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Except for a brief interlude in the 1870's under the Liberal Alexander Mackenzie, Sir John A. Macdonald had held power as Prime Minister from 1867 o 1891 when another election was called.  The Liberals had been disorganized, struggled under the leadership of Edward Blake who, although he was brilliant, was not a unifier as a leader. The Liberals were not able to capitalize on the issues or events that rolled through those political times.

Macdonald had spent a lifetime in politics even before Canada became a country in 1867 and he knew all of the ins and outs and he knew the heart of most of the people of the land. He fought the 1891 campaign on the basis of an appeal to loyalty to the British Empire and fear of the American monster to the south. The old man, old flag and old policy appeal was powerful in a country that had achieved so much in such a short period of time.

The Liberals had finally changed leaders and Blake's handpicked successor, Wilfred Laurier was a French Canadian form Quebec who spoke excellent English and understood that the party had a fighting chance if it could be united across the country. The Conservatives had been losing power in Quebec and Ontario and were vulnerable to a strong united opponent.

When the election came the Conservatives did lose ground in Ontario and Quebec but their support in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick held and the west put them over the top. Macdonald had won his 6th election and the Liberals once again were consigned to their seats on the opposition side of the house. But not was all as had been. Macdonald was looking old and exhausted and at 76 years of age he was failing. 3 months after the election the Father of his country, Macdonald passed away. The Conservatives were now left to pick up the pieces.

After both Tupper and Thompson turned down the position the elder Conservative statesman that most of the party could agree upon was Sir John Abbott who was now serving in the Senate but his term was very short. After little more then a year in office, with a recession and the Manitoba issues breathing down his neck, he resigned sick and exhausted.

John Thompson was once again approached and this time he took the position. He travelled to London to receive honours from Queen Victoria and while there died suddenly. The Manitoba school question was coming to the forefront at this point and most could not see a solution to the issue. It was a French - English issue to most and represented many pent up feelings about religion and race across the country.

Mackenzie Bowell was the next Conservative leader to take up the mantel and his speech from the throne and position on the Manitoba schools issue. in 1896 split the Conservative party between the Protestant English and the Catholic French. He lost the support of most of the English Cabinet Minister and was forced to step down and was replaced by the icon of politics in Nova Scotia, Charles Tupper, who had to return from his position in London to become Prime Minister.

Tupper was not able to bring the issue to a vote in the House before the term of office expired and the Conservative party was thrown into an election with a reluctant leader, a divided caucus and waning support from both English and French Canada. Laurier was ready and had been campaigning in the west for the previous year which was to pay off handsomely for him. The long 18 years in power for the Conservative party came to an end when in 1896 Laurier and the Liberals won the General Election and took power.