Laurier: A Study in Canadian Politics eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 77 pages of information about Laurier.
Episcopal thunders; even in his earliest days his radicalism was of a decidedly Whiggish type and his political color was several shades milder than the fiery red of Papineau, Dorion and Laflamme.  Under his guidance the Rouge party was to be transformed in outlook, mentality and convictions into something very different indeed; but this was still far in the future.  But towards the church’s pretensions to control the political convictions of its adherents he presented an unyielding front.  On the eve of his assumption of the leadership of the French Liberals he discussed at Quebec, June 1877, the question of the political relations between church and state and the rights of the individual in one of his most notable addresses.  In this he vindicated, with eloquence and courage, the right of the individual to be both Catholic and Liberal, and challenged the policy of clerical intimidation which had made the leaders of the church nothing but the tools and chore-boys of Hector Langevin, the Tory leader in the province.  It may rightly be assumed that it was something more than a coincidence that not long after the delivery of this speech, Rome put a bit in the mouth of the champing Quebec ecclesiastics.  This remained Laurier’s most solid achievement up to the time when he was called to the leadership of the Dominion Liberal party.

DOUBTS AND HESITATIONS

Laurier’s accession to leadership caused doubt and heart-burnings among the leaders of Ontario Liberalism.  Still under the influence of the Geo. Brown tradition of suspicion of Quebec they felt uneasy at the transfer of the sceptre to Laurier, French by inheritance, Catholic in religion, with a political experience derived from dealing with the feelings, ambitions and prejudices of a province which was to them an unknown world.  Part of the doubt arose from misconception of the qualities of Laurier.  As a hard-bitten, time-worn party fighter, with an experience going back to pre-confederation days, said to the writer:  “Laurier will never make a leader; he has not enough of the devil in him.”  This meant, in the brisk terminology of to-day, that he could not deliver the rough stuff.  This doubter and his fellows had yet to learn that the flashing rapier in the hands of the swordsman makes a completer and far less messy job than the bludgeon; and that there is in politics room for the delicate art of jiu-jitsu.  Further, the Ontario mind was under the sway of that singular misconception, so common to Britishers, that a Frenchman by temperament is gay, romantic, inconsequent, with few reserves of will and perseverance.  Whereas the good French mind is about the coolest, clearest, least emotional instrument of the kind that there is.  The courtesy, grace, charm, literary and artistic ability that go with it are merely accessories; they are the feathers on the arrow that help it in its flight from the twanging bow-cord to the bull’s-eye.  Laurier’s

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