Louis-Alexandre Taschereau

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Hon. Louis-Alexandre Taschereau
Louis-Alexandre Taschereau.jpg
14th Premier of Quebec
In office
July 8, 1920 – June 11, 1936
Monarch George V
Edward VIII
Lieutenant Governor Charles Fitzpatrick
Louis-Philippe Brodeur
Narcisse Pérodeau
Lomer Gouin
Henry George Carroll
Esioff-Léon Patenaude
Preceded by Lomer Gouin
Succeeded by Adélard Godbout
Personal details
Born (1867-03-05)March 5, 1867
Quebec City
Died July 6, 1952(1952-07-06) (aged 85)
Quebec City
Political party Liberal
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic

Louis-Alexandre Taschereau (French pronunciation: ​[taʃʁo]; March 5, 1867 – July 6, 1952) was the 14th Premier of the Canadian province of Quebec from 1920 to 1936. He was elected four times, the first in 1900, in the riding of Montmorency. He was also a member of the Parti libéral du Québec.

Born in Quebec City, the son of Jean-Thomas Taschereau, lawyer and judge at the Supreme Court, and Marie-Louise-Joséphine Caron.

He received a law degree from Université Laval and was admitted to the Barreau du Quebec on July 9, 1889. After entering political life, he served as chief lieutenant in the Liberal government of Sir Lomer Gouin. He practised his profession in the law firm of Charles Fitzpatrick and Simon-Napoléon Parent. He was also journalist at the Action Libérale and president and vice-president of the Banque d'Economie de Québec.

Politics[edit]

A Member of the Legislative Assembly from 1900 onwards, he served as Premier Lomer Gouin's Minister of Public Works from 1907 to 1919. Elected Premier in 1920, at a time when the North American economy began experiencing difficulties that ultimately led to the Great Depression, he opposed U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal social democratic policies, saying he could not tell if it was fascism or communism. Instead, he vigorously encouraged the development by private enterprise of the massive forests and the mineral resources of what had been the Ungava Region and Nunavik that the Parliament of Canada had added to the Province of Quebec.

A pioneer in advocating the exploitation of the huge hydraulic potential the waterways of the new Quebec, Taschereau understood the limited capital available in a sparsely populated Canada, and actively tried to bring in American investment to develop Quebec's industrial potential and try to stop mass emigration south of the border.

His policies challenged the traditional agrarian society that the dominance and influence of the Roman Catholic Church had been able to maintain in Quebec longer than elsewhere in North America. The Liberals of Taschereau were primarily opposed by ultramontane nationalists such as Henri Bourassa, editor of Le Devoir, and Roman Catholic priest Lionel Groulx, editor of L'action canadienne-française.

Taschereau (right), November 1927
Credit: National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada / PA-125133

Taschereau introduced a measure in 1930 to create a Jewish board that would have provided for Jewish participation on the highest decision-making educational body in Quebec, the Quebec Council of Public Instruction. Some newspapers saw the move by Taschereau to revamp the confessional school system as an example of an undermining of Christianity. As a result of the opposition, the Jewish leadership did not push the issue when Taschereau was forced to repeal the Act and submit a compromise which he had the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church examine and approve beforehand. In the resulting bill, Jews were sent back into the Protestant system, and the Jewish board had no power beyond the right to negotiate a deal with the Protestant School board.

Another policy of Taschereau involved the alcohol trade. It consisted of providing the government of Quebec with a monopoly on the sale of liquor and wine during the era of Prohibition in the United States.

Taschereau created the Beaux-Arts schools in Quebec City and Montreal and subsidized scientific and literary works. He was awarded France's Legion of Honor, the Order of Leopold (Belgium), and made a Commander of the Order of the Crown of Belgium.

In the later years of his premiership, discontent inside the Liberal Party became evident. The more "radical" left wing of the party left the Liberals and formed a new party, the Action libérale nationale. Paul Gouin, the son of Lomer Gouin and grandson of Honoré Mercier, joined this new party. Later, the Action Libérale Nationale merged with the Conservative Party of Quebec to form the Union Nationale party under the leadership of Maurice Duplessis, who had become famous by exposing the Taschereau cabinet's misdeeds before the Accounts Committee of the Legislative Assembly.

Premier Taschereau resigned after his brother Antoine admitted to the Accounts Committee that he had deposited the interest on funds belonging to the Legislative Assembly into his personal bank account. With the election of the Union Nationale in 1936, the Liberal rule which had lasted for 40 years came to a halt.

The premier served on the boards of a number of major companies, including: Barclays Bank (Canada) Ltd., Caisse d'économie, Molson Bank, Canadian Investments Funds, Bank of Montreal, Royal Trust Company, Sun Life Assurance, Metropolitan Life Assurance Co., Liverpool & London & Globe Insurance Co., Pioneer Insurance Co., Globe Indemnity Co. and the Manitoba Liverpool Insurance Co..

Taschereau was not re-elected after 1936 because numerous corruption scandals.

On his passing in Quebec City in 1952, Taschereau was interred in the Cimetière Notre-Dame-de-Belmont in Sainte-Foy, Quebec.

Taschereau's story was documented by author Bernard L. Vigod in his 1986 book, Quebec Before Duplessis - The Political Career of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau.

Elections as party leader[edit]

He won the 1923 election, 1927 election, 1931 election and 1935 election and resigned in 1936.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

National Assembly of Quebec
Preceded by
Édouard Bouffard (Conservative)
MLA, District of Montmorency
19001936
Succeeded by
Joseph-Félix Roy (UN)
Political offices
Preceded by
William Alexander Weir (Liberal)
Minister of Public Works and Labour
1907–1919
Succeeded by
Antonin Galipeault (Liberal)
Preceded by
Lomer Gouin (Liberal)
Attorney General
1919–1936
Succeeded by
Joseph-Édouard Perrault (Liberal)