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Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919)
To the French Canadians

To the Club Canadien, Montreal
June 26, 1877

... But I address myself to all my fellow countrymen without distinction and I say to them:

We are a free and happy people; and we are so owing to the liberal institutions by which we are governed, institutions which we owe to the exertions of our forefathers and the wisdom of the mother country.

The policy of the Liberal party is to protect those institutions, to defend and spread them, and, under the sway of those institutions, to develop the country's latent resources. That is the policy of the Liberal party and it has no other.

Now, to properly estimate all the value of the institutions by which we are ruled today, let us compare the present state of the country with what it was before they were granted to us.

Forty years ago the country was in a state of feverish commotion, a prey to an agitation which, a few months later, broke out in rebellion. The British crown was only maintained in the country by the force of powder and ball. And yet what were our predecessors seeking? They were asking for nothing more than the institutions which we have at present; those institutions were granted to us and loyally applied; and see the result; the British flag floats over the old citadel of Quebec; it floats tonight over our heads, without a single English soldier in the country to defend it, its sole defence resting in the gratitude, which we owe it for our freedom and -the security which we have found under its folds.

Where is the Canadian who, comparing his country with even the freest countries, would not feel proud of the institutions which protect him?

Where is the Canadian who, passing through the streets of this old city and reaching the monument raised a few steps from here to the memory of the two brave men, who died on the same field of battle while contending for empire in Canada, would not feel proud of his country?

In what other country, under the sun, can you find a similar monument reared to the memory of the conquered as well as of the conqueror? In what other country, under the sun, will you find the names of the are conquered and the conqueror equally honored and occupying the same place in the respect of the population?

Gentlemen, when, in that last battle which is recalled by the Wolfe and Montcalm monument the iron hail was spreading death in the ranks of the French army; when the old heroes, whom victory had so often accompanied, saw at last victory snatched from them; when, stretched on the ground with their life-blood fast ebbing away. they saw, as the result of their defeat, Quebec in the hands of the enemy and the country forever lost; no doubt, their last thought was of their children, whom they were leaving without protection and without defence; no doubt, they pictured them as persecuted, enslaved, and humiliated, and then, it is reasonable to believe, they drew their last breath with a cry of despair. But, if, on the other hand, Heaven had lifted the veil of the future from their dying eyes and enabled them for an instant, before these closed forever, to pierce what was hidden from their sight; if they could have seen their children free and happy. marching proudly in all spheres of society; if they could have seen, in the old cathedral, the seat of honor of the French governors occupied by a French governor; if they could have seen the church steeples rising in every valley from the shores of Gaspé to the prairies of the Red River; if they could have seen this old flag, which recalls the finest of their victories. carried triumphantly in all our public ceremonies; in fine, if they could have seen our free institutions, is it not permissible to think that their last breath would have been exhaled in a murmur of gratitude to Heaven and that they would have died consoled? If the shades of these heroes still hover over this old city, for which they laid down their lives; if their shades hover to-night over the hall in which we are now assembled, it is free for us, Liberals, to think - at least we cherish the fond illusion, - that their sympathies are all with us.


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