In the mid-nineteenth century, a time when the liberal political order established itself once and for all in Canada, the question of the maintenance of public order took on special importance. The determination of democratic legitimacy required, in effect, a redefinition of the limits within which civil liberties could be expressed. At what point does freedom of speech become a call to revolt? How far can freedom of assembly go without taking the form of riot or rebellion? When does freedom of association transmute into conspiracy against the State? It was to these questions that the first Reform Cabinet adressed itself above all when, in 1843, at Baldwin's instance, it introduced three bills concerning public gatherings, processions, and secret societies. This article analyses the conditions under which these bills were introduced and debated, examines their tenor, and attempts to evaluate their implications for the nascent political order.