Everyone knew it would be Sir John A. Macdonald’s last campaign. His Conservative Party had dominated Canadian politics since Confederation. His National Policy, which protected Canadian manufacturers from foreign competition, was well established. And there remained widespread affection for the “Old Man.” The Liberal leader, Wilfred Laurier, was new in the job and doubted that a Roman Catholic from Quebec could win votes outside his home province. Still, the Liberals had hope. Macdonald’s decision to hang Louis Riel had split the country, the economy was in the doldrums, and there was growing support for free trade with the United States.
Author Christopher Pennington vividly brings to life the 1891 election, one of the most bitterly fought in Canadian history. In this richly textured narrative, Pennington spins an action-packed tale of a country poised to make a momentous choice and of nineteenth-century politics at its most principled and its most corrupt.