Union Nationale Party
images.jpegThe Union Nationale, created during the Great Depression in 1935, was a political party formed by Conservatives. It's main purpose was to break the hold that the Liberal Party had on the province of Québec. The creator and mainleader of this party was Maurice Duplessis. Duplessis originally wanted social, ecomonic, and political reform but completely changed directions when he was elected premier of the province. Overall, the party had greater success in Québec City than in Montréal. It was in power from 1936 to 1939, then from 1944 to 1960, and lastly from 1966 to 1970. There were three other personage who have led the Union Nationale; Joseph-Mignault-Paul Sauvé, Daniel Johnson, and Jean-Jacques Bertrand.

1 Facts and Details
1.1 Leaders
1.1.1 Maurice Duplessis
1.1.2 Others Joseph-Mignault-Paul Sauvé Daniel Johnson Jean-Jacques Bertrand
2 Significance
3 References

Facts and Details

Maurice Duplessis in 1938
Maurice Duplessis (1890-1959)
Maurice Duplessis was premier of Québec from 1936 to 1939, then again from 1944 until 1959 when he died. He was described as being "an erratic, corrupt, effective manager and a lasting political presence". Most of his support was won from the rural area voters, small to medium-scale businessmen, and unorganized labour. Duplessis possessed strong Nationalism for Québec and its French culture and claimed that the English-speaking minority and the Federal government were the cause of Québec's econimic and social problems. He won the provincial election in 1936 with a goal of gaining social, economic, and political reform. What he strived for soon changed as he passed the Padlock Law in 1937, stating that anyone who promotes Communism could have his home and/or office padlocked. On October 4th 1939, he delivered a speech at the Trois-Rivières provincial elections while drunk on gin and champagne. He told his audience that "a vote for the Liberals is a vote for participation in the war, conscription, and assimilation." The Liberals argued that they were the only ones to protect French-Canadians from conscription, and that Québec's best hope of avoiding it lay with King's Liberal cabinet ministers. This cost Duplessis to lose his place as premier until he got re-elected in 1944. Duplessis collapsed on September 3rd, 1959, and died 4 days later on September 7th, 1959. The era of duplessisme, or, as his oppoments call it, "La Grande Noirceur" (The Great Darkness) suddenly came to an end.

Maurice Duplessis performing a speech about education at Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière in 1959 (In French)



Joseph-Mignault-Paul Sauvé
Joseph-Mignault-Paul Sauvé (1907-1960)
Sauvé was premier of Québec from September 1959 to January 1960. He served overseas during World War II and was second-in-command of the Fusiliers de Mont-Royal during the Normandy landing. His days as leader of Union Nationale are seen as the start of the Quiet Revolution (a period of rapid change in Québec) because they brought new life and settled many issues that were "on hold", including hospital insurance and university subsidies.

Daniel Johnson
Daniel Johnson (1915-1968)
Johnson was a lawyer before Maurice Duplessis made him the minister for hydraulic resources in 1956. He was chosen party peader of the Union Nationale in 1961, and worked to reorganize the party by giving it a solid program and democratic structures. During his time as a premier, he created the Université de Québec and Radio-Québec.

Jean-Jacques Bertrand
Jean-Jacques Bertrand (1916-1973)
Bertrand was elected Union National member for Missisquoi in 1948. He was always seen as a leader of the party's proggresice wing. Bertrand has been the Minister of Resources from 1954-1958 and Minister of Lands and Forests from 1958-1960. He became the Minister of Education in 1966, and later on replaced Johnson as premier of Québec when Johnson died in 1968. He proposed Bill 63, which guaranteed parents' right to choose their children's schools.


The impact of the Union Nationale on Canada and especially Québec affected us even in the 21st century. Back then, it had broken the Liberals' 50-year-streak of power and was seen as a party that would bring French-Canadians social status and end the effects of the Great Depression in Québec. The Union Nationale led to and/or influenced others into the creation of the Parti Québécois, which is a group who fights for the seperatism of Québec from the rest of Canada. It greatly affected the vote concerning Québec to become a nation on its own in 2005. The vote was a close call as 49% of the votes were for it, and 51% were against it. This vote is likely to occur in the near future because of the close and unstable results, thus the Union Nationale even effects us today.


The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2010.
Date Accessed: March 4 2010.

Cruxton, J.Bradley. Wilson, W.Douglas. Spotlight Canada, fourth edition. Don Mills, Ontario. Oxford University Press. 2000
Pages; 201, 202
Starowicz, Mark. Allen, Gene. Canada; A people's History, volume two. Toronto. McClelland & Steward Ltd. 2001
Pages; 162-165, 167, 178, 216-218, 241, 243.