Laurier: A Study in Canadian Politics eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 77 pages of information about Laurier.
malignancy in the retelling.  Bourassa included Laurier in the scope of his denunciations.  Laurier’s loyal support of the war and his candid admonitions to the young men of his own race made him the target for Bourassa’s shafts.  Something more than a difference of view was reflected in Bourassa’s harangues; there was in them a distillation of venom, indicating deep personal feeling.  “Laurier,” he once declared in a public meeting, “is the most nefarious man in the whole of Canada.”  Bourassa hated Laurier.  Laurier had too magnanimous a mind to cherish hate; but he feared Bourassa with a fear which in the end became an obsession.  He feared him because, if he only retained his position in Quebec, Liberal victory in the coming Dominion elections would not be possible.  Laurier feared him still more because if Bourassa increased his hold upon the people, which was the obvious purpose of the raging, tearing Nationalist propaganda, he would be displaced from his proud position as the first and greatest of French-Canadians.  Far more than a temporary term of power was at stake.  It was a struggle for a niche in the temple of fame.  It was a battle not only for the affection of the living generation, but for place in the historic memories of the race.  Laurier, putting aside the weight of 75 years and donning his armor for his last fight, had two definite purposes:  to win back, if he could, the prime ministership of Canada; but in any event to establish his position forever as the unquestioned, unchallenged leader of his own people.  In this campaign—­which covered the two years from the moment he consented to one year’s extension of the life of parliament until election day in 1917—­he had repeatedly to make a choice between his two purposes; and he invariably preferred the second.  In the sequel he missed the premiership; but he very definitely accomplished his second desire.  He died the unquestioned leader, the idol of his people; and it may well be that as the centuries pass he will become the legendary embodiment of the race—­like King Arthur of the English awaiting in the Isle of Avalon the summons of posterity.  As for Bourassa, he may live in Canadian history as Douglas lives in the history of the United States—­by reason of his relations with the man he fought.

THE BILINGUAL EPISODE

The Canadian house of commons was the vantage point from which Sir Wilfrid carried on the operations by which he unhorsed Bourassa.  Here we find the explanation of much that appears inexplicable in the political events of 1916 and 1917.  Laurier was out to demonstrate that he was the true champion of Quebec’s views and interests, because he could rally to her cause the support of a great national party.  Hence the remarkable projection of the bilingual issue into the proceeding of parliament in May, 1916.  The question as an Ontario one could only be dealt with by the Ontario authorities once

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Laurier: A Study in Canadian Politics from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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