Duty to Dissent
Henri Bourassa and the First World War
During the First World War, Henri Bourassa – fierce Canadian nationalist, politician, and journalist from Quebec – took centre stage in in the national debates on Canada’s participation in the war, its imperial ties to Britain, and Canada’s place in the world.
In Duty to Dissent, Geoff Keelan draws upon Bourassa’s voluminous editorials in Le Devoir, the newspaper Bourassa founded in 1910, to trace his evolving perspective on the war’s meaning and consequences. What emerges is not a simplistic sketch of a local journalist engaged in national debates, as most English Canadians know him, but a fully rendered portrait of a Canadian looking out at the world. Bourassa used Le Devoir to express his opposition to Prime Minister Robert Borden’s handling of the war, yet he also warned of alarming transformations in all of the nations at war, such as the growth of militarism, the failure of democracy, and the dangers of total war at home and abroad.
By situating Bourassa within a larger panorama that connects him to prominent war resisters from around the world, Keelan offers fresh insight into one of Canada’s most influential historical figures, reshaping our understanding of why Quebec’s position on the Great War differed so radically from the rest of Canada.
This book is must-read for students, scholars, and other readers interested in Canadian politics during the First World War, Canadian and Quebec nationalism, and international dissent against the war.
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