Henri Bourassa (Canadian Politician) Essay, Research Paper
Henri Bourassa (Canadian Politician)For the duration of Henri Bourassa’s political career, he was viewed bymany as a great educator and a stable critic. Although Bourassa was not anintelligent man, he succeeded in making a variety of ideas a reason fordebate for nearly thirty years, which would raise the opportunity for himto become a well known political leader. Subsequently, Bourassa’s views andopinions were sometimes deemed as unethical and negative. Many Canadiansviewed him as a proud Canadian nationalist, as others labeled him anunpatriotic traitor. If anything, Henri Bourassa in many minds, should beviewed as a reformer, instead of the mass amount of hallmarks that havesurrounded him. Basically speaking, Henri Bourassa should be perceived asa Canadian nationalist due to his views on conscription, hisanti-imperialistic outlook, and his fight against Canadian annexation tothe United States. First of all, Henri Bourassa is appropriately viewed as a Canadiannationalist due to his views on conscription. Bourassa’s greatest campaignwas evident on the issue of conscription, which he was recognized outsideof his own province of Quebec, for fighting for Canadian nationality. Theconscription of Canadians into the First World War, was due to the smallsize of the British professional army, which was once labeled by Germany’sKaiser Wilhelm “that contemptible little army.” As the fighting draggedon, more and more men were slaughtered, and Canada was first introduced toconscription. Bourassa was quick to counter the use of conscription in thewar, although he did not oppose Canada’s participation, but was in favor ofthe equal proportion of Canadians in the war. Canada, once conscriptiontook place, had raised an army of 420 000 men, from a total population of 7000 000. The equivalency of such, would produce an army of 2 700 000 forBritain, due to it’s population and size. Also, Bourassa opposed theincrease in taxes, which helped pay for such conscription issues, whichconclusively meant Canadian men, women and children paid $100 in taxes, asoppose to the $7 that Americans were spending. Bourassa felt that “To askCanada to do more, would be an outrage”, and should be treated as such.Another period, when Bourassa was forced to deal with conscription, wasduring the Second World War. Prime Minister Mackenzie King, and hisinfamous slogan “Not necessarily conscription, but conscription ifnecessary”, proved to be a factor which pulled Bourassa out of retirementto battle. The National Resources Mobilization Act, gave the Canadiangovernment full rights to order conscription for service overseas. Whenthe need for reinforcements in the war overseas was needed, King adoptedconscription, taking 16 000 men from the National Resources MobilizationForce and placed them overseas. The Canadian public decided to support thecontinued war effort, and therefore, fought more possibilities ofconscription due to the volunteering of Canadians. Bourassa once again hadengaged in a battle with conscription, which he felt would destroy Canadianunity, and force a civil war. Bourassa also felt that if Canada was forcedinto conscription, that many Canadians would be unhappy and disloyal totheir country. Bourassa in turn, fought against conscription to provideCanada a more stable base, in which she could expand upon. Second, when Wilfrid Laurier was crowned Prime Minister, he immediatelynamed Bourassa the “French speaking secretary of the Canadian delegationto the joint high commission” and his job was to resolve Canadian-Americandifferences. After a short dispute with his own party, Henri was in theprocess of the Boer War of October 1899. When the volunteer forces sentin, the need for more troops were obvious. Bourassa was unhappy anddisagreed with Laurier’s plans of sending Canadian troops back to Britainto defend, and therefore, resigned his seat in the Parliament. Henri feltthat if Canadian troops were sent into Britain, then in furtherconfrontations, Canada would be expected to send troops to aid Britain.Such mental promises set forth by Canada would create an imperialisticlabel towards Canada, always needing their ‘Mother Country’ to be of aid.Bourassa kept this in mind during the Britain-Canada naval talks, andagain, stated that participation by Canada in the naval talks wouldmentally insure them to be at the side of Britain in any otherconfrontations. Bourassa also showed anti-imperialistic views during theBoer War. Bourassa disagreed with the idea of sending Canadian troops intoSouth-Africa due to the war’s importance or lack thereof towards Canada.Bourassa again felt that if they participated with Britain, that it wouldonly set up more demands and favors asked by Britain, which in turn, wouldkeep Canada imperialistic. When Bourassa decided to oppose traditional
