170th Anniversary of the First Responsible Government

Friday, February 2, 2018

Today, 2nd February 2018, marks the 170th anniversary of the first Responsible Government in the British Empire (outside of the United Kingdom).    The first Executive Council, which was chosen exclusively from the party holding the majority, met in the Drawing Room of Government House on 2nd February 1848.   The members of the Executive Council were:  James Boyle Uniacke (Attorney General and Leader of the Government), Joseph Howe (Provincial Secretary), Hugh Bell, William F. Desbarres, Lawrence O.C. Doyle, Herbert Huntingdon, James McNab, Michael Tobin, and George R. Young.

Responsible Government is a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability, which is the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy.  Under this system, cabinet ministers (Executive Council) are responsible to parliament/legislative assembly rather than to the monarch.  Ministers account to parliament for their decisions and for the performance of their respective departments.  Although ministers are appointed in the name of the Crown, they retain their cabinet portfolio subject to holding the confidence of the elected parliament.