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Grand Council

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Grand Council Building

Grand Council Building, Burgoyne.

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 confederationEdit

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.

Allocation of Grand Council Seats by Confederation, 1842 - 1877
Indiana Manitoba N.C. Quebec S.C. Vandalia
1842 - 1855 24 19 44 24 30 9
1856 - 1870 24 21 44 22 30 9
1871 - 1877 29 13 45 13 29 21

Following the division of Vandalia into Northern Vandalia and Southern Vandalia, Vandalia's 21 Grand Council seats were divided among the two resulting confederations.

Allocation of Grand Council Seats by Confederation, 1878 - 1889
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 CouncilEdit

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.

Partisan Makeup of the Grand Council, 1843 - 1868
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.

Partisan Makeup of the Grand Council, 1873 - 1898
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.

Partisan Makeup of the Grand Council, 1903 - 1963
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.

Partisan Makeup of the Grand Council, 1968
Grand Council Year Elected Liberal Party Peace and Justice Party People's Coalition
Twenty-sixth Grand Council 1968 53 17 80

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