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.
André Pratte has covered politics for most of his 30-year career as a reporter, columnist, and editor. He has written five books on politics and the media, including Charest: His Life and Politics. Chief editorial writer for the La Presse newspaper, he lives with his family in Montreal.
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