imperialistic ties with Britain, he felt that Canada was growing to be astrong, self-reliant country, which did not need to commit herself toanything that was considered to be related to Britain’s needs. Thesovereignty that Canada possessed, could possibly be tarnished, if theuncertainty of Canada placing herself in a conflict which did notnecessarily regard her. These feelings and views expressed forth byBourassa proves that he is caring for Canada and her people, and also herparticipation in any further wars, which could ruin a nation’s power,politics and rights.Finally, Henri Bourassa felt that Canada was being carefully watched andevaluated by her American neighbors. Bourasssa had already held strongopinions, and as he progressed in politics, came to fear the giganticUnited States, which threatened Canada’s independence. Bourassa wantedself-government and liberty for Canadians without interference from eitherAmerica or Britain. Bourassa became very nervous when Wilfird Laurierannounced that a mutual free trade agreement between the United States andCanada was being considered, Bourassa reacted upon the topic with truepassion. Bourassa felt that the true purpose of the reciprocity treaty,was camouflaged by the American government as a grounds for equal trade. Inreality, Bourassa felt that annexation was in the future for Canada. Thereciprocity deal, which was proposed by President Taft, of the UnitedStates, granted both Nations equal trade without import taxes, or tariffs,on natural products. The trade deal was created to form a lower cost offarm produce, and the near extinction of the tariffs on manufactured goods,there was apparently no fear of that the developing Canadian manufacturingindustry would be taken over by it’s American competitors. Unfortunately,Laurier viewed trade with America as an opportunistic way to improverelations and boost the Canadian economy. The Imperial Nationalists ofEnglish speaking Canada and Henri Bourassa were against it, deciding thatthe only reason America wanted to induce trade was to slowly gain controlof Canada. This was apparent when Champ Clark stated “We are preparing toannex Canada, and the day is not far off when the American flag will floatover every square foot of the British North American possessions clear tothe North Pole.” Bourassa expanded on the view of Clark, “Canada is notyet a nation and is heading towards annexation.” Both of these quotes showthe mistrust that Bourassa had toward the Americans. Bourassa tried toinform the government of such strategies by the American’s to try andpreserve Canadian sovereignty, and after the fall of the Lauriergovernment, the reciprocity talks were ceased and nationality was saved. Henri Bourassa’s proposals for a more stable and productive Canada showedgenuine interest by Bourassa to keep Canada independent. Bourassasuggested that the Grand Trunk Railway should be privately operated butowned purely by the state, the state meaning government owned. Also,Bourassa and F.D. Monk adopted the fear that any north-south trade via theCanadian Pacific Railroad, would ruin the efforts of east-west trade withinCanada. This idea would apparently create more money, keep the interest ofthe railway by the people, and forming a higher level of trade withinCanada, which seems to be vital with regards to the reciprocity tradeagreement. Also, Bourassa wanted to end the ordeal involved with Canadaand the stock market, claiming that the stock market was America’s evil.Immigration wise, Bourassa felt that the immigrants deriving from Americainto Canada, were moving to Western Canada for the money, and it’sindustry, instead of for a pure love of the country. Bourassa felt thatthis type of immigration should not be allowed, and was another minordetail in the annexation of Canada. In conclusion, these ideas show howBourassa brought forth specific views to try and keep Canada independentfrom America, which at the time, was a large issue, that was not beinginterpreted precisely to the Canada public, by the Canadian Government. .In conclusion, Henri Bourassa’s reign in government proved to be avaluable one. His way of predicating other countries needs, helped himdecide that the first loyalty of Canadians should be to Canada and not theEmpire. This can be perceived by evaluating his views on conscription, hisanti-imperialistic outlook, and his fight against Canadian annexation tothe United States. Henri Bourassa, in his views on nationalism andpatriotism was quoted “There is Ontario patriotism, Quebec patriotism, orWestern patriotism…but there is no Canadian patriotism, and we can haveno Canadian nation, when we have no Canadian patriotism.” In the quotestated, Henri Bourassa has inclined many people to believe that Bourassahimself to the end of his life, was committed to the Canadian state andCanadian nationhood, and that’s why he was a Canadian Nationalist as opposeto an unpatriotic traitor.