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