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Louis-Honoré Mercier

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A French Canadian statesman, b. 15 October, 1840, at Ibervile, Quebec, of a family of farmers; d. 30 October, 1894. He received his classical education at the Jesuit college, Montreal, and prepared for the Bar in the employ of a prominent legal firm of St-Hyacinthe, acting meanwhile (1862), when only 22, as editor of "Le Courrier de St-Hyacinthe". His view were then opposed to the confederation of the provinces, which he considered as the death-blow to French Canadian influence. In his later years he inclined towards annexation to the United States. In 1873 Rouville county elected him for the Federal Parliament; and, in 1881, St-Hyacinthe returned him to the local House of Assembly, Quebec. The general indignation caused among the Canadians of French origin by the execution of the half-breed leader, louis Riel, at Regina, an act rightly attributed to Orange fanaticism and vindictiveness, provided Mercier with the opportunity of founding the National party (1885) which comprised elements from the ranks of both Liberals and Conservatives. It was during his premiership (1887 to 1892), that was passed the famous Jesuit Estate Bill, partly indemnifying the Society for the properties confiscated by the British Crown after the cession of Canada. It was Mercier's honour and merit to have brought to a successful conclusion the negotiations to that effect pursued under his predecessors in office -- an event almost unparalelled in modern legislation, and to which the Ottawa Federal Parliament, with its conservative majority, lent its concurrence. His devotedness in behalf of the interests of his former teachers proved is fidelity and attachment to his Alma Mater. In recognition of this act of justice, he was knighted by Leo XIII. A vigorous and redoubtable debater rather than an eloquent orator, Mercier spoke with great clearness and force. He possessed a remarkable talent of exposition and argumentation, which gave him a prominent rank in the Canadian Bar. Certain utterances in some of his published speeches unfortunately betray the influence of a reprehensible school of thought and too great intimacy with the literature of its representative minds. The Legislature of Quebec has voted (1910) a monument to his memory.

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