Says who? Well, who else but John Ralston Saul.
“There in the midst of describing a riot that clogged the streets of Montreal on an April afternoon in 1849, Ralston Saul describes Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine as ‘the first prime minister of a democratic Canada.’ John A. Macdonald does not turn up for another 178 pages. ”
Saul should know. He’s been writing about LaFontaine for years.
It depends how you ask the question. If you want to know the name of the first prime minister of the British North American federation that now goes by the name of Canada, sure: it was Macdonald. But if you want to know the first prime minister in British North America, it was Lafontaine.
Lafontaine’s is not a story that resonates in academe these days and I’m glad someone’s telling it. (Jack Granatstein said years ago that it’s Canada’s public intellectuals rather than members of university departments who keep alive our sense of National History.)
Saul’s book is entitled Extraordinary Canadians: Louis Hippolyte LaFontaine and Robert Baldwin (Penguin Group). The first prime minister of a democratic Canada! I’m looking forward to reading this one.
[From The Ideal file]
Posted by Janet Ajzenstat