Canadian Governments: A Reflection of History

  • 500

    Greeks in 500 BC

    The Greeks lived in self-governing cities. Free Male citizens of Athens would gather to discuss and debate issues. Decisions were reached by consensus. Since the number of free citizens was relatively small, direct democracy could take place. Women, foreigners, enslaved people, and children were not considered citizens.
  • 527

    Byzantine Emperor Justinian

    Byzantine Emperor Justinian proclaimed the divine right of kings. Ever since King David the Old Testament was anointed by God’s prophet, monarchs claimed that they had the divine right to rule their people as absolute rulers. The monarchs claimed that they had received their right to govern from God and were accountable only to God.
  • Feb 19, 1215

    King John

    In England, King John's nobles revolted against him and forced him to sign the Magna Carta (Great Charter). Though it benefited the nobles most, it also established some basic legal rights: the rule of law, which said that the king was not above the law; and habeas corpus, which gave everyone the protection of the law and the right to a fair trial within a reasonable amount of time.
  • Feb 19, 1450

    Aboriginal nations

    Five distinct Aboriginal nations – the Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Cayuga, and Onondaga – formed the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. This may have been the fist federated government known in history. A Grand Council of 50 representatives from five nations met to make major decisions based on consensus.
  • 1642-1646 King Charles 1

    At the end of the English Civil War, the parliamentary forces defeated King Charles 1 and abolished the monarchy. Parliament was declared the governing body of Britain. Later in the century a constitutional monarchy was established with the monarch ruling with parliament.
  • The American Revolution-elected leaders

    The American Revolution (1775-1783) and the French Revolution (1789-1799) ended monarchical rule and established republics with elected leaders in both countries.
  • Lord Elgin

    Lord Elgin, the governor of a united Upper and Lower Canada, accepted that the elected body was supreme. Responsible government was created. The executive branch became responsible to the elected Assemblies and followed the will of the people’s representatives.