Honoré Mercier

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Honoré Mercier
Honoré Mercier.png
9th Premier of Quebec
In office
January 27, 1887 – December 21, 1891
Monarch Victoria
Lieutenant Governor Louis-Rodrigue Masson
Auguste-Réal Angers
Preceded by Louis-Olivier Taillon
Succeeded by Charles Boucher de Boucherville
Personal details
Born (1840-10-15)October 15, 1840
Saint-Athanase, Lower Canada
Died October 30, 1894(1894-10-30) (aged 54)
Montreal, Quebec
Political party Liberal Party /
Parti National
Spouse(s) Léopoldine Boivin (death)
Virginie Saint-Denis
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Honoré Mercier (October 15, 1840 – October 30, 1894) was a lawyer, journalist and politician in Quebec, Canada. He was the ninth Premier of Quebec from January 27, 1887 to December 21, 1891, as leader of the Parti National or Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ).

Early background[edit]

Mercier was born in Saint-Athanase, Lower Canada, studied at the Jesuit College Sainte-Marie in Montreal, and was called to the Bar of Quebec in April 1865. As the age of 22, Mercier became the editor of Le Courrier de St-Hyacinthe newspaper. He opposed the Confederation project as early as 1864, believing that it would be detrimental to French Canadians.

Member of Parliament[edit]

In 1871, he was instrumental in creating the short-lived Parti National. Mercier successfully ran as a Liberal candidate in the 1872 election. He became Member of the House of Commons for the district of Rouville. He did not run for re-election in the 1874 election. In the 1878 election, Mercier was candidate in the district of St. Hyacinthe. He was defeated by the Louis Tellier, his Conservative opponent.[1]

Provincial politics[edit]

In 1879, Mercier was appointed Solicitor General of Quebec in the Cabinet of Premier Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière and served in that position for less than a year. He won a by-election and became Member of the Legislative Assembly for the district of Saint-Hyacinthe. He was re-elected in the 1881 and 1886 elections and won another by-election in 1887.[1]

He left an impact on a later leader, Henri Bourassa.

Party leader[edit]

He became the leader of the PLQ in 1883. A practising lawyer, from 1885 to 1887 he was President of the Bar of Montreal. He strongly opposed the execution of Louis Riel in 1885; this event helped him win popular support, and the Quebec Conservative Party lost support because its federal counterparts had ordered Riel's execution.[1]

Seizing the opportunity to build a coalition with dissident Conservatives, Mercier revived the "Parti National" name for the 1886 Quebec provincial election, and won a majority of seats. However, the coalition consisted of mostly Liberals and only a few Conservatives, so the "Liberal" name was soon reinstituted. The Conservatives, reduced to a minority in the Legislative Assembly, clung to power for a few more months, but Mercier became Premier of Quebec in 1887.

Premier of Quebec[edit]

Paul Chevré's Honoré Mercier sculpture in front of Parliament Building (Quebec)

As Premier of Quebec, Mercier initiated the idea of interprovincial conferences in 1887. He was the first Quebec premier to defend the principle of provincial autonomy within the confederation, campaigning to abolish the federal government's claimed right to veto provincial legislation.

With his strong nationalist stance, Mercier was very much a precursor of later nationalist premiers in future decades who confronted the federal government and tried to win more power for Quebec. He promoted contacts with francophones in other parts of North America outside of Quebec including Western Canada and New England. Those francophones had not yet been assimilated into the English-Canadian or American culture to the extent they would be in the future. Mercier promoted reform, economic development, Catholicism, and the French language. He won popularity but also made enemies. He was returned to the legislature as the Member for the district of Bonaventure and his party won the 1890 election with an increased majority.

Political downfall[edit]

On December 16, 1891, he was dismissed by Lieutenant Governor Auguste-Réal Angers after a report concluded that his government had diverted public funds. He lost the 1892 election,[2] and gave up the party leadership to Félix-Gabriel Marchand. He was brought to trial later that year and found not guilty when a second report concluded differently on the matter. However, his health had greatly deteriorated and his political career was over. He died in 1894 at the age of 54, and was interred in the Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal, Quebec.

Legacy[edit]

The following landmarks were named to honour Honoré Mercier:

Elections as party leader[edit]

He won a majority of seats in the 1886 election and became premier in 1887 after the minority government fell, won the 1890 election and was dismissed from office in 1891 and lost the 1892 election.

Family[edit]

His son Honoré Mercier, Jr. was a multi-term member of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec and a Cabinet Minister; his grandson Honoré Mercier III served one term in the Legislative Assembly.

Mercier was Lomer Gouin's father-in-law and is a great-great-grandfather of NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c  Browning, Thomas Blair (1901). "Mercier, Honoré". In Sidney Lee. Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement​. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  2. ^ Honore Mercier Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Honore Mercier

External links[edit]

Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Guillaume Cheval dit St-Jacques (Liberal)
MP, District of Rouville
1872-1874
Succeeded by
Guillaume Cheval dit St-Jacques (Liberal)
National Assembly of Quebec
Preceded by
Pierre Bachand (Liberal)
MLA, District of Saint-Hyacinthe
1879-1890
Succeeded by
Odilon Desmarais (Liberal)
Preceded by
Henri-Josué Martin (Conservative)
MLA, District of Bonaventure
1890-1894
Succeeded by
François-Xavier Lemieux (Liberal)
Political offices
Preceded by
Alexandre Chauveau (Liberal)
Solicitor General
1879-1879
Succeeded by
William Warren Lynch (Conservative)
Preceded by
Louis-Olivier Taillon (Conservative)
Attorney General
1887-1888
Succeeded by
Arthur Turcotte (Conservative)
Preceded by
Henri-Gustave Joly de Lotbinière (Liberal)
Leader of the Official Opposition
1883-1887
Succeeded by
Louis-Olivier Taillon (Conservative)