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June 18, 2008

Wikipedia: Quebec Liberal Party

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Parti libéral du Québec
Active Provincial Party
Founded July 1, 1867
Leader Jean Charest
President Jean D’Amour
Headquarters 7240, rue Waverly
Montreal, Quebec
H2R 2Y8
1535 Chemin Sainte-Foy, suite 120
Quebec City, Quebec
G1S 2P1
Political ideology Liberalism, Quebec federalism
International alignment None
Colours Red
Website http:/

The Quebec Liberal Party, (or PLQ), is a liberal political party in the Canadian province of Quebec. It has been independent of the Liberal Party of Canada since 1955.

The party has traditionally supported Quebec federalism; i.e., Quebec remaining within the Canadian confederation. It has also supports a role for government in the economy, although in recent years due to government debt its economic policies have moved towards free enterprise. It remains, however, a socially liberal party.

The Liberal Party is descended from:

  1. the Parti Canadien, or Parti Patriote who supported the 1837 Lower Canada Rebellion, and
  2. the Parti rouge, who fought for responsible government and against the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in Lower Canada.

The most notable figure of this period was Louis-Joseph Papineau.

The Liberal Party has faced various opposing parties in its history. Its main opposition from the time of Confederation (1867) to the 1930s was the Quebec Conservative Party. That party’s successor, the Union Nationale, was the main opposition to the Liberals until the 1970s. Since then the Liberals have alternated in power with the Parti Québécois, a social democratic party that is based on the idea of Quebec sovereignty.

The Liberals have always been associated with the colour red; each of their three main opponents in different eras have been associated with the colour blue. In 2007, however, the Action Démocratique du Québec, whose official colours are blue and red, became the official opposition in the provincial parliament.



The Liberals were in opposition to the ruling Conservatives for most of the first 20 years after Confederation, except for 18 months of Liberal minority government in 1878-1879. However, the situation changed in 1885 when the federal Conservative government executed Louis Riel, the leader of the French-speaking Métis (mixed race) people of western Canada. This decision was unpopular in Quebec. Honoré Mercier rode this wave of discontent to power in 1887, but was brought down by a scandal in 1891. He was later cleared of all charges. The Conservatives returned to power until 1897.

The Liberals won the 1897 election, and held power without interruption for the next 39 years; the Conservatives never held power in Quebec again. This mirrored the situation in Ottawa, where the arrival of Wilfrid Laurier in the 1896 federal election marked the beginning of Liberal dominance at the federal level. Notable long-serving Premiers of Quebec in this era were Lomer Gouin and Louis-Alexandre Taschereau.

By 1935, however, the Conservatives had an ambitious new leader, Maurice Duplessis. Duplessis merged his party with dissident ex-Liberals who had formed the Action libérale nationale. Duplessis led the new party, the Union Nationale (UN), to power in the 1936 election. The Liberals returned to power in the 1939 election, but lost it again in the 1944 election. They remained in opposition to the Union Nationale until one year after Duplessis’s death in 1959.

In 1955, the PLQ severed its affiliation with the Liberal Party of Canada, and, at times since then, relations between the two parties have been strained.


Under Jean Lesage, the party won an historic election in 1960, ending sixteen years of rule by the conservative Union Nationale. This marked the beginning of the Quiet Revolution, which dramatically changed Quebec society. Under the slogan maîtres chez nous (masters in our own house), the Quebec government undertook several major initiatives, including:

  • full nationalization of the electricity industry through expansion of the government-owned Hydro-Québec — this major initiative of the government was led by the minister of natural resources, René Lévesque;
  • creation of a public pension plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, separate from the Canada Pension Plan that exists in all other provinces of Canada;
  • creation of a Ministry of Education, taking responsibility for the schools away from the Roman Catholic Church;
  • pressuring the federal government of Canada to renegotiate federal-provincial relations.

Under Lesage, the Liberals developed a Quebec nationalist wing. Some Liberals, including senior Cabinet minister René Lévesque, left the Liberals to join the sovereignty movement, participating in the founding of the Parti Québécois under Lévesque’s leadership.

Relations soured between the Quebec Liberal Party and the federal Liberal Party of Canada under Lesage, and particularly under Robert Bourassa.

First elected in 1970, Robert Bourassa instituted Bill 22 to introduce French language as the official language in Quebec, and pushed Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau for constitutional concessions. Reelected in 1973, his government was also embarrassed by several scandals. Bourassa resigned from the party’s leadership after the loss of the 1976 election to René Lévesque’s Parti Québécois.

Bourassa was succeeded as Liberal leader by Claude Ryan, the former director of the respected Montreal newspaper, Le Devoir. Ryan led the successful federalist campaign in the 1980 Quebec referendum on Quebec sovereignty, but then lost the 1981 election. He resigned as Liberal leader some time later, paving the way for the return of Robert Bourassa.

When Bourassa returned as Premier in 1985, he successfully persuaded the federal Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney to recognize Quebec as a distinct society, and sought greater powers for Quebec and the other provinces. This resulted in the Meech Lake and Charlottetown constitutional accords. Both of these proposals, however, were not ratified. While a Quebec nationalist, Bourassa remained an opponent of independence for Quebec.

