In 1871 he founded the Parti National and was elected to the House of Commons in 1872. He became the leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec in 1883 and was strongly opposed to the execution of Louis Riel in 1885; this event helped him become Premier of Quebec in 1887.
He initiated the interprovincial conference in 1887 and became the first Quebec premier to defend the principle of provincial autonomy within the confederation.
On December 16, 1891, he was dismissed by Lieutenant Governor Auguste-Réal Angers after a report concluded that his government had diverted public funds. He was brought to trial later and found not guilty when a second report concluded differently on the matter.
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