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Encyclopedia > Louis Alexandre Taschereau

Louis-Alexandre Taschereau (March 5, 1867 - July 6, 1952) was a Liberal 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.

Born into a landholding aristocracy of one of Quebec's elite French-Canadian families, Louis-Alexandre Taschereau emerged as the leading champion of the industrialization of Quebec. He received a law degree from Laval University and was admitted to the Barreau du Quebec. After entering political life, he served as chief lieutenant in the Liberal government of Sir Lomer Gouin. Elected Premier in 1920, at a time when the North American economy began experiencing difficulties that ultimately led to the Great Depression, Taschereau vigourously 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 and expertise. His policies were diametrically opposite the agrarian, closed society that the dominance and influence of the Roman Catholic Church had been able to maintain in Quebec for several centuries. Opposition to Taschereau came from powerful forces such as the L'action canadienne-française founded by the Roman Catholic priest Lionel Groulx, who served as its editor.

Faced with rising anti-Semitism, Taschereau introduced a measure in 1930 to create a Jewish board that would provide for Jewish participation on the highest decision-making educational body in Quebec, the Quebec Council of Public Instruction. Newspaper and verbal attacks against the Jewish population were frequent and often vicious in a press that saw the move by Taschereau to revamp the confessional system as an example of Jews seeking to undermine Christianity. As a result of the vehement opposition, the Jewish leadership was intimidated and 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 it. 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.

Louis-Alexandre Taschereaualso provided the government of Quebec with a monopoly on the sale of liquor and wine during the era of Prohibition in the United States.

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

His government created some discontent inside the Liberal party. 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, also joined this new party. The Action libérale nationale later 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 misdeeds of Louis-Alexandre Taschereau's Liberal government before the Accounts Committee of the Legislative Assembly. Premier Taschereau resigned after his brother Antoine admited to the Accounts Committee that he had deposited the interest on funds belonging to the Legislative Assembly into his personal bank account.

On his passing 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

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

See also

External links

  • National Assembly biography (http://www.assnat.qc.ca/fra/membres/notices/t-u/TASCLA.htm) (in French)

Preceded by:
Lomer Gouin

List of Quebec premiers

Succeeded by:
Adélard Godbout



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