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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

The Unexpected Louis St-Laurent

Politics and Policies for a Modern Canada

Much of Canada’s modern identity emerged from the innovative social policies and ambitious foreign policy of Louis St-Laurent’s government. His extraordinarily creative administration made decisions that still resonate today: on health care, pensions, and housing; on infrastructure and intergovernmental issues; and, further afield, in developing Canada’s global middle-power role and resolving the Suez Crisis. Yet St-Laurent remains an enigmatic figure.

The contributors to The Unexpected Louis St-Laurent were challenged to assess the personal role of the prime minister in these affairs. To what degree did he set the policy agenda? What was his approach to government structures and the substance of policy? They come to varying conclusions about the features of St-Laurent’s personality that made him effective (or sometimes less so), about the changes he wrought on the apparatus of the state and federal–provincial relations, and about the substance of his government’s policies.

The Unexpected Louis St-Laurent fills a great void in Canadian political history, bringing together seasoned professionals and new scholars to investigate the impact of an overlooked figure. Their meticulous work reveals the far-reaching influence of the politician who presided over the last stage of the longest uninterrupted run in power of any Canadian federal party.

Scholars, students, and readers of Canadian history, policy, and politics will find this book interesting, and essential.


530 pages | 42 halftones, 22 tables | 6 x 9

The C.D. Howe Series in Canadian Political History


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