THE LIBERAL PARTY has governed Canada for most of the country's existence. All of its leaders since the start of the 20th century have served as prime minister. The party has achieved this extraordinary level of success by following a formula honed by longtime leader (1919–48) W.L. Mackenzie King to stay as close to the political center as possible, allowing the party to appeal to either the Left or the Right by altering its position only slightly. The party has alternated between Anglophone (English-speaking) and Francophone (French-speaking) leaders since the 19th century, partly by coincidence and partly by design. King, an Anglophone, succeeded Sir Wilfrid Laurier, a Francophone, and King was determined that a Francophone succeed him. This led to the election of his ...

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