Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate on Sir Wilfrid Laurier's contribution to our history.
I had hoped to do so in a non political fashion, as a Canadian recognizing the contribution of an eminent Canadian to our history.
However, before beginning, I must make a quick correction. In her speech, a few minutes ago, the hon. member for Rimouski—Mitis said that the Canadians of the time were today's Quebeckers, when she referred to a well researched document which I respect, even though I do not share the views of its author. This is not quite accurate because, at the time, the term Canadians referred to all francophones in America, in Canada, and did not just include those we now call Quebeckers.
Some 12 or 15 months ago, I attended a meeting with history teachers and I asked them point blank who, in their opinion, had been the best Prime Minister in the history of Canada. The answer to such a question requires one to think for a moment. However, two of the teachers spontaneously said it was probably Wilfrid Laurier. I asked them why. The first answer that came from one of the teachers was Laurier's sense of compromise.
It goes without saying that no political career can be perfect. Politicians face unavoidable obstacles. Their decisions may be arguable, but it is the spirit of compromise shown by Laurier, and by others, but particularly by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, that led to the building of a country which, while it may not be perfect, is nevertheless the envy of many.
Canada was built on compromise, on honourable compromise that was respectful of the other party. This is not just a philosophy or a concept: it is also reflected by concrete measures, such a equalization.
There are many writers, musicians, artists and authors who did not get the recognition they deserved in their day. The same is true for—