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Historians of Canada's Multi-ethnic Population

Rising through the political ranks slowly at first, Laurier was elected to the House of Commons as Liberal MP for Arthabaska in 1894. During this time, he publicly denounced the extreme position of the Ultramontanes. They were an extreme right-wing branch of the Quebec Liberals who argued for the supremacy of the Catholic Church. Although Catholic himself, Laurier denounced the extremity of his fellow Quebecois' political stance (Wallace 59). Again Laurier can be seen being groomed for taking on the moderate position.

As one who tried to avoid extreme positions, Laurier's political stance has often been unsympathetically read by history. Or, its ambivalence has been underscored. Laurier is said to have idealized Abraham Lincoln and shared his obsession with national unity by some (Wallace 61). Yet more skeptical political historians indicate that he was turned out of office for not having "a nation building policy" (Berger 197). O. D. Skelton dedicated himself to writing both an official biography of Laurier and collecting his Life and Letters into two volumes. In his 1921 biography Skelton adopts a fiercely defensive stance in rebuilding praise for the defeated Prime Minister. Here Skelton attempts to recontextualize Laurier's attitude toward conscription more favorably (Berger 49). Yet while Skelton admired Laurier for not giving way to the Centrists, Frank H. Underhill was less forgiving. According to Underhill, Laurier "had been a Whig who never had any sensitivity to the development of collectivist ideas that elsewhere replaced the notions of laissez-faire" (Underhill in Berger 70). Underhill's assessment is that Laurier remained as a "mere constitutional liberal to the end" (Underhill in Berger 70). According to Underhill's analysis, Laurier lacked both a real understanding of or interest in social issues. In contrast to the British Liberals, Laurier did not seek to expand the functions of the state (Underh...

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Historians of Canada's Multi-ethnic Population. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:51, August 18, 2017, from
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