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Territorial Government

Members of Territorial Legislature, 1904When the government of Canada acquired the North-West Territories from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1870, one of the first things needed was to establish a system of government for this vast area.  Aside from the newly created province of Manitoba, the remaining territory would be governed by a Lieutenant Governor and appointed council.  These provisions became law in the North-West Territories Act of 1875,  which also established the capital at Battleford and provided that elected representatives MLAs of the NWT would gradually replace appointed ones.  According to historian Gerald Friesen, "the local inhabitants would learn the ropes by observing government, rather than by governing themselves."

In 1882 the territorial capital was moved to Regina, but other changes were slow.  In 1885 local Frank Oliver, representative for Edmonton grievances boiled over into outright hostilities, and Louis Riel led an uprising against the Crown.  Although Riel and his supporters were defeated, the federal government finally introduced some important reforms.  These included representation for the Territories in the House of Commons and Senate and in 1888 the Territories were also granted a fully elected Legislative Assembly.  However, the Lieutenant Governor continued to be responsible for most administrative matters.  Only in 1897 did the Territorial Legislature secure a cabinet accountable to the elected Assembly .

 

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