The Grand Council is the national legislature of the Confederation of North America. Its members are popularly elected, and serve five year terms. Its membership was fixed at 150 in the Second Britannic Design. The Grand Council chooses the Governor-General.
The origins of the Grand Council go back to Benjamin Franklin's Albany Plan of Union of 1754. In Franklin's plan, the Grand Council was to be the national legislature in the colonial union, with its members chosen by the assemblies of the individual colonies to serve three-year terms. Joseph Galloway retained the name in his Galloway Plan of Proposed Union of 1774, which was based on Franklin's earlier plan. In the original Britannic Design of 1781, each confederation would have a Council chosen by that confederation's colonies; the various confederation Councils would meet once a year as a Grand Council in Burgoyne to discuss matters of mutual concern.
At the Burgoyne Conference of 1842, the members of the Grand Council met to draft a series of amendments to the Design to remake the C.N.A. into a unified nation. In the resulting Second Britannic Design, the Grand Council was transformed into a popularly elected body with 150 members to serve as a national legislature for the newly-unified C.N.A.
Sobel does not directly state how vacant Grand Council seats are filled between elections, but he does mention that Ezra Gallivan "accepted" a Grand Council seat in 1904, which suggests that such vacant seats are filled by appointment, though who does the appointing is unknown.
Allocation of Grand Council seats by confederation
The number of seats allocated for each confederation was originally set by the Second Design in 1842. In the mid-1850s, two of Quebec's seats were transferred to Manitoba, though Sobel does not say why. Under the Reform Bill of 1870, Grand Council seats were reapportioned to reflect changes in the relative populations of the confederations.
|1842 - 1855||24||19||44||24||30||9|
|1856 - 1870||24||21||44||22||30||9|
|1871 - 1877||29||13||45||13||29||21|
|Indiana||Manitoba||N.C.||Northern Vandalia||Quebec||S.C.||Southern Vandalia|
|1878 - 1889||29||13||45||11||13||29||10|
The Quebec Plebiscite of 1889 resulted in the devolution of Quebec to associated status, and Quebec's thirteen Grand Council seats were divided among the remaining confederations. Under a reform adopted during Governor-General Ezra Gallivan's third term, Grand Council seats were reapportioned after every decennial census. The census and reapportionment were changed to every five years under Governor-General Douglas Watson, then changed back to every ten years under Governor-General Bruce Hogg. The allocation of seats following the 1910 census are unknown, as Sobel did not record the breakdowns of the 1913 and 1918 elections.
Allocation of Grand Council Seats by Confederation, 1890 - 1970
|Indiana||Manitoba||N.C.||Northern Vandalia||S.C.||Southern Vandalia|
|1890 - 1900||30||16||45||16||30||13|
|1901 - 1910||34||18||42||14||28||14|
|1911 - 1920||?||?||?||?||?||?|
|1921 - 1930||32||23||36||16||27||16|
|1931 - 1935||30||27||32||19||27||15|
|1936 - 1940||25||32||35||19||24||15|
|1941 - 1950||29||31||35||19||21||15|
|1951 - 1960||31||29||35||20||20||15|
|1961 - 1970||33||27||35||22||18||15|
Partisan makeup of the Grand Council
When the Second Britannic Design was adopted at the Burgoyne Conference in 1842, the C.N.A. already had an established party system, with each confederation divided between the Liberal and Conservative Parties. In fact, it was the two political parties, meeting in separate conventions in Brant, Indiana and Concordia, North Carolina, that brought about the Burgoyne Conference, and hence the Second Design. Thus, from the beginning, Grand Council seats were contested between the two parties, and each Grand Council was divided into partisan caucuses. The first six Grand Councils elected under the Second Design were divided between the Liberals (originally the Unified Liberals) and Conservatives (originally the National Conservatives). Sobel does not record the partisan division of the Second Grand Council, or indeed make any mention at all of the 1848 elections, though Winfield Scott's continued tenure as Governor-General indicates that the Liberals maintained their majority.
|Grand Council||Year Elected||Conservative Party||Liberal Party|
|First Grand Council||1843||59||91|
|Second Grand Council||1848||minority||majority|
|Third Grand Council||1853||91||59|
|Fourth Grand Council||1858||72||78|
|Fifth Grand Council||1863||61||89|
|Sixth Grand Council||1868||85||65|
Following the formation of the People's Coalition in 1869 and its victories in ten Grand Council elections in 1873, the next six Grand Councils were divided between three different political parties. The Eighth and Tenth Grand Councils had no majority party, and the Governors-General elected by them (John McDowell and Ezra Gallivan, respectively) headed minority governments.
|Grand Council||Year Elected||Conservative Party||Liberal Party||People's Coalition|
|Seventh Grand Council||1873||77||63||10|
|Eighth Grand Council||1878||49||62||39|
|Ninth Grand Council||1883||23||82||45|
|Tenth Grand Council||1888||9||66||73|
|Eleventh Grand Council||1893||4||48||98|
|Twelfth Grand Council||1898||3||56||91|
From 1873 to 1898 the People's Coalition made steady inroads at the expense of the Conservative Party, and at the Conservatives' 1903 nominating convention, so few delegates attended that the convention adjourned after the first day and offered up no candidates for the Grand Council. The next 13 Grand Councils, from 1903 to 1963, were divided between the Liberal Party and the People's Coalition. The partisan makeup of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Grand Councils is unknown, since Sobel makes no mention at all of the 1913 elections, and only notes the victory of People's Coalition candidate Calvin Wagner in the 1918 elections.
|Grand Council||Year Elected||Liberal Party||People's Coalition|
|Thirteenth Grand Council||1903||67||83|
|Fourteenth Grand Council||1908||60||90|
|Fifteenth Grand Council||1913||minority||majority|
|Sixteenth Grand Council||1918||minority||majority|
|Seventeenth Grand Council||1923||81||69|
|Eighteenth Grand Council||1928||94||56|
|Ninteenth Grand Council||1933||104||46|
|Twentieth Grand Council||1938||74||76|
|Twenty-first Grand Council||1943||66||84|
|Twenty-second Grand Council||1948||73||77|
|Twenty-third Grand Council||1953||82||68|
|Twenty-fourth Grand Council||1958||77||73|
|Twenty-fifth Grand Council||1963||70||80|
A bitter faction fight between supporters and opponents of Governor-General Richard Mason at the 1963 Liberal Party convention resulted in a split in the Liberal Party. The split became permanent at the 1968 convention, and Mason's followers left the Liberals to form the Peace and Justice Party, which went on to contest all 150 Grand Council seats in the 1968 Grand Council elections, winning 17 of them.
|Grand Council||Year Elected||Liberal Party||Peace and Justice Party||People's Coalition|
|Twenty-sixth Grand Council||1968||53||17||80|