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People I Like: Wilfrid Laurier, 1841-1919, Canadian PM from 1896-1911

June 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

I can’t say how far I will go with this series idea, but nevertheless, I do want to spotlight some of the people I do find worthy of reading about and researching, especially if they are generally neglected by history. With that in mind, I’d like to highlight someone I’ve recently been enjoying reading about and reading the speeches of: Canada’s 7th Prime Minister Henri-Charles-Wilfrid Laurier.

Now, I don’t profess to be an expert on Canadian politics, so despite the fact that I know our modern conception of the word “Liberal” here in America is not the meaning the word has always held, when I saw the word beside his name, I assumed it meant he was a Liberal in the vein of Trudeau or Pearson–or Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt here in America. It was only when, out of curiosity on night, I decided to do some research on him while looking up other things on Wikipedia. What I found was a man who appeared to be of like mind to myself. When I saw quotes like “Canada is free and freedom is its nationality,” and a man who would rather go down in defeat on the principles of free trade and a volunteer army than compromise his basic principles (even though he was nevertheless one willing to compromise when it didn’t involve selling out said principles), I knew I had to read more.

So I did, and this post is the results of my research. Here, I have provided various quotes and passages I could glean from his speeches.

But before we dive into his own words, I’d like to give a brief biographical sketch: Henri-Charles-Wilfrid Laurier was born on November 20, 1841, in what was then Saint-Lin, East Canada (today, it’s Saint-Lin–Laurentides, Quebec). His affinity for liberalism (in the old sense), as best I can tell, came both from his father, Carolus Laurier, and the time he spent as a child in the nearby village of New Glasgow, which was populated by Scottish immigrants–where he studied British culture. He attended the College of L’Assomption and graduated in law from McGill University in Montreal. In 1868, he married Zoe Lafontaine. In 1871, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Quebec from the district of Drummon-Arthabaska. In 1874, he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons, and he served briefly as Minister of Inland Revenue under Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie.

In 1887, he was chosen as Liberal party leader, and he would remain in that position until his death. He served as Prime Minister from July 11, 1896, to October 6, 1911. He is renowned as a firm believer in federalism and provincial rights, opposing, for example, the Canadian federal government’s attempt to override Manitoba’s legislation eliminating public funding for Catholic schools (though Laurier himself was Catholic)–an issue that had felled several governments before him. Instead, he proposed a compromise: Catholics in Manitoba could have a Catholic education on a school-by-school basis, provided there were enough Catholics to support it in a given school. He also supported greater autonomy of Canada from Great Britain. Four times between 1897 and 1910, he refused to allow Great Britain to encroach upon his nation’s foreign policy–to insure that Canada was not merely a colony gone adrift, but a nation in its own right. He also established Canada’s Navy and the Department of External Affairs, both of which affirmed and strengthened Canada’s independence. What eventually led to his defeat was his support of reciprocity with the United States (free trade), a principle he was not willing to compromise on.

After his party went back into the minority status after the 1911 election, he remained leader of his party until his death in 1919. He was known for his opposition to conscription (the draft), even to the point of refusing to join his successor as Prime Minister Robert Borden’s Union government during the First World War. The “Laurier Liberals” were but a rump of some 40-odd members, but they stuck by their principles. He holds the records for most consecutive federal elections won as PM (4), longest unbroken tenure in office (15 years), and longest tenure as party leader (31 years, 8 months). He also hold the record for longest tenure of service in the House of Commons at nearly 45 years (1874-1919).

A younger Wilfrid Laurier

You can read more in his biography at the Library and Archives of Canada, his biography at the Parliament of Canada, and this article from the Canadian Encyclopedia.

History has been kind to Mr. Laurier. In June of 2011, MacLean’s ranked him Canada’s greatest Prime Minister. Other rankings typically find him in a similar position, with 3rd generally being the lowest he goes. Among American Presidents, he’s probably best compared to Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge, especially since they were from around his era. Probably Ronald Reagan, too, but I’d mention as well the world of Reagan’s day was different from the world of Wilfrid Laurier.

