laurier the compromiser

Laurier: The Great
Sir Wilfrid Laurier…The Facts
 Sir Wilfrid Laurier
 P.M. 1896-1911
 Canada’s first French Canadian Prime
 The “Great Compromiser”
How do you please your French
Canadian supporters while also
pleasing the English Canadian
The Status of English French Relations
Question: Why do we have a holiday
every May 24th weekend?
Answer: To celebrate Queen Victoria’s
birthday and Canada’s strong ties to the
British Empire.
Question: What province would choose
NOT to take part in this public holiday?
Answer: Quebec!
Ideas concerning Canada’s link to GB:
 Many E-C’s believed that Canada was destined to
become one of the most powerful nations in the
world, following in G.B.’s footsteps
 F-C’s disliked the strong ties to Britain. Their deep
patriotism was rooted in Quebec and the French
Laurier eventually lost the 1911 election due to a:
B – Boer War
A – Alaska Dispute
R – Reciprocity
N – Naval Issue
A Time of Imperialism: European rivals were in a race to win more colonies.
Laurier did not want to be dominated by either G.B. or the U.S.
Issue #1 The Boer War 1899
What could the British possibly want from South
Issue #1 The Boer War 1899
Issue #1 The Boer War 1899
British are fighting the Dutch Afrikaners (Boers) in South
Africa – diamonds and gold
British turn to their empire, and ask Canada to support
Canada divided:
French Canadians – “We are not interested in
someone else’s war!”
English Canadians – “We should show our loyalty
to the Empire!”
The Decision…
Laurier compromises:
Sends only volunteers.
7300 Canadian volunteers enlisted to fight for G.B
1. English Canadians felt he hadn’t done enough
2. French Canadians said it was too much. Some
French politicians quit the Liberal party
Issue #2 The Alaska Boundary Dispute 1898-1903
Canada and the U.S. need to
establish proper boundaries after
the discovery of gold in the
Canada is a united front:
 “It is within our nation’s border”
The Decision..
Laurier’s decision:
The final say belonged to England, who sided
with the U.S. to keep them as a close ally.
Laurier does not continue to press the issue.
1. Shows Canada that Britain is not committed to
2. Shows Canada that she needs to grow up and
take care of her own political affairs.
Issue #3
Reciprocity – Free Trade with the U.S. 1911
 The U.S. wants to tax-free import Canadian raw materials –
 Canada divided:
 Canada’s West supports this – they make money by
exporting their raw materials to the U.S. tax-free, and save
money by importing U.S. made manufactured goods taxfree.
 Ontario businessmen (factory owners) want to keep taxes on
American made goods to keep their products competitive.
Ontario is an economic powerhouse of the country.
The Decision..
Laurier’s compromise:
calls an election – Key issue – Reciprocity (free
1.Laurier loses the election – Reciprocity is
2.Canada’s western provinces feel left out. They
resent all the power being concentrated in
Issue #4 The Naval Crisis 1910
Question: What two European superpowers are competing to
build the largest navy and control the seas?
Answer: England and German
Issue #4 The Naval Crisis 1910
Britain is in an arms race with Germany
(battleships –dreadnoughts) for control of the
Britain turns to her empire and asks Canada to
send $$$ for more ships
Canada divided:
 French Canadians – “If we commit to this, we
will be committed to every imperial conflict!”
English Canadians – “It is smart to stay
connected to the protection of the Empire!”
The Decision…
Laurier compromises: We won’t send money, but we
will establish Canada’s own navy that, in times of
crisis, could become part of the imperial navy.
1. Shows Canada’s strong ties to Britain and Empire
2. Laurier loses the 1911 to Sir Robert Borden and his
• Laurier’s loyalty to both Eng. and Fr. grew into a key issue in the 1911
election – he tried to appeal to both sides, but was “attacked from all
• “I am branded in Quebec as a
traitor to the French and in
Ontario, as a traitor to the
English….in Quebec I am attacked
as an imperialist, and in Ontario as
an anti-imperialist”
- Laurier
 In 1911, proBritish Canadians
and Robert
Borden became
the new PM.
 He would lead
Canada through

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