the railway, laid the basis for the immigration that would populate what were to become the prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 1883, Canadian Prime Minister Sir John Macdonald introduced a Bill to establish a uniform federal franchise, proposing the enfranchisement of single women and widows with property, and the inclusion of Indigenous people, whether or not they had embraced enfranchisement under the provisions of the Gradual Civilisation Act, in the legislation's definition of ‘persons’.

Keywords: British settler colonies; settler colonists; Indigenous people; Canada; Sir John Macdonald; Canadian Pacific Railway; post-confederation Canada

Chapter.  9134 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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