Wilfrid Laurier honoured for defending wartime civil liberties

Wilfrid Laurier’s defence of the civil liberties of “enemy aliens” was remembered with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and bust.

On Nov. 20, Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s staunch defence of the civil liberties of “enemy aliens” was remembered with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and bronze bust of Canada’s seventh prime minister at the Laurier House National Historic Site, in Ottawa. This initiative was organized by the Trutiak Family (MST Bronze Ltd) with the support of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation (UCCLA) and Parks Canada.

Louise Laurier, a descendant, unveiled the likeness.

During the First World War, and in the midst of a crisis over military conscription, the Unionist Government of Sir Robert Borden passed The War Time Elections Act (10 September 1917) which effectively disenfranchised anyone who had immigrated to Canada after March 1902, stripping the right to vote from tens of thousands of Ukrainians and other Europeans branded as “enemy aliens” through passage of The War Measures Act (22 August 1914).

Laurier, then leader of the Liberal opposition in the House of Commons, protested this measure, saying he despaired for the future of the country if the promises made to these immigrants were betrayed. Despite his determined stand, the government was able to pass the Act, ironically while allowing some women the right to vote for the first time in Canada’s history (the wives, sisters and widows of soldiers serving overseas in the Canadian Expeditionary Force).

“While Laurier was not successful in his protest of The War Time Elections Act, he took an unpopular stance in the House of Commons because it was the right thing to do and did so during a time of war and domestic crisis,” said Lubomyr Luciuk, UCCLA’s director of research. “For that we are honouring him with this bust and plaque, recognizing the principled position he took in defence of the civil liberties of so-called ‘enemy aliens.’”

He added, “Laurier demonstrated remarkable statesmanship when all around him others exposed their prejudices and xenophobia. Laurier’s words bear remembering, for their currency remains valid to this day.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

The North Country Inn and Restaurant in Vanderhoof notified the public Friday morning of a positive, COVID-19 case for one of its workers. (Facebook photo)
North Country Inn and Restaurant employee tests positive for COVID-19

The North Country Inn and Restaurant said the employee had not been in contact with its patrons

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

(Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Thursday.
COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site

14 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor recieves prestigeous conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor receives prestigious conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond speaks to reporters from Prince George via Zoom conference, Nov. 24, 2020. MLAs are being sworn in for the legislature session this week, many of them also by video. (B.C. legislature)
B.C. Liberal leadership contest will wait for election post-mortem

Interim leader set to face NDP on payments for COVID-19

Most Read