So, having said all that, here are some notable quotes from his speeches. Most of these speeches come from a book published in 1890, Wilfrid Laurier on the Platform (available in full for free on Google Books), which showcased the major speeches he had given from his entry into politics in 1871 up until the year of its publication. It does not contain any statements from his tenure as Prime Minister, since he did not assume office until 1896. I have also included other quotes he is known for, but I might not always have a citation for them that you can view in the same way as that book. I have also used a two volume series published in 1922 called the Life and Letters of Wilfrid Laurier (vol. 1, vol. 2), but these are for quotes from after the span of the other book–especially his time as Prime Minister. For a few quotes, I also resorted to volume 1 of the same. There is also his profile at the Library and Archives of Canada, which contains a few of his speeches as Prime Minister.

Granted, these quotes reference the particular nature of Canada’s and Quebec’s, before he went to Ottawa, legislatures, but the principles expressed here are nevertheless universal. As I have hinted at earlier, do not attach the meanings we know of today for “liberalism” and “conservatism” where they are used here. Be mindful of their meanings at the time, especially in contexts outside the United States. I’ve bolded the best parts here, if you don’t want to read everything, but I do recommend the latter if you are willing. Also, for the quotes that come from books that are available on the internet, I have generally just copied and pasted transcriptions of the pages. This might lead to a typos here and there, but I have done my best to correct them all. If you have an issue, I have linked to each speech or page in question. Speeches begin below the fold. Read more…

GA-12: Trouble Brewing for Barrow

March 27, 2010 1 comment

This was originally posted on my diary at RedState here.

I divide my time between Georgia’s 13th district and its 12th district, depending on whether I’m at home or in college. Unfortunately, I’m represented by Democrats, David Scott and John Barrow, respectively, in both districts. Since I’m registered to vote in the 12th district, I’ve been doing what I can to help the Republicans oust Barrow.

Georgia's 12th District
Courtesy of NationalAtlas.gov.

Read more…

Obama and Bush: A Simple Comparison of Pictures

February 21, 2010 7 comments

H/T to this tweet byBen Domenech for alerting me to it.

A while back I did a post on the “Beer Summit” highlighting Obama’s lack of concern for those around him. The picture from Ben Domenech’s tweet reminded me of that. Take a look at it:



The man comforting the child is Harold Ford, a man who unsuccessfully sought Bill Frist’s old Senate seat in Tennessee back in 2006 (he lost to Bob Corker, for the record), and he’s trying to primary Hillary Clinton’s replacement in New York, Kirsten Gillibrand.

Obama, meanwhile, is minding his own business in the background looking off into the distance somewhere seemingly unaware of what’s happening in front of him.

Looking at that picture, I couldn’t help but think about how President Bush might have reacted in this situation, and how different the two men are.

So, then, how would Bush have reacted? There is ample evidence from which to judge. Perhaps most notable is this one image:

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Says the Cincinnati Enquirer:

In a moment largely unnoticed by the throngs of people in Lebanon waiting for autographs from the president of the United States, George W. Bush stopped to hold a teenager’s head close to his heart.

Lynn Faulkner, his daughter, Ashley, and their neighbor, Linda Prince, eagerly waited to shake the president’s hand Tuesday at the Golden Lamb Inn. He worked the line at a steady campaign pace, smiling, nodding and signing autographs until Prince spoke:

“This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center on 9-11.”

Bush stopped and turned back.

“He changed from being the leader of the free world to being a father, a husband and a man,” Faulkner said. “He looked right at her and said, ‘How are you doing?’ He reached out with his hand and pulled her into his chest.”

Faulkner snapped one frame with his camera.

“I could hear her say, ‘I’m OK,’ ” he said. “That’s more emotion than she has shown in 21/2 years. Then he said, ‘I can see you have a father who loves you very much.’ “

“And I said, ‘I do, Mr. President, but I miss her mother every day.’ It was a special moment.”

