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Laurier Sir Wilfrid 1841-1919 seventh prime minister of Canada 1896-1911 Laurier was the first French Canadian to attain the post of prime minister Laurier was an excellent speaker in both French and English and he bridged the divisions between French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians to build a strong Liberal Party reflecting common national interests He relied heavily on rational argument to win his points Through compromise and conciliation he settled the question of church schools in Manitoba initiated imperial preference for British imports and furthered Canadas independence in foreign affairs He remained in power for 15 yearsLaurier was born in 1841 in Saint Lin now Laurentides Qubec His father Carolus Laurier was a farmer and land surveyor Lauriers mother Marcelle Martineau Laurier died when he was four and he was raised by his stepmotherWhile still young Laurier was sent to a Protestant school in New Glasgow Nova Scotia some distance from his home Living there with an Irish family he learned fluent English His next school was LAssomption College which he attended from 1854 to 1861 He then went to McGill University to study lawWhile he was at the university he entered the law office of Rodolphe Laflamme one of the leaders of the Parti rouge the most liberal political faction in Qubec He also joined the Institut Canadien a literary and scientific society that attracted many young liberals and radicals Both the Parti rouge and the Institut were under steady attack by the Roman Catholic clergy who had extended Pope Pius IXs denunciation of liberalism in Europe to include liberals in Qubec Although a Catholic Laurier consistently defended his right to hold political beliefs not endorsed by the church a stand that was to incur the clergys opposition to his political advancement in the futureIn 1864 Laurier became a lawyer and joined a Montral law firm However due to poor health he decided to move to the country In 1866 he settled in Arthabaskaville now
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