Sir Wilfrid Laurier of Canada


Laurier gained great achievement over his political years because he
represented Canada as a whole. His family first came to Canada dating back
to the time of New France and the early Montreal years.

Laurier's father, a government surveyor and a genial, settled down in
Canada and got married to Marcelle Martineau. Wildfrid was their first
child who was born on November 20, 1841. Seven years later a tragedy struck
the Laurier family when Wildfrid's mother died.

Since his mother died when Wildfrid was only seven, his father wanted
to give him the best education possible. His father knew if he were to
succeed in Canada he would have to learn the english language and ways.
When Wilfrid was ten years old he got sent to an Anglo-Protestant family
who were Scottish immigrants. Here he learned the english language and the
Protestant faith. Later on in his life he recalled "how I fought with the
Scotch boys and made schoolboy love to the Scotch girls, with more success
in the latter than in the former." Remembering the past Laurier would
carefully develop the politics of reconciliation rather than conflict.

In the year 1854 the young lad went to college, De L'assomption. In
his studies he took subjects such as Latin, Latin classics,
pre-revolutionary French literature, Greek, English and some philosophy.
The education which Laurier got from this school was to prepare him for
priesthood but he decided to study law in Montreal at McGill University.

At the University Laurier was very hard working and serious to try to
accomplish his first major goal which was to become a lawyer. In 1864
Laurier had graduated at the top of his class and was chosen to give the
valedictory address. Some of the things he said in his address were how a
lawyer bore heavy responsibilities. A lawyer had to maintain liberty and
justice; a lawyer had to defend the individual, especially the weak from
bold to strong, and that sometimes included the state and church.
Differences of language, religion or history paled in comparison to
lawyer's obligation to seek justice and freedom."

Laurier started his law career in a small law firm in Montreal but due
to bad health he moved to a small town in Quebec called Victoriaville where
he carried out practising law and became involved with the newspaper in
that town.

He was lured into politics quite slowly although he always was
interested in politics. He was often ill and did not know weather he would
go into the political field because of it. As his heath got better and his
interest in politics grew he became an M.P (member of parliament) in March
1974.

One of the major events that took place in Laurier's political career
was the interest he took in the Northwest Rebellion and Louis Riel which
later helped him become the Prime Minister of Canada. The situation with
the Metis people was not good. Land had been given to them but white
settlers were moving in, which meant that the Metis would have to leave and
move more West to Saskatchewan. The Metis had demanded money but were not
payed any attention to by the government. The Metis called Louis Riel to
help them out and try to settle the problems which faced them. After a few
months Riel had realized that the government were not going to do anything
about the issue so then the problem ended up in a rebellion known as the
Northwest Rebellion. Laurier had decided to try to defend the cause
because he believed in minority rights although he had a French- Canadian
background. Although Laurier was helping the Metis he did not really
approve of Riel's ways. Some of the things Laurier said during that time
was,"I am not one of those who look upon Louis Riel as a hero. Nature had
endowed him with many brilliant qualities but nature had denied him that
supreme quality without which all other qualities, however brilliant, are
of no avail. Nature had denied him a well-balanced mind. But," he
announced, "we cannot make a nation of this new country by shedding blood."
These fine words were noted in Parliament.

The rebellion ended as Riel surrendered on May 15. He was later tried
for treason. Riel pleaded guilty and was executed. This put great tension
between the Anglaphone and Francophone people. Because of Laurier's
participation in this major historical event he gained the favour over the
majority of the francophone community.

On July 13, 1896 Laurier became the Prime