Ron Boat has this picture posted on his Facebook and had this to say as the caption:

From Ron Boat: In contrast to our current insensitive, politically opportunistic pres, people i know who know Bushs 41 & 43 say the family is truly caring and concerned. Even the Friday of Ft. Hood, Pres and Mrs Bush secretly went to the hospital to see the wounded and INSISTED that the press not know or tell anyone. Only the week after did the word leak out they went to show their concern. What a difference a year makes. I needed to add this: From Valerie Geibel-Wells “I am from the area (this was at a rally in Lebanon, OH) and know this family. Her mother was lost in 9.11 and was a wonderful humanitarian. They never found her remains and the girl was devastated – this was honest compassion from the leader of the free world who as he walked by her someone yelled to him “she lost her mother in the Trade Centers… See More” and he stopped and turned around and came back and hugged this girl for what seemed an eternity – something we don’t get now. He is true to America and never put us down.” Thanks Valerie. (Thanks for posting this Ron!)

Looking at these pictures, with the one of Sgt. Crowley I discussed earlier, and comparing them, I can only come to the conclusion that he just doesn’t care.

It’s not a conclusion I want to make about the leader of the free world, but it’s what I see when I look at these pictures.

He. Just. Doesn’t. Care.

EDIT: I’d like to point out that even Bill Clinton, Obama’s most recent Democratic predecessor, didn’t have such a tin ear. He wouldn’t have been so uncaring, and he certainly wouldn’t have let such a moment slip past him. After all, remember he feels your pain.

So, let it sink in…

He. Just. Doesn’t. Care.

A Possible 52 Senate Seats for Republicans in 2010?

February 18, 2010 7 comments

As this piece by the American Thinker points out, it’s entirely possible that the Republicans could have 52 votes in the Senate come 2010. That’s a gain of 11 seats, added on to the 41 we now have since Brown won.

Good quote:

Moreover, [Dan] Coats’s decision to run this year [for Evan Bayh's seat] is an example of the great vulnerability that Democrats face if 2010 continues to look like a strong Republican year. A few months ago, Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas were both considered pretty safe placeholders for Democrats in the midterm election. The number of possible gains by Republicans was very small. In fact, after November 2008, net gains by Democrats in the Senate in 2010 were considered possible. Today, it is a sure bet that North Dakota Governor John Hoeven will become a conservative Republican senator, replacing the liberal Democrat Dorgan. It is just about as sure that Senator Lincoln in Arkansas, who won reelection easily six years ago, will lose to a conservative Republican.

Republican candidates are running ahead of the Democrats in Colorado, Nevada, Delaware, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. If those poll numbers hold up, a Coats victory over Bayh would give Republicans 49 seats in the Senate. Coats, like Hoeven in North Dakota, represents a very strong candidate against a leftist Democrat in a blue state. Congressman Michael Castle in Delaware is a RINO, but not a leftist. He also represents the best Republican candidate in Delaware, and polls which had shown Castle beating Biden’s son will almost certainly show Castle well ahead in the wake of Biden’s decision not to seek his father’s old Senate seat.

If Republicans can persuade the most electable candidates to run in other states, the problems for Democrats could quickly mushroom into an enormous political headache. Polls show former Governor George Pataki running ahead of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in New York, where the Democratic Party is increasingly dysfunctional. Pundits see former Governor Tommy Thompson as a very strong challenger to Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. Patty Murray in Washington seems safe, according to Rasmussen, but if the former Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi runs against her, he beats Murray by two points. That is a recurring theme in the 2010 Senate election cycle: Republicans are very competitive if the top tier of candidates can be recruited. Those three candidates could give Republicans 52 Senate seats.

Very obviously, this is an optimistic assessment, but it isn’t an unreasonable one. It is very much within the realm of possibility. And, the fact that such an assessment can be made reasonably ought to prove just how bad things have gotten for the Democrats after their banner year in 2008. It hasn’t even taken two years for the Democrats to waste the goodwill and political capital given to them by the American people.

Read more…

Scott Brown Backpedaling Already?

January 22, 2010 5 comments

I hinted in my trivia post that I had other posts congratulating Scott Brown on his victory, but I think I shall put them on hold until these concerns are addressed.

