Everyone knows that Wilfrid Laurier was a great prime minister, an astonishing speaker, and a survivor. But nobody has looked at him as more than a mythological figure for a very long time. André Pratte, chief editorial writer of La Presse, uncovers Laurier's full complexity amid the charged political circumstances of the early 20th century. Laurier tried to unite a country deeply divided in the wake of the First World War, grappling with the thorny questions of minority rights, multiple cultures, and regional tensions. A superb orator—his defence of Louis Riel established him as perhaps Canada's greatest speaker—he talked to his listeners as if they were as intelligent and well-read as he. Pratte reveals a Laurier who did not have to create a special political strategy in order to deal with the complexities of Canada. His personality, in and of itself, was a mirror of that complexity. Pratte's Laurier affirms our long and stable history, while recognizing that events are never predictable. Like Laurier, great leaders must accept both to govern Canada successfully.
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