Dalhousie Law Journal


Peter Neary


Changing, government, constitutional minutiae


Newfoundland has long provided a rich field of interest for students of constitutional minutiae. The reason for this is not hard to find. In 1842 the Colony's elective Legislative Assembly and its appointive Legislative Council, both established in 1832, were combined in one chamber.' In 1861, only six years after "responsible government" had been achieved in the Colony, the government of John Kent was dismissed from office by Governor Sir Alexander Bannerman. 2 In 1908 a general election produced a tie and a crisis which was resolved only through the action of Governor Sir William MacGregor. 3 In 1919 a motion of no confidence put forward by the Minister of Finance was seconded by the Prime Minister and carried unanimously by the House. 4 In 1924, a defeated Prime Minister, while charged with larceny, entered the Legislature and participated in a division in which the government prosecuting him was defeated by one vote. 5 In 1934 Newfoundland gave up "responsible government" and for the next fifteen years was governed by a commission appointed by the government of the United Kingdom.