I must admit, as a committed conservative, I have my problems with supporting most New England Republicans (there are some Republicans, mainly in New Hampshire, who are exceptions to this, but not many). Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Maine’s two senators, highlight why I am hesitant to support most New England Republicans. Usually, I end up supporting the Republican in a New England race because a) they less Liberal than their Democratic opponents and b) they are usually the best said state or district can offer.

Scott Brown is another example of my hesitance. I knew before I became a supporter that he was pro-choice and that he had several other conservative heresies. I reconciled myself with these facts because I knew that Massachusetts likely didn’t have anyone better to offer. However, what really made me a fan of his was what he campaigned on. He called for fiscal restraint nda strong stance in the War on Terror (particularly his quote, “In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.“). However, my personal favorite moment was he said that he would be the 41st vote to block and defeat the current healthcare legislation.

And when election day rolled around and the time can for his victory speech, I listened to his victory speech with great interest. I wanted to see what this man who I had come to like increasingly more with each passing day before the special election. Listening to his victory speech, I was very impressed that a man like this could win in Massachusetts. Read more…

Trivia: How Epic was Scott Brown’s Victory in Massachusetts?

January 20, 2010 3 comments

Leaving aside for the moment what this means to the agenda of Obama and the Democrats, I just want to point out just how groundbreaking Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts.

For the first time since 1953, a Kennedy will not be the elected holder of this seat (Benjamin A. Smith II and Paul Kirk have both held this seat during this time, but they were appointed to it). Furthermore, for the first time since 1947, Massachusetts will not have a Kennedy as an elected member of its Congressional delegation (the two gaps where the state was Kennedy-less between 1947 and now, but those instances were those of the aforementioned appointed Senators).

For the first time since 1966, when Edward Brooke (coincidentally the first black senator of the modern era) was elected to what is now John Kerry’s seat, the Republican party has won an open Senate seat in Massachusetts.

For the first time since 1972, when Edward Brooke was reelected, the Republican party has won a Senate election in the state of Massachusetts.

For the first time since 1979, when Brooke lost his reelection bid to Paul Tsongas, Massachusetts will have a Republican Senator.

For the first time since 1997, Massachusetts will have a Republican member of its Congressional Delegation. His election also shatters what was heretofore the largest single-party delegation to the United States Congress.

Scott Brown’s election marks the first time since 2002 that Massachusetts has voted Republican on a statewide level. The last Republican statewide winners? The Romney/Healey ticket.

In a state that Obama won 62% to 36% in 2008, a Republican won a little over a year later 52% to 47%.

I will have another post or two up later with analyses of Brown’s Massachusetts miracle, but for now, just let those facts sink in.

Acta est fabula.

Father Jonathan Gives a Great Rebuke of Pat Robertson

January 16, 2010 Leave a comment

For those of you who don’t know, I am a huge fan of FOX News’ early morning show Redeye w/ Greg Gutfeld. Given its generally lighthearted atmosphere, I was surprised to find such a good rebuke from a Christian perspective of Pat Robertson’s remarks.

FOX News analyst Father Jonathan Morris stopped by the Redeye set for the “Father Knows Best” segment they run. Here’s what he had to say:

He’s exactly right. I have no doubt that Rev. Robertson is a sincerely devout Christian. However, that should not stop him from knowing when to stay quiet. If anything, his status as a well known Christian ought to make him pause and consider what he says before he says it. After all, some of his remarks have been used by non-Christians, particularly those on the Left, to show how insane the “religious right” supposedly is.

Dear Pat Robertson, You’re Not Helping

January 15, 2010 2 comments

According to the atheists and secularists out there, almost all of who happen to be Liberals, the conservatives of today are religious fanatics following a quasi-medieval theology. In their eyes, we “Christianists” are as much a threat to society as the radical Muslims are (in fact, to some the “Christianists” are an even greater threat).

This is why people like Rev. Pat Robertson do us no service when they say things like this:

Read more…

Sen. Nelson was for the Obamacare Bill before he was against it…

January 7, 2010 1 comment

…And he was against it before that.

