Laurier: A Study in Canadian Politics eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 92 pages of information about Laurier.
Still less was it foreseen that the overwhelming support of his own people would become not only politically essential to Laurier but a moral necessity as well—­something which in time he felt, by an imperious demand of the spirit, that he must hold even though this allegiance became not a political asset but a liability.  Gradually, perhaps insensibly at first, in opposition possibly to his judgment, certainly to his public professions oft repeated, he came to regard it as necessary to so shape party policy as always to command the approval of French-Canadian public opinion.  Sir Wilfrid lived to see, as the culmination of 20 years of this policy, the French and the English-Canadians more sharply divided than they had been for 80 years.  Such is the capacity of the human mind for self-deception that he could see in this divergence nothing but the proof that his life’s work had been destroyed by envious and designing men.


Quebec in turning Laurierite did not turn Liberal.  This was the factor hidden from the public eye that governed the future.  The Laurier sweep of Quebec in 1896 was the result of a combination of the Bleu and Rouge elements.  The old dominant French-Canadian party had been made up of Bleus and Castors—­factions bitterly divided by differences of temperament, of outlook and belief, and still more by desperate personal feuds between the leaders.  When the coming of responsible government broke up the solidarity of the French-Canadians they separated into three groups, the controlling factor in each case being religious belief.  The Castors were ultra-clerical and ultramontane; the Bleus inherited the tradition of Gallicanism; the Rouges imported and adapted the anti-clericalism of European Liberals.  Various influences—­the brilliance and resourcefulness of Cartier’s leadership and antipathy to Rouge extremism among them—­kept Bleu and Castor in an uneasy alliance.  This alliance began to disintegrate when Laurier rose to the command of the Liberals.  There was a steady drift from the Bleu to the Liberal camp—­by this time the old definition of “Rouge” was under taboo; and in 1896 the Bleus moved over almost in a body.  This was not an altogether instinctive and voluntary movement; it was suggested, inspired, successfully shepherded and safely delivered.

Tarte’s confidence that Laurier could win Quebec was not based wholly upon faith in the power of Laurier’s personal appeal.  He was himself a Bleu leader brought into accidental relations with the Liberals.  His breach with the Conservatives began as one of the unending Castor-Bleu feuds.  His knowledge of the McGreevy-Connolly frauds gave him the power, as he thought, to blow the Castor chief, Sir Hector Langevin—­a cold, selfish, greedy, domineering, rather stupid man—­into thinnest air, thus opening the road to the leadership of the French-Conservatives to his friend and leader, the brilliant, unscrupulous

Project Gutenberg
Laurier: A Study in Canadian Politics from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook