|Member of the National Assembly of Quebec for Montréal-Verdun|
|Preceded by||George O'Reilly|
|Succeeded by||District was abolished|
|Member of the National Assembly of Quebec for Verdun|
|Preceded by||District was created|
|Succeeded by||Lucien Caron|
|Member of the Canadian Parliament|
|Preceded by||Théogène Ricard|
|Succeeded by||Marcel Ostiguy|
|Senator for Kennebec, Quebec|
April 21, 1978 – July 11, 1979
|Appointed by||Pierre Trudeau|
|Preceded by||Jean-Pierre Côté|
|Succeeded by||Guy Charbonneau|
April 4, 1925|
|Died||July 11, 1979(aged 54)|
|Political party||Progressive Conservative|
|Quebec Liberal Party|
Minister of Justice
Life and career
Wagner was born in Shawinigan, Quebec, the son of Corona (née Saint-Arnaud) and Benjamin Wagner. His father, a violinist, was a German Jewish immigrant from Bavaria. His mother was French-Canadian and Catholic, and Wagner practiced Roman Catholicism.
In 1963, Wagner was appointed as a Sessions Court judge. Subsequently, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Quebec in a by-election in Montréal-Verdun on October 5, 1964, and was re-elected in the 1966 general election in Verdun. He earned a "law and order" reputation when he served successively as Solicitor General, Attorney General, and Minister of Justice from its creation in 1965 to 1966 in the government of Quebec Premier Jean Lesage.
After losing the 1970 Quebec Liberal Party leadership election to Robert Bourassa, Wagner left politics to return to the bench, receiving appointment once more as a Sessions Court judge. He then entered federal politics, and was elected as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for Saint-Hyacinthe in the 1972 federal election. He was re-elected in the 1974 election, and stood as a candidate at the Progressive Conservative leadership convention of 1976.
Wagner attracted support amongst Tories who believed that having a leader from Quebec would enable the party to break the federal Liberal Party's stranglehold on the province, and from right-wing Tories attracted by his law and order reputation. He was hurt by revelations of a slush fund that was funded by supporters so that he would be financially solvent if he lost in 1972. Wagner led on the first three ballots of the Convention, but lost to Joe Clark by 65 votes out of 2,309 on the fourth ballot.
In 1978, he was elevated to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and sat as a Progressive Conservative. One reason for his departure from the House of Commons was that he could not get along well with Joe Clark. He died of cancer the next year at the age of 54.
- Ian MacDonald (January 8, 1966). "Watch Quebec's Own Gangbuster". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
- "Pepin's defeat, Wagner victory fail to stop Liberals from retaining majority in Quebec". The Globe and Mail, October 31, 1972.
- "Trudeau finds a Senate seat for Claude Wagner". The Globe and Mail, April 22, 1979.
- Sawatsky, Mulroney: The Politics of Ambition
- "Quebec senator was ex-Tory MP". The Globe and Mail, July 12, 1979.
- Sean Fine (12 December 2017). "Richard Wagner named new Supreme Court Chief Justice". The Globe and Mail.