The Bloc populaire canadien (lit.'Canadian Popular Bloc'), often shortened to the Bloc populaire or the Bloc, was a political party in the Canadian province of Quebec from 1942 to 1947. It was founded on September 8, 1942 by opponents of conscription during the Second World War. The party ran candidates at both federal and provincial levels.

Bloc populaire canadien
LeaderAndré Laurendeau
FoundedSeptember 8, 1942 (1942-09-08)
DissolvedJuly 6, 1947 (1947-07-06)
Canadian nationalism

Origin Edit

In early 1942, Liguori Lacombe formed the anti-conscriptionist Parti canadien which finished strongly in two February by-elections.

In the April 27, 1942 national plebiscite on conscription held in Canada, a little more than 70% of Quebec voters refused to free the federal government from its promise to avoid a general mobilization, while about 80 per cent of the citizens of the rest of Canada accepted it. (see also Second Conscription Crisis)

The party was inspired by the nationalist ideas of Henri Bourassa and supported by Montreal mayor Camillien Houde. Jean Drapeau and Pierre Elliot Trudeau were members in their youth.

In addition to opposing conscription, the party aimed to defend provincial autonomy and the rights of French-Canadians.

Provincial level Edit

At the provincial level, it was led by André Laurendeau and won four seats in the 1944 Quebec general election, but soon lost popularity. Laurendeau resigned in July 1947, and the party dissolved and did not participate in the 1948 general election.

Federal level Edit

At the federal level it was led by Maxime Raymond, who had been Member of Parliament (MP) from the province of Quebec since the 1925 federal election. He and two of his Liberal colleagues (Édouard Lacroix and Pierre Gauthier) crossed the floor to sit as Bloc populaire canadien MPs.

The Bloc populaire won a federal by-election in 1943.

The Bloc populaire's entry into provincial politics antagonized Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis, leader of the Union Nationale, who henceforth transferred his party's federal support to the "Independent Group" of anti-conscription MPs led by Frédéric Dorion in the 1945 federal election.[1]

In the 1945 federal election, the Bloc nominated 35 candidates. All of them except two ran in Quebec-based ridings. (Lionel Campeau, ran in the district of Nipissing in Northern Ontario and Léandre Maisonneuve ran in the Eastern Ontario riding of Prescott. Only two candidates were elected as Members of Parliament: Maxime Raymond and René Hamel. Though former Montreal mayor Camillien Houde was officially listed as an independent candidate, he was reported to be the Bloc populaire's co-leader in the 1945 election.[2]

In addition to the Bloc populaire, there was also an "Independent Group" of five anti-conscription MPs led by Frédéric Dorion which included Liguori Lacombe, Wilfrid Lacroix, Sasseville Roy and Emmanuel D'Anjou (D'Anjou had joined the Bloc in June 1944 but had left to join Dorion's group by the time of the 1945 election). Additionally, Arthur Cardin quit Mackenzie King's cabinet in May 1942 over the conscription issue to sit as an anti-conscription independent MP.

Decline Edit

The Second World War ended in 1945, and by the late 1940s the party's concerns had largely become a non-issue. Many insiders abandoned the party. The Bloc populaire canadien contested neither the 1948 provincial election nor the 1949 federal election, and soon ceased to exist.

Publications Edit

The party published a modest and short-lived weekly newspaper, Le Bloc, in 1944 and 1945, with a circulation of about 15,000 copies. The newspaper was under the responsibility of Victor Trépanier in early 1944 and of Léopold Richer in 1944–1945.[3] The party also published a series of ten brochures reproducing the texts of radio speeches by its leaders.[4]

Quebec provincial election results Edit

General election # of candidates # of seats won % of popular vote
1944 80 4 14.40%

Members of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec Edit

MLA District Region Years of Service Background
Ovila Bergeron Stanstead Eastern Townships 19441948[a] Manager of a Credit Union
Édouard Lacroix Beauce Chaudière-Appalaches 1944–1945[b] Lumber Merchant & Liberal MP
André Laurendeau Montréal-Laurier Montreal East 19441948[c] Journalist
Albert Lemieux Beauharnois Montérégie 19441948[d] Lawyer

Members of the Canadian House of Commons Edit

MP District Region Years of Service Background
Joseph Armand Choquette Stanstead Eastern Townships 1943–1945[e] Farmer
Joseph-Émile-Stanislas-Émmanuel D'Anjou Rimouski Bas-Saint-Laurent 1917-1924
Insurance Broker & Liberal MP
Pierre Gauthier Portneuf Québec 1936–1958[g] Physician & Liberal MP
René Hamel Saint-Maurice—Laflèche Mauricie 19451949[h] Lawyer
Édouard Lacroix Beauce Chaudière-Appalaches 19251945[i] Lumber Merchant & Liberal MP
Maxime Raymond Beauharnois—Laprairie Montérégie 19251949[j] Lawyer & Liberal MP

Notable defeated candidate Edit

Candidate District Region Year Background
Jean Drapeau Outremont
Montreal West
Montreal East
1942 (federal)
1944 (provincial)
Roger Duhamel St. James Montreal 1945 (federal) author

Prominent insider Edit

Member Region Years Background
Pierre Elliott Trudeau Montreal 1942–1945 Student

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Bergeron did not run for re-election in 1948.
  2. ^ Lacroix never took his seat at the Legislative Assembly. He resigned on May 14, 1945 and did not run for re-election.
  3. ^ Laurendeau sat as an Independent member by July 6, 1947. He did not run for re-election in 1948.
  4. ^ Lemieux did not run for re-election in 1948.
  5. ^ Choquette lost re-election in 1945.
  6. ^ D'Anjou left the Liberals and joined the Bloc on June 22, 1944. He subsequently left the Bloc to join Frédéric Dorion's group of Independent anti-conscription MPs. He ran as an Independent in the 1945 federal election and was defeated.
  7. ^ Gauthier left the Liberals and joined the Bloc Populaire on February 18, 1943. He became Liberal again on June 11, 1945 and was re-elected as a candidate of that party that same year.
  8. ^ Hamel sat as an Independent member by July 27, 1949. He lost re-election in 1949.
  9. ^ Lacroix left the Liberals and joined the Bloc Populaire on February 18, 1943. He resigned his seat on July 11, 1944 to switch to provincial politics.
  10. ^ Raymond left the Liberals and joined the Bloc Populaire on February 10, 1943. He did not run for re-election in 1949.

References Edit

  1. ^ "A New Party in Quebec", Toronto Daily Star (editorial), October 31, 1944
  2. ^ "Houde Sees War Against Russia Within 6 Months", Globe and Mail, June 5, 1945
  3. ^ (in French) Paul-André Comeau, Le Bloc populaire, Éditions Québec/Amérique, Montréal, 1982, 478 pages, ISBN 2-89037-131-X, pp. 286–290
  4. ^ Comeau, op. cit., p. 468

See also Edit

External links Edit