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Prehistory | 2 Worlds Meet | New France | England Arrives | Clash of Empires | Revolution | British America | Reform/Revolt | Responsible Government | Confederation | Nation Building | Laurier | The Great War | Roaring 20's | Great Depression | WWII | The Peace | Cold War | Trudeau | PC's in Power | Modern Canada

1929 Crash | Economic slump | Bennett in Power | The Ottawa Conference | Praire Drought | Relief | The Regina Riot | Alberta & Bible Bill | Statue of Westminister | Woodsworth & CCF | The Union Nationale | Relief Camps | Bennett's Conversion | King's Return | European Unrest | Royal Visit

When the depression began in 1929/30 the economic meltdown that took place was beyond the control of provincial governments. Strong, coordinated, mutual actions were needed from the U.S., Canada and several European nations which did not happen. This result was that within the next 4 to 6 years, most incumbent governments were thrown out of office as soon as an election was held.

Quebec was no different from the other provinces in that it suffered high unemployment, general economic decline, loss of faith but much of the electorate in the government and capitalism as it was then perceived and a desire to see action by the government to help the people. Quebec was different in who it blamed for the crisis and what they rallied to as far as a politic message was.

Maurice Duplessis had belonged to the Conservatives but blaming the English business community that controlled much of Quebec's commerce, decided to form a new party which would fight for the rights of the French Canadian majority in the province. His party, the Union Nationale, used issues such as the conscription crisis of the 1st world war, the seemingly uncaring attitude of the English business men about the people, the desire of the French Canadian population to run their own affairs and the principles of family values as represented and propagated by the Quebec Roman Catholic church.

In 1936 the Union Nationale won the provincial election and Duplessis became the Premier of the province. The coalition of interests which he had put together and the benefits for the common French Canadian in Quebec, which he seemed to be fight for allowed him to run the province in almost any manner he wished without resorting to any particular political philosophy.

The spread of the Union Nationale outside of Quebec to the other provinces was never a real possibility because many of the factors which made it so strong in Quebec, would make it extremely weak elsewhere. It was a French Canadian nationalist party and Duplessis would go on to rule the province, except for a brief period between 1939 and 1944 when world issues overwhelmed Canada, until his death in 1959.

His most famous action was the Padlock law which allowed the provincial government to shut down and arrest any group or person that it felt was subversive to the good government principles of Quebec. Although it was supposedly aimed at communists, Duplessis used it whenever he wanted to silence opposition or trouble makers for his government.

The Union Nationale  played a key role in the political life of Quebec for over 40 years and when it finally dissolved the nationalistic political forces which had supported it ended up largely switching another new party, the Partis Québécoise under another dynamic leader, Rene Leveque.




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Reference: www.canadahistory.com/sections/eras/eras.html