Some of you may remember I wrote a post a while back thanking Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska for stalling the Obamacare bill for no other reason than I wished to see the bill fail. Evidently Nelson must have seen my post or something, because soon after had I written the post, it seems, he goes and falls into line with the 59 other Senate Democrats with a sweetheart deal that even Nebraska’s governor didn’t want. Now, he’s pulling a John Kerry and flip-flopping on it:

Sen. Ben Nelson said Tuesday it was a mistake for the Obama Administration to take on massive health care reforms in 2009, and suggested efforts would have been better spent addressing the economy.

[...]

“I think it was a mistake to take health care on as opposed to continuing to spend the time on the economy,” he said.

[...]

“I would have preferred not to be dealing with health care in the midst of everything else, and I think working on the economy would have been a wiser move,” he said.

He seems to be channelling Joe Lieberman while he’s at it with his claim to be concerned about the economy, but you can’t have it both ways, Ben. You are the reason it passed. You should have thought of this BEFORE you sold your soul to Harry Reid and voted for this atrocity.

Read more…

David Brooks Bemoans his Irrelevance

January 5, 2010 6 comments

The New York Times is best enjoyed with a fine wine I hear, because one has to be drunk to get any enjoyment from reading the old fishwrapper. The Times must have caught on to this, as it has apparently decided to supply us with some. Unfortunately, someone at the esteemed Old Grey Lady mixed up the homonyms along the way and gave us a whine instead. Today’s whine comes courtesy of supposed conservative David Brooks, you know, the guy NewsHour with Jim Lehrer calls when it needs a “conservative” to slap around. And while wine is suitable for those over the age of 21, Brooks’ drivel is suitable for no one.

Apparently, he has decided to give some sort of praise to the Tea Party movement, yet he apparently cannot do so without whining about how his own class, that of the intellectuals, has lost influence. Observe:

The public is not only shifting from left to right. Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular over the past year.

The educated class believes in global warming, so public skepticism about global warming is on the rise. The educated class supports abortion rights, so public opinion is shifting against them. The educated class supports gun control, so opposition to gun control is mounting.

The story is the same in foreign affairs. The educated class is internationalist, so isolationist sentiment is now at an all-time high, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The educated class believes in multilateral action, so the number of Americans who believe we should “go our own way” has risen sharply.

A year ago, the Obama supporters were the passionate ones. Now the tea party brigades have all the intensity.

The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against. They are against the concentrated power of the educated class. They believe big government, big business, big media and the affluent professionals are merging to form self-serving oligarchy — with bloated government, unsustainable deficits, high taxes and intrusive regulation.

Brooksie-baby if this is your form of praise for us Tea Partiers, I think we can live without it.

First, the reason the public has rejected these ideas the educated classes have proposed is because they don’t work. They may seem like nice ideas in the utopias that exist in the minds of those ivory towered navel pickers, but they don’t translate well into the real world, you know, the place where the rest of us live?

Second, if the public has spurned the intellectual class, it is because the intellectual class has spurned us. You see, to them, we are the great unwashed. They are the brahmins, and we are the shudras, the “untouchables”, if you will. They dare not associate with us lest for fear of becoming that which they apparently dread most: a commoner. They reject common sense solutions because there just has to be a better, more intellectual way, and as I said before, while their ideas may sound nice to them, chances are, what fits their ever-so prized philosophy just isn’t going to work out here in the real world.

Finally, I can’t help but think that, as I suggested in the title, Brooks is bemoaning his own irrelevance. He should remember, though, that if he is losing influence among conservatives (if he had any to begin with) it is because he has rejected them, not the other way around. How many times has he gone against what conservatives want? How many times has he said that conservatives should abandon their limited government principles? Remember, too, that he supported Barack Obama and is still apparently under his thrall. These two facts alone ought to be enough to qualify him as a persona non grata to conservatives if he wasn’t already, and to most of them it was but two more reasons in a very large stack not to listen to him.

In short, if David Brooks is irrelevant, it is because he has made himself so. He, and, for that matter, most of the rest of the intellectual class, has dug the hole he finds himself in.

Acta est fabula.

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