He became Governor of Jamaica in 1842, and in 1847 was appointed Governor General of Canada. Under Lord Elgin the first real attempts began at establishing responsible government in Canada. In 1848 the moderate reformers of both Canada East and Canada West, Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin, won their elections, and Lord Elgin asked them to form a government together. Lord Elgin became the first Governor General to remove himself from the affairs of the legislature, leading to the essentially symbolic role that the Governor-General now has. In 1849 the Baldwin-Lafontaine government passed the Rebellion Losses Bill, compensating French Canadians for losses suffered during the Rebellions of 1837. Lord Elgin signed the bill, sparking riots in Quebec, during which the Parliament buildings were burned down. The French-speaking minority in the Canadian legislature also unsuccessfully tried to have him removed from his post.
In 1854 Lord Elgin negotiated the Reciprocity Treaty with the United States, in an attempt to stimulate the Canadian economy. Later that year he signed the law that abolished the seigneurial system in Quebec, and then resigned as Governor-General.
|Governor General of Canada||Followed by:|
Edmund Walker Head
|Earl of Elgin||Followed by:|
Victor Alexander Bruce