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Party Newspapers and the Independent Press
Original title:  Le temps du papier

Source: Link

 

Despite resistance from the Roman Catholic clergy, the Liberal press attempted to spread Wilfrid LAURIER’s political views. In the Quebec City area, that mission fell to the daily Le Soleil and its editor, Ernest PACAUD:

“On 27 Dec. 1896 the curés read from the pulpit a collective letter by the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Quebec that forbade the reading of his newspaper. The Liberal leadership decided to put up a fight. Pacaud changed the paper’s name [L’Électeur] and the next day, on the same presses and with the same staff, he published Le Soleil. He appealed to the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda and, to cover his tracks, the Compagnie d’Imprimerie de Québec was set up, with Pacaud as the principal shareholder. Bishop Labrecque’s next punitive move was to forbid the reading of Le Soleil. Apostolic delegate Rafael Merry del Val lifted the ban during his stay in Canada in 1897. From then on Pacaud had smooth sailing in Laurier’s wake. He supported the Laurier-Greenway settlement of the Manitoba school question, held forth on the many varieties of imperialism, spoke out against the pitfalls of too much provincial autonomy, attacked the nationalism of Henri Bourassa* and Joseph-Israël Tarte, and argued in favour of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and the Quebec Bridge Company.”


Offended by seeing his newspaper, La Presse, lose its position of influence with its principal supporter, the Conservative Party, and suffer to the benefit of its competitor, Trefflé BERTHIAUME seized the opportunity in 1901 to bring his newspaper into the Liberal fold:

“Berthiaume gave Laurier to understand that his government could count on the backing (even more powerful for being discreet) of the largest French-language daily in North America.”


During the same period, the independent press also suffered repeated assaults from the Liberal Party, as is shown in the following excerpt from the biography of Olivar ASSELIN, a journalist at the newspaper Les Débats and a harsh critic of the Laurier government:

“The editorial position of Les Débats … lasted less than a year in the face of Tarte's manoeuvring to get the paper purchased by supporters of Laurier.”


At La Vérité, the outspoken Roman Catholic journalist Jules-Paul TARDIVEL made Laurier the target of his numerous attacks:

“[Tardivel] disapproved of Liberals such as Wilfrid Laurier*, who, in his view, were secretly undermining religion and the French Canadian nation.”


For more detailed information on the role of the press in Canadian public life in Laurier’s time, we invite you to consult the following lists of biographies.

 

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