National Newswatch
National Opinion Centre

Future Prime Minister Louis St.-Laurent grew up in Compton, Quebec. It was a small community and no one could have predicted that one day one of its residents would occupy the most important position in the country.

On May 11, 1949 during his first national election campaign as party leader and Prime Minister, St-Laurent returned to his hometown in triumph.

“You people look on this as a great day for Compton; a day on which a son of Compton comes back as prime minister of Canada,” he said. “Let me say it is also a great day for my family and myself to be greeted by such a feeling of goodwill and joy as is shown here today.”

“We so often speak of government of the people, for the people, by the people,” he continued. “I say, haven’t we a striking demonstration of it right here before us? We pick a man as a leader of a party and if he is worthy, we make him prime minister. If that man has been intimate with the people, and knows their needs, if he is honest, and if he can make others believe he is honest, it is easy for him to carry out the will of the people. There you have the very essence of democracy. There is something fine about our democracy, our way of life, that a tiny village such as Compton can produce a man to be prime minister of all Canada. This, too, to me, is democracy at its very finest.”

St.-Laurent went on to earn a majority mandate from the Canadian electorate on election day.

Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist.  He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy.  A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.
The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on National Newswatch are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.
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