Maurice Duplessis (1890-1959)
Maurice Duplessis was Premier of Quebec from 1936 to 1939 and from 1944 to 1959. In all, he served as an MP for nine mandates and prime minister for five mandates.
His political path
Maurice Duplessis was first elected in 1927 as a Conservative Party MP for Trois-Rivières. He was elected as head of this party in 1933, and in 1935, he created an alliance with the National Liberal Action Party to form a new party known as the Union National Party. It was as head of the Union National Party that he served as Premier of Quebec for 20 years.
See French video at http://primaire.recitus.qc.ca/sujets/13/personnages-marquants/3972
Maurice Duplessis defended conservative ideas. He promoted political values that were very close to those of the Church. For example, he opposed the right of women to vote. He defended what was known as provincial autonomy, meaning the interests of Quebec to the federal government. Duplessis was also an advocate of economic liberalism, that is to say, he wanted to promote the establishment of businesses in Quebec and he opposed anything that might harm businesses, including workers’ demands and the right to strike.
The “Great Darkness”
Duplessis’ time in power is often referred to as a time of great darkness. This was because he was opposed to new ideas and challenges. For example, in 1937, he passed the Act against communist propaganda which prohibited any group from promoting communist ideas. Unions were also included in this group which he felt made excessive demands. In short, Duplessis tried to eliminate any ideas that were opposed to his. This is why the years of Maurice Duplessis in power are known as the “Great Darkness”.
Maurice Duplessis made his mark on Quebec through his ideas and accomplishments. Included in his accomplishments were the creation of the Quebec flag in 1948 and the creation of provincial income tax that allowed the Quebec government to have more revenue. He also began the construction of major hydroelectric dams like the one in Bersimis. In addition, he promoted the electrification of rural areas.
Author: Alexandre Lanoix
See also – Traces of the past:
- The Quiet Revolution (Coming soon; see French version)