The Bloc populaire canadien 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 World War II. The party ran candidates at both federal and provincial levels.
|Founded||September 8, 1942|
|Dissolved||July 6, 1947|
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)
In addition to opposing conscription, the party aimed to defend provincial autonomy and the rights of French-Canadians.
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.
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.
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.
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.
World War II 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.
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. The party also published a series of ten brochures reproducing the texts of radio speeches by its leaders.
Quebec provincial election results
|General election||# of candidates||# of seats won||% of popular vote|
Members of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec
|MLA||District||Region||Years of Service||Background|
|Ovila Bergeron||Stanstead||Eastern Townships||1944-1948||Manager of a Credit Union|
|Édouard Lacroix||Beauce||Chaudière-Appalaches||1944-1945||Lumber Merchant & Liberal MP|
|André Laurendeau||Montréal-Laurier||Montreal East||1944-1948||Journalist|
Members of the Canadian House of Commons
|MP||District||Region||Years of Service||Background|
|Joseph Armand Choquette||Stanstead||Eastern Townships||1943-1945||Farmer|
|Insurance Broker & Liberal MP|
|Pierre Gauthier||Portneuf||Québec||1936-1958||Physician & Liberal MP|
|Édouard Lacroix||Beauce||Chaudière-Appalaches||1925-1945||Lumber Merchant & Liberal MP|
|Maxime Raymond||Beauharnois—Laprairie||Montérégie||1925-1949||Lawyer & Liberal MP|
Notable defeated candidate
|Roger Duhamel||St. James||Montreal||1945 (federal)||author|
- Often familiarly shortened to "the Bloc populaire" or "the Bloc".
- "A New Party in Quebec", Toronto Daily Star (editorial), October 31, 1944
- "Houde Sees War Against Russia Within 6 Months", Globe and Mail, June 5, 1945
- (in French) Paul-André Comeau, Le Bloc populaire, Éditions Québec/Amérique, Montréal, 1982, 478 pages, ISBN 2-89037-131-X, pp. 286-290
- Comeau, op. cit., p. 468
- Bergeron did not run for re-election in 1948.
- Lacroix never took his seat at the Legislative Assembly. He resigned on May 14, 1945 and did not run for re-election.
- Laurendeau sat as an Independent member by July 6, 1947. He did not run for re-election in 1948.
- Lemieux did not run for re-election in 1948.
- Choquette lost re-election in 1945.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hamel sat as an Independent member by July 27, 1949. He lost re-election in 1949.
- 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.
- Raymond left the Liberals and joined the Bloc Populaire on February 10, 1943. He did not run for re-election in 1949.