Daniel Johnson, Jr. succeeded Bourassa as Liberal leader and Premier of Quebec in 1994, but soon lost the 1994 election to the Parti Québécois under Jacques Parizeau.

In 1993, after the failure of the Charlottetown Accord, many nationalist members of the Liberal party led by Jean Allaire and Mario Dumont, including many from the party’s youth wing, left to form the Action démocratique du Québec because of the Liberal party’s dropping of most of its autonomist demands during the negotiation of the Charlottetown Accord. As in 1980, the PLQ campaigned successfully for a “no” vote in the 1995 Quebec referendum on sovereignty.

Modern era

Since the election of April 14, 2003, the Liberals have formed the current government of Quebec under Premier Jean Charest. Charest is a former federal Progressive Conservative cabinet minister and leader, who still holds to the ideals of his former party. Under the leadership of Charest, the Liberals have moved to the right as former supporters of the federal Conservatives during the Brian Mulroney years gain prominent positions in the Liberal party under Charest’s leadership. The current Liberal government has proposed a policy of reform of social programs and cuts to government spending and the civil service similar to those of recent Progressive Conservative governments in Ontario and Alberta and Liberal government in British Columbia. It has also maintained the nationalist bent of previous Liberal administrations, for example, supporting Bill 104 to restrict the entry of otherwise-qualified students into the English school system.

Midway through its prior mandate, polls indicated the Charest government had been riding on the highest dissatisfaction rates ever recorded for a government in place in Quebec. Highly controversial proposals to reform education, labour and social policy, stalled attempts to “streamline” the provincial civil service, growing labour unrest, and other factors gave the Parti Québécois a chance to win the Quebec general election, 2007. The Liberals, however, did win the election, although in a minority position, losing francophone ballots to the Action démocratique du Québec.[1]

Charest, in his speech at the beginning of the most recent legislative assembly in May, criticized newcomers on their responsibility to Quebec and indicated francophones want preservation against minority groups. To firm up party support, Charest empowered a task force which asked for more policies to strengthen build the French language and nationalism. But party delegates were as a majority dismissive of it, calling it not sufficiently federalist. Minorities, usually unconditionally federalist, were upset that Quebecers are being split between “us” and “them.”[2]

The party includes among its members supporters of the federal Liberals, federal Conservatives, and some supporters of the federal New Democratic Party. In terms of voter support, it has always been able to rely on the great majority of non-francophones. Leadership reviews normally reach member approval ratings around 90%.[3]

Leaders of the Parti Libéral du Québec

  • Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière (1867-1883) (premier 1878-1879)
  • Honoré Mercier (1883-1892) (premier 1887-1891)
  • Félix-Gabriel Marchand (1892-1900) (premier 1897-1900)
  • Simon-Napoléon Parent (1900-1905) (premier 1900-1905)
  • Lomer Gouin (1905-1920) (premier 1905-1920)
  • Louis-Alexandre Taschereau (1920-1936) (premier 1920-1936)
  • Adélard Godbout (1936-1948) (premier 1936, 1939-1944)
  • Georges-Émile Lapalme (1950-1958)
  • Jean Lesage (1958-1970) (premier 1960-1966)
  • Robert Bourassa (1970-1976) (premier 1970-1976)
  • Gérard D. Lévesque (interim) (1976-1978)
  • Claude Ryan (1978-1982)
  • Gérard D. Lévesque (interim) (1982-1983)
  • Robert Bourassa (1983-1994) (premier 1985-1994)
  • Daniel Johnson, Jr. (1994-1998) (premier 1994)
  • Jean Charest (1998-) (premier 2003-)

Election results (since 1867)

General election # of candidates # of seats won % of popular vote
1867 40 12 39.8%
1871 38 19 40.5%
1875 46 19 40.5%
1878 59 31 29.7%
1881 46 14 39.4%
1886 49 33 39.5%
1890 68 43 46.4%
1892 62 21 44.2%
1897 78 51 54.6%
1900 77 67 54.8%
1904 87 68 65.7%
1908 76 57 54.2%
1912 83 62 53.5%
1916 85 75 64.0%
1919 99 74 65.4%
1923 92 63 52.9%
1927 86 75 60.3%
1931 90 79 54.9%
1935 91 48 46.8%
1936 89 14 40.0%
1939 87 70 54.1%
1944 91 37 39.4%
1948 93 8 36.2%
1952 92 23 45.8%
1956 93 20 44.9%
1960 95 51 51.3%
1962 97 63 56.40%
1966 108 50 47.29%
1970 108 72 45.40%
1973 110 102 54.65%
1976 110 26 33.77%
1981 122 42 46.07%
1985 122 99 55.99%
1989 125 92 49.95%
1994 125 47 44.40%
1998 125 48 43.55%
2003 125 76 45.99%
2007 125 48 33.07%

See also

  • Liberalism
  • Contributions to liberal theory
  • Liberalism worldwide
  • List of liberal parties
  • Liberal democracy
  • Politics of Quebec
  • List of Quebec general elections
  • List of Quebec premiers
  • List of Quebec leaders of the Opposition
  • National Assembly of Quebec
  • Timeline of Quebec history
  • Political parties in Quebec
  • Quiet Revolution
This text comes from Wikipedia. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikipedia.

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