And The Winner Is...
After cruising through Arthur Meighen, Jean Chretien, and Mackenzie King, Laurier finally found a tough fight but managed to maintain around 55% of the vote throughout the week.
Unlike other polarizing figures (*cough*Trudeau*cough*), Laurier is still respected by both liberals and conservatives alike today. While Macdonald oversaw the birth of Canada, Laurier led the country through prosperous years, at a time when Canada really started to come of age. He was a nation builder - moving us away from Britain and towards the US, bringing the West into Canada, and welcoming in thousands of immigrants.
Laurier championed the "sunny compromise", resolving what could have been explosive English/French disputes by searching for the middle ground. As the first French Canadian Prime Minister, Laurier changed the very nature of confederation by ensuring that Quebec would have a voice at the national level. He also changed the very nature of politics by turning the Liberal Party into Canada's dominant political machine.
You could make a list of accomplishments for any of the final four in this contest as impressive as Laurier's. What likely pushed him over the top is the admiration that Canadians feel for Laurier, the person. He was a man of principle, going down in defeat over free trade and conscription. In an age when there is a startling lack of vision among our national leaders, Laurier had a vision: "The 20th century will belong to Canada".
Previous Posts in "The Greatest Prime Minister" contest:
The Voters Speak - Macdonald vs Laurier
PM Rankings - Various rankings of all the Prime Ministers
The Great One - Announcing the final round matchup
Back To The Beginning - Semi-Final results
King of the World - A case for Mackenzie King
When Nation Builders Collide - Profile on the Trudeau/Macdonald matchup
Semi-Finals - Announcing the semi-final matchups
Final Four - Quarter-final results
The Elite Eight - Quarter-final matchups announced
Round One Results - Round one results (duh)
Borden vs Pearson - A profile of the first round Borden/Pearson matchup
Greatest Prime Minister - The contest is launched