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332   CANADIAN HISTORY FOR BOYS AND GIRLS.

a great proportion of the people had belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, and at first there were separate schools for the children of Roman Catholics and of Protestants. But after a time the latter far out-numbered the former, and an Act was passed by the provincial legislature in i8go, providing for one general system of public schools, without regard to difference of religion. The Roman Catholics objected to the change, and asked the Governor-General to interfere. His ministers tried in vain to persuade the provincial assembly, to alter the law, then brought a bill into the Dominion parliament to give back to the Roman Catholics their separate schools. Parliament had sat for very nearly its full term of five years, however, and before the bill could be passed the House of Commons had to be dissolved. Sir Charles Tupper became prime minister instead of Sir Mackenzie Powell ; but in the general election of 1886 the Conservatives were defeated and the leader of the Liberal party, Mr. Wilfrid Laurier, became head of the government.


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