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Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier

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Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada

William James Topley / Library and Archives Canada / C-001971

About Sir Wilfrid Laurier:

Sir Wilfrid Laurier had the longest unbroken term of office of any Canadian prime minister. He was Prime Minister of Canada for 15 years and a member of the House of Commons for 45 years. Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the first francophone Prime Minister of Canada, fluently bilingual, and spent much of his time in office trying to balance the interests of the French and English in Canada. Laurier was a moderate and known for his ability to compromise.

Prime Minister of Canada:

1896-1911

Highlights as Prime Minister:

  • established the Departments of Labour and External Affairs

  • recruited immigrants to the West

  • provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan created in 1905

  • two new transcontinental railways begun, although the projects were riddled with scandal

  • reciprocity deal with the United States for lower rates on natural products, but Liberals were defeated on free trade in 1911

  • stand against conscription split the Liberal party

Birth and Death:

  • Born November 20, 1841 in St. Lin, Canada East (Quebec)

  • Died February 17, 1919 in Ottawa, Ontario

Education:

BCL - McGill University

Profession:

  • Lawyer
  • Editor of "Le Défricheur" newspaper supporting the Parti Rouge
  • Ensign, Arthabaskaville Infantry

Political Affiliation:

Provincial Riding (Electoral District):

Drummond-Arthabaska 1871-74

Federal Ridings (Electoral Districts):

  • Drummond-Arthabaska 1874-77
  • Québec-Est 1877-91

Political Career of Sir Wilfrid Laurier:

  • Wilfrid Laurier was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Quebec in 1871.

  • He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1874, and served as Minister of Inland Revenue from 1877 to 1878.

  • Wilfrid Laurier was elected Leader of the Liberal Party in 1887.

  • He was Leader of the Official Opposition from 1887 to 1896.

  • With the election of the Liberal Party in the 1896 general election, Wilfrid Laurier became Prime Minister of Canada.

  • The Liberals lost the 1911 general election over the issue of "unrestricted reciprocity" or free trade with the United States. Sir Robert Borden became Prime Minister.

  • Wilfrid Laurier was Opposition Leader from 1911 to 1919.

  • Sir Wilfrid Laurier died in 1919 while still a member of parliament.

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