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The Prime Minister: The Man of Challenges
Original title:  Photo Album - Manitoba School Question : Digital Resources on Manitoba History

Source: Link

 

Running a country grappling with deep divisions of various kinds, Wilfrid LAURIER believed that compromise was one of the means he could use to confront the many challenges he was facing. 

 

The Laurier–Greenway Agreement (1896)

 

The Manitoba school question was among Laurier’s priorities. His government negotiated an agreement with his provincial counterpart, Thomas GREENWAY: the separate schools were not reinstated and religious teaching was authorized only under strict conditions [see Sir Wilfrid Laurier]. In making this arrangement, Laurier hoped to satisfy the Roman Catholic minority while bowing to the will of Manitoba’s Protestant majority. With the aim of neutralizing the actions of the bishops, notably those in Quebec, he sent Abbé Jean-Baptiste PROULX to Rome:

“In the autumn of 1896 Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier* asked Proulx ... to go to the Vatican and defend the settlement of the Manitoba school question that he was negotiating with Thomas Greenway’s government. Laurier, just recently elected, feared the reaction of Quebec’s Catholic bishops....”

 

The final result is summed up in this excerpt from Laurier’s biography:

“Laurier could boast of having restored national harmony, but at an enormous price. Whatever may have been said about it, this agreement stood as a dangerous precedent since it marked the emergence of an increasingly unicultural and English-speaking Canada, a truncated vision of the country foreseen by the Fathers of Confederation. The accord revealed as well the willingness of the federal government to abdicate its role as protector of minorities, to recognize the primacy of provincial rights over minority rights, and to bow to the weight of numbers.”

 

You can learn more about the Laurier–Greenway agreement by exploring these biographies.

 

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