Bourassa, Henri

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Bourassa, Henri

Henri Bourassa (äNrē´ bōōräsä´), 1868–1952, Canadian political leader and publisher, b. Montreal; grandson of Louis Joseph Papineau. He was elected as an Independent Liberal to the Canadian House of Commons in 1896 but resigned in 1899 in protest against sending Canadian troops to the South African War; he was almost immediately reelected. A man of oratorical and literary gifts, he rallied around him various groups discontented with the regime of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and welded them into a powerful opposition party in Quebec that became known as the Nationalist party; it took the stand that Canada should hold aloof from diplomatic entanglements with Great Britain and the United States. Opposing (1909–11) the bill to construct a Canadian navy, Bourassa withdrew enough support from Laurier to cause the fall of the government. In 1910 he founded, as the Nationalist journal, Le Devoir, a Montreal daily, and was its editor for many years. He led French Canadian opposition to participation in World War I, denouncing in violent terms the conscription act of 1917. His influence on Quebec's politics can still be in seen in the Parti Québécois, which advocates separation and nationalism for Quebec.

See studies by C. Murrow (1968) and J. Levitt (1969).

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