Laurier: A Study in Canadian Politics eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 77 pages of information about Laurier.
narrow majority would not have kept them in office a year in view of the death of Sir John A. Macdonald in June, 1891, and the stunning blows given the government by the “scandal session” of 1891, had it not been for two disasters which overtook the Liberals:  The publication of Blake’s letter and the revelation of the rascalities of the Mercier regime.  Perhaps of the two blows, that delivered by Blake was the more disastrous.  The letter was the message of an oracle.  It required an interpretation which the oracle refused to supply; and in its absence the people regarded it as implying a belief by Blake that annexation was the logical sequel to the Liberal policy of unrestricted reciprocity.  The result was seen in the by-election campaign of 1892 when the Liberals lost seat after seat in Ontario, and the government majority mounted to figures which suggested that the party, despite the loss of Sir John, was as strong as ever.  The Tories were in the seventh heaven of delight.  With the Liberals broken, humiliated and discouraged, and a young and vigorous pilot, in the person of Sir John Thompson, at the helm, they saw a long and happy voyage before them.  Never were appearances more illusory, for the cloud was already in the sky from which were to come storm, tempest and ruinous over-throw.

THE TACTICS OF VICTORY

The story of the Manitoba school question and the political struggle which centred around it, as told by Prof.  Skelton, is bald and colorless; it gives little sense of the atmosphere of one of the most electrical periods in our history.  The sequelae of the Riel agitation, with its stirring up of race feeling, included the Jesuit Estates controversy in parliament, the Equal Rights movement in Ontario, the attack upon the use of the French language in the legislature of the Northwest Territories and the establishment of a system of National schools in Manitoba through the repeal of the existing school law, which had been modelled upon the Quebec law and was intended to perpetuate the double-barrelled system in vogue in that province.  The issue created by the Manitoba legislation projected itself at once into the federal field to the evident consternation of the Dominion government.  It parried the demand for disallowance of the provincial statute by an engagement to defray the cost of litigation challenging the validity of the law.  When the Privy Council, reversing the judgment of the Supreme Court, found that the law was valid because it did not prejudicially affect rights held prior to or at the time of union, the government was faced with a demand that it intervene by virtue of the provisions in the British North America act, which gave the Dominion parliament the power to enact remedial educational legislation overriding provincial enactments in certain circumstances.  Again it took refuge in the courts.  The Supreme Court of Canada held that under the circumstances

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